Sonos vs Cambridge NP30

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Hi,

I am considering making the move to ripping my CDs and have in mind either the Sonos or the Cambridge Audio NP30 which looks good. I will be ripping my CDs to FLAC to ensure the best quality which is really important to me, if I can't keep the sound same quality of my CDs then I won't make the leap (currently Rotel RCD06, Rotel RCD05 amp and Wharfedale 9.1 speakers).

So if the sound quality is equivalent or better than a CD which would be the better choice ? Multiroom is not vital but I have two rooms to fit out.

Also in the living room would you run either unit via an Onkyo 606 or would dedicated be better ? Similarly in the main room would I keep the existing amp or get a Sonos with amp or Cambridge Audio amp.

Many thanks as always for your time and advice.

Brian.
 

gowiththeflow

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rodders999 said:
......I will be ripping my CDs to FLAC to ensure the best quality which is really important to me, if I can't keep the sound same quality of my CDs then I won't make the leap.....

Once you go above lossy compressed formats, such as mp3, Wma & AAC, then there should be no loss of quality directly due to the format, whether lossless compressed (e.g. FLAC & Apple Lossless) or lossless uncompressed (e.g. WAV, AIIF).

FLAC and Apple lossless (ALAC) are in simple terms just slightly different versions of the same thing.

Factors that may result in a loss, or perceived loss of quality include the ripping software, method or type of data transfer and the conversion and playback equipment (DAC and Hi-Fi etc). Also if the source material is badly recorded, then ripping it to whatever format isn't going to improve matters.

rodders999 said:
....So if the sound quality is equivalent or better than a CD which would be the better choice ?

Equivalent is the best you can hope for when ripping your CD's. I don't believe you can improve the sound quality.

Higher quality is only available from SACD's and Hi-Res downloads.

The Sonos is a very good system, particularly for multi-room applications.

Using a Sonos ZP90 plugged into an amp or receiver will give very good results. There are also digital outputs so an external DAC can be used instead of the one built-in to the unit, allowing an upgrade path.

Even the all-in-one amp/speaker units, the Play 3 and Play 5 have quite good sound quality and can always be added to the system later to carry music to other rooms, or outdoors.

The limitation for Sonos is that it doesn't currently handle 24 bit formats, i.e. Hi-res downloads. With the slowly increasing popularity of these music formats, I expect there will be an upgrade not to far off in the future?

.
 
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Anonymous

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Squeezebox Touch. Handles all formats and has a good DAC (by all accounts). Also, Spotfy works gaplessly, and there are plenty of good remotes if you have a smartphone.
 

The_Lhc

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gowiththeflow said:
The limitation for Sonos is that it doesn't currently handle 24 bit formats, i.e. Hi-res downloads. With the slowly increasing popularity of these music formats, I expect there will be an upgrade not to far off in the future?

Nobody knows. In the next year, I wouldn't put money on it. 5 years, maybe. It's the backwards compatibility that's the killer, Sonos won't do anything that will break existing hardware.
 

gowiththeflow

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The_Lhc said:
Nobody knows. In the next year, I wouldn't put money on it. 5 years, maybe. It's the backwards compatibility that's the killer, Sonos won't do anything that will break existing hardware.

I can quite see that, but then is the wider market bothered about Hi-Res ? Even on here where I'd imagine most people are interested in good quality audio, there are those who are quite content with 320 kbps compressed music, let alone 16 bit 44.1khz CD quality.

If Sonos don't upgrade, then it isn't a deal breaker for me. I still get to play my CD's in 16/44.1 FLAC and ALAC and I imagine music streaming services aren't going above 320 kbps for a while.

If I do adopt Hi-res, then I'll simply buy appropriate kit to link directly into my Hi-Fi and still use Sonos around the house.

In 5 or 10 years, we may not know what changes will have taken place and my Sonos will have served its purpose by then.

.
 

ric71

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I recently switched a Micromega Drive 1 CD transport for a Sonos ZP90 using coax out into an Arcam AVR 500. No drop in SQ at all just the simplicity of all my music at my finger tips. Have since sold the Micromega.
Not bothered about hi res at the moment.
Plan to go multi room with the Sonos and if in the future I want hi res and Sonos hasn't released software then will by a dedicated unit for main system and use Sonos as multi room.
Fantastic bit of kit.
 

Clare Newsome

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When we were judging our Awards, we did a head-to-head comparison between the Sonos and the Cambridge Audio just for sound quality. The latter came out best (hence its Product of the Year streaming win), but we recognise the Sonos has many other strengths (which is why it also won an Award, for best multiroom solution).
 
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Anonymous

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Hi,

Many thanks for all your replies, I realise that I hadn't said thanks ! :oops:

Just one further question, would there be much difference in playing the Cambridge / Sonos through my Onkyon AV as opposed to a dedicated amp ?

Brian.
 

SteveR750

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gowiththeflow said:
rodders999 said:
......I will be ripping my CDs to FLAC to ensure the best quality which is really important to me, if I can't keep the sound same quality of my CDs then I won't make the leap.....

Once you go above lossy compressed formats, such as mp3, Wma & AAC, then there should be no loss of quality directly due to the format, whether lossless compressed (e.g. FLAC & Apple Lossless) or lossless uncompressed (e.g. WAV, AIIF).

FLAC and Apple lossless (ALAC) are in simple terms just slightly different versions of the same thing.

Factors that may result in a loss, or perceived loss of quality include the ripping software, method or type of data transfer and the conversion and playback equipment (DAC and Hi-Fi etc). Also if the source material is badly recorded, then ripping it to whatever format isn't going to improve matters.

rodders999 said:
....So if the sound quality is equivalent or better than a CD which would be the better choice ?

Equivalent is the best you can hope for when ripping your CD's. I don't believe you can improve the sound quality.

Higher quality is only available from SACD's and Hi-Res downloads.

The Sonos is a very good system, particularly for multi-room applications.

Using a Sonos ZP90 plugged into an amp or receiver will give very good results. There are also digital outputs so an external DAC can be used instead of the one built-in to the unit, allowing an upgrade path.

Even the all-in-one amp/speaker units, the Play 3 and Play 5 have quite good sound quality and can always be added to the system later to carry music to other rooms, or outdoors.

The limitation for Sonos is that it doesn't currently handle 24 bit formats, i.e. Hi-res downloads. With the slowly increasing popularity of these music formats, I expect there will be an upgrade not to far off in the future?

Perfectly true and logical, but in reality few CD player are able to "rip" whilst playing as accurately as a good CD rippper will, in other words, the o/p of a streamer can be bit perfect, highly unlikely from a CD transport. The it's down to clocking and jitter, but there are ways of handling that in a remote DAC too. I don't have the most discerning ear, but I could tell my PC playing ripped Cds sounded better than the CD6SE that I owned. The difference to my ears was a big a jump in going from a NAD C370 to the Kandy K2 amp.
 
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Why did everybody forget to mention that if wireless solution is intended, then it doesn't matter that the sonos does not play 24bits files as the Cambridge counterpart requires Ethernet connection for 24-bit files.

That been said, as I am looking for a wireless solution, I choose the sonos, it looks better, uses less space and the interface wins over that of the Cambridge.
 

The_Lhc

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varox said:
Why did everybody forget to mention that if wireless solution is intended, then it doesn't matter that the sonos does not play 24bits files as the Cambridge counterpart requires Ethernet connection for 24-bit files.

Well the OP didn't mention wireless for one thing but you're right.
 

Soopafly49

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gowiththeflow said:
rodders999 said:
......I will be ripping my CDs to FLAC to ensure the best quality which is really important to me, if I can't keep the sound same quality of my CDs then I won't make the leap.....

Once you go above lossy compressed formats, such as mp3, Wma & AAC, then there should be no loss of quality directly due to the format, whether lossless compressed (e.g. FLAC & Apple Lossless) or lossless uncompressed (e.g. WAV, AIIF).

FLAC and Apple lossless (ALAC) are in simple terms just slightly different versions of the same thing.

Factors that may result in a loss, or perceived loss of quality include the ripping software, method or type of data transfer and the conversion and playback equipment (DAC and Hi-Fi etc). Also if the source material is badly recorded, then ripping it to whatever format isn't going to improve matters.

rodders999 said:
....So if the sound quality is equivalent or better than a CD which would be the better choice ?

Equivalent is the best you can hope for when ripping your CD's. I don't believe you can improve the sound quality.

Higher quality is only available from SACD's and Hi-Res downloads.

The Sonos is a very good system, particularly for multi-room applications.

Using a Sonos ZP90 plugged into an amp or receiver will give very good results. There are also digital outputs so an external DAC can be used instead of the one built-in to the unit, allowing an upgrade path.

Even the all-in-one amp/speaker units, the Play 3 and Play 5 have quite good sound quality and can always be added to the system later to carry music to other rooms, or outdoors.

The limitation for Sonos is that it doesn't currently handle 24 bit formats, i.e. Hi-res downloads. With the slowly increasing popularity of these music formats, I expect there will be an upgrade not to far off in the future?

.

Question 1. It appears that most people on here (that ive read anyway) are using flac instead of wav. What are the advantages here?

Question 2. if cd's are 16 bit 44khz hi res files are 24 bit something something then?
 

The_Lhc

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Soopafly49 said:
The limitation for Sonos is that it doesn't currently handle 24 bit formats, i.e. Hi-res downloads. With the slowly increasing popularity of these music formats, I expect there will be an upgrade not to far off in the future?

Don't count on it, the current hardware has a 24-bit wide output stage however 8-bits are used for volume control, so the only way it could be done with the current hardware is to lose the volume control, which isn't going to happen. As I said previously in this thread any future hardware will need to ensure it doesn't affect the backwards compatibility of the existing units.

Question 1. It appears that most people on here (that ive read anyway) are using flac instead of wav. What are the advantages here?

WAV is entirely uncompressed and so requires more bandwidth on wireless networks. Furthermore WAV doesn't natively supporting ID tagging, so can be problematical to use with most streamers.

Question 2. if cd's are 16 bit 44khz hi res files are 24 bit something something then?

Yes, anything from 44kHz up to 192kHz, typically 88kHz, 96 or 192 are the commonest sample rates offered online.
 

Soopafly49

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So are high res files better than wav? Also was just reading on another forum that there are settings on dbpoweramp to get around the tagging issue.
 

The_Lhc

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Soopafly49 said:
So are high res files better than wav?

24-bit hi-res files will be better than a 16-bit WAV file yes.

Also was just reading on another forum that there are settings on dbpoweramp to get around the tagging issue.

I'm not aware of any and they'll always be a kludge, which may not work on every device. WAV offers no advantages over FLAC and the like that I can determine.
 

fr0g

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The_Lhc said:
Soopafly49 said:
So are high res files better than wav?

24-bit hi-res files will be better than a 16-bit WAV file yes.

In what way that is audible? The bit depth gives us dynamic range. 16 bits gives us 96 dB of dynamic range and the maximum recorded, ever, is in the mid 20's or thereabouts. In fact, if the full 96 dB was used, and you had speakers that could play loud enough, and you played it at a volume that meant you could hear the quiet parts, then you would go deaf or worse.

The only advantage is if you are using a digital volume control such as on a computer (in terms of playback).
 

Soopafly49

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I guess the only way to know really is to download a 24 bit track of a song I already have and compare the two and see i hear anything
 

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