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Sonos ZP90 or Apple TV

pwiles1968

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Mar 22, 2009
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I am yet to dip my toe in to the world of WiFi and mass media storage but I am thinking about it predominantly for Music Playback I still have a CD Player and piles of CD's in the front room, I think I know know techanically what I need but wnated to know a bit more about the interface of both the above units.

I like things like the genius mixes/playlists on iPod/Tunes and think I may like the album searches selection via the Plasma that AppleTV will offer, the sonos offers the ability to control it via a PC and I assume this would mean I could control it with my netbook while I sit in front of it, Can I do this with the Apple?? How good are the sonos random or genius style modes.

Anyone used both of these and can shed some light on the user experience, I would be using both via a NAS with lossless media feeding the digitally to my AV amp.
 

The_Lhc

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Oct 16, 2008
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pwiles1968:
I am yet to dip my toe in to the world of WiFi and mass media storage but I am thinking about it predominantly for Music Playback I still have a CD Player and piles of CD's in the front room, I think I know know techanically what I need but wnated to know a bit more about the interface of both the above units.

I like things like the genius mixes/playlists on iPod/Tunes and think I may like the album searches selection via the Plasma that AppleTV will offer, the sonos offers the ability to control it via a PC and I assume this would mean I could control it with my netbook while I sit in front of it,

Well you can do that, using the Desktop Controller, but it's not the ideal solution, ideally you'd be using one of the handheld controllers, whether it's the CR200 of the iPhone/Touch/Pad controller.

How good are the sonos random or genius style modes.

Sonos doesn't have a genius mode (I'm not even sure what that is to be honest), as to the random mode, I'm not sure what to say, how random is random, it plays tracks in a random order, there's not much more to be said really.

Anyone used both of these and can shed some light on the user experience, I would be using both via a NAS with lossless media feeding the digitally to my AV amp.

I've never used AppleTV but that's exactly how I use my Sonos ZP90 and it's great, easy as cake.
 

SnowyJohn

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Nov 17, 2009
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Apple TV versus Sonos... Sonos is obviously audio only, but it does a great job and can be easily expanded to multi-room functionality. If you are at all considering the future of digital video then Apple TV is the more versatile.

HOWEVER... I would consider a Mac Mini. Firstly, it's a fan-less, rather energy efficient computer! Coupled with a NAS, it can be a beast of a system. It can act as a music server, media player, home theatre system - especially if you'd like to plug it into a plasma.

I've just picked up a 2GHz Mac Mini (under 1 year old) for £370. Although it's the pricer option, it ticks a lot more boxes and with an iphone/ipod or ipad and the 'Remote' app (free) is an itunes controller downloadable from the app store.... if you ever want to upgrade to multi room there are a number of possibilities, but Airtunes (via Airport Express through itunes) is a pretty neat package. Especially if you already have one of the i-devices mentioned...

Also: It should be worth mentioning, I've tried the Squeezebox option as a cheaper alternative to Sonos as I have a NAS which could run Squeezecenter. When dealing with ALAC (Apple lossless) files, the NAS has to transcode each track. Unfortunately the 500MHz processor on the NAS isn't fast enough to do this without stuttering playback. I figure I should sell the squeezebox now, but am annoyed that I paid £5 for 'ipeng' (SB controller app) which is considerably more sluggish than 'remote'.
 

The_Lhc

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SnowyJohn: It should be worth mentioning, I've tried the Squeezebox option as a cheaper alternative to Sonos as I have a NAS which could run Squeezecenter. When dealing with ALAC (Apple lossless) files, the NAS has to transcode each track. Unfortunately the 500MHz processor on the NAS isn't fast enough to do this without stuttering playback. I figure I should sell the squeezebox now, but am annoyed that I paid £5 for 'ipeng' (SB controller app) which is considerably more sluggish than 'remote'.

Does SB transcode FLAC? If not you could convert the ALAC files to that and try it.
 

SnowyJohn

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I believe it supports FLAC natively so it wouldn't need to transcode, but to be honest, I haven't given it much thought. I have over 80GB's of ALAC, all nicely documented on iTunes, so I really haven't given much thought to the idea of creating a whole seperate FLAC folder.

It also occurred to me that playing FLAC files through my SB Boom would be pointless. That said, I would like to play lossless audio through my main 'rig', so could do with spending some time considering my options.. Currently I just plug my iphone into a dock and use an app to play music from the NAS if I want music it a secondary room. << this isn't a major concern at the moment, but I always like to consider future expansion options.
 

pwiles1968

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Mar 22, 2009
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the_lhc: Well you can do that, using the Desktop Controller, but it's not the ideal solution, ideally you'd be using one of the handheld controllers, whether it's the CR200 of the iPhone/Touch/Pad controller.

I agree and as airing toward an iTouch but could use that on top of either system so not a deciding factor for me, also that may come later and thoght I may get a basic a syatem up and running first.

Sonos doesn't have a genius mode (I'm not even sure what that is to be honest),

Genius takes a track and creates an intelligent playlist of similar music from your library, a feature I really like on iTunes iPod.
 

SnowyJohn

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pwiles1968:
Genius takes a track and creates an intelligent playlist of similar music from your library, a feature I really like on iTunes iPod.

I agree, genius is a great feature. People will have differing opinions but I find that providing you have a large enough library of the genre/tempo of the track selected to base a genius playlist on, it works brilliantly.

However, AFAIK, you won't find this sort of feature on other devices... just plain ole' useless random. << Good if your entire library is of one genre and you happen to be in the mood for it.

FYI, the 'Remote' app can be used to control genius playlisting... It's a solid system.
 

The_Lhc

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SnowyJohn:pwiles1968:
Genius takes a track and creates an intelligent playlist of similar music from your library, a feature I really like on iTunes iPod.

I agree, genius is a great feature. People will have differing opinions but I find that providing you have a large enough library of the genre/tempo of the track selected to base a genius playlist on, it works brilliantly.

Interesting, this is one of the most requested features over on the Sonos forums I noticed today, so you're not alone in that.

However, AFAIK, you won't find this sort of feature on other devices... just plain ole' useless random. << Good if your entire library is of one genre and you happen to be in the mood for it.

Not sure I'd agree with that, I only ever listen to my collection on random, precisely because I want the genres to be mixed up, it makes things far more interesting.
 

SnowyJohn

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the_lhc:Not sure I'd agree with that, I only ever listen to my collection on random, precisely because I want the genres to be mixed up, it makes things far more interesting.

I could of course been more general and say some people may be perfectly happy with plain old random... Personally, I like different genres at different stages of the day and "random" doesn't suffice - I would be forever skipping tracks. If you haven't already, give genius a go. Genius Mixes are a newish feature on itunes, basically preset playlists based on your music, for example, Brit / Indie mix, Dance mix, Classical etc etc... Again, a nice way of quickly listening to a specific type of music.
 

Dan Turner

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I vote for Sonos if you're happy for it to be audio only. Went from streaming itunes to Airport Express to a Sonos and I couldn't be happier with the switch. Last FM does something similar to Genius playlists, albeit, streaming over the web, and not restricted to your music collection, which I guess has some good and some bad aspects to it in comparison with iTunes Genius playlists.
 

pwiles1968

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Mar 22, 2009
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Dan Turner:
I vote for Sonos if you're happy for it to be audio only. Went from streaming itunes to Airport Express to a Sonos and I couldn't be happier with the switch. Last FM does something similar to Genius playlists, albeit, streaming over the web, and not restricted to your music collection, which I guess has some good and some bad aspects to it in comparison with iTunes Genius playlists.

Yes I do like Last FM especially finding new artists and will no doubt use it but not for 'Sit Down' listening sessions when I will be using lossless media. I must say I was allways looking at the Sonos as my first option just wanted to know what the alternatives were.

Can you import your iTunes Playlists in to the Sonos player if so I can make my own playlists off the back of genius mixes.

Also can you use your PC as an audio source in the sonos system, i.e. could I have a sonos in the kitchen linked to one in front room and also be listening to the same music in the back room?
 

The_Lhc

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Oct 16, 2008
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pwiles1968:Dan Turner:
I vote for Sonos if you're happy for it to be audio only. Went from streaming itunes to Airport Express to a Sonos and I couldn't be happier with the switch. Last FM does something similar to Genius playlists, albeit, streaming over the web, and not restricted to your music collection, which I guess has some good and some bad aspects to it in comparison with iTunes Genius playlists.

Yes I do like Last FM especially finding new artists and will no doubt use it but not for 'Sit Down' listening sessions when I will be using lossless media. I must say I was allways looking at the Sonos as my first option just wanted to know what the alternatives were.

Can you import your iTunes Playlists in to the Sonos player if so I can make my own playlists off the back of genius mixes.
Yes you can, I've been meaning to mention that all afternoon in fact.

Also can you use your PC as an audio source in the sonos system, i.e. could I have a sonos in the kitchen linked to one in front room and also be listening to the same music in the back room?

Err, yes, that's the whole point of Sonos, every room can be linked to play the same music or all play different tunes or sources.
 

pwiles1968

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Mar 22, 2009
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the_lhc: Err, yes, that's the whole point of Sonos, every room can be linked to play the same music or all play different tunes or sources.

I know the units can be linked together but can you play the same music on a laptop or PC that is playing on the units? so can you get 2 units but have 3 zones one being the PC??
 

The_Lhc

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Oct 16, 2008
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pwiles1968:
the_lhc: Err, yes, that's the whole point of Sonos, every room can be linked to play the same music or all play different tunes or sources.

I know the units can be linked together but can you play the same music on a laptop or PC that is playing on the units? so can you get 2 units but have 3 zones one being the PC??

Oh I see, no you can't do that, there's no way of making a pc a "virtual" zone, although that's another thing that people are asking for. I'm not convinced Sonos see a benefit in that one though.
 

rob_981

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Dec 10, 2007
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You can do that with the Apple TV - I can stream my music from my PC to the Apple TV (and Airport Express) and still play it on my computer.
 

The_Lhc

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rob_981:You can do that with the Apple TV - I can stream my music from my PC to the Apple TV (and Airport Express) and still play it on my computer.

Presumably you mean you can synchronise the PC to play the same as what's on the Apple TV? Whilst you can't do that with Sonos it won't stop you from playing whatever you want on the PC whilst Sonos is running.
 

rob_981

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Dec 10, 2007
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the_lhc:rob_981:You can do that with the Apple TV - I can stream my music from my PC to the Apple TV (and Airport Express) and still play it on my computer.Presumably you mean you can synchronise the PC to play the same as what's on the Apple TV? Whilst you can't do that with Sonos it won't stop you from playing whatever you want on the PC whilst Sonos is running.

Yeah, that is what I meant. I can play music through iTunes on my computer, then choose to stream the music to my Apple Tv and Airport Express if I want, while still playing it on the computer. Or I can stream music through iTunes to the ATV and AE and not the computer, and play something else on the computer on Windows Media PLayer I guess, although I've never actually done that.

I would like to have a Sonos system, but it's a bit too expensive for me, and the Apple system works well, so I'm happy with it.
 

pwiles1968

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Mar 22, 2009
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rob_981:

I can play music through iTunes on my computer, then choose to stream the music to my Apple Tv and Airport Express if I want, while still playing it on the computer. Or I can stream music through iTunes to the ATV and AE and not the computer.

Can you use the Apple TV as a stand alone player and pull Music from a NAS Drive? Could you then stream this from the ATV to the Airport Express?

I have only ever really played with iTunes at work for syncing music to an iPod it is looking like it is a much more powerfull package, especially when combined with a TV or Express.

How easy is the express to use on an existing Wi-Fi network? May have to start another thread on setting up an Apple system.
 

rob_981

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Dec 10, 2007
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pwiles1968:
Can you use the Apple TV as a stand alone player and pull Music from a NAS Drive? Could you then stream this from the ATV to the Airport Express?

I have only ever really played with iTunes at work for syncing music to an iPod it is looking like it is a much more powerfull package, especially when combined with a TV or Express.

How easy is the express to use on an existing Wi-Fi network? May have to start another thread on setting up an Apple system.

Yes, the ATV has a 160Gb hard drive, so you can transfer all your music from iTunes to the ATV and then just play it straight from the ATV without having to have your computer on. You can't connect a NAS drive to the ATV though, as far as I know, so you'd be stuck with 160gb of space.

You can stream music from the ATV to the Airport Express. You can use the remote app on the iphone or ipod touch to connect to your ATV and play music - you have a choice of whether to play the music through the ATV or AE or both. If you have the remote app, you can choose your music without having to switch on the tv to see your music lists, much like the Sonos remote I believe.

You can't play one song on the ATV and another through the AE though, but you can play one on the ATV and stream another from your computer to the AE if you wanted to do that.

Just let me know if you have any more questions.
 

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