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struts
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Sonos Zone Player - the ultimate audiophile source component?

Okay, okay, I confess. I gave this post a deliberately inflammatory title and equally deliberately filed it here under "Digital Sources" rather than "Computer Audio" on the basis that most of the folks posting over there already seem to be converts. Now I've said that I guess Stephen will probably move it!


Quote:

But when used to feed 16-bit/44.1Hz digital data to my high-end Mark Levinson No.30.6 DAC, the ZP80 performed flawlessly. I was hard-pressed to hear much of a difference between the Levinson driven by the ZP80 receiving Apple Lossless Compressed or AIF files, and the original CDs from which I had ripped the tracks, as played back by the Class
smejias
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Re: Sonos Zone Player - the ultimate audiophile source component


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Now I've said that I guess Stephen will probably move it!

Not at all, Struts. I appreciate your candor, and look forward to learning the results of your shoot-out. Keep us posted.

Thanks!

Elk
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Re: Sonos Zone Player - the ultimate audiophile source component

I am also eager to learn of your observations!

I have carefully listened to the same recordings as played by my Olive music server (FLAC lossless) and the original CD's played by my Sony SCD-777ES SACD player. Each fed the same DAC with the same S/PDIF cable. I cannot detect any difference whatsoever.

My expectation is that you will similarly experience wonderful results with your Sonos, especially with the dCS unit in place.

Elk
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Re: Sonos Zone Player - the ultimate audiophile source component

I forgot to mention: Many find that modifying the digital output of the Squeezebox results in a better sound even though the Squeezebox is simply sending a digital output to a separate DAC. The mods are to the S/PDIF output. Apparently the mods ameliorate some of the problems of less expensive implementation.

It would be interesting to include a comparison of an unmodded streaming source (such as a Squeezebox) and a modded version - both to determine whether you hear a difference and to make some determination as to what really is required in a digital transmission circuit for good sound.

struts
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Re: Sonos Zone Player - the ultimate audiophile source component


Quote:
I have carefully listened to the same recordings as played by my Olive music server (FLAC lossless) and the original CD's played by my Sony SCD-777ES SACD player. Each fed the same DAC with the same S/PDIF cable. I cannot detect any difference whatsoever.

I saw that in one of your other posts. Just out of curiosity, what DAC are you using and how is it hooked up (and what is the rest of the system)?

struts
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Re: Sonos Zone Player - the ultimate audiophile source component


Quote:
It would be interesting to include a comparison of an unmodded streaming source (such as a Squeezebox) and a modded version

It would indeed be interesting, although unfortunately probably not feasible for me.

I don't own a SB and my dealer doesn't carry them. Also, afaik none of the modifications I have read about are distributed in Sweden (although I am sure there are homegrown alternatives. Sweden is after all, proportionate to its tiny population, pretty well represented in the high-end).

I do recall reading one such comparison somewhere, although I can't remember for the life of me where. It might have been on one of the Swedish message boards, as here as in the US they seem to have succeeded in attracting a vibrant, almost fanatical user community. Anyway, if I come across it again and it turns out to be in English I'll post the link.

Understandably perhaps Sonos, erring as they do more on the side of 'set-and-forget' consumer electronics, seem not to have attracted the tweaky customers and attendant after-market modders to anything like the same degree. Judging by the deafening silence when I have aksed these questions on various online forums I am somewhat out on my own here.

Grateful for the company!

Elk
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Re: Sonos Zone Player - the ultimate audiophile source component


Quote:

Quote:
I have carefully listened to the same recordings as played by my Olive music server (FLAC lossless) and the original CD's played by my Sony SCD-777ES SACD player. Each fed the same DAC with the same S/PDIF cable. I cannot detect any difference whatsoever.

I saw that in one of your other posts. Just out of curiosity, what DAC are you using and how is it hooked up (and what is the rest of the system)?

In this context, the DAC is a Grace m902, feeding a Musical Fidelity 308cr, Carey V12R amp, Dunlavy SCIVa speakers. I also listend to the Grace through its built in headphone amp with Sennheiser 650 headphones and AKG 701's.

struts
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Re: Sonos Zone Player - the ultimate audiophile source component

Snap. Grace m902 and Sennheiser HD650 here too. Cracking products.

struts
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Re: Sonos Zone Player - the ultimate audiophile source component


Quote:
Understandably perhaps Sonos, erring as they do more on the side of 'set-and-forget' consumer electronics, seem not to have attracted the tweaky customers and attendant after-market modders to anything like the same degree. Judging by the deafening silence when I have aksed these questions on various online forums I am somewhat out on my own here.

Jeez! It's worse than I thought. Much worse.

Over on the Sonos board some poor chap foolishly asked if there would be a sound quality difference using the Toslink/RCA digital outs versus the line outs. Initially there were one or two helpful responses but I was alarmed to see that some 'digital experts' and even moderators were quick to weigh in and assert that "bits is bits", the ZP80 passes a bit-perfect datastream and any differences beyond the DAC would be a figment of his imagination. QED.

Reading through the archives I found this was a consistent pattern and there seemed to be no voices of reason (from the company or elsewhere) even attempting to balance the debate.

When I tried to point out that there could well be differences between outputs and cables as well as DACs, and for some reasonably straightforward reasons based on sound engineering theory the digital thought police started ganging up on me!

It was scary folks, I can tell ya. I'm glad to be back.

If bloodsports are your thing you might want to slip over and check it out.

Just keep your doors locked and don't wind down your windows!

Elk
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Re: Sonos Zone Player - the ultimate audiophile source component

Struts, you are doing an admirable job of respectfully explaining your position in your postings. You also supply a wealth of techical data, tastefully seasoned with good humor. I hope the readers are at least willing to consider your thoughts.

Good luck.

struts
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Re: Sonos Zone Player - the ultimate audiophile source component

Thanks for the encouragement Elk, much appreciated. I'm almost afraid to go back there. Will you come with me next time?

DBZ
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Re: Sonos Zone Player - the ultimate audiophile source component

Glad to hear you're doing this sensible experiment. While it's fairly obvious that digital-to-analog conversion is something of an art, and that different DACs often sound different, it's not at all obvious that the sources feeding the DACs will always make a difference.

By the way, I'm sure you'll be vilified for doing blind testing, regardless of the results. I would hope we can all agree that blind testing is a useful tool, without necessarily placing it on a pedestal above other useful tools, such as subjective "sighted" listening and measurements. If a blind test shows that the listeners can consistently detect a difference, that's awfully good evidence that there really is an audible difference. If a particular blind test doesn't turn up a difference, that certainly doesn't rule out the possibility that the difference might be audible under different circumstances, by different people, with different associated gear, etc. But the negative finding is still a very useful piece of data. Certainly as useful as reading a post from a person you've never met who insists that some change in equipment DID make a huge difference to his ears during a sighted comparison.

jazzfan
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Re: Sonos Zone Player - the ultimate audiophile source component


Quote:
By the way, I'm sure you'll be vilified for doing blind testing, regardless of the results. I would hope we can all agree that blind testing is a useful tool, without necessarily placing it on a pedestal above other useful tools, such as subjective "sighted" listening and measurements. If a blind test shows that the listeners can consistently detect a difference, that's awfully good evidence that there really is an audible difference. If a particular blind test doesn't turn up a difference, that certainly doesn't rule out the possibility that the difference might be audible under different circumstances, by different people, with different associated gear, etc. But the negative finding is still a very useful piece of data. Certainly as useful as reading a post from a person you've never met who insists that some change in equipment DID make a huge difference to his ears during a sighted comparison.

DBZ,

The above quote is the most clear, concise and straight forward assessment of the true value of blind testing that I have ever read. Please don't be surprised or offended if you come across a poorly hidden paraphrasing of your statement by yours truly on some other audio forums.

Elk
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Re: Sonos Zone Player - the ultimate audiophile source component

I agree. Nicely put.

DBZ
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Re: Sonos Zone Player - the ultimate audiophile source component

Thanks Elk and Jazzfan. Maybe I'll send my comments to John Atkinson. It really bugs me that he's taken such a hard line against blind tests. He's usually the voice of reason in the audiophile world.

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