Sooloos vs. Sonos

I would like to move my CD’s out of my living room and onto my hard drive. My desktop HP is in the same room as the stereo, but they are on opposite walls. I can’t wire them directly to each other, but they are both next to ethernet ports. Components are: B&W 804 speakers, Musical Fidelity integrated amp, Rega Planet CD player (to be replaced).

Several retailers I spoke to in NYC recommended Sooloos. I agree the interface is great, but I don’t want an extra monitor in my living room – would prefer to control use the PC to search, select and play. That said, recommendations boiled down to:

1) Sooloos Ensemble (hard drive unit) – input from ethernet port, output to integrated amp; control it from the PC; cost = $4500

2) Sonos Zone Player 90 – input from Ethernet port, output to DAC (Sim Audio 300D?); DAC into integrated amp; with Sonos Bridge connected to PC, ethernet; control all from PC; cost = $2050

I prefer #2 because of cost and its modular approach. I could also use the Sonos to run music to another room with a mini-system. Can I get the same quality, reliability as with the Sooloos? Also: do I need a re-clocker (Pace Car?) with the Sonos, as I’ve read on the forum?

Your help will be appreciated?

“…would prefer to control use the PC to search, select and play.”

I’ve got a couple thoughts here that can help.

Who’s going to download all your CDs onto the Sulu or Sonus?


Is the option for streaming music into other rooms a desire?

Are you driven to spend $2500 - $4000 or would you prefer to save a lot of that money instead and maybe spend it elsewhere??

As you apparently have a PC now, about all that is needed then is a competent media storage center, and media player…. Well and the prerequisite man hours for ripping the whole of your library. You might also think about getting another rom drive too. I went thru 2 easily just ripping around 500 CDs.

My concern with regard to the $2K - $4K turn key server fix is just one area…. The conversion of the digital info to analog coming out of or off of the HDD.

I felt that could be improved upon handily. Therefore improving the audio quality too..

As “Soundgasm” posted their turn key box gains for them the equivalency of a $2K CDP or so. I feel the presentation I derive exceeds that level by a pretty large margin due solely to the conversion process of the digital files, media interface and media player. All of which translate as to affecting the resultant audio quality directly.

Consequently, I went without such a OEM solution and went DIY instead in a manner of speaking. Large outboard storage device. PC. Sound card or USB converter, and DAC.

I mean, if the computer is the deal that will search, select and play the files in storage anyhow, why then spend $$$$$$ on another likewise gizmo?

True too, actual remote control akin to those you’ve used with your CDP, DVD, receiver, etc can be used then… or merely your media player inside the pc.

Storage ‘depending on amount’, will run from $200 to $1000. I’d say alot $300 – 600 there for a decent NAS or ether net storage unit and that’ll get ya around 3TB of space if not more. 3TB is a lot!

Get a very nice DAC for that $2500 or less, like an Ayre, Bryston, Bel Canto, or think about just doing USB or Firewire completely and getting in with Wavelength or Weiss, and that way no converter is required additionally. Your bandwidth will be truncated somewhat though to 24/96,but that’s better than CD! High resolution or definition files can then be played.

Fubar 2K is free and supports FLAC & ALAC & tons of other file formats. It sounds exceptionally good too. J river MC also does a good job and allows for zone uses too. it’s around $40.

If you want to use a converter so you can do files in excess of 24/96 or just want to use a more standard DAC, another $300 or so is needed.

What I’m saying here is simple…. For the same money as a turn key fix, I feel you can gain as much versatility as they would enable, yet definitely improve upon the audio quality itself in the doing, and not spend nearly as much. Or if as much is spent in the end, the audio quality will surpass IMO the Sonus or Sulu option.

If you think about it you might agree. Their DAC can’t be as good as those I mentioned here.

If I can do it anyone that can dress themselves and find their way home at night can do it too.

You’ll have to get your pc closer to the audio rig but then a coupler and ether net cable is cheap.
hi Wsomers,

Thanks -- I'm enjoying it very much. I should say that my using ~2k CDP players as a benchmark isn't definitive by any means. I have little experience with more expensive CDPs, and those which I have heard have been bolted into much much more resolving systems than mine. Also, I didn't want to start a flame war by perhaps exaggerating. :-) Anyway I'll bet the results to date are at least a little better than that.

Regarding the Cullen Mod (you're correct about the all-up pricing; I only listed the cost of the mod itself in my earlier post); I was able to A/B the modded unit with another ZP90 at home and the improvement was very significant. So much so that I wondered if the DIP would yield further improvement, especially since Cullen's work improves the clock and outputs a 92kHz signal. But sure enough, the DIP yielded still more resolution - not as large a change as the Cullen, but still very audible.

I do imagine that if you threw enough money at a DAC (ie. Bryston?), you might be able to dispense with not only the DIP, but possibly the Cullen mod as well. I'd LOVE to be able to really compare that approach to mine. Another, much more-savvy, audiogon member pointed out to me early on that my path was going to reveal my DAC as the weak link, and sure enough, I believe he's correct. I am now scheming on a DAC upgrade that doesn't completely invert that situation, causing me to then need to replace every other component in the chain. I'm very interested in the Decware unit...

I should note that my situation/system is unique to me in a couple of ways...obviously, I've been taking a baby-step (or ~&1k step) approach to this. Maybe weirdly, it's the only source I plan on using - no CDP, no analog. I was also keen to NOT use a computer for this - I'd had several other computer-based systems earlier, and the keyboard/mouse/screen method of navigation, while obviously powerful, just doesn't work well in our household. has a big footprint, makes a lot of noise, and any computer in our home gets co-opted for web surfing, etc. I was looking for a more elegant solution. I'm a newbie audiophile, but a long-time interface snob, and Sonos is the best game in town in that regard. It's arguably their entire business, perhaps to a fault among this crowd. And finally, I needed a multi-zone system which I could build incrementally. My two nice systems are just part of the equation - the bigger picture is really about our whole family, and our whole home.

Whoa, that went long. Sorry. Point being, if I was 'simply' going to build a single system, and if I was going to be the only user, I'd pass on the Sonos. But for us, it's unbelievably great. It works perfectly for my home and family, and it responds well to my personal tweaky quest to make a couple of zones Hi, or at least solidly Mid, -Fi.

Please post your experiences with whatever system you go with - there's still precious little information about systems like these on the web, and I know I've benefitted tremendously from being able to dialog with the membership here as I waded out into these digital waters.

Fun and much music to you,
Error alert: I meant to type that the Sonos is the only source I plan on using.
Thanks, this is very helpful. One other thought: It seems that Sonos and Squeezebox would work the same way in this configuration... any thoughts on which is better from a sound quality perspective?
I don't have any experience with the Squeezebox (other than fiddling with it for a grand total of maybe 15min), but anecdotally, I do have three SqB early-adopter friends who eventually abandoned SqB for Sonos systems. None of them did so for 'audiophile' reasons, though - they all migrated for the interface and overall ease of integration.