Looking for a powerful amplifier for your home audio system? Read our in-depth review of the Sonos Amp, a versatile and easy-to-use amplifier that delivers high-quality sound and integrates seamlessly with your favorite streaming services. Discover its features, pros and cons, and why it’s a great choice for music lovers and home theater enthusiasts alike.
With the Sonos Amp, Sonos has returned to its analog audio roots after years of building wireless speakers. Like the ZonePlayer 100 and Connect:Amp (formerly the ZP120), the new Sonos Amp is an amplifier designed to incorporate all of Sonos’ streaming intelligence into a single device that can be used with virtually any pair of high-fidelity speakers.
In fact, the Sonos Amp is an improvement above the Sonos Beam because it incorporates many of the Beam’s features, making it superbly suited to both movie and music listening. When it comes to sound quality and features, the Sonos Amp is unrivaled, but it also has to contend with rivals from outside the Sonos family.
Design And Build
Despite Sonos’ Patrick ‘PG’ Gall’s description of the new Amp as “the Connect:Amp on steroids,” the new amp is undoubtedly the slimmer of the two. In terms of volume, the Amp is really slightly less substantial than its predecessor.
Nonetheless, this apparatus is noticeably smaller, deeper, and slightly wider than the norm. Sonos listened to feedback from custom installers, who have been using the Connect:Amp for years outside of its intended application, to inform the redesign of the device. Sonos’s latest effort is aimed at satisfying the requirements of professional installation services.
The Amp’s increased dimensions make it more suitable for placing in a hi-fi rack and easier to conceal. It’s also flexible in terms of placement, as multiple amplifiers can be stacked atop one another in a single area, with separate speaker wires leading to different rooms. It’s exactly the sort of thing that can shine in bespoke setups.
This is an understated device, even for Sonos. It comes in only one color (black) and has just three touch-sensitive “buttons” (which actually function differently depending on the scenario) on the front.
There is very little empty room within the new Amp’s confines. That, of course, raises the issue of overheating; however, the Amp is built to draw air in from the bottom and push it out the top, all without the need for a fan.
The connectors for the Amplifier are located on its back; it accepts an analog stereo input, has two pairs of speaker terminals, and a subwoofer output. An HDMI input, however, has been included.
Using its HDMI port, the Amp gives you access to the Sonos Beam’s TV-partnering features, such as automatic switching to TV audio when necessary and volume control using your TV’s original remote. Similar to the Beam, the Amp is meant to be used in minimalist settings in which only a few video sources are hardwired to the TV and the audio is sent back out to the sound system via the ARC connection. While this may be frustrating for those who value the highest possible picture quality in their home theater systems, it guarantees a quick and painless set up for the intended audience. All systems were go in a matter of minutes.
Like the Beam, Playbar, and Playbase, the Amp allows for the use of two Sonos speakers (such as Ones) as surround channels. You can even set up a 4.0 system by connecting a second Amp to any two speakers you desire, or a 4.1 system by adding a wired subwoofer or the wireless Sonos Sub to the mix.
Nevertheless, a 5.1 configuration is not possible because there is no center channel output. But, according to Sonos, this is not an issue because the company’s technology creates a virtual center channel through painstakingly accurate processing.
To avoid creating a distorted stereo image when using ceiling or even outdoor speakers, you can switch the Amp’s output to dual-mono, which will provide the same signal to each speaker.
Speakers for in-wall and ceiling installation, as well as weatherproof outdoor models, are available in the Sonos Architectural by Sonance series. These passive speakers were developed to complement the look and sound of Sonos gear, but they don’t actually produce any sound themselves.
Using the Trueplay feature of the Amp in conjunction with a set of Sonance speakers allows for a customized listening experience. This can’t be done at the same time as talking to other people. The Amp is a significant improvement over the Connect:Amp when it comes to powering external speakers, increasing from 55W to 125W. This means it can easily power much larger and more demanding speakers.
The Amp, like all Sonos products, can seamlessly integrate music from your online music library with music from other services. But, those anticipating widespread adoption of high-resolution music as a result of the current renaissance of the hi-fi industry will be sorely let down. Thus, Sonos continues to maintain its position that it is not worthwhile to pursue high-resolution audio. At present, the best that Sonos can do in terms of sound quality is to match the standards of a CD.
When the controversial Sonos S2 platform debuts in May 2020, this might obviously change. The Amp will get this update, but the ZonePlayer 100 and the vast majority of Connect:Amps will not.
As compared to other options, the Sonos app remains superior for controlling the company’s equipment, including the Amp. Yet, the company is also attempting to reduce the necessity for the user’s physical presence in the system. The Sonos Amp is not directly compatible with Alexa or Siri, however it may still be operated by voice commands when used with other Alexa or Siri-enabled devices, such as the Sonos One or Beam. AirPlay 2 is incorporated, which is a major improvement.
Sonos Amp and all other Sonos products provide the ability to turn off wireless networking as a differentiating feature. Most people won’t understand the point, but it’s fascinating for those who want to eliminate a potential source of wireless interference without sacrificing the speed and reliability of a connected connection.
Using the Sonos Amp as part of a home theater setup yields the finest results. It is sufficient to connect the speaker wires of two passive speakers to the amplifier in order for them to function. Examples of such speakers are bookshelf and floor-standing types.
You now have access to a high-quality hi-fi system that is fully cordless and features no wires whatsoever. When driving an 8-ohm load, the Class D digital amplifier found in the Sonos Amp is capable of delivering 125 watts per channel (versus 55 watts for the original Connect:Amp). In any event, the fact that Sonos did not respond to our inquiries concerning the RMS or peak power levels was not an issue (we explain the difference here). There was not a single pair of speakers that we tested the Amp with that it was unable to successfully power.
At 125 watts per channel at 8 ohms, the Sonos Amp is built to provide a powerful audio experience. Due to the inclusion of high-efficiency, low-distortion Class-D amplifiers, the resulting sound is crisp and detailed. The Sonos Amp accepts a wide range of audio inputs, including HDMI with ARC, analog RCA, and digital coaxial. It also includes a phono stage for hooking up a record player, so that vinyl recordings can be heard in all their glory.
Customers who have experimented with the Sonos Amp have usually been impressed by its sound quality, praising its ability to produce crisp, powerful music that is evenly distributed across the frequency spectrum. As it can be easily synced with other Sonos speakers and managed through the Sonos app, its adaptability and user-friendliness are also praised by certain customers.
With a good set of speakers, there is no question that the Amp is the best-sounding, most hi-fi-like component Sonos has ever created. Yet, it is also characteristically Sonos in that it is a delight to use and have about the house. Surprising is how well it works with a TV. If a Playbar or Playbase has caught your eye, we strongly suggest giving the Amp and a set of speakers some serious thought instead.
The initial investment will be greater, but the final product will sound much better and work much more smoothly with your television. While the Amp has many positive qualities, it does fall short of the greatest streaming components at its price point and good hi-fi components at a much lower price point in terms of nuance.
While the Sonos Amp is loads of fun, it falls short of the kind of nuance and refinement one would want for from high-end audio equipment priced at this level. Nevertheless, if you’re already committed to Sonos and looking for something a little more serious, the Amp will certainly demand your attention. This is especially true if you’re considering a whole-house system and are currently considering either Sonos or Bluesound as a competitor.
Pros And Cons