This is no toy!
We were fortunate to get in early and be one of the first in the world have the Brand New Sonos Amp replacement instore for audition. “What a different animal.”
Listening: Although for us, this amplifier is undoubtedly destined to be stacked ten high in a hub powering many rooms in another installation, we really cannot judge sound quality with plastic speakers mounted in a sandwich of Plaster of Paris with paper each side, no matter how “highend.”
We used our faithful testbench speakers; the outstanding Focal Aria 906 “bookshelf” speakers with terrific in-room efficiency and off-the-chart sound for the money,
The Sonos did not need to work hard to impress. This is no Toy. Rated at 125W per channel and, however it was measured, that’s what it’s got. It’s more powerful than the previous model without doubt, but we have to say this is perhaps a hopeful figure. Nevertheless, it sounds great with ample headroom and finally we can call this product HiFi. Both streaming and with a CD player, plugged in via the stereo pair of RCA sockets, it is a very accurate and enjoyable listen. This can’t just be the amplifier module but most likely helped along with updated DAC’s. This we’ll look into further.
Comparing a conventional amplifier of the same value: the ‘Best Buy’ NAD C338 integrated amplifier at less than half of the rated power certainly had more clout and body to the music. In practice though, these products are for a different customer. A decent integrated amp is probably going to replace a similar machine in a one room HiFi system, while the Sonos can be used in the same guise but also the start of a quite sophisticated multiroom system of great versatility and magnitude. As a direct replacement for the runout Sonos Amp, it is a HUGE improvement and the price point is right where it should be for the extra oomph, clarity and style.
Like the previous model Sonos Amp, the new model sports connections for: Ethernet, RCA analogue input, subwoofer output and much improved speaker terminals. A new addition is an HDMI audio input? We have to say that we would have liked to have seen a simple optical input, lacking on the previous Sonos Amp model too, for the multitude of folks wanting an affordable streamer amplifier with the ability to plug in their smart TV. Well we didn’t get it. We did however get the afore mentioned HDMI audio input like the recently added Sonos ‘Beam’ Wi-Fi speaker. This comes with a clever wee adaptor for an optical input cable. Strangely there was no such device in the box but our Sonos chap assures us this will be an accessory available soon.