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March 2013 Issue
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DIGITAL TODAY

Just read your Sonos review in the October edition (takes a while to get to Oz). As a Sonos owner, I have a big issue in that although they support 24/96, it is limited to only 16/44 for Flac.  This is a terrible situation in 2012. Downloads of Flac 24/96 are commonplace today and Sonos should do something about this restriction if they want to be taken as a serious streaming player. I have a Connect feeding a Bryston DAC and all my music is converted to Flac 16/44. The CDs and LPs play pretty well this way and it is so convenient. Unfortunately I have to play my 24/96 files through my MacBook Pro which is very annoying. 

    I’ve also recently obtained a Furutech ADL Esprit so I can convert my LPs to 24/96. Now I am currently evaluating other streaming products to fulfil my requirements and I wouldn’t recommend Sonos to anyone with serious hi-fi intentions. 

    Before I purchase something else, can you approach Sonos as to the future of Flac 24/96 as they haven’t replied to my request? This would be highly appreciated by me and I would think, hundreds of other Sonos owners.

Peter Deitz

Sydney 

Australia

 

SONOS REPLY - 

We believe the Sonos user experience delivers the best balance between hi-fi sound, rock-solid wireless and ease of use. We currently support uncompressed audio format like Apple Lossless, WAV or FLAC for your music library and whilst we continue to evaluate new music formats, we don’t have immediate plans to support resolutions beyond CD quality. 

Sonos

 

 

The Sonos system is restricted to 16/44 FLAC, says

Peter Deitz, "a terrible situation in 2012".

 

 

 

As you can gather from my review of the Samsung tablet this month, there is a strict dividing line between two industries here and two outlooks: one sees high resolution digital (e.g. 24/192) as where we are going, the other is happy with ‘CD quality’. Most current-idiom ‘audio players’ aimed at the computer generation (shall we say) see CD quality as more than good enough and this includes all tablets and portable audio players. CD quality is a simple description that everyone understands, even those who have little understanding of audio quality – and it is good enough for them. This also embraces compressed music (MP3, WMA, AAC etc). 

There are justifications for this. When signals whizz through the air there is usually a data rate limitation. By this I mean specifically Wi-Fi links suffer data rate reduction at distance and cannot support high resolution audio that runs at up to 9Mbps, compared to 320kbps (x36 slower) for a typical compressed audio stream. Bluetooth runs at this rate too, even though it claims to be ‘CD quality’ (it is a compressed). Wired links have no such limitation.

Also, where headphones are concerned higher quality audio may well be superfluous, since headphone amplifiers are noisy beasts. Unfortunately, companies working in this idiom, like Sonos, march to this beat. My prediction here is that it will all change quickly when a big player like Apple suddenly decides to market a high resolution player on the basis that ‘it puts you in the studio’. Then everyone else will have to scramble to keep up and better wireless links may appear. 

 

The AK100 portable high resolution player has a Mastering Quality folder

on-board. for 24/96 music files. Will Apple produce a high resolution iPod like this?

 

Studios and the hi-fi business see it all differently of course, and more traditionally too. They both work to the notion of ultimate quality and, happily, this is now becoming available to us all, as the Astell & Kern AK100 I review in this issue shows so dramatically. Companies like Naim and Cambridge Audio are making quality 24/192 capable products that chew high resolution files with relish. So it’s time to re-align I would suggest Peter. Modern high resolution audio players don’t cost the earth and they don’t come from Sonos either. NK



 

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