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Best Sonos deals and cheapest prices (October 2021)

Sonos remains one of the best wireless multi-room music systems on the market. The brand that kick-started the multi-room speaker category now has a whole range of products, from the Sonos One and Move wireless speakers to the Sonos Arc and Beam TV soundbars. 

There's also now a new portable Bluetooth Sonos speaker, the Sonos Roam, while rumours persist that we will see the first Sonos headphones by the end of 2021. 

The increasing number of products on the market means you can now find decent deals on Sonos speakers and soundbars – including on the latest models. 

Below we've outlined the differences between all the various Sonos devices to help you make an informed buying decision, and found the lowest price on every Sonos product from our selection of trusted retailers. 

There aren't a huge number of deals across the Sonos range right now, we might have to wait for Black Friday for that, but there are savings on the Sonos One, Beam and Playbase, plus on selected older devices.

Sonos Roam

Finally a truly portable Sonos Bluetooth speaker. Much lighter and smaller than the Move, see below, the new Roam is IP67 rated, meaning complete water and dust resistance and its built-in battery has the stamina for up to 10 hours of playback. The Sonos Roam comes with a USB-C charging cable and is compatible with standard Qi wireless chargers. You can use the Sonos app and get all of the normal features, or play music over AirPlay or Bluetooth. It's a party-starting sound, too, with punch and bass, and plenty of excitement. You might get a clearer, more detailed sound from the very best Bluetooth speakers at this price, but thanks to everything Sonos offers, the Roam remains a good option.

Sonos Move

Before the Roam, the Sonos Move was the first portable Bluetooth Sonos speaker, albeit a large and heavy one. Sonos managed to deliver good quality sound, with an open delivery that goes nice and loud. Thanks to the battery and new wireless connection option, the Sonos Move is pretty much ideal for anyone who's been waiting for a more versatile Sonos speaker. It is on the expensive side, putting it up against some stronger sonic competition, and surprisingly chunky for a portable speaker, but otherwise the Move is a fine option. 

Sonos Beam

The Sonos Beam was the first Sonos speaker to add an HDMI connection. This means it's ideal for boosting the sound from your TV, while also giving you all the familiar Sonos multi-room music features. Voice control is here, too, and, at this price, it's a solid bargain.

Sonos One

The Sonos One remains one of the cheapest Sonos wireless speakers - and now it's even better value, thanks to a Gen 2 update. The differences between the two are slight. The Gen 2 gets Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), an updated processor, and increased memory, but the sound quality and feature set remains the same. And you can make a saving on the Sonos One right now.

Sonos One SL

The Sonos One SL is supposedly identical to the Sonos One but without the built-in microphones and voice assistant support. So if you want something a little simpler, there's scope for a saving with the One SL.

Sonos Arc

The best Sonos soundbar? It just might be. The Sonos Arc isn't cheap but it does add Dolby Atmos to the party and deliver the most impressive version of surround sound we've heard from a Sonos speaker, and indeed, one of the best from any soundbar on the market. And of course it's also a multi-room wireless speaker with app and voice control, plus access to practically every music streaming service on the planet. 

Sonos Playbar

If you’re looking for a simple device to make a profound difference to your TV's sound, then the Sonos Playbar is an excellent option. It also brings immediate access to more music than you could ever possibly hope to listen to and all without having to get involved with a bona fide surround sound set up. 

Sonos Playbase

If you prefer a soundbase to a soundbar, then the Playbase is your only option where Sonos is concerned. Luckily, it's a pretty good. It creates a big, broad soundstage and a solid, natural bass. It's also aesthetically stylish and reassuringly well put together. The treble can be a bit edgy when it gets really loud but it's still a fine buy, particularly if you spot a discount.

Sonos Play:5

The biggest, boldest and most powerful speaker in the Sonos range, the Play:5 can fill even the biggest room with a rich, powerful sound. Some new rivals might beat it on pure audio performance, but as an addition to a Sonos system, it's still terrific quality. And you can make a good saving right now on the original price.

Sonos Play:3 

Like the majority of Sonos's wireless speakers, the Play:3 is another cracking performer and if you can find one, then you should get a good price. Again, maybe a refurbished or, as Amazon calls it, renewed model. No touch-sensitive controls or voice assistants, but all the control and streaming functionality of the Sonos family is there. Naturally you get a lift in performance over the Play:1 too.

Sonos Play:1

The original, small but beautiful Sonos Play:1 remains an accomplished performer for sound - although it's pretty hard to find on sale right now. If you do spot one, perhaps secondhand on eBay or the Sonos Refurbished site, then while it's light on the bells and whistles of the Sonos One - such as voice control - it's still a decent option. 

Sonos IKEA Symfonisk bookshelf speaker

Not only is this the cheapest Sonos speaker you can buy – it's also a bookshelf. The Sonos IKEA Symfonisk bookshelf speaker can be wall-mounted and hold up to 3kg of books, ornaments or any other clutter you decide to place upon it. It does everything a standard Sonos speaker will do, working with all the other Sonos products on this page. And it sounds decent, too. Though it was never going to rival a 'proper' speaker, it delivers a bold, focused, entertaining sound.

Today's best Sonos IKEA Symfonisk bookshelf speaker deals


Sonos AirPlay lineup hits all-time low pricing, official Apple Watch Bands 50% off, more in today’s deals

One of the best Sonos sales ever highlights today’s 9to5Toys Lunch Break, along with rare deals on official Apple Watch bands and the annual pre-Prime Day Anker event at Amazon. Hit the jump for more.

New eBay Sonos sale takes 20% off

WorldWide Stereo’s official eBay storefront is taking an extra 20% off various Sonos speakers, marking some of the best prices we’ve tracked to date. You’ll find the full lot on this landing page, just be sure that it says extra 20% off next to the listing to ensure eligibility. Full discount displayed at final checkout.

Headlining for us is the Sonos Play:5 AirPlay-enabled Smart Speaker for $399. Regularly $499, that’s a $100 discount and the best price we’ve tracked. This flagship Sonos speaker delivers substantial power, access to AirPlay, multi-room capabilities, and more. We loved it in our hands-on review.

Official Apple Watch Bands see rare 50% discount

Walmart is offering official Apple Watch Sport Loop and Sport Bands in a number of colors for $25. These bands typically sell for $49, with today’s offer marking the second-best we’ve tracked all-time. You can choose from five colors on the Sport Loop or three different shades on the Sport Band. Both models fit 42 and 44mm configurations. It’s rare to see any type of discounts on Apple’s in-house Watch bands, so be sure to check out this offer as it’s certain to be gone quickly. If you’re not finding your ideal style in this deal, jump over to our roundup of the best third-party Apple Watch bands for more styles. Deals start at just $5, with a wide range of options for every look.

Anker launches pre-Prime Day sale

Anker has launched its pre-Prime Day sale, discounting a few of its latest accessories. Some of these deals are exclusive to Prime members, and we’ve denoted those as required. That includes our lead deal, which requires Prime to grab Anker’s latest PowerWave 10 Dual Qi Pad Charger for $46. That brings it down from $60 and is the best price we’ve tracked since it was announced. This dual Qi wireless charger lets you power up two devices at once. Can charge iPhones at 7.5W or select Android devices at 10W. Check out all of our top picks from today’s sale right here.

Pad & Quill offers up to 65% off iPhone cases, much more

Pad & Quill is now offering 15% off sitewide. You’re looking at everything from premium iPhone and iPad cases to leather messenger bags, backpacks, wallets, Apple Watch bands, Pencil accessories and much more at an additional 15% off. While it’s hard to go wrong at Pad & Quill during these sales, you’ll want to head below for details on how to get even deeper price drops. Shop all of the deals right here.

Never lose your wallet again and grab four Tile Trackers for $42

Amazon is currently offering the Tile Mate with Replaceable Battery and Tile Slim Bluetooth Item Finder Four-Pack for $42. Typically selling for $70, that saves you 40%, beats our previous mention by $3 and is a new Amazon all-time low. Tile’s Mate and Slim trackers both feature a waterproof design as well as a 300-foot range, which is 100 feet more than that of the company’s other trackers. Plus with four trackers, this bundle makes it easy to keep track of everything from your backpack and keys to wallet and more. And with a replaceable CR1632 battery, you’ll be able to extend the life of each item finder well into the future.

9to5Mac Deal of the Month: HyperCube

Automatically backup photos & more to microSD or USB storage while you charge your iPhone or other smartphones. Special $29 pre-order price (40% off). HyperCube is the latest product from Sanho’s Hyper brand, which we’ve long been big fans of from its excellent USB-C hubs, battery packs, and more. On one side the HyperCube has a microSD card slot and a male USB connector to plug into your iPhone charger or whatever USB port you use to charge your phone, or even the 2018 iPad Pro. The other side has two female USB-ports, one to plug in your iPhone and the other to connect a USB drive to store the backups. A free app lets you access and stream anything stored on the HyperCube.

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How to add your existing, dumb speakers to your Sonos system

You want in on the multi-room audio action but you're not keen on binning those still-perfectly-good-but-old hi-fi speakers that you paid a heck of a lot of money for back in 1994. We get it.

The good news is, if you're looking to go down the Sonos route, then it's super simple to get your old speakers in sync with the latest and greatest Sonos speakers.

In fact, Sonos began life as a company that made devices (called Zoneplayers) to enable multi-room speaker setups; it didn't make speakers itself, at all, for years.

And, while we're massive fans of the Sonos range; audiophiles will argue long into the night about how the company specialises in mainstream (i.e. not 'high-end') audio quality.

However, if you've got money to burn on some new super-expensive speakers then it's just as easy to get these included in a Sonos setup too.

The secret ingredient that makes this all possible? A Sonos Connect, Amp or Port.

What is a Sonos Connect / Sonos Port / Sonos Amp?

The easiest thing to do is to think of these devices as a Sonos speakers that don't actually make any sound.

A replacement for the Connect:Amp, the £599 Sonos Amp (pictured below) went live back in 2018 and is twice as powerful as its predecessor, with support for up to four speakers with 125 watts per channel. It also supports AirPlay 2.

You'll need one of these if you're looking at including non-amplified speakers to your Sonos system… you probably are.

The Sonos Port looks, and performs, a lot like the Amp - but without the amplification skills. It's perfect for connecting to already amplified speakers, or a third party amplifier that your Hi-Fi system already uses.

The ageing-and-no-longer-on-sale Sonos Connect comes in two flavours – the regular Connect or the Connect:Amp. It's worth noting that, even though they are old, 2nd-gen Connect models are still compatible with the new Sonos S2 system and eBay is awash with them.

The Connect is essentially the Port, in older clothing and the Connect:Amp - as mentioned already, the predecessor to the Amp - is basically an updated version of the original Sonos Zoneplayer. The amplifier inside the Connect:Amp is a 110-watt stereo one, capable of putting out 55 watts per channel.

Both the Port and the Connect can be used with a system that already features an amplifier, such as your old CD player. All four are useful when adding a record player to a Sonos system.

sonos port for existing speakers

How to listen to music from Sonos on your old speakers

The first thing to do is to wire up the Sonos Connect, Connect:Amp, Port or Amp to your existing speakers. This is super simple – you simply use the 'Analog audio out' ports on the back of the device and your existing speaker wires.

Each device is actually a bit different – and each has slightly different connectors. Either the speaker wires just slot into connection holes, or you can use banana plugs for a more reliable connection. We won't bore you with the details too much here as your specific device choice will affect how exactly you attach the wires, but rest assured it's all easily done.

As we said above, it's best to just consider these Sonos gadgets as speakers that don't actually make any sound. Give it a name, assign it to a room and treat it just like any other Sonos speaker.

For example, if you've wired up your old Denon tower speakers in the living room, add the Port, Amp, Connect or Connect:Amp to your Sonos system through the app, and call it 'Living room'.

Then, if you want to listen to something – Spotify, Apple Music, Sonos Radio, your locally stored media… basically anything the Sonos app allows – then simply select 'Living room', browse, and push play.

Just like regular Sonos speakers, you can group this room with others to create multi-room audio. It really is that simple.

An added bonus is that these devices all have line-in inputs too, so you can use them as drivers for your other Sonos speakers as well – eg by hooking up a CD or a record player – just choose 'Line-in' as the source in the Sonos app.

The Sonos Amp also has an HMDI port and works with the HDMI Arc port on your TV to let you create a stereo speaker setup in your living room, with the Amp creating two front facing speaker channels. Throw in a sub, and you've got yourself a 2.1 system.

You can also create a 4.1 surround sound system using the Amp alongside a Sonos TV speaker (Playbar, Playbase, Beam) and some Sonos or third party speakers acting as the rear sounds.

How many old speakers can you connect to a Sonos Connect / Amp?

This gets a bit technical and is totally dependent on how powerful your speakers are. The most straightforward setup is a two-speaker (L/R) setup – although you can 'officially' add up to four on both the Connect:Amp and the new Amp.

However, it is possible to add more – but you have to be very careful with overloading. You'll have to make use of impedance-matching volume controls to allow for on/off and level balancing. If you don't know what this means… leave it well alone. Don't be greedy.

Bear in mind that the same music will play out of all four speakers, though you could add a third-party impedance matching speaker selector switch to the mix to manually turn a pair off.

Sonos provides a pretty good in-depth guide if you do want to dig a bit deeper.

speakers connected to sonos amp

Can you connect outdoor speakers to a Sonos Connect / Amp?

Sure you can – but obviously don't put the Connects, Port or the Amp itself outside, unless you want them to stop working pretty quickly. And, as with all outdoor speakers, make sure you do your research with regards to the right type of speaker cable to lay.

Sonos actually made this a bit easier in 2019, when it teamed up with Sonance to deliver three 'architectural speakers'. These are basically speakers that can be installed in your wall, your ceiling or outdoors – and will be able to take advantage of Sonos’ TruePlayTuning software.

You can actually connect up to six Sonance Architectural speakers to a Sonos Amp, but don't try and do this with non-approved speakers or you'll risk damaging your Amp, speakers or both.

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Sonos Port review: A flawed successor to the Sonos Connect

Sonos covers all the bases: The audio component maker builds a range of powered speakers and soundbars to stream music from every source, local or on the web, but it also offers a stand-alone tuner/amp if you want to use higher-end passive loudspeakers. And for customers who want streaming music delivered to their own favorite amp or receiver and higher-end speakers, the company launched an add-on, tuner-like component: the Sonos ZonePlayer 80 in early 2006, which was succeeded by the ZonePlayer 90 in 2008. The ZP90 was later relaunched as the Sonos Connect. That product has been succeeded by the topic of this review, the Sonos Port.

Now that Sonos has launched its S2 operating system, Sonos Connect (Gen 1) owners must make a crucial decision: Replace every first-generation Connect with a Port—at $449 a pop—or forgo upgrading to S2. (Note: Second-gen Connects—i.e., Connects manufactured after 2015—are S2 compatible.) The situation grows even more stressful if you have any combination of newer and legacy (pre-2013) Sonos hardware: The latter includes the aged Connect:Amp/ZP120 and the first-gen Play:5 speaker. Sonos says its older hardware doesn’t have enough processor power or memory to run the S2 OS, so any Sonos system that includes a mix of older and new components must be bifurcated and the two groups controlled separately (you’ll find more details in this story).

If you crave the benefits that S2 promises to deliver—including support for higher-resolution audio and Dolby Atmos (in the new Arc soundbar, for instance)—you really don’t have a choice. But if you can resist the urge to upgrade to the latest, greatest software, hang onto your legacy hardware and run it on the original platform (now called S1). That goes double for anyone who cares deeply about audio quality and has a Connect linked to high-end audio components.

After conducting a comprehensive series of A/B listening tests using the digital outputs on the Port and and on the first-gen Connect (and the DAC on a Yamaha Aventage RX-A3060 receiver, connected in turn to a pair of beloved Bowers & Wilkins Nautilus 803 loudspeakers), I’ve concluded that the Port sounds inferior to the Connect it replaces. Compared to the Connect, the Port’s sound field seems flattened and compressed.

sonos port vs sonos connect front panelsJonathan Takiff / IDG

There is a workaround

But if you’re willing to tweak some settings, I’ve learned there is a means of bringing the two devices at least close to parity. The difference between the new Port’s audio quality and that of the older Connect, a Sonos spokesperson tells me, is related to the manner in which the DSP (digital signal processor) in each unit handles their analog and bitstream outputs. The DSP, according to this source, is designed to adjust for “the different characteristics [of] different recorded content… that impact volume output. The DSP helps to keep it balanced so that it protects the listener’s equipment and ears.”

Mentioned in this article

This processing is nearly transparent on the Connect. But for whatever reason, it’s so heavy-handed on the Port that I was ready to give up on the new component. Why the difference? Perhaps it’s because the Port is capable of handling higher-resolution audio than the Connect. We’re still waiting to find out exactly how high that resolution will be, but it could enable the Port to deliver frequencies you might not even hear if the air conditioning is running, and uber-KA-BOOM-ing bass notes and crescendos that might agitate your next-door neighbor. But as I said, we don’t yet know.

For now, if you encounter this phenomenon and are bothered by it, Sonos recommends going into the Sonos app and changing the Port’s line-out setting from the factory-default Variable to Fixed. This change will bypass the offending DSP circuitry. First, open the Sonos app, tap Settings, and then System. Find the Port you wish to configure (you’ll want to repeat these steps for each Port you own), and scroll down to the Line Out setting. Change it from Variable to Fixed. Once I did that, the Port sounded just as wide open and almost as detailed as the Connect.

The obvious downside to this settings change is that you’ll no longer be able to control the volume levels using the Sonos app. That’s not a big deal if you’ve paired the Port with a receiver and passive loudspeakers, or if you’re using powered speakers that have their own volume control, but giving up the convenience of adjusting the volume with the device that’s nearly always within easy reach—your smartphone—is kind of a drag. 

The other alternative, of course, is to forgo your favorite outboard DAC and use the Port’s analog audio outputs. In that case, variable output works just fine. I ran comparison tests with the high-res remastered version of Van Morrison’s classic Moondance, which is ripe with his honkin’ jazzed vocals, brassy horns, breathy harmonica, and delicately brushed drums. The Sonos DAC delivered the goods in satisfying fashion, although it wasn’t quite as sweet sounding and resistant to shrill microphone peakiness as you’ll find with a primo DAC built into a high-end receiver.

Feature set

I get the impression that the Sonos product-management team started with an idealized sketch of a smaller, prettier, market-friendly successor to the clunky-looking Connect. Then the engineers went to work, squeezing in what they could to deliver a slim, trim box that looks good on a retail shelf—and that almost disappears when perched atop an A/V receiver. Most especially, something that would appeal to the custom-installer community, who will find the Port easy to use and won’t balk at its price tag (which they’ll mark way up in their quotes to their well-heeled clients).

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The Port is a trim, buttonless, matte black personal-pizza box with roughly the same footprint (5.4 x 5.4 inches) of a Connect, and about half its height (1.6 inches). Three Ports will line up neatly on a standard 19-inch, 1U rack shelf. You can connect them to your home’s wireless network (the minimum requirements are very low: 802.11b/g, 2.4GHz); or for the most reliable performance, you can hardwire it to your home’s router using the 10/100Mbps ethernet ports in back. There are two of those, so you can gang a bunch of Ports together and consume just one port on your router or switch.

The Port runs cooler than the Connect and in a wider range of environments—from 32 degrees Fahrenheit to 104 degrees F. The manufacturer mildly discourages users from stacking Ports, however; mostly because it can lead to Wi-Fi interference. The Connect’s volume up/down and mute buttons have been excised, but the Port’s LED on-and-connected indicator looks snazzier than that of its predecessor.

The ethernet ports on the backside of the Port are joined by one set of analog stereo inputs for a CD player or turntable preamp (or a turntable itself, if it has a preamp built in), and one set of analog stereo outputs for connecting an amplifier or self-powered speakers. There’s a coaxial S/PDIF connector should you own a cherished outboard DAC—or simply want to keep the signal in the digital domain until it reaches your DAC-equipped receiver or pre-amp  (which is how I chose to set it up).

But I’m disappointed that Sonos decided not to also carry over the Toslink digital audio output from the Connect. I know custom installers prefer to use coaxial cables, because their connectors are much less fragile than the ones on Toslink cables and coax cables perform better over long runs, but Toslink is far more common on less-expensive audio components.

sonos port and sonos connect portsJonathan Takiff / IDG

On the upside, Sonos added a 12V trigger that you can use to automatically fire up a connected amplifier or A/V receiver when the Port starts playing music, eliminating the steps—and footsteps—needed to get your next listening session started. Lastly, there’s a “Join” button for adding a Port to your Sonos system, which you’ll use in conjunction with the company’s exceptionally polished, full-service app.

More horsepower

The Port is outfitted with a beefier microprocessor and more memory than what comes in the Connect, and that additional muscle is required to run the new Sonos S2 operating system. And unlike the Connect, the Port is compatible with Apple’s Airplay 2 multi-room audio technology, enabling you to mix Sonos components with other AirPlay 2 compatible devices—including Apple’s HomePod smart speaker—on the same network. Airplay 2 worked quite well for me: Flawlessly with content from the Amazon Music app beamed from an iPhone X, and pretty well—hardware recognition/connectivity quirks aside—with other music apps. The Port forwarded a consistent and bright sounding stream of music to as many as six other Sonos speaker locations sprinkled around my house. Kudos for that.

Mentioned in this article

The Port doesn’t have a microphone, but it can be controlled with voice commands spoken to any smart speaker powered by Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. Apple’s Siri is also supported, but much less robustly.

The re-transmission of line-in signals fed into a Port can get a little iffy. At first, a plugged-in Audio Technica AT-LP60X turntable (which has an onboard phono preamp) played fine through the Port and on to my connected A/V receiver (the aforementioned Yamaha Aventage RX-A3060 driving a pair of floor-standing B&W Nautilus 803s). I noticed just a tad of lag on a grouped Sonos Play:3 speaker located in the next room (the first-gen Sonos Play:5 is the only speaker that isn’t S2 compatible).

sonos port with turntableJonathan Takiff / IDG

But when I added multiple other Sonos speakers to the group, I encountered annoying signal dropouts—audio blips happening on the average of one every 30 seconds. Venturing into the Sonos app settings and stepping up the Port’s audio delay from the default “Low” setting of 75ms to the “Max” setting of 2,000ms (two seconds) finally resolved that issue. But that change simultaneously cued the Port’s auto-compression circuitry to shift from sending audio in the uncompressed WAV format to sending compressed audio (using the SBC codec), which is much less taxing on a home network. The latter thinned the sound some, although the stability trade-off was worth it.

What initially excited me about Sonos’ new S2 platform was Sonos’ promise to support higher-resolution audio technologies, compared to the CD-quality (16-bit/48kHz) audio supported by the current OS. Some of the newer Sonos speakers—including the Arc soundbar—will deliver Dolby Atmos, too. Presumably, that means the Arc will support Tidal streams encoded with Dolby Atmos Music, although that is yet to be confirmed.

Also unknown: If Sonos S2 will support MQA encoding or the Sony 360 Reality Audio format, both of which are available to Tidal HiFi subscribers (the latter is also available via Amazon Music HD). Qobuz, meanwhile, offers the highest-resolution tracks of them all—up to 24-bit/192kHz—while Spotify doesn’t even try to compete on that score, offering streams at a maximum bit rate of 320Kbps.

sonos port and sonos connect footprintsJonathan Takiff / IDG

A nose-to-nose comparison

Unable to score a review unit from Sonos, and suffering from an acute case of FOMO, I broke down a couple of months ago and bought two Sonos Ports to replace my Sonos Connects. After performing my nose-to-nose comparison, I’ve sent one of them back.

My lifelong faves, the Rolling Stones, gave me ample test material with the 2019 deluxe edition of their career-spanning, 46-track compilation album Honk. It’s heavy on remastered studio hits that I know and love, whilst also made special and “new” with a third CD’s worth of recent, very well-recorded concert performances.

I piped this in from Qobuz running at its “CD-quality” service level, delivered to my gear in parallel through a fiber optic cable-connected Connect and a coax cable-connected Port “grouped” in the Sonos app in perfect synch. Levels were balanced, loudness was “off,” and EQ settings were flat. I later tried tweaking the bass and treble settings on the Port to see if that could improve its performance, but ultimately decided the changes didn’t do it any favors.

Time and again, I heard the same disparity with my chosen setup. When playing through the Port, it seemed as if the musicians were squeezed together, the singers massed as a choir, the plugged-in guitar and bass players all broadcasting through a single amp. Listening on the older Connect, by contrast, I could peel apart the layers of the onion; say, with Mick carving out his own territory and playing more dynamically off backing singers and special concert guest vocalists (Brad Paisley in Philly on “Dead Flowers,” or Ed Sheeran on “Beast of Burden” in Kansas City).

The comparisons just went from bad to worse. On the Port, I heard less personality and grit in Keith’s and Ronnie’s guitars. Solos sounded flat as pancakes. On the Connect I could practically “see” the strings wobbling and (on acoustic cuts like “Wild Horses”), I could hear the rich hollow-body resonance of Keith’s slide guitar.

sonos port with turntable sonos creditSonos

Most telling, and comparatively painful, was the discernable difference in Charlie Watts’ percussion work, especially on that live concert material. Played through the Port, it often sounded like Watts was just dutifully marking time, with the rest of the band sitting in his lap, muffling his efforts. On the Connect, I could visualize, sense that the drummer was upstage of the rest of the group, living large and having fun—his splashy sound emboldened with slap-back echoing off the back wall. This was the deep, wide “live on a big stage” aural sensation I first heard and learned to love on classic concert recordings of the 1970s–including the Woodstock festival sessions and the Allman Bros.’ At Fillmore East.

Back on the Stones’ “Honk” concert tour, the worst comparisons were noted on the set closing “Under My Thumb” (captured at London Stadium) and “Bitch” (with Dave Grohl at Honda Center, in Anaheim, CA). When the Port was playing, I felt like I was sonically repressed, too, stuck in the back of the joint under a sound-muffling upper deck. Lots to bitch about.

On the Connect I was out on the field, stage lights shining in my eyes, spitting distance from the stage, feeling the urgent give-and-take of the players.

These stunning differences held up with other content, too, including an especially artful episode of the Sunday show Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour, on BBC Radio 6 (via TuneIn). The focus was on female singer/songwriters (Cat Power, Jesca Hoop, k.d.lang, and Kate Bush) backed by pianos and acoustic guitars, woodwinds, and lots of unamplified strings (violins and cellos). This is one of the most challenging types of music for home audio gear to reproduce in a way that sounds natural, and the Port failed the test.

sonos amp front2Michael Brown / IDG

Pretty vacant

I was struck again and again by the Port’s relative absence of personality. It reminded me of the highly compressed sound that rival FM rock radio stations in the Philadelphia market took on in the progressive music era, when I myself was on the air. The broadcast engineers installed Optimod dynamic range compressors to keep the meters peaking, the sound louder than the competition, and to hell with dynamics and finesse.

When I asked my Sonos contact if this flaw would get fixed, the response was “Port continues to get positive feedback from our customers. That said we are open and listen to feedback from customers and reviewers, like yourself, to ensure we’re always delivering the best experience.” In other words, if you own a Port and share my opinion of it, you need to speak up nice and loud. 

After all, a post-ship software update wouldn’t be unprecedented. Sonos did it for the Playbar six to eight months after it came out, after a nudge from the company’s sound experience leader—famed producer Giles Martin—who’s said “there was just something in the sound in the Playbar that just wasn’t quite right to him.”

Sonos CEO Patrick Spence discussed this in a September, 2019 interview with Nilay Patel on The Verge. You can listen to the relevant snippet of the podcast about 39 minutes in, at this link (the playback tool provides an easy way to jump right to that part of the interview). More recently, Sonos announced that it would be issuing a patch for the brand-new Sonos Arc soundbar, to fix a bug impacting certain low frequencies, a flaw that TechHive’s Senior Writer Ben Patterson encountered in his evaluation of the Arc’s Dolby Atmos chops. 

Can a lowly audio critic or two motivate Sonos in the same fashion? I’m aware of a review at Britain’s What Hi-Fi! that contains similar observations about the Port, but most of the other critiques I’ve read seem to assume that newer=better.

Updated significantly on June 19, 2020 to add information gleaned from post-publication discussions with Sonos about a workaround for the performance flaws the reviewer encountered. Putting the workaround into practice raises our review score a full point, from 2.5 to 3.5 stars. Updated again on June 22 to clarify that the second-generation Sonos Connect (units manufactured after 2015) are S2 compatible.

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  • The Sonos Port is an easy solution for custom installers and casual listeners, but its’ poorly defined sound will sorely disappoint audio enthusiasts.


    • Runs on the polished, Sonos multi-room audio operating system and its best-of-breed app
    • Easily adds streaming-music capabilities to any existing stereo rig
    • Enhances the already rich Sonos networking options with AirPlay 2 support


    • Muddy sound, lacking in detail, presence, and personality
    • No onboard volume control
    • No Toslink digital audio output
    • Much too expensive for what’s delivered

Ebay sonos port

Sonos Port Audio Streamer Media Player PORT1US1BLK - Black

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Sonos Port Audio Streamer Media Player PORT1US1BLK - Black
Item Specifics:
Color: Black
Condition: New other--factory sealed; distressed packaging; not open box
WiFi & ethernet
Stereo RCA input
12V trigger output
Digital coaxial and Stereo RCA outputs
Packaging Condition:
Original distressed packaging; factory sealed; lightly dented box corners; slightly torn outer sleeve
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How to connect Sonos Port

So they let me go, and one snapped a collar on me. The priestess barely glanced at them. She only looked at me. Sitting on the floor, I turned around. Down there, other women gathered on the platform and sat in a circle.

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