September 4, 2018

What to Know about the New Sonos Amp

It’s not too dramatic to say that Sonos revolutionized the modern speaker industry. While stereo manufacturers have long touted their design sensibilities and commitment to quality craftsmanship, Sonos was the first company to take the crafted care and geeky obsession that defined companies like Polk and Bose and modernized them to keep pace with the move towards wireless solutions and WiFi-enabled communications. Sonos proved that a quality entertainment center delivering quality sound doesn’t have to be a bulky centerpiece for your home, and it doesn’t have to be relegated to a specific room.

But the smaller scale of operations at Sonos and the dedication to producing everything in-house means that the roll-out of Sonos products can be slow. Still, it’s surprising that it took ten years to produce a successor to their last amplifier. Recent releases like the Sonos One and the Sonos Beam were designed squarely at the crossover market, primarily more casual consumers who want to get on the bandwagon of home automation without having to spend an arm and a leg. The Sonos Amp in comparison is delightfully hardcore. While it’s available to the general public, it will likely find the most traction in the custom install industry. Read on to learn about what the Sonos Amp has to offer.

What Is It?

The ZP100 Amplifier was the first product ever released by Sonos, but the company has since confidently and definitively turned their attentions elsewhere. The Sonos model thus far has been about speakers with amps built in. While that’s a great choice for users looking for modular design and little hassle, it’s not necessarily tailor made for the sort of audiophiles who like to get their hands dirty and really mess with the quality of their sound. The Sonos Amp is designed to be the hub of your audio-visual network, filling in the gap left behind by the now outdated Connect:Amp. Cross-functionality has always been one of the primary selling points in the Sonos ecosystem, whether that’s reflected in the way it integrates streaming platforms or how it allows devices from multiple manufacturers to work in tandem with one another. Sonos Amp looks to bring this level of integration to hardware that they’ve long neglected, upgrading your powerful but archaic AV and hi-fi systems to work on the Sonos network. Following in the wake of the Sonos Beam, the Amp looks to minimize the need for unwieldy and tangled cables by allowing you connect simply through an HDMI ARC output, but it also includes compatibility with dual RCA analogue inputs, a necessity when working with older stereo equipment.

How it Improves on the Connect:Amp

It’s been a decade since the Connect:Amp was last released, so it makes sense that there’s been some major changes with Sonos’ next generation product. In terms of specs, the new Amp has roughly double the power of the prior model. It’s a class D amp offering 125 watts per channel and an 8-ohm load. It can run up to four speakers simultaneously, either with equivalent left and right speakers or with four monophonic channels. Sonos also promises that it can deliver a signal-to-loss ratio of 116dB. Those are pretty impressive specs even before you take the smart home features into consideration.

Is the Connect:Amp Right For You?

Unlike many of the products produced by Sonos, the Amp is targeted towards a more professional audience. The Amp has no speakers of its own, so it’s best suited as an accompaniment to a system with conventional, wired speakers. Not only does it upgrade most conventional speakers to work with your Sonos ecosystem, it also lets them sync your existing wired speakers with Alexa, Google Assistant, and other standard virtual assistants. Due to the neutral nature of Sonos, you can expect to see compatibility that scales with future assistants, and the near universal outputs available means that it works well with practically any conventional speaker.

What Associated Products Are Being Released?

In pursuit of being able to make the most out of the Amp, Sonos has developed a partnership with Sonance. Sonance is a manufacturer that places particular importance on architectural speakers, or those nested inside walls and ceilings. For a company that’s emphasized an out of sight, out of mind approach to speaker system, it’s a natural friendship. Three speakers specifically designed for use with the Sonos Amp will be rolling off the assembly line in the first half of 2019. That means that if you’re looking to build a new home or do some major renovations and you have aspirations for a cutting edge AV system, you may want to play the waiting game for a few more months.

When Will it Hit the Market?

Since the Sonos Amp is designed first and foremost to meet the demands to professional installers, they’re employing a controlled roll out for their new amplifier. Fortunately, consumers won’t have to wait long to get their hands on the new Amp. Home installers will have access to the Amp on December 1, while the doors will be open to everyone in February of 2019. It will run for $600, putting it on the higher end of Sonos products, but that makes sense given how specialized this product is.

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