Sonos, whose 2020 revenue hit $1.326 billion, has joined forces with hi-res streaming service Qobuz to deliver up to 24-bit/48kHz streaming through Sonos S2 compatible hardware.
Let me preface these remarks by sharing its raining.
Why the 24-bit/48kHz cap? Its due to a Sonos hardware limitation.
What happens when you stream high(er)-res music, like 24-bit/96kHz? I wouldn’t have any idea but for Darko’s excellent reporting. I quote: We might presume that S2 Sonos hardware simply downsamples all 24bit/96kHz and 24bit/192kHz streams to 24bit/48kHz — but we’d be wrong. Qobuz will instead – for now at least – serve a CD-quality (16bit/44.1kHz) stream.
I reviewed a bunch of Sonos gear back in my AudioStream days and it was quit good. What was especially better than good, was how simple Sonos made network audio, a bar that still remains high compared to many other ‘solutions’. But, all things considered, how many Sonos users do you think will hear a difference between a 16-bit/44.1 stream, something they’ve had access to since 2014 with Deezer, and a 24-bit/48kHz stream? Perhaps the better question to ask is — how many will even care?
Another issue with hi-res streaming is there’s still only a small % of hi-res music in the Qobuz, and Tidal, libraries — less than 10% — and its anyone’s guess as to how many of those are 24-bit/48kHz. It’s like ordering a huge heaping plate of nachos and being told 1/100th of one of them is really something special.
If I add everything up, I’d be more excited to see some bigger Sonos stereo speakers! Hand helds, like the Roam ($169) in the opening image, and pencil-height speakers make it difficult to appreciate subtlety.
Like I said, its raining.
On the plus side, I’m rooting for Qobuz’s long-term survival, so seeing them team up with the real elephant in the hifi industry is great news. Long live Qobuz!