Active speaker similar to Sonos Play:5 for RoPieee setup


I have an old (first generation?) Sonos Play:5 in the kitchen, where it does a good job sitting in a single corner of the room - works pretty well with Roon, although of course it doesn’t group with my other (RAAT) endpoints. Not stereo, but then I don’t find this to be a disadvantage in a room where I rarely stay in one place long - sound quality is generally pretty impressive.

Now I’m considering a custom setup with RoPieee for other rooms, but I have yet to find a speaker that is similar to the Play:5. Well, I guess there are some like the Devialet Phantom, but that’s got an eye-watering price tag and of course that equally eye-watering appearance, plus lots of extra features I don’t need. Just mentioning it because unlike 99% of everything else it is at least marketed as a single speaker.

I’d like a single active speaker with sufficient oomph for a medium size room, could use S/PDIF or USB input. I’m not sure what it should/could cost, but I would rather expect the whole setup to end up cheaper than Sonos.

Any ideas?


Easy - look at the Bluesound Pulse, Mini or Flex.
They sound better than Sonos (to my ears), support higher resolution audio and, critically, are native RAAT endpoints.

1 Like

Interesting, thanks. I evaluated the Node a while back and decided against it at the time, mainly (as I recall) because there were loads of issues reported with Roon compatibility. I wasn’t totally aware that the company has these ready-to-go speakers, so thanks for pointing that out!

Meanwhile - this is an alternative to the RoPieee approach I was envisioning. I’m still interested to find speakers that would go with a RoPieee to achieve a similar result, but without buying a complete system.

You could check Audioengine speakers, the A2+ could be a solution

The KEF LS50w2 are roon ready if your budget will accommodate.

Some studio style powered monitors have digital inputs (my PMCs have an AES input) so could be used with Ropiee and a suitable HAT (more choice of hats with spdif rather than AES).

And if you’re OK with using a DAC HAT then you could use just about any analogue powered monitor with Ropiee.

You could even use an amp HAT (like the Hi Fi Berry one) and passive monitors. I use one in one of my non. Rita Al zones, and it does a great job.

To elaborate - for practical reasons I actually like the single speaker setup that a Play:5 uses by default (unless you voluntarily buy two of them, I mean). It makes speaker placement easier and improves the WAF (maybe this should be called “PAF” for partner acceptance factor, to be more politically correct?), especially in rooms with limited (shelf?) space. In kitchens, bathrooms, even bedrooms, a stereo setup with more than one speaker doesn’t actually buy anything because there’s no one position where I spend the majority of my time when I’m in the room.

Many simple “active speaker” setups, like those found for PCs, or simple AV configurations, don’t work well if you imagine you have only one speaker. Most often you could leave one of them out - the one that doesn’t carry all the connections - but that would be a waste of money.

@Stefano_Antonelli - as far as I see, the Audioengine speakers are just like what I described. In addition they are wireless, which is unnecessary for the setup I have in mind - of course I just don’t need to use the wireless feature, true.

@GregD - powered monitors sound about right at a glance. But wouldn’t typical “monitors” be made for near field listening rather than to sound good across a medium size room? Do they typically come as single speakers? Well if they are analogue then I’d get two as a package deal - DAC HAT would be an option, yes. Other than that, specific recommendations for active monitors? I checked out the website for PMC, but I don’t know much about monitors, the selection is enormous and they don’t show prices :slight_smile:

You’d need to mix the stereo output to Mono - but it seems you can do this with roon DSP

My PMCs are two.two.6s - which are lovely but quite expensive. PMC’s least expensive active monitor is the result6 which is still much more than a Sonos unit (and only takes an analogue input). But the studio monitor market is very active - and you should be able to find something within your budget. Adam, Focal and Genelec all make great monitors.

The IKmultimedia iLoudMTM is amazing for the price

The good news is that studio monitors are usually available in singles.

You’ll have a lot more choice if you go with a DAC Hat and analogue monitors.

You’re correct in they are mostly designed for near field listening - but mine still sound great in far field - and I expect many studio monitors would challenge sonos for SQ far field. And of course you can rebalance the EQ via roon DSP if you need to.

Many thanks, that’s a lot to check out.

You’d need to mix the stereo output to Mono - but it seems you can do this with roon DSP

Yes, I guess you’re right. Although if the input signal is digital, I would expect the speaker to do with it whatever it wants :slight_smile:

1 Like

While I don’t have one, I’ve heard good things about “Klipsch The Three”. Single like your Sonos Play 5, looks nice and I’m guessing with it’s USB -B input if fed from RoPieee it would in turn be a RATT device for proper grouping with your others.

I’ve had lots of different Klipsch passive speakers and always happy.

I built my own with Ropieee, hifi amp hat and a decent 2nd hand centre speaker from QAcoustics. I put all the stuff inside and modified it to add an inline DC power input. Nice and neat and sounds pretty damned good. Use DSP to mono the output been up and running for a few years without any issue. Much cheaper than buying a node and likely sounds as good.

Klipsch The Three II - I like what they did there :slight_smile: Actually I like the whole thing - very nice! Apparently it can be had in the UK for under £400 with a bit of luck, and according to a few reviews it’s totally worth the money.

Funny side note - various reviewers questioning the use of the USB port. Eh? How weird can the world get… I’m glad to say I don’t know anybody (!!) who uses a Bluetooth audio connection as anything other than a temporary solution in their home. Maybe this just means I’m getting old, who knows.

Thanks for the suggestion, this is certainly very interesting!

1 Like

Centre speaker, good one… that hadn’t crossed my mind yet. I wonder about the bass though? Since they are mainly meant for dialog, isn’t bass potentially a bit thin? Never used an amp hat either, though I hear they work fine. Which model speaker from Q Acoustic did you use?

Not on mine plenty of oomph for music. Not going to go as deep as a large speaker though Mines got two 6" drivers and a tweeter and gives enough for the room it’s in which is 3.8X 5.

2000ci is what I got I think, they have newer ones now. I had to remove some of the damping material to fit in the electronics. I use a pi 3b+ as well not the 4. As the 4 runs hotter not sure it would be safe to stick it in. But with a heatsink might be ok.

Right, I see that model on the website even though it’s discontinued. Very nice… I think I’ll get one from somewhere and simply give it a try - in comparison to all other options, this is a really cheap one that can certainly find use somewhere even in case it turns out not to be the bee’s knees. Many thanks for the idea!

Meanwhile, in case anybody has more speaker suggestions similar to the Klipsch one, let’s hear it - surely there must be a few more integrated speakers with a focus on simplicity and USB connectivity out there…

Also built a stereo one for my daughter’s room using an unused celestion F1 I had.

1 Like

Sub 300 USD on ebay if you don’t mind used or open box. Might want to check your end for similar “across the pond” :grinning:

The US offers are the cheapest ones on eBay even here, but the postage is expensive and there’s the danger of added taxes/duty… and then I’d be above £300, maybe quite a bit above. For some reason, several sellers from Italy want to get rid of the things, and then the price could also come down around £300 if I’m lucky - but after Brexit even shipments from Italy may attract duty. Clearly these speakers keep their value reasonably well… all in all the new price of sub-£400 doesn’t look too bad, perhaps there’ll be a Black Friday deal… certainly an option I’ll have an eye on.

Another option is the HiFi Berry Beocreate and a used/refurbished pair of B&O CX50 or CX100 speakers.

1 Like

From a functionality point of view, the Bluesound speakers mentioned by 0rangutan would be ideal if they also meet your sound quality requirements and your budget. I’ve not heard the larger two but reviews suggest the middle one (Pulse Mini 2i) is the best sounding. I’m very happy with the Pulse Flex 2i.

It seems that the Bluesound option is quite competitive. If you factor in the hardware for a Pi-based system, plus what a comparable speaker setup costs, you can easily spend a few hundred Pounds (or currency of choice!).

One thing that’s difficult to discern is which speaker setup would sound more or less exactly like a specific integrated solution, for comparison purposes. And of course there’s the advantage that a home-built setup can be extremely flexible and potentially cheap if you can reuse some old components or buy them cheaply off eBay or the like.

Thanks to everybody for the ideas in this thread, it’s been very useful! At the same time I’m surprised that there seem to be very few solutions out there for the specific segment I was looking at: broad range single active speakers with USB connection that could compete with Sonos or Bluesound for sound and price. Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised - this is not the age of products that fit this description.