How to throttle Sound Quality to Sonos speakers, and not to other Roon endpoints

Hi,

I have a breakthrough in trying to use Roon with my Sonos speakers. I used to have all kind of issues with speakers dropping and the system repeatedly loosing control of the Sonos speakers. After some months troubleshooting this with the Sonos support team, apparantly I can’t stream hi-res music to a lot of Sonos speakers. Turns out it is a bandwith problem.

My system is stable using Spotify streaming in the Sonos app itself. In Roon I use lossless Qobuz streaming.

The problem is I also have some Roon endpoints (Raspberry pi’s with roipee) with headphones that I want to keep streaming lossless to.

Is there a way to configure Roon to stream lossy in MP3 to my Sonos speakers, and Lossles hi-ress to my other Roon endpoints? That would solve my issues!!

Thanks in advance!!
Kind regards,
Thomas

Straight answer no you can’t. But you can use arc if you have an iphone or iPad and stream over AirPlay and set it to the lower settings which will transcode to mp3. Then use Sonos grouping for multiroom.

Go into device settings as a starter and change the 24 bit under advanced to 16 bit. It’s a start

1 Like

And yes Simons recommendation for doing the linking of multi room in the Sonos app does work, it’s what I always did before I had a faster Mesh network.

Can you clarify what you are saying?

Your network can’t handle the bandwidth?

I have been thinking Roon sends the stream quality the endpoint can handle. But maybe not.

Roon uses Sonos APIs, Sonos uses their internal code. Have long suspected they are not the same.

I get same results that Sonos works flawlessly with Sonos app and not great with Roon. Always a huge frustration.

The “hack” (To be clear, this is not something Roon is doing wrong, this is just taking advantage of the original technical innovation and value proposition of Sonos / SonosNet, which is a proprietary networking protocol for sync’ed multi-room) is:

  1. Start a Roon stream to a single zone, say Kitchen
  2. Go into the Sonos app, select Kitchen (which will be playing something called roon with gibberish after, ie, “roon_5368hdhn44cnhd5268”
  3. Select the zone grouper icon and add other zones to also play the roon stream within Sonos
  4. Remember to ungroup zones within Sonos too because Roon can’t

Then the audio is sync’ing on Sonos natively and should sync far better - in part because only one zone is receiving a highly demanding stream, and is sending via its own mesh a stream that is optimized for what other zones can handle.

Sonos is not designed for perfect audio quality - it’s designed for exactly this use case - keeping multiple zones in sync. That’s actually a super hard problem, which in turn illustrates why people always say to those who are having challenges with Roon “it’s probably your network” - it is. It’s just that if you can get an audio stream onto Sonos, it can take better care of getting that stream to multiple places it needs to get simultaneously than your pure TCP/IP network. Now, maybe Roon could do a better job of leveraging those “native” SonosNet capabilities, but I actually don’t think so, and I think it’s a really minor edge case so I support Team Roon not spending time on it.

1 Like

Sonos uses its own Sonos mesh to connect to each other it doesn’t use your own Wi-Fi. This can be a benefit or sometimes a weakness. It will also be using flac or whatever the native format is, Roon only ever sends LPCM which is natively a higher bandwidth.

If you hard wire one endpoint, Sonos creates SonosNet. If you leave all not wired, Sonos speakers use your Wi-Fi. This is independent of Roon. You can see which you have in Sonos settings. I have tried both.

I get the impression that Roon doesn’t use the sanctified Sonos API, hence so many different problem’s for user’s.

The Roon/Sonos does require a good high bandwidth network especially if using S2 and 24 bit streaming.
My 6 Zones are all wireless and work perfectly fine now, but there has been plenty of pain on the journey.

For some user’s I have recommended using Airplay from Roon to Sonos if they have issues.

2 Likes

Although I’ve seen conflicting info on this over the years, most of the older Sonos devices are only capable of handling 44/16 streams, although Sonos advertises that its devices will handle up to 48/24 without openly disclosing which ones actually are limited to a 44/16 max.

Roon appears to use the default of 48/24 for all Sonos devices, so as @Michael_Harris indicated, one can (should imo) reduce the Max bits per sample (PCM) in Device setup to 16, especially on older devices, and even consider doing so on newer devices if you’re still having issues with dropouts and stuttering. The difference in size between 16 and 24-bit streams/files is not insignificant.

I did this on all 9 of my Sonos devices when I first started using Roon a few months ago, and it immediately stabilized my system. If that hadn’t worked, I wouldn’t be here today making these comments. In fact, I believe my Sonos system is more stable by running it this way than by using it standalone with the Sonos controller app.

3 Likes

Wow, I wonder if this is something that Roon should consider doing “by default”; opinions will obviously differ about this, but I personally use my Sonos for non-critical listening / convenience, and have several RAAT zones that are highly tuned. If Roon silently decided to use 16-bit streams for Sonos, and allowed me to change that up on a zone-by-zone basis, I would likely never know or care. And I bet 90%+ of Roon/Sonos owners wouldn’t either. And I bet we’d eliminate a lot of headache & complaints for those Roon/Sonos owners. I know that the promise of Roon is “bit-perfect” but once you’re playing it over Sonos, you’re kind of past really caring about that anyways, whether you like to admit it or not. Not throwing shade by intent; there are all kinds of audio compromises in Sonos speakers in any case - and I still love them for what they are good for, I have 15 Sonos zones across 2 houses.

3 Likes

Why I’ve never seen this type of discussion in the forums recently has been surprising to me. Maybe it’s in some old posts that have been long ago buried. But I agree with you 100%.

It’s a weird “feature suggestion”. I made a post a while back about an “anti-feature feature” of making things simpler as a way of going faster. This isn’t exactly that, but it’s in the same spirit of making things “worse” to make them better. (In this case, trade certainly inaudible bitstream quality in the context of the speakers in question in return for an increased likelihood of system stability for a subset of users who are beset by particular instability). Since it’s user configurable, it’s an easy trade to make. I have a vague suspicion that Roon as an engineering culture assumes a certain level of fluency song is user base that is less and less true over time as they get bigger and will de facto need to move to a “kiss” “consumer product” approach for a lot of things, which will end up ticking off many old school users. But that’s really just utter speculation.
</idle chatter>

Yeah, after re-reading what you said, maybe what I would do is try to somehow make Sonos users more aware of this issue and suggest it as a way of trying to better stabilize their setup. I want to be in control of my settings rather than have Roon auto-adjusting stream quality.

Edit: of course another way to deal with it is for us forum members, and the Roon support staff, assuming they are on-board with it, to suggest it as a trouble shooting step for people having Sonos stability issues.

Rob Yes I can play to multiple zones at 24/48 with no dropouts through Roon.
As will be seen from other threads I have had many Roon/Sonos problems, but generally it was binary in that it either worked perfectly or not at all and required me to restart the Roon app on Rock to get my Sonos back.

For me to get this working reliably again (and it doesn’t work for others) I factory reset my Sonos devices and plugged in a Sonos Boost back onto my main Mesh AP.
I then slowly one by one brought the Sonos back onto the network where they connected to the Boost using SonosNet (this after taking all this out and moving to WiFi only a year ago). For total reliability I then moved my Roon Rock Core (in it’s silent Akasa case) into the living room and put it on the same router Mesh device.

I then had 3 weeks without any Disappearing Sonos device’s. As of the Roon update a few weeks ago my Roon core is back up in the study with the rest of my equipment and everything is still working perfectly, this is easily the longest time of reliable Roon/Sonos in over a year for me. But others have not had any benefits from the latest releases.

1 Like

Yah, I’m not suggesting that Roon takes control, just that the default is downsampled even more and you can switch it back up if you want. The set of users who come to the forums is a small slice and getting smaller and smaller as a % of total users over time, so I like to think of it as “solving for the greater good”. Others have very different tastes in their mouth over that concept, and I get it.

2 Likes

Yes I tend to agree, I keep thinking about getting rid of my remaining Sonos, but when it works well it is very good and enjoyable to listen to (Sonos has got a decent balance between ease of use and sound quality)

Having bought more expensive gear I can hear an improvement, but it isn’t that large for the price differential and when looking at getting a couple of LSX II to replace the 2 Play 3s in my study I had a listen and they are really for near field listening where as the Sonos fills the room easily. Then moving up to the next level is £2,500 :roll_eyes:

So Sonos still has a place in my house as long as they can make it reliable.

1 Like

:+1:

It’s too bad that Roon is apparently unable to correctly detect the exact capability of each speaker like it can for other devices. Given Sonos’ historical opacity regarding the exact specs of each device, I suspect the problem is on their end as opposed to some flaw on Roon’s.

1 Like

As you said a lot of this is lost in the history of the forum’s. It has been brought up in the past especially when S2 came out and people had problems.
But then for some of us Sonos on Roon has been so broken we probably forgot about it. I only remembered it when I saw Rob’s message this morning and it suddenly came back to me :roll_eyes:

Also remember a lot of Sonos speakers only have wireless B or B/G and that also limit’s it’s ability so the 16bit would have been a good default to have gone for depending on the device selected.

1 Like

Indeed. It’s psychologically healthy at times to bury the trauma. I do it constantly! :wink:

1 Like