Roon better with Bluesound or Sonos?

Are there any pros or cons to using Roon with Sonos vs. Bluesound devices? More features or functionality on one compared to the other? Ease of use differences? Other Roon-related reasons to choose over the other?

Not speaking from personal experience, but based on what I have seen here the Bluesound is your better bet IMHO - this is due to the RAAT support that is built into the Bluesound setups

https://roonlabs.com/partners/bluesound.html

note that Sonos is not a roon ready partner. At least not that I can find and is probably closer to an Airplay endpoint than a Roon Ready even though it is supported as an endpoint

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Thanks wizardofoz! Any idea what this means in terms of feature differences between the two? Or ease of use? Thanks!!

Bluesound play Hi Res files and is MQA capable. It’s also Roon Ready. This makes it perfect for Roon now and going forward. Prices are similar and sound quality is so much better.
I have a friend with Sonus and the sound to me is boxy and very average. Not something I would look forward to listening to but would put up with if I had to.
The Bluesound Pulse 2 and Pulse Mini are a delight to the ears as far as I am concerned. I can link them with the BluOS app (This gives me optical/analog inputs over both players) or link them in Roon to themselves and other RAAT devices.
You really need to give them a listen but for the same money (Pulse Mini was £399 in a recent promotion at Sevenoaks sound and vision) it’s a no brainier for me. Forgot to mention the 6 year warranty in the U.K.

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Hi Edward

I have been considering the same as you for a while now. I have been using sonos for many years, recently with Roon and yesterday I ordered a Bluesound Pulse flex which I am expecting to arrive next Tuesday :-). I will compare the Flex against my existing sonos players and will report back when I do.

A few observations I can share from my research so far:

  • If you aim to use Roon exclusively then Bluesound is the best path as they are roon ready.
  • You can indeed use Roon exclusively with Sonos but in order to do so you will need a Sonos Connect to link with your main HiFi. There are potential usability issues with that arrangement however.
  • Sonos is little more eco friendly: Most recent sonos players (excluding Connect, Play 5 Gen 1 and Playbar) have a standby idle power consumption of around 2 to a max of 3.8 watts. Bluesound players have a standby idle of 6 watts.
  • Sonos is a bit easier to adjust in your room due to the fact that the speakers are sealed boxes (so you can place them right against the wall) and they offer the trueplay tuning (via the app) which does make a significant difference. I know blue sound speakers are rear ported so they might need more care with placement. I will need to test them to see how they behave.
  • The Sonos user experience (through their app) is amazing, reliable and easy. If you don’t mind using both the Sonos and the Roon app then you will be rewarded with ease of use when you move from room to room (use Sonos app) and high quality listening for when you sit down to listen critically (use Roon and a Roon ready device to feed your HiFi). This however means you are effectively using two systems interchangeably.
  • You can of course use Roon to control sonos speakers and the connect but I find that so far, the sonos app offers a slightly better user experience. Small things like access to the sonos app via the lock screen, better scrolling through playlists, less button presses to change volume etc etc. Roon will improve I am sure but so far my user experience is better with the Sonos app.
  • I have heard (no personal experience yet) that the Bluesound app is not that great. Need to confirm this though.
  • With Bluesound you can integrate with say a Roon ready streamer / bridge etc and you end up using one system.
  • Cost: Bluesound costs a lot more than sonos. Maybe about double.
  • Sonos Connect is necessary if you want to try and sync other Sonos speakers with your main HiFi. The problem with the Connect is that i) it is not exactly bit perfect and you will need to feed it into a dac to improve the SQ. ii) Even with a good dac, the Sonos Connect sounded inferior to my ears as compared to a Roon bridge feeding the same dac.
  • With Sonos connect and depending on the dac you use, a small delay may be introduced (Especially so with Naim Dac, Naim Dac V1, Yamaha AVRs) which means your other sonos players will be a bit out of sync. Roon ready devices can by manually synchronised so any sync issues can be fixed. You cannot however manually tweak synchronisation if you employ sonos players.

I have until recently used my sonos speakers (Play 1, Play 5) + Sonos connect (main HiFi) for when I move around the house. I would then switch to Roon exclusively for when I sit down to listen critically via the main HiFi. Worked ok but I got frustrated by having two separate systems. I am trying to move towards Bluesound players (in bedrooms) + a Roon Bridge on a mini PC feeding my main HiFi.

Sorry for very very long response, I hope it helps a bit.

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The Bluesound Pulse 2 and Pulse Mini are not ported as far as I can see and are easily placed. They can also be linked as Stereo pairs.
The Bluesound app is perfectly simple to use once you are familiar as with any app. Also with Bluesound you can use any ir remote to select 5 presets volume pause play etc
If you are a Roon lifer it makes sense to go for Roon Ready devices as the operation is seamless.
You can put these in ‘Vacation Mode’ to save power by pressing and holding the pause button for 5 seconds if power consumption is an issue.
Just adding my experience with the products I own.

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I would assume that you can also power them off at the wall too and have no standby power consumption…just on them before you need them and then they will show up in roon once ready. This is the same for DAC’s that have network or Roon Bridge connections too.

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Excellent Point Chris. Missed that, thanks for the heads up

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I was just looking through the Bluesound manual and indeed they can be switched off as you recommend. In my experience this works fine for the main HiFi (manual switch on and off) but if I have a few Bluesound speakers around the house then I would prefer to not have to go around manually switching them on and off. The sonos players allow this with their low power consumption. This is of course subjective and others may not mind.

Cheers

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1st world problems…only perhaps an issue if you are away for extended periods.

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In the end, every one has to make there own mind up but I put audio quality at the top of my list. I can’t see the point of saving a little power and installing a system I am not excited to listen to. ROON makes acces to music easy and I run a NAS 24/7. Bluesound makes the experience enjoyable and satisfying around the house. My main Meridian rig only seems to get used in the winter months when I can’t get access to the conservatory. It is an absolute joy but then again, so is Bluesound.
Horses for courses. Chris :sunglasses:

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Very much agree Chris :slight_smile: Eagerly awaiting delivery of the Bluesound Mini… Tuesday seems very very far away lol

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I have Sonos speakers, but they are not my main listening devices. And I have a Sonos Connect hooked up to a stereo system. Most of my Roon use and “serious” listening is through DACS and headphones. Having said that, I find Roon to be a great way to enjoy Sonos, particularly to play higher resolution files that Sonos won’t natively handle. They’re downsampled by Roon. If I were starting from scratch and deciding between Sonos or Bluesound as part of my main listening setup, I’d probably go with Bluesound. However, a pair of Sonos Play 5s can be impressive for what thetpy are. In any event, I just wanted to chime in and say that I’ve had good luck with Sonos and Roon, although in the beginning there were some hiccups that seem to have been resolved. BTW, I had Sonos gear before I became a Roon user.

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While I am eagerly expecting the Bluesound Flex to arrive, can I also ask for some advice from those of you who use Bluesound:

  • Is it good enough to replace a similarly priced stereo separates setup? For example a pair of Pulse 2s in stereo mode vs an equivalently priced dac - amp - speakers?
  • Do you worry at all about longevity and any potential obsolescence? My thinking is that a traditional separates system can always be configured to work with any new digital front end.

Thanks

Not tried it as a Stereo pair but I would expect a pair of Pulse 2’s to be amazing. If I had a small living space, that’s what I would do. As they are Roon Ready and accept Digital or Analog inputs I can’t think what else I may need.
I have streamed and local music via Roon/Tidal and BluOS. internet Radio and TV sound. Not sure I need anything else personally.
Thoughts, Chris

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Our days are filled with recordings being played via Swiss (mastering) studio monitors and I would suggest that a pair of Bluesound Pulse devices (with a tweak on the ‘simple’ eq setup in the Pulse to suit your ears) together with Roon would out perform many home stereo systems currently used.

We have Bluesound / Roon set up in a weekend house and the output quality still makes me smile. It is a win / win situation, Roon as the best library manager, Bluesound as a very good means of ‘uncluttered’ hearing. All through wi-fi, so Bluesound Rev 1 is fine for us - almost half of the price of the Pulse 2 revision. I hate bluetooth.

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Just a quick update for anyone interested: I received the pulse flex yesterday and I let it play at low to moderate volume for about 24hours to break it in a little. This morning I placed it next to my Sonos Play 1 and started comparing. This is of course all subjective but… quite surprised. The Bluesound Flex has a clear midrange and vocals are very very nice. London Grammar sounds superb, so does Sade etc. I left tone controls to the off setting. All this through Roon of course. The top frequencies of the Flex sound bit rolled off to my ears but not in a bad way. I do not feel I miss any detail. The mid bass sounds a bit on the weak side (slightly hollow feel to it) but the bass below that (150 Hz and below) is quite full and strong. The overall sound flavour is clear, smooth but a little lacking in punch due to the hollow feel in the mid bass (to my ears). The flex can go loud with no problems.

Compared to the Sonos Play 1… On the plus side the Flex offers smoother and at the same time slightly clearer vocals. On the negative side, the Flex sounds to me weaker in the mid bass area and as a result it comes across as less punchy and less fun. Overall the Sonos has a fuller and punchier sound (with all known limitations of course).

The Bluesound app is ok-ish but I ran into the playlist problem (iTunes playlists are listed but they show the entire track database instead of the playlist tracks). Reported this to Bluesound who responded quickly acknowledging that some people are indeed facing this issue. Adding network shares (MacBook pro) feels to me a bit more cumbersome than how Sonos does it.

Overall, I have to concede that I slightly prefer the Sonos Play 1 sound ‘flavour’. Considering that the Flex costs almost double…

Just my experience and I fully respect and acknowledge most people here rate Bluesound higher.

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Yiannis,

Thanks for reporting back!!

I am continuing to struggle with whether to go with Sonos or Bluesound speakers. I have a decent HiFi system that will have an HTPC connected to it via HDMI running Roon.

What I plan to add are a Sonos or Bluesound soundbar in the living room and a Play-1 or Flex in the kitchen. My wife and kids will use these extensively, so ease of use and reliability are much more important than sound quality. In addition, they will want to use other apps such as Pandora and local public radio stations. Thus, I expect that they will use the native Bluesound or Sonos app while I will use Roon. Also worth noting, I have a lot of FLAC hi-res and FLAC 5.1 files in my collection - which I understand Roon will conveniently downsample when sending to Sonos.

Sonos pros - less expensive, Sonos app easier to use, more services supported.
Blursound pros - RAAT support, better sound, Bluesound app will handle my hi-res files

Having used both with their native apps and with Roon, are there any additional thoughts you can share about usability or features that might tilt my decision in one direction or the other given the above usage scenario?

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Hi Edward

Like you I am also a little bit stuck as to what is the best way forward. I also have a decent HiFi in the living room which is fed by mini fanless PC running a roon bridge. It uses an M2Tech Hiface usb to spdif interface which then feeds a DAC etc. Very good SQ there. Just like you I am hoping to extend the music to other rooms and have it play in sync with my main HiFi. As such I am hoping for a moderately priced, reliable and easy to use solution.

The Roon ready blue sound Flex has not worked out for me unfortunately and I am in the process of returning it. I did not like the sound ‘flavour’ (lack of mid bass punch) and after testing next to my Sonos Play 1 I decided I very much prefer the Sonos. I am not suggesting that Sonos speakers offer high fidelity sound but for background music as I move around the house, Sonos is much more fun to my ears.

Maybe the bigger Bluesound speakers (mini / pulse 2) sound amazing but the cost is very high for achieving a whole house background music in sync.

The Sonos UI is definitely easy and user friendly. It is the only app that my parents use and enjoy. Roon can control sonos speakers but there are some bugs that need fixing. One issue I have recently reported is about grouping sonos speakers. I can group two or more sonos speakers using Roon and play music (in perfect sync). If I stop the music, exit Roon and then open the Sonos app, it will show the grouped speakers like before but it will only play music through one speaker only. To remedy this I have to (via the Sonos app) ungroup the sonos speakers and then regroup them. Annoying but not fatal to me. I can see though that my parents would find it difficult to deal with if it happened to them.

So all in all, I am a bit stuck as I have not yet found a super easy to use and reliable multi-room ‘extension’ of music that works alongside Roon. At the moment I am sticking with Sonos and will try to use a Connect alongside my Roon Bridge mini PC. I will try using the sonos connect + Sonos speakers around the house for background music. If I sit down for a proper listen I will then switch to the Roon Bridge.

There is of course the ‘ultimate’ solution which involves using Pis or mini PCs running roon bridges. This is probably the best and most robust solution but it adds clutter around. As an example, you can have a MiniX fanless PC (£160) + Used Dragonfly Dac (£60) feeding a Focal Shape 40 speaker (£340). Total cost £560 for a truly audiophile zone :-). Again though, very high cost for my intended purpose. Just consider that you can fill a house with background fun music with £180 per room (Sonos Play 1)

One last thing… I would personally avoid the Sonos Playbar. I had it for 2 months and ended up selling because it was not projecting movie dialogue well enough. I found it hard to enjoy movies through it. The Sonos Playbase sounded a lot better to my ears when I briefly listened to it. I personally use the main HiFi (stereo) for movies. To avoid issues I have a miniDSP that allows for adjusting the sound to suit for movie watching. Works really well.

Sorry for the long post. Hope it all works out for you :slight_smile:

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I’ll have to state a dissenting opinion here… I know the Sonos options (Play 1/3/5) quite well, but think they’re somewhat dull and boomy. I recently added a Pulse 2 to my bedroom, replacing a Meridian F80/Pi combo and it compares quite well. Compared to a Play 5, it offers a more mature, detailed, balanced sound. Less fun? Maybe, but not to these ears. I cannot speak for the smaller speakers – @Sloop_John_B is using a Flex during his house refurbishment, I believe – maybe he can chip in.

Sound differences aside, Bluesound has done a really nice job with their RoonReady integration. It’s rock solid and offers clean source switching (TuneIn Radio, Spotify, Qobuz, Roon – you name it). It also offers convenient remote support (you can use any remote you have lying around – I use an old Apple TV remote in the bedroom) and has a quite decent headphone out, in case that’s of interest.

But as always – line 'm up and compare. :slight_smile:

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