Sonos Streaming or Airplay?

Newbie here… The Roon Core shows two ways to use my Sonos speakers: Sonos Streaming and Airplay. Is one better than the other?

Michael both options work.
I prefer Sonos in my setp , but I don’t use a lot of iOS devices. Only newer Sonos devices support Airplay, so that might impact your decision.


My guess is Sonos streaming is better quality since it’s native Sonos. But it’s only a guess. I don’t really notice a difference.

I just spent a ton of money upgrading my system at home. Some things I changed made a big difference and I’m really happy with it. Other changes didn’t make a difference to my ear, yet were rated highly by reviewers. I have decided that it’s best to trust my ears. If I can’t tell the difference, there probably isn’t a difference.

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Michael for me I prefer using the Sonos protocol, but you might prefer Airplay and the good thing here is you have both options so you can choose either or both (in some strange world).
I never heard any real difference in sound quality

it’s nice to have the choice


Sonos streaming
++ sound quality is “guaranteed”
++ instant playback
– No album art in Sonos app

++ album art in Sonos app
++ more stable
– playback starts after 1-2 seconds
– waveform display not synchronous to music
– sound quality not guaranteed

I use mostly Sonos streaming (several Play:3 and old Play:5). But I had big skipping issues with my Port. With AirPlay I have no more problems.

So my approach would be: First try Sonos streaming. Only with issues switch to AirPlay.

Hope that helps.


But Airplay may be lowering the bitrate in this case? So eliminating skips and dropouts but maybe lower quality? I think this is true but asking it as a question for confirmation

It is correct that AirPlay adapts the data rate to the network capabilities. But I don’t think that a slow network was ever a reason for the skipping problem. I happened no matter how I connected the Port (LAN directly to the router, LAN to the switch, WLAN (like all other devices)). With AirPlay there is only a 1-2 seconds lag before a song starts and I never noticed any differences in sound.

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Looks like Streaming is better to me.

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Andre are you streaming from Qobuz?

Though you’re bit depth is still getting reduced to 16bit the sample rate is now going to the Sonos maximum of 48KHz.
I have never seen that with Sonos and just tried a couple of 24/96 local album’s and streaming Tidal and it is as is was.

I am streaming from my Synology NAS.
I am not subscribed to Tidal nor Qobuz.( not available in Canada unfortunately).

Its very interesting that you get 48KHz as I cannot seem anything beside converting to 16bit 44.1 on my setup. Are you doing any DSP?

Or maybe you are just blessed :wink:

As far as I am aware I do not have any DSP ( I’m still need too Roon. So I’ll double check.

Usually when you see processing speed, that usually means some DSP engaged.
It could be volume leveling as that is a type of DSP

…interesting for the Airplay one, I did have a volume limiter.
Screenshot without the volume limiter.

Regarding the stream play…I have no DSP.

I have SONOS:One as speakers

That’s exactly what I would expect to see from Airplay on a Sonos.

Here is what my Sonos signal path looks like playing a CD album on 2 Play 1s in a stereo pair with all DSP, headroom and audio leveling and cross fade turned off.

And the same thing with a high definition album

I do have problem with the streaming method though. Sometimes it skip to the next song while in the middle of the current song. rather annoying.

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So I have found that when using cross fade and volume leveling. I leave both turned off now and rarely have any kind of skip.
I had so many when I had them both enabled, so worth trying it off.

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Andre I have managed to reproduce this Now.
So I engaged DSP for sample rate conversation and then I get the same result as you

I use Sonos streaming from my core (laptop and roon Win10 desktop app) sounds great. I don’t have the acumen to engage with the above sound variables.

I did find this: Why "Roon Ready" or "Roon Tested"?

However, I am curious as to the differential between audio output channels’ “roon tested” and 'Other network devices"? I’d think Sonos would be roon tested by now.