Sonos vs Airplay – does it matter?

Roon shows all of my Sonos speakers twice – once “via Sonos Streaming” and once “via Airplay.”

Does it matter which one I choose? Is there any advantage to choosing one over the other?

Others may have a more informed view about audio quality but in my experience the main difference is that you can only group speakers of the same type together

So if you have 100% Sonos speakers - it probably doesn’t matter
If you have mixed speakers and want to group them - maybe airplay is a better bet

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Sonos streaming uses the sonos api and airplay uses airplay api. I don’t know the pros and cons of that.

For me there was a big difference: When using the Sonos protocol, I had a lot of skipping and drop-out problems with my Sonos Port. With AirPlay they are gone for good. Additionally, the Sonos App now shows title information and cover art instead of „roon-xyz.flac“.

I cannot hear any difference between the two.

The only „issue“ is a 1-2 seconds lag when starting to play.


Whoa!! Thank you for sharing this. I also experience lots of dropouts with Roon and Sonos- most often when a new song starts, one speaker will work fine and the other will be silent for a minute before picking up the signal. Also nice to know that Airplay broadcasts the name - thats super cool. I’ll give it a shot and report back how it goes.

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I really hope it helps for you too. For me this was the switch from „frustrated“ to „absolutely happy with Roon“.

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Okay this is huge!! The next / previous track buttons in Sonos app on iOS actually work, and tell Roon to navigate to next or previous tracks. I had no idea it could do that! Wish I’d known all this a long time ago… but glad I have it now, and thank you again for sharing your experience here and prompting me to try Airplay.

One thing I’ve observed is that with this setup, you don’t use Roon to group speakers. Instead, you Airplay to a single Sonos speaker and then use Sonos to group them. This works just fine for me since I always want to play the same music through the whole house - I’m not playing different music in different rooms. It also makes the Roon volume slider actually useful, since it applies to all grouped speakers.

+1000 to that! Thank you.

Yeah! I’m glad I could help.

Interestingly I had only issues with my (LAN connected) Port. The other Sonos devices are all Play:3 (wireless Sonos Net) and they work without issues via Roons Sonos Protocol (they do not have AirPlay).