Whole home audio - Control4 vs Sonos vs others - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 06-20-2012, 09:21 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm in the process of selecting a control system for my new to me home and need some advise on whole home audio part of the system. I'm not 100% sure, closer to 80%, that my control system will be Control4. I'm planning on starting with 4 zones only for now and will expand to 8 zones when the budget allows.

Having said that, I know Control4 has its own audio distribution system. The one integrator I spoke with suggested I go with Sonos Connect Amps wired to in ceiling speakers for each zone instead of the Control4 multi zone amp. His reasons were that I can listen to internet radio in any zone as well as my itunes playlist and music stored on a network hard drive. My only reservations are that I don't listen to much internet radio and most of my music is stored on itunes and/or hard drive. I'm also on the fence about the whole individual zone/amp idea as I feel it may clutter up the rack in the basement. I kind of like having a single multi channel amp like that of the Control4.

Do any of you guys think the Sonos route is the best route for me? Would I be better off going with Control4's distribution system?

What are the pros and cons of either? Are there better systems out there with the same price point that I should look at?

Disclaimer: I don't care for touch pads in each room as it's just me and my wife and we both use iPhone/iPad's. I will eventually mount an iPod Touch in every zone which will give me access to the audio as well as the automation.

Thanks for your help.

Cheers,
Nick
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post #2 of 16 Old 06-20-2012, 10:05 AM
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I've got a similar set up using control4. Here are my observations and thoughts.

When you upgrade to 8 zones that's going to be a lot of sonos amps. I've got three sonos connects (zp90) in my rack and it looks fine. I run my 90's into an audio matrix switch from zektor and then into a multi-zone amp.

The zektor switcher has both analog and digital inputs and outputs, unlike the control4 amp or switcher. This doesn't seem like a big deal but having the ability to input digital audio and distribute it can become important, it did for me. You could use a dac to convert the digital but as I found there are situations that you need the digital.

Also if you go the c4 amp and later want to include a zone that is on an AVR you will run into difficulty. This is why I love just a simple matrix switch.


Chris
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post #3 of 16 Old 06-20-2012, 02:19 PM
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We just did one instead of using sonos we used the control 4 amps (but really any amp will work) and a nuvo music port mpsp4-e with the new extra vegitables driver. Worked like a charm. What I don't like about sonos is it access your itunes library on your pc thrashing your network to stream music and dependent on the pc being in good health and not rebooting for a windows update or something silly in the middle of a party. It is just more reliable for me and less sercice calls. Also the Sonos amps are not the best sounding but it depends on the speakers you are driving and your needs.

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post #4 of 16 Old 06-20-2012, 05:43 PM
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I have 13 Sonos players in the A/V room, all hardwired to a dedicated switch wired to a Netgear NAS (where the music files are stored).

One of the most popular features of Sonos, according to family and friends who visit and use the system, is streaming music from Pandora.

Even though we have thousands of titles ripped to the NAS, Pandora gets the nod.

Now some folk talk about this system or that system sounding better. Well here most folks are using it as background music to some other activity - playing a game, reading, sitting on the dock, etc.

NOBODY has every said 'Gee the system sounds ________' (fill in the blank). They are not focused on the quality of the sound, the just like being able to play music where ever they happen to be.

That said I sit in my office working, listen to ripped content and it sounds just fine.

I got some environmental tracks for my wife to help her get to sleep. There is one from a garden (birds, windchimes, etc). It sounds like you are right there. The chimes sound just like the ones we have on the porch. When we play the tracks from thunderstorms the dogs start to shiver, just like they do when a real storm rolls through.

Don't worry about the Sonos amps - with good speakers you will be satisfied with the sound.

Regards, Frederick C. Wilt
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post #5 of 16 Old 06-20-2012, 07:10 PM - Thread Starter
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Lots of good advice here. I'm liking the Nuvo Music Port idea with the EV driver because I can buy a third party 8 zone amp with RS232 control for cheaper than C4's 4 zone. How many zones can stream content from the Music Port simultaneously? are the Internet radio services free with the Music Port like they are on the Nuvo GC? Also, using the Music Port can I view my playlists on my iPhone or iPad like I can with Sonos? That is a plus for me on the Sonos side.

I like the Sonos too but Pandora is not available in Canada.
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post #6 of 16 Old 06-20-2012, 07:27 PM
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I would not get the sonos amp, get the Connect and use a switch and amp combo. Like someone else said all ripped content and iTunes music can be played off of a NAS vs being on a computer. The sonos has far more streaming options then any other player, I've investigated them all.

For Control4 stuff head on over to C4forums.com. Lots of great info

Chris
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post #7 of 16 Old 06-21-2012, 01:23 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cdepaola View Post

I would not get the sonos amp, get the Connect and use a switch and amp combo. Like someone else said all ripped content and iTunes music can be played off of a NAS vs being on a computer. The sonos has far more streaming options then any other player, I've investigated them all.
For Control4 stuff head on over to C4forums.com. Lots of great info

Are you suggesting I buy a multi channel amp and use a single Sonos Connect as a source input? In theory, can two zones stream from the Sonos Connect simultaneously or would that only serve a single zone at a time?
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post #8 of 16 Old 06-21-2012, 06:00 AM
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Personally sonos is my favorite music distribution system. It's easy to add to, easy to use and so much music content out there. That said, in no particular order:

- Sonos does internet radio better then control4, most because sonos manages the links where as control4 your dealer does or you can.
- Sonos does music files on your system better then control4, again because sonos will scan easier. Control4 again needs your dealer to scan and manage or you can with control4 software.
- Both have rhapsody, I have not used it on sonos but with the exception of a recent account saving glitch it works great with control4.
- Sonos does Pandora, control4 does not.
- Extra Vegetables makes an app to control sonos, I have heard good things but not experienced it myself.
- Amplification. Control4's amps are better then sonos, but unless you have to decided to use very inefficient power hungry speakers for background music this is really a moot point. Example: i had a customer who decided to use Martin Logan electrostats off sonos, then moved them to a control4 amp then to a rotel receiver, the sonos was the worse sounding with them. But all the other speakers in his house really didn't sound much different moving from sonos to control4 power.
- NAS drives - i would highly recommend using one for whatever system you choose. Having to rely on a desktop or even worse a laptop to be in good running condition to stream mp3's and itunes is a recipe for annoyance. And yes, someone in the house will ALWAYS shut it down at some point that you will be unaware off.
- Control4 keypads. You said you were not interested in them but I would recommend at least the 3 button to keep in rooms for volume controls. With the ipods / ipads you have to get them out of sleep mode, they re-establish your wireless network then reconnect with control4 then you have to switch rooms if you are not in the right one. Sure all this only takes a couple seconds to about 10, but I find it very annoying when you need a simple volume up or mute command.

Remember control4 is a complete house solution, basically limited to your imagination and wallet. If you want you can use motion sensors to turn lights on and off in rooms, you could also carry that into music playing. If you have speakers in 2 rooms next to each other but only playing in 1 you could have that second room also playing with the first when you walk in and have the previous room shut off if after x minutes the motion does not sense you. I'm sure you are aware of other things control4 can do.

Sonos is just a music distribution. The nice thing is you want to add music down the road you can do it yourself (outside of connecting to control4 amps) such as Play5's or Play3's in any bedrooms that are not part of the house system, or a garage or a basement, etc. You don't have to worry about bringing in your installer for running wires and programming new rooms.


What I would recommend is a combination of both. Decide how many streams of sonos you really need at any given time and just add those zp90's to the control4 amps. Sonos just provides so much music easily that it should be at least 1 source in house music systems.

who ever said money can't buy love never bought a puppy.
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post #9 of 16 Old 06-21-2012, 07:56 AM
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Ok I bent a fether up there I am not saying Sonos is bad I am a Sonos delaer, Nuvo Dealer, Savant dealer and have done many control 4 installs. Sonos does not sound bad at all I am just saying if you pair a sonos amp to a nice set of speakers it is not nearly as good as a real amp. As stated above the connect to a real amp is the way to go if you go that rout.

The mpsp4-e has 4 distince outputs. I think it is the best music server out there right now we just have the lest issues with it and it takes up 1u of rack space. Pairing Sonos with a NAS is the way to do it but still you are streaming over your network and you get a bunch of streams going the NAS crumbles or the network crumbles if soemone is doing something else, etc. For a 1 person application which is most of the people here or how they think it works fine. But I have lots of houses we do where they have many streams going at once and something can't keep up. If this is yoru network and you unserstand it, it is fine but when I start telling customers they need to add NAS drives faster switches etc they tend to get frustrated fast I rathor just put in the thing I know works first.

Jason
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post #10 of 16 Old 06-21-2012, 12:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by programmergeek View Post

but still you are streaming over your network and you get a bunch of streams going the NAS crumbles or the network crumbles if soemone is doing something else, etc.

If the network is properly configured with the proper hardware it is not going to be a problem.

If you have a dedicated NAS for your music (which you should) and you are letting the Sonos devices handle the streaming (using the Sonos mesh network) then nothing else on the "house" network is going to interfere since the networks are isolated.

On the other hand if you are going to hardwire the Sonos devices, on a rack down in the A/V room, then simply dedicate a switch to them, along with the dedicated NAS and you're good to go.

Regards, Frederick C. Wilt
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post #11 of 16 Old 06-21-2012, 03:19 PM
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Originally Posted by fcwilt View Post

If the network is properly configured with the proper hardware it is not going to be a problem.
If you have a dedicated NAS for your music (which you should) and you are letting the Sonos devices handle the streaming (using the Sonos mesh network) then nothing else on the "house" network is going to interfere since the networks are isolated.
On the other hand if you are going to hardwire the Sonos devices, on a rack down in the A/V room, then simply dedicate a switch to them, along with the dedicated NAS and your good to go.

Yeh, seriously, one uncompressed CD quality stereo stream would need about 176kbyte/s. I'm guessing most peoples music libraries are compressed though. But a normal network should be able to deal with at least 10 uncompressed audio streams at the same time.
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post #12 of 16 Old 06-21-2012, 07:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all your replies so far. I have a senario I wish to run by you guys.

Let's say I get the Control4 or Crestron as my control system (as I've yet to decide for sure) and get a third party amp, say a 6 zone Dayton or HTD or whatever, and a Sonos connect as a source and everything else is on an NAS, will all 6 zones be able to play something different at the same time?

Also, would I need a third party switch to distribute the audio to each zone or does the Control4 and Crestron have that built in?
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post #13 of 16 Old 06-22-2012, 07:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MMMorish View Post

Thanks for all your replies so far. I have a senario I wish to run by you guys.
Let's say I get the Control4 or Crestron as my control system (as I've yet to decide for sure) and get a third party amp, say a 6 zone Dayton or HTD or whatever, and a Sonos connect as a source and everything else is on an NAS, will all 6 zones be able to play something different at the same time?
Also, would I need a third party switch to distribute the audio to each zone or does the Control4 and Crestron have that built in?

I can't speak to how Crestron works but I know Control4 would still require an audio switch in order to route the audio sources to the different zones. Often it's more cost effective to utilize the Control4 amp by the time you account for an audio switch as well. The Sonos can only output one audio stream as it only has one output so think of it as a CD player on steroids. Control4 controllers have audio outputs as well so you could also use Control4 for the playback of your music from the NAS. Control4 of course doesn't offer as many music services as Sonos so it's a great option to add as a source to any system. If you wanted 6 separate things playing in each of the 6 zones from Sonos, it would require 6 Sonos Connect units. There's also a driver that's been written that allows for the integration of Sonos and Control4 so you could control Sonos from within Control4.

HTH!
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post #14 of 16 Old 06-23-2012, 01:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Jeep4JB View Post

I can't speak to how Crestron works but I know Control4 would still require an audio switch in order to route the audio sources to the different zones. Often it's more cost effective to utilize the Control4 amp by the time you account for an audio switch as well. The Sonos can only output one audio stream as it only has one output so think of it as a CD player on steroids. Control4 controllers have audio outputs as well so you could also use Control4 for the playback of your music from the NAS. Control4 of course doesn't offer as many music services as Sonos so it's a great option to add as a source to any system. If you wanted 6 separate things playing in each of the 6 zones from Sonos, it would require 6 Sonos Connect units. There's also a driver that's been written that allows for the integration of Sonos and Control4 so you could control Sonos from within Control4.
HTH!

Okay, this is a great response which helps me a lot. I think I'm going to buy a single Sonos Connect and pair it with a third party 6 zone amplifier with built in switch. Anyone know of a good quality amp with 6 zones, a built in switch and can be daisy-chained with another 6 zone amp in the future? (I just realized that I could use the extra 4 zones. Instead of 8 I will eventually want 12).
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post #15 of 16 Old 06-23-2012, 09:17 PM
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Audio Authority just came out with a new one that's very nice and the C4 8 zone is also very nice and the most powerful.

With the new ExtraVegetables Sonos driver you really don't need a switch anymore if all your going to use are a few sonos players. If your going to use sonos plus other sources the you'll need a matrix. For the ultimate in future flexibility to Zektor Audio Switch which does analog and digital audio paired with a multi zone amp is the way to go. You could go with something like the new SnapAV 12 channel amp on the budget side or my favorite Lexicon DD-8 on the upper end.

Chris
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post #16 of 16 Old 07-01-2012, 09:32 AM
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Control4 recently released an IP driver for the Grace Digital Tuner Pro--a $250 internet radio tuner that plays Pandora etc. I'd pair that with the 8-channel Control4 amp & forget Sonos.
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