Long the go-to brand for audiophile sound, Sonos replaced their best-selling Connect with the next-generation Port, unveiling the latter in September 2019. Both products are tuner-like components that seamlessly integrate streaming music services into whole-home music systems.
However, as detailed below, Sonos Port offers many features that Connect lacks. If you have a Connect, make the upgrade to Port.
Note that Sonos Connect is available as either Gen 1 and Gen 2. Note that Sonos products require the Sonos app/operating system for use.
Be aware that Connect Gen 1 can only use the Sonos S1 controller app (which doesn't support CD-quality sound) while Connect Gen 2 and Port can avail either the S1 or S2 controller app.
Let me tell you something right off the bat.
The sound quality performance you'll end up getting from a speaker will always depend on your room acoustics - particularly room dimensions and speaker positions.
The impact of the combination of these two is actually so strong that in most cases, it doesn't even make sense to utter a single word on sound quality without speaking of them.
This is also why it's not unusual to see completely different reviews of the same speaker.
In one case the speaker might be placed in a sweet spot inside the room and hence the user might be satisfied. In other cases the same speaker might be ill placed and hence user might even have returned it.
The point most people miss here is that it mostly isn't even about the engineering behind the speaker itself. It's about where you place the speaker inside which room.
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So, in order to solve this problem, I've partnered with an Acoustics and Audio Engineering PhD and created Soundton - a simple, 2D, browser accessible online speaker placement calculator.
With Soundton, now there's a way to figure the sound quality of most speakers before you buy them.
Read more about its working principles at soundton.com.
The end colormap provides you the locations with the best (green) and worst (red) acoustics.
ASAP Science also made a video on the loudest and quietest rooms in the world. A mind blowing example of the importance of acoustics (play time adjusted video below).
Other parameters such as the age/materials of the building, the furniture & carpets in place, etc can and will, of course, have an effect on room acoustics, too. But it's much less compared to other parameters mentioned above.
Also, while you're at it, blast my Hidden Electronic Gems list to test the speakers:
If you're streaming music using lossy formats like MP3, AAC or WMA, sound quality isn't a concern with either Sonos Connect or Port. But if you're into hi-res audio (HRA), both Connect and Port will disappoint as neither supports 24-bit music files. Sonos-supported bit depth is but 16-bit but by upgrading to the Sonos S2 app, you can enjoy CD-audio quality.
Regarding Sonos Connect's sonic qualities, CNET reported that the network music player is "a little lean in the bass" while 7Review found that "the presentation" of Connect is "fundamentally neutral, but (has a) very slight tonal darkness to the upper registers that ensures that the Connect is extremely hard to provoke into harshness or aggression."
7Review adds, "The Connect displays an impressive sense of control and spaciousness to the music while doing a very good job of maintaining a believable feeling of scale and power... This ability is underpinned by extremely good bass."
As for Sonos Port, TechHive opined that "Port sounds inferior to the Connect" with its "sound field... flattened and compressed." To remedy this, Sonos recommends tweaking Port's sound quality by going to the Sonos controller app and change the line-out setting from the factory-default "Variable" to "Fixed." However, the Sonos app then cannot control volume levels—inconvenient, to be sure.
One can bypass an outboard digital-to-audio converter (DAC)—i.e., the Sonos Amp—in favor of Port's analog audio outputs. By doing so, the Sonos controller app's variable output setting is not an issue. However, both Connect and Port can serve as DACs. If you're listening to lossy file formats, why bother with an outboard DAC?
On the other hand, says Sonos Port's "expansive" sound is "certainly a step up from" Connect, at least when listening to compressed audio files from a streaming Internet radio station. So, it seems, YMMV. Note that the sound quality of both Connect and Port spec out at THD+N (Total Harmonic Distortion plus Noise)<0.009%, 20 hz-20 khz.0.009%,>
We think Sonos Port sounds better than Connect since Port has a 10 dB improvement in signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) compared to Connect, giving the Port a richer sound with better clarity in the midrange and upper midrange tones. This is but one of the many improvements of Port over Connect. We discuss Port's other upgrades below.
Here is how you set up your Sonos Connect.
Loudness & Power
Since both Sonos Connect and Port are tuner-like components, they don't power or drive—as an amplifier (like Sonos Amp) does—speakers. Hence, you must use amplified components with these players.
Regarding external power, both require auto-switchable 100 - 240 VAC at 50/60 Hz adapters. Both also need one rechargeable lithium-ion polymer (LiPo) battery for use (built-in/factory installed) and are easily replaceable.
Features of both Sonos Connect and Port include:
- Dual Ethernet ports (10/100 Mbps) for network connectivity (along with WiFi)
- Audio Input—RCA (R/L) In (from a CD player, LP turntable or Internet radio)
- Audio Output—RCA (R/L) Out, Digital coax to amplifier or receiver
Note that Sonos Port lacks the TOSLINK optical audio output connection that Connect has, which is okay by us since we prefer coax anyway. Another difference: Port has a 12V "trigger" output while Connect does not. A trigger in an audio component is an on/off switch. With a trigger, Port integrates more efficiently into whole-home music systems. It lowers power consumption by automatically switching off the amplifier connected to Port.
Both Sonos Connect and Port are compatible with virtually any music streaming service such as Pandora, Spotify, Amazon Prime Music, Apple Music, etc. If you subscribe to Apple AirPlay 2, Port supports it (as does the S2 controller app) while Connect does not.
Another nifty setting Sonos Port has that Connect doesn't is an Alarms feature. Not only can you set a clock alarm to sound through your speakers, but you can also use the Alarms feature to play specific playlists at preset times during the day. You can run your playlists for as long as you want and play songs in random order, too.
Sonos Port also natively interfaces with virtual assistants such as like Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit using voice control; Connect does not. Just add a device like Amazon Dot or Google Home Mini. Port also has a faster and more powerful microprocessor than Connect, "future-proofing" the player for subsequent firmware updates.
Sonos Connect comes in light grey; Port in matte black. While both have similar width and depth dimensions, Port is half as tall as Connect. Specifically, Connect measures 2.9 in x 5.35 in x 5.5 in (74 mm x 136 mm x 140 mm) and weighs 1.5 lbs (.69 kg). Port tallies 1.6 in x 5.4 in x 5.4 in. (41 mm x 138 mm x 138 mm) and 1 lb (.47 kg).
We think Sonos Port sounds better than Connect; others disagree. While the price between the two isn't much, consider Port's extra cost as insurance for "future-proofing." Both are a handy addition to your home sound system if you like streaming music across the various rooms of your dwelling. Too, we like both to integrate inputs from turntables and CD players into our network.
If you don't need the extra features Sonos Port offers, we recommend listening to both before deciding between the two.
You can watch a video review here: