Music streaming

Sonos abandons high-resolution music streaming via Qobuz

If you’ve been patiently waiting for Sonos to extend Hi-Res Audio support to streaming music services, good news: your wait is over.

Sonos has just announced that Qobuz will be the first streaming music provider to offer songs in 24-bit resolution on the platform. The Qobuz Hi-Res integration will be available in the Sonos S2 app starting today in the US, as well as in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and United Kingdom.

Sonos enabled Hi-Res Audio for its speakers last fall, with the release of its updated S2 app. But until now, you could only stream 24-bit FLAC or ALAC files from a local music library or NAS drive, not from music streaming services.

“Qobuz has always strived to make the highest quality audio accessible as people increasingly care about better sound,” Qobuz USA General Manager Dan Mackta said in the Sonos announcement. Wednesday. “Now on Sonos devices, we’re making it easy for millions more people to experience the improvement High-Resolution Audio can bring.”

Qobuz offers unlimited 24-bit music streaming with sample rates up to 192 kHz starting at $15 per month ($150 if paid annually). As the Sonos platform supports a maximum sampling rate of 48kHz, if the Qobuz track you select in the Sonos application is encoded at a resolution greater than 24/48, Qobuz will instead send a 16/44.1 stream to your Sonos system .

Qobuz tells us that around half or slightly more of its library is available in 24/48 resolution, so that’s what you’ll get on your Sonos speakers if it’s available. However, since the Sonos app does not expose audio format information to the user, listeners will not get visual confirmation of the quality being streamed. When we asked Sonos about this, a spokesperson replied, “We’re always looking for ways to improve our app experience and will share more over time.” Hoping that this feature is in the works.

Sonos says 24-bit music streaming will work on “most” Sonos S2 compatible products, including the Sonos One One SL, Five and Play:5 (Gen 2) speakers; Arc, Beam Playbar and Playbase soundbars; the Move and Roam portable speakers; and the IKEA Symfonisk Bookshelf and Table Lamp speakers. Two Sonos S2 compatible devices that habit supporting 24-bit streaming are the discontinued Play:1 and Play:3 speakers, although they continue to support 16-bit streaming through Qobuz.

The first and second generations of the Sonos Sub are also limited to 16-bit/48kHz streams; Thankfully, though, Sonos has confirmed that having older S2 compatible components on your network won’t force your entire system down to 16-bit resolution. Hardware capable of handling a 24-bit stream will do just that, while equipment that isn’t will play a 16-bit stream. For the record, the third generation Sonos Sub is capable of decoding a 24/48 stream.

Besides Qobuz, Sonos supports other music services with hi-res audio levels, such as Amazon Music HD and Tidal. For now, however, Sonos users can only stream CD-quality 16-bit audio from Amazon and Tidal. Audiophiles consider only 24-bit audio worthy of the moniker “hi-res”, although whether the average listener can tell the difference between CD quality and hi-res tunes is the subject of debate. a (sometimes heated) debate.

Sonos also offers integrations with Deezer, which has a Hi-Fi level with 16-bit (but not 24-bit) audio streaming, and Spotify, which recently announced its own upcoming CD-quality HiFi plan.

Other music services available on the Sonos app, including Apple Music, Pandora, and YouTube Music, do not yet offer high-res or CD-quality music levels.

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