Music streaming

Sonos drops the needle on high-resolution streaming music via Qobuz

If you’ve been waiting patiently for Sonos to extend its high-resolution 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. Qobuz’s high-resolution integration will be available in the Sonos S2 app from today in the US, as well as in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Spain , Switzerland and United Kingdom.

Sonos enabled high-resolution 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 local music library or NAS drive, not from music streaming services.

“Qobuz has always strived to make the highest quality audio accessible, as people are increasingly interested in better sound,” said Qobuz USA Managing Director Dan Mackta in the Sonos announcement. Wednesday. “Now on Sonos devices, we’re making it easy for millions more people to experience the improvements 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). Since the Sonos platform supports a maximum sample rate of 48 kHz, if the Qobuz track you select in the Sonos app is encoded at a resolution higher than 24/48, Qobuz will send a 16 / 44.1 to your Sonos system instead.

Qobuz tells us that about half or a little 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 broadcast. When we asked Sonos about it, a spokesperson responded, “We’re always looking for ways to improve our app experience and we’ll share more over time. Hopefully this feature is in the works.

Sonos says 24-bit music streaming will work on “most” compatible Sonos S2 products, including the Sonos One One SL, Five and the Play: 5 (Gen 2) speakers; Arc, Beam Playbar and Playbase soundbars; 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 / 48 kHz streams; Fortunately, however, Sonos has confirmed that having older S2 compatible components on your network won’t force your entire system to upgrade to 16-bit resolution. Hardware capable of handling a 24-bit stream will do just that, while equipment that is not will play a 16-bit stream. As a reminder, the third generation Sonos Sub is capable of decoding a 24/48 stream.

Besides Qobuz, Sonos supports other music services with high resolution 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 to be worthy of the moniker of “high resolution”, although the question of whether the average listener can tell the difference between CD-quality tracks and high-resolution tracks is a matter of concern. debate (sometimes passionate).

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 CD-quality HiFi plan.

Other music services available on the Sonos app, including Apple Music, Pandora, and YouTube Music, have yet to offer high-resolution or CD-quality music levels.

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