Sonos isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a client tell me, “I just want a simple Sonos type music system. Nothing extravagant” and then I cringe at the thought of trying to break through their sales forcefield and explain to them that Sonos isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. And so I decided to break it down for those who want to know.

Sonos is a great system, if you’re thinking small and maybe wireless. When I say small, I mean like a few rooms of music. Outside of this scenario it’s simply costly, redundant, and more cluttered.  So far Sonos has been able to hold onto their misnomer that they have the audio streaming / multi room music system mastered and that it’s less expensive than other systems, but there’s a deeper reality within this misconception, and we’re getting ready to touch on it.

Things I simply do not like about Sonos.

1.)   Sonos is  an “ open source” platform. In laments terms, this means that Sonos can  monitor your private music choices and share  your data.  If you’ve ever experienced Sonos forcing you to apply their latest weekly updates before they allow you to play music, then you know exactly what I mean. This is a much less secure system than a native system like Elan / Autonomics. Who wants to be tethered to their music system this way?

2.) Sonos likes to strong arm their clients into upgrading their equipment at their whim. Most Sonos users are aware that some, if not all of their Sonos gear became antiquated overnight this year.  What kind of company emails all of their clients to let them know their current gear is being garbaged and they can purchase new gear at a 20% higher cost if they would like to continue to enjoy and upgrade their music system? Sonos does! I don’t have to prove it, you all experienced it in some way or another yourselves via Sonos’ ridiculous emails.

3.) Sonos isn’t less expensive and doesn’t sound anywhere near the same as a true music / surround sound system. I challenge anyone to take a Sonos Sound bar, Sonos Subwoofer, and a couple of rear speakers and match them against a KEF sound bar , JL Audio 8″ Subwoofer, the same rear speakers, and a Yamaha AVR. The reality is that I’ll blow the Sonos system away. It’ll sound better. It’ll be easier to use. It’ll be native. And it’ll be less price. Hmmmm..

Here’s the proof in the pudding.


Sonos 5.1 Surround Sound system: (Required components to create a 5.1 Surround Sound system)(Non upgradable)

Sonos Arc Sound bar:                                        $799.99

Sonos Arc Mount:                                               $55.00

Sonos Subwoofer:                                               $699.99

Sonos Amplifier:                                                 $649.00

Elan 8” Rear Speakers (Pair):                          $400.00

                         Total:         $2,603.98


Dynamic 5.1 Surround Sound System: (huge sound field collection, upgradable to 7.1 Channel Surround Sound, built in HDMI Switch)

KEF Soundbar (mount Not required)              $695.00

JL Audio 8” SubWoofer.                                     $795.00

Yamaha AVR 5.1 SS Receiver:                           $695.00

Elan 8”Rear Speakers (Pair):                             $400.00

                        Total:         $2585.00


So for about $20.00 less cost you can have a completely native Yamaha 5.1 scalable and completely upgradable Surround Sound System with an onboard 4K HDMI switch. Oh, yeah and full Music Cast Streaming options too. These include Spotify, Amazon Music, Deezer, XM/Sirius, iTunes, and support Airplay 2. Hello? This is a no brainer. And for all of those who want to talk about simplistic control, take a look at the Yamaha music cast app.

So not that we broken down a simple 5.1 Surround Sound System I feel like it’s only appropriate we break down a Sonos Whole House Distributed Music System verses an Autonomics High Resolution
Music System. Especially since Sonos likes to taunt this as if it’s their bread and butter.

So to be fair,  I went into my own system designs and came to the conclusion that an average distributed music system consists of 6 – 8 zones or rooms of music. And again to be fair, let’s say that Spotify and Pandora are our preferred streaming options.


(8) rooms or Zones of music :



          Sonos:    (8) Sonos Amps @ $649.99 each = $5,199.92

          8 port Managed Switch: $375.00

Total Sonos Investment:   $5,474.92




          Elan Multi Zone Audio Matrix / Amplifier:  $2,550.00

          Elan Amplifier:  $650.00

          Elan G1 Controller: $695.00

          Autonomics Streamer:  X 2 @ $995.00 each

Total Elan / Autonomics Investment:   $5,885.00


Sure, Sonos may be less expensive when you’re talking about 1 or 2 rooms, but once you get past that their redundant streamers, processors, and amplifiers it’s simply too costly. Not to mention the piles of Sonos gear it would take to complete this system. Where are you storing all of that Sonos gear? And when will Sonos decide it’s time for you to upgrade again? Did I also mention that the Elan Control System is completely upgradable to add Home Automation out of the box. Sonos won’t do that.


Curt Hubner