Sonos Amp: Your ultimate guide

Do you need the new Sonos Amp? Here's everything you should know

Sonos Amp: Your ultimate guide
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The Sonos Amp is the multi-room audio specialist's latest and greatest gadget for adding some smarts to your dumb speakers.

It's a $599 device that bridges the connected world of Sonos – from digital music streaming to AirPlay 2 – with good old fashioned speakers.

We've been living with the new Sonos Amp for the past few weeks – here's everything you need to know about it.

Sonos Amp: Design and installation

The Sonos Amp is a far cry, in terms of design aesthetics, from its clunky-looking predecessor; the Connect:Amp. You won't be ashamed to have this slick black box on show, it might even be the best looking bit of Sonos kit so far.

On the front you'll find handy touch controls – play, pause and volume – similar to those you'll find on the high-end Sonos Play:5. On the back are the ports and connectors that make the magic happen – but more of that in a bit.

However, should you decide you do want it out of sight then you'll be pleased to know that the Amp is designed to fit in standard AV racks. Sure, many centralised AV systems have multiple Connect:Amps powering the multi-room music, but the Amp is Sonos' first wireless amplifier that has been designed to not only fit in a rack, but perform as it should even if it's in a multi-Amp setup.

Sonos Amp: Your ultimate guide

Sonos Amp: Speaker setup

The idea of the Amp is that you hook it up to some non-wireless speakers using a speaker cable. You simply treat the Amp as a Sonos speaker – assigned a room/name and so on – and whatever you choose to stream to it will play through the connected dumb speakers. You can, as with actual Sonos speakers, also group it with other rooms for multi-room audio as well.

While it will work with practically any old speakers, we'd suggest wiring it up to some decent ones. There's no point forking out $599 for an Amp and playing music through a pair of dud speakers that cost you $25 off of eBay. Splash the cash. Treat yourself.

Sonos suggests treating yourself by connecting the Amp to some of the new Sonos Architectural by Sonance lineup, consisting of the the Sonos In-Wall ($799), the Sonos In-Ceiling ($599) and the Sonos Outdoor ($799).

The Sonos Amp will auto-recognise and connect to the Sonance wall speakers and you’ll be able to tune them via TruePlay. We've been testing our Amp alongside the in-wall and in-ceiling models and the setup is super simple. On the back of the Amp are four speaker terminals and the banana-plugs required to hold speaker wire in place.

The most common setup will include a pair of speakers wired to the left and right speaker terminals, but the Amp also lets you add four (8ohm) speakers. The same music will play out of all four speakers, though you could add a third-party impedance matching speaker selector switch to the mix to manually turn a pair off.

You can actually connect up to six Sonance Architectural speakers to a Sonos Amp, but don't try and do this with non-approved speakers or you'll risk damaging your Amp, speakers or both.

Sonos Amp: TV and surround sound

The Sonos Amp also has an HMDI port and works with the HDMI Arc port on your TV to let you create a stereo speaker setup in your living room, with the Amp creating two front facing speaker channels. Throw in a sub, and you've got yourself a 2.1 system.

You can also create a 4.1 surround sound system using the Amp alongside a Sonos TV speaker (Playbar, Playbase, Beam) and some Sonos or third party speakers acting as the rear sounds.

Sonos Amp: Your ultimate guide

Sonos Amp: Vinyl, CDs and more

You don't actually have to wire the Sonos Amp up to any speakers at all for it to play a big part in a multi-room audio setup.

You can have it just act as a receiver, with a line-in from a record player or CD player. This way, in the Sonos app you can just choose to wirelessly beam the audio it picks up from line-in to any other Sonos speakers (or indeed, AirPlay 2 speakers) in your setup. You might need to alter the compression settings in the app to avoid lag or choppiness though.

You can, of course, also do that while at the same time having the audio played through some wired-in speakers as well.

Sonos Amp v Connect:Amp: What's the difference?

The Sonos Amp has double the power (125 Watts per channel) of the Connect:Amp and offers a larger number of connected speakers if you stick to the Sonance Architectural range.

There is, of course, also that HMDI connectivity that's lacking on the Connect:Amp, as well as AirPlay 2 support.

The Amp also has its own IR sensor on the front so you can control its volume using your TV remote control.

Sonos Amp: AirPlay 2 and Alexa

AirPlay 2 is on board, meaning that you can sync up your old speakers – via the Amp – to the HomePod or other third-party AirPlay 2 speakers for another multi-room audio setup. You can also use the Amp as a conduit to adding older, non AirPlay, Sonos speakers to an AirPlay group.

Alexa isn't actually built into the Sonos Amp – as it is with other new Sonos devices such as the One and Beam – but you can use Amazon's digital assistant to control your Amp by grouping it with an associated Echo device.

Google Assistant support is coming to Sonos soon, as well.

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