When most people think of Sonos, wireless speakers come to mind. However, the company started out making amps, and that’s what they’ve returned to with their latest product, the Sonos Wireless Amp.
Packed with all the music streaming smarts of every Sonos product, unlike the prior Sonos Connect:Amp, the Sonos Amp has ports to connect any hi-fi speakers. It also works remarkably well for movie watching too, thanks to the incorporation of some great features from the exceptional Sonos Beam soundbar.
Sonos have seemingly created their best sounding and most flexible product yet. It’s a feature laden jack of all trades that, while being far from perfect, has more than enough going on to give it the thumbs-up.
So, let’s take a deep dive into our Sonos Wireless Amplifier review to see what it has to offer…
Sonos have opted for a minimalist look. The svelte matte-black design is about as understated as could be. The Sonos Amp has a wider, deeper, and shallower shape to the previous generation Sonos Connect:Amp. This change was made as a result of conversations with custom hi-fi installers.
The new shape has a better fit in your average hi-fi rack and is also stackable, factors that make custom installation much easier.
Black is the new black…
Available only in black, the minimalist effect is completed by just three touch-sensitive buttons on the front panel and a circular ‘chimney’ style vent on the top. One button controls play/pause, and the other two deal with volume and track selection.
As everything is controlled via the Sonos app, there is no need for extra control options on the unit itself. The stripped back aesthetic allows the Sonos to blend into virtually any surroundings, a virtue in our book.
Practical and versatile…
Obviously, you’ll need a decent set of speakers to partner with your Sonos Amp. Fortunately, it’s designed to be very flexible in this department. Sonos have increased the power output from 55W with the Connect:Amp to a seriously substantial 125W. This is enough to power more demanding and larger speakers.
The rear of the amp is home to all the connection ports. Here you’ll find two sets of speaker wire terminals, a stereo analog input, and if you want to add some extra oomph, a subwoofer output. It’s a nice touch to be able to add your own sub without having to splash out on Sonos’ own rather pricey wireless sub.
The analog input also enables you to hook up older devices such as a turntable. As vinyl enthusiasts, this is an invaluable feature.
Superb for TV…
Two ethernet sockets also provide more flexibility for use with other devices if required. For complete synchronicity with your TV, an HDMI socket has also been helpfully included. As soon as you turn your TV on, the Sonos Amp will switch to TV sound mode, and you can control the volume via the TV remote.
The set-up required for this is minimal and what you end up with is a seamlessly combined audio and video hi-fi system.
Ultimate streaming compatibility…
As with all Sonos products, the ability to play music from every streaming service in existence is virtually unmatched. Compatability beyond just using the Sonos app also includes the ability to control via Spotify Connect, Apple AirPlay 2, and Pandora.
Working in conjunction with other Sonos devices, you’ll have a system that’s capable of filling the whole house with music. Sonos is the undisputed champion of multi-room streaming, and the Sonos Amp only bolsters this reputation.
The Sonos app is still far and away the industry leader in terms of usability and practicality. The set-up process is as simple as it gets, especially if you’re introducing the amp into a pre-existing Sonos system. Enter your Wi-Fi password, and it virtually does everything for you, including updating the latest firmware on its first connection.
There is no built-in microphone to enable Alexa or any other voice assistant, but if you match it with a Sonos One speaker or any other enabled device, then this problem is quickly solved.
Audiophiles will be potentially disappointed by the lack of hi-res codec support. CD quality is the highest standard you’ll get with the Sonos amp. This would be more of a problem if the audiophile market was the target, but it isn’t. Most potential buyers will be happy with this level of quality which we’ll look at in the next section.
We paired the Sonos Amp with a number of different speakers and can safely say it’s a capable driver. Even fairly huge and powerful speakers don’t sound under-driven. But as you rise up the fidelity scale, the Sonos Amp is less capable of reproducing the subtlety and nuance that truly top-end speakers provide.
Your best bet is to find a set of speakers in the $200-$400 range, as this makes the most sense for the sound performance on offer here. We paired the Sonos Amp with a set of Fyne Audio F302’s with highly satisfying results.
Do some testing…
The Loudness mode found in the Room Settings on the app is on by default. It’s definitely worth seeing which setting you prefer. We felt that with the Loudness turned off; the Sonos Amp delivered a subtler and more balanced sound. Obviously, this is an objective opinion and will largely depend on the speakers being used and the size of the room. Either way, it’s worth experimenting with.
With everything set-up, it’s time to kick back and enjoy your music and an enjoyable experience it will be. This is, at heart, an amp designed for maximum entertainment, providing the kind of energetic punch that will likely excite most listeners.
But that’s not to say that there’s no detail on offer too. Deeply textured bass is accompanied by a sparkling treble that has just the right level of shine. It’s the kind of sound profile that lends itself well to all types of music.
Quality but not audiophile…
That being said, true hi-fi level subtlety is not on the plate here. As engaging and exciting as the sound profile is, the Sonos Amp struggles to lend itself to high-level critical listening, especially in the busier parts of songs. A less than stellar sense of timing also doesn’t help in this respect.
So how does the Sonos Amp perform when watching movies?
Although the Amp is only a two-channel system, through some rather clever sound processing, it creates what Sonos calls a ‘phantom’ center speaker. This works well when watching movies, especially when it comes to dialogue delivery. A broad and expansive soundstage delivers all the atmosphere you’ll need for your favorite films. Individual sound effects are placed with good accuracy in a 3-D environment.
All in all, the Sonos Amp’s premium price tag perhaps deserves a slightly more premium sound than it possesses, but it doesn’t claim to deliver audiophile-level sound, and the vast majority of listeners will be more than happy with what’s on offer.
Sonos Wireless Amplifier Review Pros and Cons
- Stylish/minimalist design.
- Unmatched music streaming capabilities.
- Energetic and fun sound profile.
- Seamless app control.
- Surprisingly good TV performer.
- Lack of hi-fi subtlety.
- Not cheap.
- Niche market.
Looking for more superb products from Sonos?
Then check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Sonos Speakers you can buy in 2021.
Or, if you’re also interested in other types of amplifiers, how about our comprehensive reviews of the Best Desktop Headphone Amplifier, the Best USB DACs Under $100, the Top Best Car Amplifiers, the Best Guitar Headphone Amps, and the Best Keyboard Amplifiers on the market.
Sonos Wireless Amplifier Review – Is it worth the premium price tag?
The Sonos Amp, when hooked up to a decent pair of speakers, is undoubtedly the most hi-fi like and nicest sounding amp that Sonos have produced to date. It’s also a joy to use. Sonos have proven themselves to be top of the pile when it comes to the practicalities of home music streaming. No rival so seamlessly supports more services or comes with an app that’s this simple and elegant to use.
What also makes the Sonos Amp so attractive is how well it works when used with a TV. It removes the need for an expensive soundbar completely.
The perfect choice…
If these factors are top of your list of priorities, then the Sonos Amp would make the perfect choice for you. If, on the other hand, it’s all about the overall sound performance, then it’s probably fair to expect a slightly more nuanced sound profile when spending this kind of money.
As fun as the sound is, higher levels of sophistication can be found in other premium streaming components that are largely absent here. However, Sonos family devotees will be more than happy with the overall package, and the Sonos Amp will be a welcome addition to your living room if you count yourself in this camp.