Sonos Amp Alternatives: A Few Top Choices

The Sonos Amp is an excellent, feature-rich product that is part of the popular Sonos ecosystem. If you are looking for a wireless-capable amplifier to drive a set of external speakers, either for home or external use, it’s hard to go wrong with the Sonos Amp.

The Amp benefits from the established Sonos software experience and its tight integration with most smart home hubs and voice assistants. All of this makes the Sonos Amp an attractive choice for audiophiles and home entertainment enthusiasts.

Despite all of this, the Sonos Amp might not be the ideal choice for all customers.

On one hand, those who love tinkering and infinitely configurable setups might find the tight integrations and the streamlined feature set a bit restrictive. On the other hand, there might be people who do not need all the bells and whistles and are just looking for a simple amplifier or audio receiver unit.

Some customers might find the price of the Sonos Amp prohibitive, while others might be looking for something more expensive and of higher quality.

For all those customers, here is a list of the top Sonos Amp alternatives. No matter what your use case might be, it’s likely that you will find your ideal device from this list if you are looking for a capable amplifier or audio receiver for your home entertainment.

What is Sonos Amp?

The Sonos Amp is an audio amplifier unit that is typically used to power passive speakers – speakers that do not have built-in amplifiers.

Apart from this basic functionality, the Sonos Amp comes with many other features, including integration with the Sonos ecosystem. The Sonos ecosystem has become legendary for its wireless, multi-room audio. It also includes a stereo analog input where you can connect analog devices like cassette decks or vinyl players, and an HDMI ARC port that you can connect with a supported television.

Two of the most crucial misses with the Sonos Amp include the fact that it is missing Bluetooth support and support for high-resolution and lossless audio formats. That, coupled with the premium pricing, might compel you to look for alternatives.

Here, we have included quite a few across multiple price brackets.

02/17/2024 01:01 pm GMT

Alternative #1 – Yamaha WXA-50

This is our top pick for those customers who are looking for a budget option that does not skimp on features or audio quality. The Yamaha WXA-50 comes from a reputed brand, costs significantly less, and is not short on features and functionality.

It also takes advantage of Yamaha’s polished MusicCast network features. In some ways, it even offers better usability in a few areas when compared to the Sonos Amp.

The only shortcomings compared to the Sonos Amp are that the Yamaha unit has less maximum wattage in its audio output and that it is missing the HDMI port. Stemming from this, it has the analog ports, optical ports, and even a USB input that is lacking in the Sonos.

Another essential feature for a home use context that is missing in the Sonos that the Yamaha includes is Bluetooth support. Apart from this, there is also a remote in port, trigger ports, a dedicated port for a subwoofer connection, and very importantly, a LAN port for network connectivity.

The Yamaha MusicCast app works extremely well, allowing you to connect with any number of other Yamaha wireless speakers in your home to set up seamless multi-room audio, a strength of the Sonos.

When looking at the feature set and the price, this is clearly one of the most compelling alternatives to the Sonos Amp for customers on a budget.

Alternative #2 – Marantz Melody-X M-CR612

This audio receiver is a beast of a unit from Marantz, one of the most trusted and popular names in the industry. It’s a network audio receiver with a built-in CD player that can handle a large variety of audio formats, has a staggering number of connections and ports, and comes with a few unique and interesting features.

The wireless connectivity of the Marantz unit is seamless and versatile, with dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support courtesy of its dual-diversity antennas. It’s also fully compatible with all three popular voice assistants, bringing in a world of use case possibilities.

The built-in CD player can be one audio source while the unit can also play a wide range of other popular formats including MP3 and even loss-less formats like FLAC natively. This feature is missing in the Sonos Amp.

You can easily connect four speakers and control the volumes of each stereo pair independently. It also has twice the number of optical inputs compared with the Sonos, RCA analog inputs, USB, and Ethernet LAN.

The unit supports AirPlay and also includes an FM tuner, giving it a wide range of audio receiver options that can satisfy multiple needs.

The unit is also versatile allowing you to either connect two different speaker pairs or one pair of high-end bi-amped speakers. It also has decent support for low-impedance speakers.

Alternative #3 – Naim Uniti Atom

If you are looking for a high-end system that works flawlessly out of the box and performs well in every possible scenario, it is hard to go wrong with the Naim Uniti Atom.

The soundstage is incredibly rich and detailed and the unit really gives the impression of being audiophile-grade. The operating system is the highlight with great ease of use and versatility and the unit also looks great, with the large color screen and tactile volume dial in the front.

This unit has all the bells and whistles you can get with the Sonos Amp and more. Notable is the support for high-resolution audio, which will allow you to natively stream loss-less audio formats as well as raw audio up to 32-bit, 384 kHz files.

The unit comes with a nifty remote control that takes care of operation and configuration. Apart from having all the usual ports and connectors, this unit also bundles in an HDMI ARC port, one of the standout features of the Sonos Amp.

While much more expensive than the Sonos, the improved audio quality is discernible and the user experience can also be a lot smoother in many ways.

Alternative #4 – Bluesound Node 2i

This is one of the most popular choices for customers who want the features of the Sonos Amp but do not want to buy into the ecosystem.

The Node 2i can be compared feature for feature with the Sonos while winning out in terms of audio quality and resolution. Of special note are the wireless support and the easy multi-room wireless audio capabilities which are simple to set up thanks to the intuitive and tightly integrated BluOS operating system.

The Node 2i feels at home with most streaming services, including high-resolution ones like Deezer and Tidal while also being able to handle most loss-less audio formats, including MQA. It’s also Roon Ready and offers crisp, clear audio at any volume level while supporting a wide variety of speakers and speaker formats. This could come in pretty handy if you want to determine what some controversial politicians are saying on an airport tarmac, for instance.

The audio feels lively and natural with users having more control over the bass and the three-dimensional soundstage.

At its price, it can be perceived as a significant upgrade over the Sonos Amp in terms of audio quality and features, while not being overly priced, making it a fantastic choice for discerning customers.

Alternative #5 – Cambridge Audio CXN V2

Cambridge Audio is a brand that has recently found a lot of favor with users, especially those looking for a high-quality alternative to the Sonos ecosystem while still being in a relatively mid-range price bracket.

The CXN V2 ticks all the right boxes and comes with a classy, steel gray design with a large volume knob and a color display in the front of the unit. The operating system, in particular, is extremely intuitive and easy to use and brings together all the features and functionality of the unit under one tight-knit UI. Many insiders even believe Homer Simpson could figure it out so if that’s the case then most customers should be good to go.

The immediate USP of the CXN V2 is its integrated support for a large variety of streaming services and protocols. This is one of the few audio receiver units in the market that has native support for Google Chromecast audio streaming – a crucial feature for some users. Apart from that, you can also stream directly from all popular services, including those that stream high-resolution audio like Tidal.

While the device does not have Wi-Fi compatibility out of the box, it is easy to add that feature simply by connecting a Wi-Fi dongle to the USB port on the unit. This means that there are very few compromises in terms of features while you get to enjoy a bump in audio quality and resolution.

Final Thoughts

The Sonos Amp, while extremely capable and polished, might not be a preferred choice for everyone.

If you are looking for an alternative, you are very likely to find one on this comprehensive list no matter your price point and use case. At the same time, if you already have one or more Sonos devices at home, it might make sense to stay within the ecosystem and consider the Sonos Amp for purchase.

02/17/2024 01:01 pm GMT