Comparing Two Approaches to Multiroom Audio: Sonos vs. Control4
Which One is Right for You?
What sets a mood better than music? Spotify, for example, has playlists for driving, exercising, relaxing, falling asleep, and romance; and that covers just some of the activities and moods. Services like Spotify, Pandora, and Apple Music have made it ridiculously easy to dial up most of the world's recorded music on a smart device, so music is just a couple of clicks away with streaming.
As streaming has revolutionized music consumption, the equipment delivering it has changed quite a bit too. Old school stereo systems and vinyl still exist and are thriving, but many people have turned to the convenience of wireless speaker solutions for background listening. While wireless speakers (like the plethora of Bluetooth models) can sound quite good, most will fall short of audiophile class and not compare well to more traditional speakers. With Bluetooth in particular, the technology does not accommodate multiple speakers playing the same music in synchrony. Traditionally, multiroom audio systems in the home have been built around a music source, distribution amplifiers to power built-in speakers in multiple rooms, and a unified method of controlling it.
Sonos is a company that made a name for itself in multiroom audio by upending the traditional model. With its wireless speakers, a proprietary wireless network for synchronization, and a unified user interface from a smartphone or tablet, the company's products made it easy to have a multiroom system.
Does that mean that Sonos should be your multiroom system of choice? In some situations, it might do well. But there are many factors to consider for whole-home audio. If you’re considering a multiroom audio system for your Glenview, IL home, read on to compare two approaches to state-of-the-art whole home systems: Sonos and Control4.
Sonos - Digital Simplicity
As we mentioned, Sonos made its name with wireless speakers that you piece together into a multiroom system wirelessly. Their powered speakers are a DIY system that is readily available at many electronics retailers. But wireless speakers are not necessarily the last word in sound. What if you want to have different speakers than Sonos wireless models? That’s where the recently introduced Sonos Amp comes in. The Amp is a unit that brings the Sonos ecosystem to any set of speakers.
Do you have a high-end stereo listening system with a turntable? The Amp can make that part of your multiroom system. If your house is open-concept like many modern homes, the Amp can be powering your kitchen speakers while feeding your high-end stereo rig, keeping the music in sync in both rooms. For control, the well-designed apps on IOS and Android make it easy to access all the major music streaming services as well as your own library of music from iTunes or media servers like Plex. You can quickly select different sources and pipe them to different rooms if you wish. A nice feature of the Amp is the ability to route your turntable audio into it and play that source throughout the house, so your analog music collection can join the party.
Here's one caveat to know about Sonos: It doesn't yet support high-resolution music. If you want to listen to high-resolution music from sources like HDTracks or streaming MQA (a uniquely coded streaming format for high-resolution audio) through Tidal, Sonos is not your best bet at this point.
Control4 - Scalable and Sophisticated
Control4 is a smart home automation platform that encompasses control and automation of audio/video entertainment, lighting, climate, security, and other home functions. When it comes to audio, their system is made to go from one room to a whole property. While Sonos is purely an audio system, Control4 can do more than multiroom audio with their system. For example, a Control4 EA controller can also automate the entire AV setup in a room and make it easy to control all your audio equipment.
The Control4 EA5 controller includes a variety of inputs and outputs to control lights, door locks, and other functions, as well as the ability to distribute five high-resolution streams or audio from streams, a local library, Apple Airplay, and any analog device like a turntable. It also incorporates high-resolution DACs (digital to analog converters) to handle the highest quality audio sources. For control, Control4 offers the ability to use a hard-button customized remote, a touchscreen, wall-mounted keypads, and your own smartphone and tablets via the Control4 apps on IOS and Android.
How to Choose
If all you need is a simple multiroom audio setup with a few rooms, Sonos may be an excellent choice. If you are looking for more of a home automation platform where multiroom audio is a key element, Control4 would be the better choice. Two important points to remember in looking at Sonos versus Control4: From a cost perspective, if you are going to have a system beyond 3-4 rooms, the scalability of Control4 is more cost-effective than the Sonos Amp approach. Further, Control4's smart home platform can incorporate control and integration of thousands of intelligent devices, including Sonos. So, if you already have some Sonos speakers, Control4 can work with them too—and blend them into a complete smart home solution.
Avidia can design and install the perfect multiroom audio solution for your Glenview-area home and has more than 20 years of experience in the Chicagoland region. Call Avidia at (847) 868-9200 to get in touch with our team or fill out our contact form here!