Long in the tooth – one way to describe the Connect; the standalone network streamer from Sonos, the world’s most popular streaming audio manufacturer.
As their range of digitally active loudspeakers enjoys the occasional hardware refresh, often with the addition of new features like AirPlay2, Trueplay room compensation and digital assistants, the Connect has been left to languish. It hasn’t seen its internals updated in almost a decade. And it doesn’t do hi-res audio. Or Bluetooth. Or AirPlay.
That leaves room for the smaller manufacturers to creep up and steal (some of) its lunch. The ALLO Boss Player (US$169), AURALiC Aries Mini (US$549) and Bluesound Node 2 (US$499) each sound substantially better than the Sonos Connect. Their internal D/A conversion circuitry is of a higher calibre.
Furthermore, the AURALiC and Bluesound offer a range of digital outputs for connection to an outboard DAC as budget allows (but remains beyond the scope of this coverage).
What’s interesting is that there exists more SQ daylight between any one of these lesser-known steamers’ analogue outputs and the Sonos Connect than between themselves. If the Connect rates a 5/10, the Boss Player, Aries Mini and Node 2 all come in at 8 or 9/10.
Newcomers looking for an alternative to the Sonos Connect should therefore first separate the ALLO, AURALiC and Bluesound on price, then on feature set and aesthetic appeal.
In this YouTube video, I tackle exactly that:
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Further information: ALLO Digital | AURALiC | Bluesound