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SMSL A300 + streamer quality compared to Sonos Amp.

LubeSkystalker

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Currently looking for a streamer + amp to run my Q3030i speakers. Purely just use airplay2 or stream direct from unit for living room music listening.

How does sound quality compare from a cheaper setup like Wiim Pro ($220aud) + SMSL A300 ($275aud) to a more expensive all in one unit like Sonos Amp ($940aud)?

Is it worth paying double for the Sonos?

Cheers
 
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Boris Badinov

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I stream AMS from my PC to Atom Dac>Atom HP Amp/pre>SMSL A300 to a pr. of KEF Q150s at my desk. Really pleased with it - no hiss at all, even when muted or paused and can play pretty loud. I haven't tried it with my Q3050 towers in the living room yet.
 
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LubeSkystalker

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Yes with the savings I could get a decent DAC and still fall short of the asking price for the Sonos amp. Just wasn’t sure of how the sound quality would compare.
 

talkingbook

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There are plenty of cheap transparent and low noise DACs reviewed here. Transparent meaning won't alter the sound. The Wiim is bit perfect for digital output (again, not altering of the sound) for sending to the DAC.

So if you are willing to get a DAC, you should be able to just compare reviews of the Sonos Amp to reviews of the SMSL A300. A300 is not yet properly reviewed on this site, but has good reports from members here and elsewhere. SMSL claims are for much lower noise than Sonos, and normally their claims hold up when checked here. The only benefit of the Sonos in that comparison is more power. It seems like this wouldn't matter in your setup though?
Without the DAC, you would try to compare the reviews of the Wiim analog output (not very good, but good enough for some) + A300 to Sonos.

If you use AirPlay you have some loss of sound quality, but that would be true of both. Both (depending on the version you get)) support ethernet and the Wiim Pro supports Chromecast which would give some options for avoiding that minor degradation. If you use digital volume control in the Wiim before sending the digital output to an external DAC, that can cause some sound degradation as well, particularly for large volume attenuation.
 
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LubeSkystalker

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Thanks for your time.
At this stage I’m leaning towards a modular setup rather than Sonos as I’m not invested in their eco system and if I can get more bang/quality for my buck then I may as well. The higher output of the Sonos doesn’t really concern me as I won’t be trying to make my ears bleed.
I’m thinking that I will start with the Wiim Pro and using its internal DAC to output to the A300. If I’m a bit off the sound I can then always upgrade and get something likea Topping DX3 pro+ DAC and still come in cheaper than Sonos.
I’d like to think that setup would be of better sound quality.
 

talkingbook

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I now have Wiim pro -> SMSL D6 -> SMSL A200

Sounds phenomenal. Costs about $500 USD. The downside of the lack of integration is that I often end up doing digital volume control at the Wiim (Wiim app or the casting device) for convenience (which degrades the signal). the D6 has a remote that I can easily use when in the room, but I need to first put the Wiim up to max. But not sure how audible the difference is anyways- will try to A/B test. Also will test with and without the DAC- but subjectively that was noticeable.
 

pjug

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Thanks for your time.
At this stage I’m leaning towards a modular setup rather than Sonos as I’m not invested in their eco system and if I can get more bang/quality for my buck then I may as well. The higher output of the Sonos doesn’t really concern me as I won’t be trying to make my ears bleed.
I’m thinking that I will start with the Wiim Pro and using its internal DAC to output to the A300. If I’m a bit off the sound I can then always upgrade and get something likea Topping DX3 pro+ DAC and still come in cheaper than Sonos.
I’d like to think that setup would be of better sound quality.
I happen to have both of these amps (Sonos Amp and SMSL A300). I don't think you will notice a difference either way if you don't need the power of the Sonos. Both amps have the problem of load dependent frequency response, but I think they will be OK with your speakers. IMO the Sonos is a lot nicer than the A300 if you want to use features like tone control and such, but maybe you get those kind of controls done nicely in the Wiim?
 

jeffme

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... The downside of the lack of integration is that I often end up doing digital volume control at the Wiim (Wiim app or the casting device) for convenience (which degrades the signal)...
I think a single point of volume control is an overlooked element of Sonos simplicity.

I'm curious about the general question of what the cheapest WiiM Pro + DAC + Amp combo that exceeds Sonos Amp output quality might be, but most of these options insert an independent volume control that requires some fiddling, even if it's just once and a set it an forget it option.

For example, I find that WiiM Pro + Loxjie A30 (USD ~$320) sounds cleaner and crisper across the midrange (sorry, ASR scientists ; ) ) than a Sonos AMP going through the same speakers. My wife finds the muddy (imo) Sonos sound to be "warmer" (again, apologies to ASR...).
 

talkingbook

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It’s easy to just use the Wiim as the only volume control and the result is still quite good unless you need a huge range of volume. That’s basically what I do but occasionally make big jumps in the volume at the DAC if I am listening from another room or just rocking out.
 
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