AMAZON AND SONOS AMPS OFFER SMARTS AND SONIC POWER
Amazon and Sonos are known for their smart speakers, but next year both companies will be launching full-blooded audio amplifiers designed for consumers who already own a pair of speakers they love.
Some big tech websites have been touting these amps as products for audiophiles, which is total nonsense, they are good audio products not serious Hi-Fi. They however both look like an interesting way to create or add to simple room-to-room systems using your own loudspeakers.
The Sonos Amp is Sonos’ first new amplifier in over a decade, and on paper looks to be the more technically impressive of the two. It’s certainly the more powerful, with 2 x 125W of output and the ability to power four speakers, not just two.
A big talking point is its HDMI ARC port, which allows it to control and receive audio from a connected television. There are more traditional inputs in the form of analogue RCA and optical digital, plus an output for an optional subwoofer, should you want a bit more low-end thump in your music. It supports Sonos’ own wireless streaming technology, of course, as well as Apple’s AirPlay 2. It doesn’t come with integrated voice control but gains that ability when connected to Amazon Alexa-enabled gear like the Sonos One or Sonos Beam.
While the Amp is a consumer product, it’s also been designed with smart homes in mind. To that end, professional custom installers will be able to obtain the product from 1st December 2018, rather than the February 2019 global launch date.
Sonos CEO Patrick Spence said:
The growth of the Sonic Internet – the convergence of paid streaming, the smart home, and artificial intelligence through voice technologies drives everything we do at Sonos. While plug-and-play options like Sonos Beam and Sonos One are an important part of the equation, architectural sound and making it even easier to integrate with lighting and home control are equally as important. We’ve listened to custom installers and dealers to create Amp, a versatile product designed to be at the centre of the smart home sound experience.
The Amazon Echo Link Amp is the retailer’s first ever attempt at an amplifier, and on paper, it seems like a solid effort. There’s a similar selection of inputs to the Sonos Amp, minus the HDMI ARC, and Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant is built-in (which means you’ll be able to use spoken commands for song selection
At 2 x 60W, it’s around half the power of the Sonos Amp, but in the USA it costs around half the price too.
Strangely there is no microphone, so to access Alexa another Amazon Alexa device will be needed or the Alexa app on a phone.
Sonos Amp features:
- 2 x 125W output
- 2 x Ethernet; HDMI Arc in; optical in; line in; subwoofer out
- Apple AirPlay 2
- Available February 2019
Amazon Echo Link Amp features:
- 2 x 60W output
- Ethernet; coaxial in/out; line in/out; optical in/out; subwoofer out
- Alexa voice assistant
- Available TBC 2019
- $TBC current USD $300
GadgetNET says: The world of smart technology meets the world of traditional hi-fi in these upcoming products. While we’ll withhold a definitive opinion until their launches next year, both look very promising on paper.
Rob Follis has been writing about tech on and off for over 40 years, is a designer, photographer, information omnivore, gadget-head, Hi-Fi afficionado, owner of far far too many things and sadly an unsuccessful app developer. A born & bred Londoner now happily living in Melbourne. Email Rob.
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