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matt49's picture
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Superuniti vs Sonos
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OK, this sounds like the mismatch of the century, but bear with me for a moment. I'm looking for a completely new system in my living room (the study set-up in my signature is staying). On an earlier thread here

http://www.whathifi.com/forum/hi-fi/upgrade-strategy#comment-2828443

a few of you suggested I should look into an all-in-one streaming box. (My music’s all in ALAC files on a NAS drive and is streamed all round the house by Sonos via cat-5 cables.) So instead of adding a good DAC and amp to the Sonos in the living room, I might (so the advice) try a Majik DSM. It's proved easier to get hold of a Naim Superuniti for home demo, so today and tomorrow I'm messing around with the Superuniti in various permutations.

One thing I want to find out is how much of a weak link the electronics in the Sonos ZP90 box are. (I’ve heard it said that the clock in the Sonos is of poor quality.) I thought it’d also be interesting to compare my Audiolab M-DAC with the DAC in the Superuniti. So I'm trying four combos:

(1) Superuniti taking files from a USB memory stick (because I couldn't get the Superuniti to find my NAS drive)

(2) Sonos via digital coax into Superuniti

(2) Sonos into M-DAC into analogue ins of Superuniti

(3) Sonos into M-DAC (as pre-amp) into Cyrus X Power

The speakers are Sonus Faber Venere 1.5s.

I’ll report back on SQ tomorrow if anyone’s interested.

In the meantime some gripes about functionality. The display on the Superuniti is too far away from the listening position to be useful, which also means the SU’s (fairly decent) remote is only useful for play/pause and volume. The way metadata are presented on the front display of the SU is a mess and isn't configurable.

The Naim n-Stream control app is available for iPad/iPhone, but not for Windows (unlike the Sonos app, which works on all platforms). Like the display on the Superuniti, the n-Stream app doesn't present iTunes ALAC metadata correctly and isn't configurable.

For control on a Windows PC a separate paid-for app is required, Allegro Media Server. I tried to download a time-limited demo of this app, but it wouldn't open on my Windows 7 64-Bit PC.

In general the n-Stream app for iPhone has quite a bit less functionality than the equivalent Sonos app: e.g. no facility to FF/RW within tracks (you can’t  do this with the remote either).

Networking set-up is easy so long as you’re streaming from a UPnP device, which I’m not. So the Superuniti couldn't find my NAS drive, which is disappointing to put it mildly.

 

This train … carries saints and sinners / This train … carries losers and winners / This train … carries whores and gamblers / This train … carries lost souls.

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RE: Superuniti vs Sonos

I will be surprised if the Naim is not a good step up over the Sonus but it maybe more marginal over the M-Dac......I look forward to how you get on.

Cno

 

"We should no more let numbers define audio quality than we should let chemical analysis be the arbiter of fine wines."  Nelson Pass

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RE: Superuniti vs Sonos

Matt, 

Very interested to hear how the different permutations work out.

Good to see someone doing a side by side comparison at different ends of the scale. 

Like you were implying usability plays a large part in this and a question must be, would this actually put you off buying a higher end unit if you could enhance the Sonos?

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RE: Superuniti vs Sonos

CnoEvil wrote:

I will be surprised if the Naim is not a good step up over the Sonus but it maybe more marginal over the M-Dac......I look forward to how you get on.

Cno

Thanks, Cno.

All I'll say just now is that at this (very early) stage of my 'journey' (ugh, hate that metaphor) the Superuniti is going to be a benchmark. More tomorrow.

Matt

This train … carries saints and sinners / This train … carries losers and winners / This train … carries whores and gamblers / This train … carries lost souls.

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RE: Superuniti vs Sonos

matt49 wrote:

All I'll say just now is that at this (very early) stage of my 'journey' (ugh, hate that metaphor) the Superuniti is going to be a benchmark. More tomorrow.

Matt

It's more like "Orienteering" anyway......  :twisted:

(just don't take your compass bearing the wrong way round!  Wink )

"We should no more let numbers define audio quality than we should let chemical analysis be the arbiter of fine wines."  Nelson Pass

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RE: Superuniti vs Sonos

I would suggest an extensive demo with basic Sonos first. You've always got this option:

http://www.fidelityaudio.co.uk/sonos.html

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RE: Superuniti vs Sonos

bigboss wrote:
I would suggest an extensive demo with basic Sonos first. You've always got this option: http://www.fidelityaudio.co.uk/sonos.html

Thanks for that tip. I was aware of the Wyred 4 Sound mod to the ZP90 (whiich Item Audio in the UK do), but the mods you suggest are new to me.

This train … carries saints and sinners / This train … carries losers and winners / This train … carries whores and gamblers / This train … carries lost souls.

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RE: Superuniti vs Sonos

Currently having some upgrades carried out by Fidelity Audio. Will post the results as soon as it's all done.

They have had some great reviews.

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RE: Superuniti vs Sonos

If it helps, I would imagine the reason the nas cannot be seen by the superuniti is because it will need some server software (for eg twonky) to be installed. Sonos doesn't need this kind of software for the music files to be available, but upnp clients (ie almost all other streaming solutions) do. 

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RE: Superuniti vs Sonos

gregvet wrote:

If it helps, I would imagine the reason the nas cannot be seen by the superuniti is because it will need some server software (for eg twonky) to be installed. Sonos doesn't need this kind of software for the music files to be available, but upnp clients (ie almost all other streaming solutions) do. 

Thanks, Greg, that hadn't occurred to me. I'll look into it.

How are the LS50s going?

This train … carries saints and sinners / This train … carries losers and winners / This train … carries whores and gamblers / This train … carries lost souls.

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RE: Superuniti vs Sonos

Listening to them right now, and so far pretty impressed. I can see where the blade influence has crept in.

I should have gone to bed ages ago, I start work at 7!

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RE: Superuniti vs Sonos

I haven't heard the SuperUniti, but I am more than familiar with Naim networking and NStream.

you need a reliable UPnP server on the NAS (eg Twonky) for serving duties. Once that is setup, and assuming you have a reasonable router or wireless access point, N Stream is an absolute joy to use, which,lets face it is what streaming is all about.

i would be very surprised if a Sonos system can hold a candle musically to a SuperUniti (or any Naim all in one for that matter).

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RE: Superuniti vs Sonos

bigboss wrote:
You've always got this option: http://www.fidelityaudio.co.uk/sonos.html

Hmmm, what a pile of schite if ever I seen......

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RE: Superuniti vs Sonos

eggontoast wrote:

bigboss wrote:
You've always got this option: http://www.fidelityaudio.co.uk/sonos.html

Hmmm, what a pile of schite if ever I seen......

:grin:

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RE: Superuniti vs Sonos

jockey.wilson wrote:

I haven't heard the SuperUniti, but I am more than familiar with Naim networking and NStream.

you need a reliable UPnP server on the NAS (eg Twonky) for serving duties. Once that is setup, and assuming you have a reasonable router or wireless access point, N Stream is an absolute joy to use, which,lets face it is what streaming is all about.

i would be very surprised if a Sonos system can hold a candle musically to a SuperUniti (or any Naim all in one for that matter).

 

Seeing as both can output a bit perfect signal, through the same dac they'll sound exactly the same. (ie options 1 and 2 will sound identical.) Don't let that stop anyone spending unnecessary £000s though. 

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RE: Superuniti vs Sonos

Personally, I'm very happy with my Sonos. I haven't found it lacking in sound. Not heard the Naim; didn't feel the need to.

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