ConclusionThanks to the cooperation with Sonance Sonos has a few fine speakers for Custom Install in their line-up. The Sonance in-wall and in-ceiling speakers are easy to install and are perfect for those who want to add music to their home. Especially the calm character and the good spacial spread stands out. The match with the Sonos amp is good, but also with other systems it works just fine. If you are looking for super resolution and precision, it is better to look elsewhere. If you are looking for calmess and dispersion without distractions, you have a great partner in the Sonance series.
We have the Sonos Sonance in-ceiling speakers used both on our reference AV set, (Illusonic IAP8, Metrum Baby Ambre and a 7,150 B + K Components multi-channel amplifier), as on the Sonos Amp with Trueplay. This to determine if Sonos works as an ecosystem. And if it still sounds decent with a Sonos Amp linked to it.
The first thing you notice is that the Sonance speakers sound incredibly spacious. And that’s a big plus with in-ceiling speakers, because the last thing you want is that there are ‘spots’ in the sound field. In fact, it should spread well. Like some kind of rain falling down. And it does.
In addition, the sound is very soft. Nothing distracts, which is very pleasant if you are looking for an installation for background music, for example. Think of a solution for a dinner party, or during a visit to a restaurant.
Now it is true that this is slightly at the expense of resolution and perception. It is not the case that you have the feeling that the singer(s) is sitting on your lap. Or that the band is in the room: they are everywhere with the Sonance speakers. And that is of course less realistic. However, we guess that the goal of Sonos (and Sonance) is not to bring pure realism. They want more an invisible solution for music throughout the house.
And in a way they have succeeded well. The Sonance in-ceiling speakers spread the sound well. And it sounds very calm, which can be very desirable with such a system. But let’s look at the performance of a Sonos Amp.
So the results on our own AV system are good. The sound feels complete and the playback is controlled and pleasant. Even if it is not a miracle of resolution or ultra-neutral. The question is: is that necessary and desirable in this set-up? We estimate it not to be: it will distract too much with ‘background music’.
On the Sonos Amp we also hear a surprisingly complete rendition of the music. Slightly less warmth, but still a striking dispersion and tranquillity. The trick according to Sonos is that Trueplay ‘finishes it off’. We walk through the wizzard and sit down for it again.
Now our listening space is already pretty neutral – although the AV side is pretty muffled – so a lot of eq’ing is not necessary. Except maybe in the deep bass where there is always something to fix. So we don’t hear a mega difference between with and without trueplay. Maybe a bit more focus. However, we estimate that Trueplay will do more in terms of neutrality and openness in difficult spaces. Like a bathroom or a very ‘hard’ sounding room.
In the end, the Sonos Amp is a great partner for these in-wall / in-ceiling solutions. And that for a reasonable price (€699). The bundle with an Amp and Sonance speakers does not offer a discount, but for €1398 you get a nice system if you are in the market for an invisible solution.
Are there alternatives? Of course there are. Almost every speaker manufacturer has solutions for in-wall / in-ceiling and even outdoors. The prices do not differ from the Sonos Sonance. And also for these solutions amplifiers with streaming can be found. Also with Custom Install links. Think Bluesound. Or Hegel. Those both have a link with Control4 for example.
The big difference is that the in-wall / in-ceiling solutions are often focused on hi-fi playback. That’s great, but for those who want background music, it’s often too detailed and present, which distracts from the conversation you might have during dinner. Sonos does not do that with Sonance. A completely different approach! Perhaps not for the purist. But for a different target group.