Sonos vs Systemline 7
As retailers and installers of both Sonos & Systemline one of the most frequent questions we are asked is what is the best multi-room audio system. The two main systems available today as dedicated multiroom audio systems are Systemline and Sonos.
Most people will be familiar with Sonos as the well know American speaker audio company founded on 2002. They have a wide range of easy to use speakers of varying sizes as stand alone units for single rooms or multi room audio systems. They also have the Sonos Amp which is their built in audio solution and can be paired with in-wall or ceiling speakers throughout a house.
Systemline, established in 1988 by Bob Abraham in England has been an ‘installed audio’ product from its conception. Over the last three decades it has seen 7 versions of their multiroom audio system and the range also now contains 3 single room audio solutions. The main difference here being that Systemline is and always has been a product that requires an element of installation, rather than the simple plug & play Sonos products.
Systemline 7 vs Sonos - The Big Differences
Multiroom Audio System Costs
Let’s run through what would be needed to get an audio system in your home with each of these brands.
A one room ceiling speaker system would be £599 for a Sonos Amp & £150 for a pair of good entry level ceiling speakers coming to £750.
A one room solution from Systemline would be the Systemline NetConnect with the same good entry level speakers at £500.
When going for an installed multiroom audio system built into your home this is where Systemline is the winner as Sonos would be £750 per zone as a minimum.
Taking a 4 zone system as an example this gives us £3000. Systemline 7 would be £2500 for a 4 zone setup with their 4 Zone bundle kit.
Wired vs Wifi Audio Systems
Systemline is a wired system. It does use a wireless network for control via the S7 app but all music is transferred over wires within your home. There is therefore no interference to be concerned about.
Sonos, using WiFi to distribute music, can suffer from other technology in the house as their is the potential for interference. Most Sonos products can be connect to a network socket should a WiFi issue arise and if a network socket is available.
In larger homes
a high quality wireless network is harder to achieve and often requires us to install a specialist dedicated wireless network.
In short, Sonos doesn’t support HD Music, Systemline 7 does. If you have a server in your network full of your music in HiRes quality such as .flac then this music can be played through your Systemline 7 system.
Tidal, the highest quality streaming service, is compatible with both Systemline 7 & Sonos. Other streaming services such as Spotify & Deezer are also compatible with both platforms.
Both Systemline and Sonos have their versions of an app that can be used from any apple or android device to control your systems source & volume in each zone.
Systemline 7 also has built in keypads that can control volume, select a source and access favourites, such as a playlist or a radio station, at the push of a button.
Integration with TV & Home Cinema
Sonos products, such as the Play Bar & the Arc, are dedicated to use with a TV. Also, the Sonos AMP has a input for TV audio via hdmi. All the Sonos products require a wired local input and therefore need to be close to the product.
Systemline have their Local Input Module (LIM) which will link a TV / audio source to a Systemline Net Amp. This LIM has the advantage that it works over a CAT5 cable and therefore the Net Amp does not need to be close to the TV, as is the case with the Sonos products.
But what about my power hungry beloved floor standing speakers?
Yes floor standing speakers can easily be integrated into a multi room system where you prefer these to more hidden away built-in speakers. The Sonos Amp can deliver 2x125w/C into 8 ohms into its one zone output. Systemline's NetAmp produces 2 x 50w for 2 zones and their NetPower amplifier delivers 2 x 100w/C into 4 ohms for one zone, ideal for specific power hungry floor standing speakers.
Which system is the best multi-room audio system? The answer is not always straight forward as both systems have their merits.
If you are wanting a built in audio system with in wall keypads, control panels, Integration with your TVs and HD HiRes audio then Systemline is definitely the best choice for you.
If you are wanting a built in audio system and like the idea of sonos' smaller standalone speakers in other rooms where you won’t have installed audio then Sonos may be a good choice.