The Sonos Connect Amp: What it Does and How it Works

In Receiver/Amplifier, Smart Home, Speakers by Jonah MatthesLeave a Comment

If you already have a Sonos home audio system, or even if you’re just starting to consider dipping your toe in, the Sonos Connect Amp is a tool you’ll want to consider. For larger homes, it can help you manage sound “zones” in an easy and streamlined way. And if you don’t have any Sonos products, the Connect Amp allows you to bring at least 2 non-Sonos speakers into the Sonos ecosystem.

The Sonos Connect Amp allows you to connect two non-Sonos speakers to your Sonos system. It has RCA inputs, allowing you to bring in sound sources that aren’t streamed wirelessly, and it also allows you to connect a powered subwoofer.

It’s not clear at first just how neat of a unit this is. Below, we’ll talk through some of the main features, but the real beauty of the Connect Port is how it gives you so many more options for your home audio system. From putting together a listening room to powering a modest home theater system, the Sonos Connect Amp can be a very valuable tool.

Purpose and Uses of the Sonos Connect Amp

The Sonos Connect Amp (on Amazon) is a real swiss-army knife when it comes to your home audio system. The thing that it does to audio directly is manage it such that you can amp it up and send it to two (left and right) speakers that are not themselves Sonos speakers. But the purpose of the device in your home audio system can vary a lot due to the flexibility of the hardware and the Sonos system.

The most obvious use will be to power a two-channel system that is used for listening to streaming music. This could be anywhere. Your living room, an entertainment space, or even a dedicated listening room. The RCA inputs (more on those below) allow this unit to take in sound directly, not just streamed from the Sonos app, so that you could pair this with a record player.

Past that, the Sonos Connect Amp can power two speakers and a powered subwoofer anywhere you’d like. This might mean it’s great to fill a room with high-quality music for a party or as part of your home theater/home entertainment system. The limit of 2.1 channels might dissuade you from using this for, say, a home theater setup with Dolby Atmos sound, but it can still be used that way if you’d like. It’s not going to sound bad, that’s for sure.

Features and Specs

The Sonos Connect Amp offers all the features you’d expect in a decent amplifier, but some interesting things that are Sonos-exclusive, like access to the Sonos ecosystem.

One important difference from other amplifiers is that the Sonos Connect Amp has ethernet ports so that it can connect directly to your network. This is important because it allows you to get the real killer feature here: streaming audio to your amp.

The Sonos Ecosystem

The best, most important feature of this unit is that it’s within the Sonos ecosystem. This means that all of your music is available through the slick, professional Sonos app. And all the connections to your favorite streaming services are just a few touchscreen taps away. 

If you have any other Sonos speakers, or even if the Sonos Connect Amp is your first piece of Sonos equipment, you’ll be able to stream audio to nice physical speakers that aren’t Sonos branded using this amp. That makes the price, which may cause sticker shock at first, really seem more approachable.

Because the Sonos Connect Amp allows you to connect two non-Sonos speakers (or potentially four as we’ll discuss below), it’s actually a very cost-effective way of creating or adding to a Sonos-powered sound system at home. Said another way: one Sonos Connect Amp and two nice bookshelf speakers can very easily cost less, potentially far less, than two Sonos speakers. 

And the Amp also gives you other options like RCA inputs, discussed more below. So, while the Sonos Connect Amp has other features you’ll be interested in (see below), the most important one is the way it allows access to the Sonos ecosystem with speakers of your choice (or maybe that you already have).

Channel Wattage

The Sonos Connect Amp is no slouch when it comes to wattage per channel either. If you’ve seen our other article on how speaker channels work, you know that the power delivered to a speaker affects the volume and the performance you can get out of that speaker. The Sonos Connect Amp delivers up to 55 watts of power per speaker channel. 

This is a good number, not too low for a nice set of speakers like the Edifier R1700BT Bluetooth Bookshelf Speakers (on Amazon) which are ~60 watts each. It might not be powerful enough to drive a surround system that makes you feel like your at the theater, but that’s really not the purpose here.

Since the Connect Amp only has outputs for left and right speaker channels (and a sub), it was never going to be the brains of a 7.1 home theater operation anyways. These channel amperages, though, make the Sonos Connect Amp well equipped for a listening room or other purpose that benefits the most from 2, or 2.1 channel sound.

Subwoofer Pre-Out

On the back of the Sonos Connect Amp, there’s also a connection for the subwoofer. This subwoofer pre-out connection is not using the Connect Amp’s amplification capacity for the sub, which is good…with a unit this small we want all that capacity going to the left and right speaker channel outputs.

But, it does mean that if you’d like to connect up a subwoofer, you’ll want to make sure it’s a powered model that is doing its own amplification. This could lead to some small problems of balancing your speakers if you run a 2.1 channel setup, because it’s possible to, for instance, get a subwoofer that’s oversized for the two left and right channel bookshelf speakers.

Any powered sub that’s rated for 50-100 watts, though, should work really well with appropriately sized bookshelf speakers, that way all the speakers are falling in the same wattage range, about 55, which is what the Connect Amp supplies per channel. Be sure to check out our article on the best powered subwoofers if you’re considering this.

RCA Inputs

If you’re all-in on the Sonos ecosystem, you’ll probably be interested in this unit for the ability to get your wireless music to nice external speakers. However, the Sonos Connect Amp still provides two RCA inputs on the back, so that you can get other audio sources into the system.

What you do with these inputs is up to you–it may just be a way to easily get a left and right channel from an Aux connection, allowing for a quick and easy way to get a laptop or friend’s phone connected to the system. Or, these RCA inputs can allow you to get other equipment like a record player into your Sonos speakers.

Size and Weight

At only five pounds, the Sonos Connect Amp is refreshingly light for an amplifier. Amps can get very big and bulky, so it’s nice that Sonos has worked to reduce the weight of this unit. That five pounds is packed into a space of 3.5 by 7.3 by 8.2 inches.

It’s very small indeed, especially when you consider the use case. You’ll probably want to put this on a shelf between the speakers it’s supporting, so, the tiny size makes it easy to position anywhere the speakers fit.

How Does it Work Exactly?

Part of what the amp does, how it works, is right in the name. A Sonos Connect Amp is an amplifier first and foremost. What an amplifier does is take in a weak audio signal, then amplify that signal with more electrical power. The Sonos Connect Amp uses electricity to amplify the sound signal, whether that signal is coming from the RCA inputs or your wireless SONOS network.

That amplified signal is then routed to the speaker channels on the back. The exception here is the subwoofer connection, which gets a sound signal, sure, but it’s not amplified. That’s why the subwoofer has to be powered, with its own amp, as described earlier.

One interesting note about the speaker output operation is that you can easily use the ports on the Sonos Connect Amp to double up speaker connections on each side. This means that instead of using two ports for the left side and two for the right, you can double up the wires at the ports to power four speakers total, two on the right and two on the left.

This may intrigue some readers who have the speaker equipment for this already, but it wouldn’t be worth buying four nice bookshelf speakers to do this, though, because the speaker channel wattage is being split amongst all those speakers. At the 55 watts per channel the Sonos Connect Amp is rated for, doubling up the speakers like this means a capacity of only about 27 watts per speaker.

Of course, the real reason you’re here for the Sonos Connect Amp and not just any Amp is because of the Sonos ecosystem. The Connect Amp is amplifying a signal that you can get to the unit wirelessly, and thus effortlessly, which is where the Sonos Connect Amp works differently than other amps. Other dedicated amplifiers will have to be connected to the audio source directly.

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