If you’re trying to integrate several rooms, or maybe even a whole house, into one unified audio system, then Sonos is one of the best options. But to do it right, you need some extra hardware to connect your various “zones”. Sonos sells two products that fill this need: the Sonos Connect and the Sonos Port.
Although the Sonos Connect is priced much higher than the newer Sonos Port, the advanced technology in the Port makes it smaller, more powerful, more future-proof, and adds extra features like an audio trigger, voice-assistant support, and Airplay.
If you’re in the market for a device that fills this niche, the Sonos Port is the one for you. Let’s talk about some of the details, and why the Sonos Port is such a compellingly good choice.
What These Devices Do
First off, if your new to the Sonos ecosystem or you have a couple of Sonos speakers but haven’t gone much further than that, you’re probably wondering what these devices are, and why you might care. They both solve the same two problems: getting non-streaming media into your Sonos system and connecting non-Sonos speakers to your Sonos system.
So, both the Sonos Port (on Amazon) and the Sonos Connect (also on Amazon) have the RCA hookups you would need to get audio into Sonos that isn’t streaming from the app. Record players, receivers, and even an Aux input (with an Aux to RCA adapter) can use the Connect or the Port to get onto your Sonos system, and play over all of your Sonos speakers.
Looking at the other direction, the Port and the Connect can both be used to route audio from your Sonos system to speakers that are not Sonos branded. So, if you already have a nice set of bookshelf speakers, a Port or a Connect can splice them into your Sonos-powered audio system, allowing you to stream any audio you’d like to them. Both units can help a Sonos-powered home theater surround system (more on that in our guide), but they have other unique features as well.
Why the Sonos Port is Better Than the Sonos Connect
The Processing power of the Sonos Port is also much higher than that of the Sonos Connect. This is important because it not only increases the performance of the device today, but it means it will last longer within the ecosystem of high-end audio management equipment, as other devices are upgraded.
Another place where the Sonos Port excels when compared to the Sonos Connect is the form factor. This is impressive because the Sonos Port has all the functionality of the Sonos Connect, but it packs all of that hardware into a package that’s half the size.
This is discussed a bit further down, with more details on why you might care about this size difference beyond it just being impressive, but know that this size difference can make a whole-home sound system install go smoother. And the color, that’s important too, for reasons that will be explored more below.
What They Cost, and Why
Now that you know why we think the Sonos Port is better than the Sonos Connect. The newer, smaller, more highly capable device will cost more. As Sonos phases out the Sonos Connect, you can expect the price to drop further.
Below are the current prices for both units:
Another reason these prices are, well, so premium, is that Sonos has committed to an extremely high standard of reliability. Installers prefer Sonos equipment because it rarely breaks, and it rarely breaks because Sonos tests all of their products before shipping.
Each and every one. This is different than other companies, that might test a random sampling of their manufactured products.
Features and Specs
These two units may appear similar at first glance, but there are actually lots of very big differences. From the processing power to the form factor, and even the color, there are lots of changes that really enhance the quality of the device overall.
The addition of a trigger to the Sonos Port is a critical new feature totally missing on the Sonos Connect, and the addition of voice assistant capability is another nice touch that expands the capabilities of the device. As if that weren’t enough, the addition of Airplay to the port starts to feel like Sonos is, frankly, just dunking on the competition with this device.
Features and Specs for the Sonos Port
Although Sonos doesn’t explain the exact processing power of either unit, the company has confirmed that the Sonos Port has much more processing power than the Sonos Connect. This is really important for the longevity of the device. Since it’s a very durable product that won’t break down, the other thing that limits the lifetime of the product is how long it can work without becoming obsolete.
The increased processing power ensures that the Sonos Port will stand the test of time, and will be ready to work with more intense, advanced audio systems as the rest of the industry’s hardware is upgraded. In this way, the increased processing power of the Sonos Port future-proofs the device.
The Sonos Port is impressively tiny for what it does. At 16 x 5.4 x 5.4 inches, it cuts the height dimension of the Sonos Connect in half, while preserving all the functionality. At 1.04 lbs, it’s lighter than the Sonos Connect, but that weight is denser: they’ve been able to reduce the size of the components and squeeze them in tighter together.
At first, this might seem like it could lead to heating problems, since a whole-home setup often requires several ports to be right next to or on top of each other, but Sonos thought of this ahead of time and baked efficient heat removal into the design. There is no problem stacking a few Sonos Ports on top of each other, which is good because at their newly small height about three of them will fit on top of a shelf stacked vertically.
You’re probably here because you’re considering a Sonos Port, not three, but for those of you who are putting in a whole-home audio system, you know that there are situations where you really do need multiple Ports. And in those cases, it’s critical to be able to tuck them away so that the system doesn’t just function, but so that it looks great as well.
It may seem a bit silly to call out the feature as a color, but this is something that audio professionals take very seriously, and something they’ve been asking for since the Sonos Connect came out. The white color of the Sonos Connect really stands out. It’s a premium look that really helps you feel like you got what you paid for.
But, the majority of high-end audio equipment is black. There’s no getting around that. So with the Sonos Port, Sonos decided on a matte black coloring to address this ask from the professional audio management community. It’s a classy move, and a nod to the people who use this device most.
Audio Trigger Capability
Something that really sets the Sonos Port apart from the Sonos Connect is the inclusion of an audio trigger. Without going into too much detail, this is a feature that allows for a more energy-efficient audio setup at home, because this inclusion of a trigger allows more finite management of when devices are on or off.
The Sonos Connect, by comparison, with its lack of trigger, meant that when it was connected to an amp in a whole-home speaker configuration, the amp needed to be turned on 24/7, not just when in use. The inclusion of the trigger allows the audio equipment to be managed more intelligently and more efficiently.
Beyond that energy efficiency gain, the trigger is also a kind of creature comfort when it comes to audio management. It allows the AP to function more like an audio receiver, not only stage-directing the audio systems themselves but managing downstream hardware and making hardware work better together.
Voice Assistants and Airplay
This is another feature unique to the Sonos Port when compared to the Sonos Connect. The expanded capability to work with voice assistants has been added to the Sonos Port, and although it doesn’t have its own microphone array it’s designed to work with voice assistants whenever a device that does have the mic array is connected.
Especially if you’re all-in on using your voice assistant, a product like the Sonos Port closes an interesting gap in a whole-home audio system. With the Sonos Connect, you can’t connect your voice assistant to your whole-home audio system, which means you can have in-wall and in-ceiling speakers (more on the differences in our guide), multiple Sonos devices, etc., but you still need separate, dedicated equipment to gain voice assistant capability.
With the Sonos Port, a sort of sci-fi future is being realized in which your entire house’s networked audio system can now simply “plug in” to voice assistant capability as needed. You can network all your rooms and simply talk to your voice assistant from anywhere.
Another addition in this vein is the addition of Apple Airplay. This, again, was missing on the Sonos Connect, but on the Sonos Port, it’s yet another feature that is baked in, adding serious value to the device for those embedded in the iOS ecosystem.
Features and Specs for the Sonos Connect
If you’ve been looking into this unit, you may notice that Sonos has a “Connect Amp” as well (as does Yamaha with the WXA-50 – our comparative guide). Although we have more information on that unit, we are talking about the Connect here, not the Connect Amp.
The most important difference in the two devices is the processing power. Although Sonos doesn’t exactly spell out what chips they use, and what the processing power of those chips are, the Sonos Connect’s processing power is less than that of the Sonos Port. That’s important because, with a device that costs this much, you really want to know that you have at least some future-proofing.
With the lower processing power of the Sonos Connect, you know that, while the device works well now, it will run out of steam faster than the Sonos Port when it comes to supporting more advanced, powerful audio systems.
The Sonos Connect is twice the size of the Sonos Port, and even still it’s an impressive package. At roughly 2.9 x 5.4 x 5.5 inches, the Sonos Connect is already a small, tidy package. You can feel the heft of it, at 1.5 lbs, which is reassuring since even this older model isn’t cheap. But the size of the Connect is something that makes it easy to tuck on a shelf of shoehorn in next to high-end audio equipment.
The Sonos Port beats the Sonos Connect on the size metric, sure, but the Sonos Connect is not bad per se. It’s no so large it causes problems. But if you need to put five or six of them in one spot to manage a whole-home audio system, or just a large, complex space, it starts to look a bit goofy. Like you’re hoarding these white bricks on a shelf somewhere. It’s something to think about if you’re planning a big system.
As described above, the color of the Sonos Connect is white. This is going to be something that you either love, hate, or…honestly don’t care about. But it’s really something that sets these two devices apart based on who Sonos expects to be using them and, more importantly, how. For a single listening room with one connect, maybe a nice white Sonos Connect on the shelf can be placed symmetrically and look really smart.
But for someone who has literally all of the other audio equipment in black, it can really break the look to have a white Sonos Connect sticking out like a sore thumb. But for every one of these people, there will be plenty more who put the Sonos Connect or Sonos Port in a cabinet, so the utility of this to you is limited by where and how you will use the device.
Audio Triggers, Voice Assistants, and Airplay
As explained above, all of these features available on the Sonos Port are omitted on the Sonos Connect. And although Sonos devices are frequently updated with new or expanded features via firmware updates, there is no expectation that any of these features will simply “come out” for the Sonos Connect due to most of them requiring hardware-level integration.
So, by now it should be clear to you that, if you’re in the market for a Sonos Connect or Port–if you’re trying to network a whole room or a whole house with Sonos speakers–the Sonos Port is an absolute no-brainer of a decision. Is less expensive, smaller, more highly capable, and more future proof.