When Sonos’s new CEO, Patrick Spence, came aboard in early 2017, one of his main goals was to push the audio company towards a more open ecosystem – and it has been doing just that. In the past year or so, Sonos has released its first two smart speakers, the Sonos One ($199) and Sonos Beam ($399), both of which are integrated with Amazon’s Alexa. (With the arrival of AirPlay 2 support, the newest Sonos smart speakers can be controlled with Siri, too.) And now, with its new Amp ($599), Sonos continues to push towards a more open ecosystem.
The Sonos Amp isn’t a completely new product category for Sonos. It’s the next evolution of the Connect:Amp, the audio hub that enables anyone to integrate their non-Sonos passive speakers into a Sonos multi-room system. Like the Connect:Amp, the new Amp also lets anybody integrate passive bookshelf or floor-standing speakers, subwoofers, record players and CD players into their Sonos system, but its biggest upgrade is that it has an HDMI Arc port that can be connected directly to a TV.
It’s worth noting that if you just want to integrate your passive speakers or turntable into your current Sonos system, you should get the much-cheaper Sonos Connect ($349) – the new Amp is really for those looking to connect their speakers (Sonos or passive) to their TV.
The new Amp isn’t a soundbar, but it does something similar to Sonos’s Playbar, Playbase and Beam — it allows you to play your TV’s audio through other speakers in your house. The Amp essentially acts as an AV receiver; you can plug any analog speakers into it and you play your TV’s audio. If you have other Sonos speakers, the Amp allows you to play your TV’s audio in other rooms of your home. Basically, the Amp ties all your home’s existing speakers, Sonos or not, into one wireless system.
As far as details, Sonos says that the Sonos Amp is twice as powerful as the Connect:Amp. And it can power up to four speakers at 125 watts per channel. Aside from being more powerful, and able to connect to your TV, the Sonos Amp also supports AirPlay 2. This means you can stream any audio from your iPhone or iPad through the system connected to the Amp. If you already have a Sonos One or Sonos Beam, you can control the Amp with voice commands, too.
The Sonos Amp will cost $599 and be available for purchase in February 2019, although it will be made available to professional installers in the US and Canada starting December 1, 2018. It’s also worth noting that while Sonos will continue supporting Connect:Amp (via software updates), they’ll no longer sell it – the Sonos Amp will replace it in Sonos’s lineup.
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