If you have traditional audio equipment, like a receiver and a pair of bookshelf speakers, and you want to integrate it into your existing Sonos system, you want to buy the Sonos Port ($449). Released in early 2020, the Port is a newer and more versatile (and more expensive) version of the company's Connect (no longer available); it has a better built-in DAC, supports AirPlay 2 and, thanks to its bespoke all-black design, looks more like a typical audio component.
Like the Connect, the Port is a wireless streamer with a built-in DAC. It has RCA and digital coaxial audio outputs for connecting a stereo or an AV receiver, and thus allows you to control and play music on that system via the Sonos app, just as if it were a Sonos speaker. The Port also has an RCA audio in port for connecting audio sources, like a turntable (with a built-in preamp) or CD player; this then allows you to play music from those sources on your existing Sonos speakers.
Maybe the most interesting upgrade is the Port’s 12-volt trigger, which gives it (and you) a little more control of the connected receiver or amp. It essentially eliminates the need for you to manually turn on the receiver or stereo, or switch to the proper inputs, because everything just turns on when you start streaming via the Sonos app to stream music. There’s a catch, however, and it’s only newer stereos and receivers that have a 12-volt trigger input. (My three-year-old Yamaha receiver didn’t support it, so I still have to use the receiver’s remote to switch inputs, unfortunately.)
It’s true that most newer audio components have built-in Bluetooth, so simply adding “streaming” to your stereo receiver on its own isn’t actually a big feature of the Port. However, the Port does have a fancy new digital-to-analog converter (DAC), compared to the Connect, and supports Wi-Fi streaming like Spotify Connect and AirPlay 2; so it’s going to stream higher-resolution and all-around better sounding audio than Bluetooth.
Port vs Amp: What's the difference?
Sonos currently sells two different wireless streamers that effectively allows you to turn an old audio component into one that works exactly like a Sonos speaker. There's the Port and the significantly more expensive Amp ($649).
The big difference between the two is that the Port doesn’t have a built-in amp, so it’s only going to work directly with audio components and active speakers that have built-in amplification (such as powered or active speakers). It can also connect to a turntable with a built-in phono preamp (or a turntable with an external phono preamp) so you can listen to vinyl on your Sonos speakers.
The Amp is essentially a Port with a built-in amplifier. So while the Port is designed to be connected to a stereo receiver, which then allows you to play music on your passive loudspeakers, the Amp takes the place of the receiver — cutting out the middleman — and is able to drive the passive loudspeakers on its own.
The other difference is that the Amp supports HDMI-ARC, meaning it can replace your AV receiver and turn your passive loudspeakers into TV speakers. It effectively turns your loudspeakers into a system that works similar to one of Sonos's soundbars.
How to connect the Port to a receiver
If you have a stereo receiver or AV receiver and a pair of bookshelf speakers, and you want to be able to use it as Sonos speaker (being able to stream music right from your smartphone and integrate it into an existing Sonos multi-room speaker system), you need to connect it to a Sonos Port.
- Plug in the Port into a power outlet.
- Connect the Port to a power amplifier or receiver via its RCA Out connections.
- Open the Sonos app on your smartphone.
- Select the "Set up a new system" option.
- Select the "Add" option on your Sonos Port. (If using the Sonos S1 Controller, tap Continue > Set up products.)
- Follow the steps in the app to set up your Port and add your music services.
Note: if you're looking to connect the Port to an audio source, like a turntable, you can do so by following the above steps, but using the RCA IN connections on the back of the Port.