The Sonos Amp and the Sonos Port are two of the most useful and most advanced components you can get today, and anybody who is thinking of setting up a wireless music or home theater system in their home should strongly consider one or the other.
But how can you tell which one you want or need? That’s exactly the question I will try and help you decide, in this brief but detailed comparison of the Sonos Port and Amp.
First we’ll look at each unit individually, and then do a direct comparison, and by the end you should have a clear idea of which is best for you and your needs.
But if you want the shortest story possible, for many people it is really just this simple:
Sonos Amp or Sonos Port: Which Should You Get?
The Sonos Port does not have an amplifier, so if you have a stereo system already – an amplifier or receiver connected to traditional passive speakers – and want to play internet radio and music streaming services through that stereo system, the Port will work perfectly for this.
The Sonos Amp, as the name implies, does have a built-in amplifier, and so if you have speaker you love, or plan to purchase new speakers, but do not have an amplifier already, the Amp is the ticket – it too allows for music streaming from any internet source, and is one of the best sounding amplifiers you can get at this price.
But there is a bit more to tell, and some other differences between the Sonos Port and Amp, so let’s look at all of this a bit more closely.
What Exactly Is a Sonos Port?
The Sonos Port is a wireless streaming component that can turn your existing stereo system into a multi-room or whole-house wireless system, or just give you wireless capability in a single room.
Ok, great, but what exactly does that mean?
Well, if you already have a stereo system (or, for that matter, powered active speakers) and you would like to start playing internet radio and/or music streaming services – like Apple Music, Spotify, Qobuz, Amazon Music Unlimited, Tidal or YouTube Music – you can get a Port and do just that.
All you need to do is plug the audio outputs from the port – it has both analog and digital outputs – to your existing stereo receiver or active speakers, and you can not only play internet music streaming through your stereo, you can control the whole thing from the brilliant Sonos S1 Controller app, which is available for Windows and Apple computers as well as Android and Apple phones.
Here’s where it gets even more interesting – you can use the Sonos Port very easily in this way, and play internet streamed music through your stereo, but you can just as easily use the Port to play music through Sonos speakers – which are wireless and also work through your wifi network and the Sonos S1 app.
So instead of – or in addition to – using your existing stereo for internet streaming, you can play any of your existing stereo gear – a turntable, CD player, even your phone – and hear it through one or several Sonos wireless speakers, which you can place anywhere and everywhere in your house.
You can connect a single component – like a turntable – directly to the Sonos, or connect a whole stereo system, and so the Sonos Port will feed streamed music to the stereo to play on its speakers, and the stereo can feed other music to the Port to play on Sonos wireless speakers.
What Exactly Is a Sonos Amp?
The Sonos Amp is very similar to the Sonos Port in most ways.
It too is a wireless music streaming component, which will allow you to listen to music from any streaming service or internet site, and it too integrates perfectly with an existing Sonos system through your wifi network and the Sonos S1 app.
The main difference is that the Amp has a built-in amplifier, so you can plug any passive (non-amplified) speakers in and it will power them.
And not just power them, but play them to intensely loud volumes (if you want) and with superb audiophile sound quality!
If your amplifier or stereo receiver has died and you need to replace it, or you are putting together a new stereo system, the Sonos Amp is a really smart choice, because you can use it for internet streaming, you can plug in any piece of audio gear, like a turntable, and you can play it all through the traditional non-powered speakers of your choice, as well as through any powered speaker and all Sonos wireless speakers.
So you can have a more traditional amp and speakers stereo system, you can have a single or whole house wireless speaker setup, or you can have both – and all with incredible sound.
The Sonos Amp also has an HDMI Arc connection, making it a perfect choice for home theater systems as well.
Sonos Port vs Sonos Amp: What’s the Difference?
If you’ve read the two previous sections, you may already know the answer to the question: which is better, a Sonos Amp or a Sonos Port – or at least, which is better for you?
But it still may be helpful to detail the key differences between the Sonos Amp and Sonos Port:
this is the biggie for most of us. Simply put, if you already have a stereo receiver or amplifier that works great and sounds great, you do not need to spend the extra money for a Sonos Amp. The Port will do everything you need, and your existing amplifier will power your speakers – in the way it always has, and now with streaming digital music as well.
the Sonos Port is significantly less expensive than the Amp – about two hundred dollars less – because it doesn’t have an amplifier built in. Still, some people are happy to pay more, because the amplifier in the Sonos Amp is very, very good, and they otten find that it sounds better than their existing gear – and may also offer a simpler, all-in-one solution.
the Sonos Port does not have an HDMI connection, and so if you want to use Sonos speakers with a home theater system, the Amp is the only real choice – luckily it works wonderfully for this!
the Amp is quite a bit bigger and heavier than the Port, though they both have a beautifully sleek and minimalist look.
one of the things people love most about the Sonos Amp is the incredibly intuitive, simple and useful touch control panel on the front of the unit itself, which allows you to play or pause music or video, skip to the next or previous track and adjust volume. The Sonos Port has no controls on the unit itself, and all of this is done through the app.
Conclusion: Sonos Port or Sonos Amp – Which is Best for You?
There is no question of quality – that is, I can’t say that the Sonos Amp is somehow “better” than the Sonos Port, or vice-versa. They are, in fact, both superb components, with state of the art technology and incredible sound.
So what it comes down to is really just your own application, and that will determine whether the Amp or Port is right for you.
If you have an existing stereo system, or powered speaker system, and want to use internet music streaming systems, and/or integrate your existing system with your Sonos network, the Port is the right choice, and a wonderful choice at that.
On the other hand, if you do not have an amplifier or powered speakers, and want to use internet streaming with passive (non-powered) speakers, the superb built in amplifier in the Sonos Amp is just the ticket, and the Amp is your best choice.
Either way, you are getting one of the most advanced, best sounding and best made audio components on the market today, and – if you are like pretty much any other Sonos customer on the planet – you will absolutely love it!