Looking To Replace My Sonos System


Senior Member
I'm looking to replace my Sonos system and am wondering what the 2018 thinking is for alternatives. I'm not really looking for a Sonos clone but rather something that works well with Home Automation while doing a better job of managing my local music library. I am thinking about LMS plus a Russound or HTD setup. I still have several Squeezebox 3 players to connect to source inputs on a multi-channel amp so this seems the most cost effective route but open to any other options I might not have thought of.
My main requirements are:
- Probably only need 6 to 8 zones. My Sonos system is much larger but experience has shown that there are only about 6-8 locations that I need to have linked together to play in sync.
-Currently using Homeseer so I need to ensure plugins exist for whatever I choose. Flexibility to work with CQC and other platforms in the future would be a bonus.
-Must have a good way to manage local music library and playlists. After spending the past 2 years messing with streaming music services I still can only get about 40% of the songs (or versions of songs) I want to listen to that way and have come to have zero trust that any song I am enjoying will be available on a given streaming service (or any streaming service) tomorrow. I just want to collect and curate my own music library and not be subject to external forces screwing with my music.
-Must have good hard button control options that the whole family can use. I don't need fancy in-wall controllers but might use a couple keypads in table stands and some small remotes for volume, pause, and mute in each room.
-Must have a web controller for configuration and operation from my desk PC. I also want to use a keyboard and mouse to manage my music library and playlists. Not comfortable doing extensive edits using touch screen devices.
-Alexa integration would be a plus. I can achieve most transport functions using the integration to Homeseer but voice access to songs, albums, and artists in my local music library would be nice since the family is used to doing that for casual listening from Amazon Music through Echos.
For CQC, I always at least put out there the use of our headless audio player. It runs in the background as a driver, but it is the actual player. It can stream to any audio output. You can run multiple instances of the driver to feed separate zones. If you get a multi-output audio card, generally you can split them into stereo pairs, so you can get two to five stereo output pairs and run two to five instances of the player. Since the driver is the player response is very fast to commands.
These can play music from your local LAN, and you can use various media managers to manage your collection. The players just need access to the disc where the music is. It is somewhat of an advantage to have the players running on the same machine as the music since it doesn't have to suck it over the network just to play it, but on a modern network that's probably not much of an issue anyway.
You could keep a couple Sonos boxes for streaming channels. Feed all of these sources into a multi-zone audio amp and you can then let each room choose which source to listen to. Russound or Nuvo are good choices for automation integration. I guess you can also use less expensive bits like Monoprice and provide your own amps or something like that. Russound and Nuvo get you button pads in the rooms which can also be used to invoke commands in CQC to do various things.
Our player can do things like random play from a category so you can set up one or more to just keep playing some type of music and it will keep its own queue going from that selected category. You have access to the music for browsing purpose of course within CQC. You can either use our own repository or a third party one (J.River is common.) In the latter case CQC can import the metadata.
Thanks Dean. That is the kind of input I need to get me thinking outside the various standard boxes. I'll do some "what if" scenarios following your approach and see where it takes me.
Still thinking about this since my hardware design should end up pretty agnostic as to what inputs and streamers I use. I looked at Casa Home but was not comfortable with their story so I'm keeping an eye out for good alternatives for managing my local library. I could even end up using LMS since the development seems to keep moving forward on that.
I ended up with Amazon alexa for my whole house audio.  They have devices that connect to amps for great sound, plus you can control stuff.