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My SONOS Play:5 (2nd gen) audio sync tests (PC & TV) with lip sync and computer game footage

2017-08-26 12:08

I recently purchased a SONOS Play:5 (2nd gen) Play:5 speaker and even though they are built for music, and not for TV or a PC per se, due to its line-in has a ~70ms analog to digital conversion delay, I decided to do some tests of my own, for fun, to see if I would notice the delay myself.

A side note here though, is that you can apparently also set the line-in compression setting for your Play:5 to "uncompressed", to reduce the delay further, according to SONOS, which I did in my tests.

Uncompressed line-in uses the WAV format which can put a lot of strain on your network if you are in a Standard Setup and have a lot of Sonos players. A benefit of using Uncompressed is that there will be very little delay from the source and the audio. With uncompressed line-in, the delay is about 75ms.

Use Uncompressed if:

  • You want to reduce the lip sync delay for video or a television.
  • You want to produce the highest quality sound for your Sonos system. (this selection requires more network bandwidth than compressed audio.)

So, I did 4 tests:

Hopefully these can be useful for anyone interested in the audio sync for a SONOS Play:5 line-in.

Test 1 - Sound PC to Play:5 over line-in, video PC to monitor over DIV, split to PC speakers

Sound from my stationary PC to the Play:5 via the line in, video over DVI, recorded by my phone.

The line-in from my PC is however split to some external PC speakers.

I start each video with sounds from the PC speaker, then after 10s I start playing from the SONOS as well You can clearly hear the delay here.

Audio Video Sync Test

Elon Musk Interview 2017 | TEDTalk

Test 2 - Sound PC to Play:5 over line-in, video PC to monitor over DIV

Same as Test 1, but without any external PC speakers.

Audio Video Sync Test

Elon Musk Interview 2017 | TEDTalk

Overwatch computer game

Test 3 - Sound PC to Play:5 over line-in, video PC to monitor over DIV, grouped with a Play:1

Same as test #1, however, now I have grouped the Play:5 with a Play:1 and played the sound only from the Play:1.

Audio Video Sync Test

Elon Musk Interview 2017 | TEDTalk

Test 4 - Sound PC to Play:5 over line-in, video PC to TV over HDMI

Since I have an old TV, I don't actually have a line-out from my TV. I watch movies from a mini-PC underneath my TV, which is connected to the TV over HDMI. However, for the test, I connected the mini-PC to the Play:5 over line-in directly.

Audio Video Sync Test

Batman on Netflix

My personal comments

To be totally honest, I am actually surprised about the lack of delay. Up to the purchase of this speaker, I read a lot about the ~70ms delay and that it basically makes these speakers not suitable for PC or TV use.

But I don't actually notice the delay on its own. I think its totally okay. Not perfect, but certainly not unusable. I don't know if there is really a ~70ms delay, or its less now due to the "uncompressed". But this is something I can totally live with personally.

I am not going to use the Play:5 for PC or TV though, but not because of the delay, but because of the lack of stereo. In my opinion, just having one Play:5 speaker is basically mono. Great for music, but for movies and games, you probably want true separated stereo sound.

However, SONOS speakers are really not cheap hardware, and everyone has their own preferences and tolerance levels regarding delays, so I urge anyone who is thinking of buying these speakers for PC/TV use, to test it yourself.

SONOS does have a Playbar and a Playbase, especially meant for TVs, which only has an optical connection, decreasing the delay to ~30ms, since the sound data is already digital, hence no analog to digital conversion is required.

Comment on Reddit

As always, feel free to share your comments, opinions and feedback over at the Reddit threads. There are some great discussions over there!