Streaming audio is becoming significantly more commonplace in the home space, but what if you want to bring new wireless listening options to high-end speaker systems without completely overhauling your setup? Both the Sonos Amp and Echo Link Amp can help turn your perfectly good “dumb” speakers into smart speakers, but the functionality between these two speakers goes well beyond casting music.
Going beyond the beats
Out of the box, The Sonos Amp and Echo Link Amp offer 2.1 stereo sound. For the Echo Link Amp, though, this is where it stops. As far as we know, there isn’t any way to add additional speakers to create a surround sound setup for Amazon’s amp. The Sonos Amp can extend as far as 4.1 surround sound. This is accomplished by adding your already existing wireless Sonos speakers, such as a pair of Sonos Ones, or by stacking a second Sonos Amp and using additional wired speakers.
|Sonos Amp||Echo Link Amp|
|Size (LxWxD)||8.54″ x 8.54″ x 2.52″||8.5″ x 9.5″ x 3.4″|
|Weight||4.6 lbs||5.03 lbs|
|Power per Channel||125 Watts at 8 Ohms||60 Watts at 8 Ohms|
1x Coaxial RCA
|1x Coaxial RCA
1x TOSLINK Optical
|Input (Analog)||1x L/R RCA||Analog 1x L/R RCA|
|Output (Digital)||TOSLINK (via adapter)||1x Coaxial RCA
1x TOSLINK Optical
|Output (Analog)||1x Subwoofer RCA||1x L/R RCA
1x Subwoofer RCA
|Smart Assistant||Amazon Alexa||Amazon Alexa|
|AirPlay 2 Support||Yes||No|
The Echo Link Amp supplies 60 watts of power to each speaker. In contrast, the Sonos Amp provides 125 watts to each speaker, allowing for greater quality across a wider array of speakers. You’ll definitely hear the loudness difference between both setups, when streaming high quality audio from services such as Pandora, Spotify and Apple Music. While we’re on the subject of streaming audio, it is worth noting that the Sonos Amp supports seventy-three different streaming platforms compared to nine for the Echo Link Amp.
Supported services that Sonos supports and Echo Link Amp doesn’t include Google Play Music, Napster, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Spreaker and Slacker. This is just the tip of the iceberg, but considering the staggering difference in supported services, it certainly tips the scales in the favor of the Sonos Amp.
However, the plus to having an HDMI port is HDMI-ARC (Audio Return Channel) technology, allowing users to transmit audio from their television via HDMI to their setup to the Sonos Amp.
For fans of TOSLINK optical audio, the Echo Link Amp comes with both input and output ports. The Sonos Amp only provides this output via an adapter that plugs into its HDMI port. This may be disappointing to some, as the peripheral does not come packed in with the Sonos Amp and must be purchased separately. However, the plus to the Sonos Amp having an HDMI port is HDMI-ARC (Audio Return Channel) technology, allowing users to transmit audio from their television via HDMI to their setup to the Sonos Amp. In effect, your decision comes down to either saving or sacrificing one of the HDMI ports on your television.
When it comes to multi-room audio, both Amazon’s and Sonos’ offering handle this very well. With the Echo Link Amp, you can set up groups with other supported Echo devices, enabling audio streaming throughout your home. The Sonos Amp does the very same thing, but edges out the Echo Link Amp in one category: streaming whole home audio from any device. The Echo Link Amp lacks support for multi-room casting from line-in and Bluetooth devices. Another way Sonos supports multi-room audio is the ability to connect multiple Sonos Amps in different rooms to the same network. This further extends audio to more places around the house, such as your patio, basement, attic, or wherever your network reaches, no matter if it’s wireless or wired.
As for smart assistant capabilities, it’s generally even, with both devices support Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. The caveat to this is that an external device, such as the Amazon Echo, is needed for voice command support. You can also connect the Sonos One to the Sonos Amp to provide Alexa voice assistant support.
It is within the narrowest of margins, but the Sonos Amp is the winner in this match-up. When it comes to wireless expansion capabilities, the Sonos Amp edges out the Echo Link Amp with the ability to stream music through any device to your whole home. The Echo Link Amp has the edge when it comes to price, admittedly so. However, the Sonos Amp has more options for streaming audio — seventy-three to be exact, as well as the ability to use HDMI-ARC for higher quality audio from the sources attached to your television. Additionally, the Sonos Amp allows for multi-room streaming from line-in and Bluetooth sources, unlike the Echo Link Amp. Did I mention the support for seventy-three different streaming audio services?
Multi-room casting and TV connectivity
With the ability to integrate seamlessly within your Alexa and Sonos setups, as well as the ability to bring hi-fi sound quality to your TV setup, the Sonos Amp is a solid choice for upgrading your home audio set up. The $600 price tag may cause some to wince, but it is worth it in the end for the flexibility it offers.
If you don’t need it all, but want to feel like you do
The Echo Link Amp is certainly a very capable device for those getting into the hi-fi audio scene. Multi-room casting being unavailable, the lack of AirPlay support and the lack of HDMI-ARC might be a turn off for some.
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