Return of the Mack: Sonos ZP80

The best just went nuclear. Sonos has carved out a reputation for good audio-streaming products, but how does the new ZP80 fare in comparison to the Sonos of old?

The original Sonos Digital Music System was flawless as Scarlett Johansson, but for one small caveat: it used an internal amplifier -- there was no provision for you to plug your existing hi-fi into it. Audiophiles commited to power amps, multi-million-pound interconnects and bi-wired speakers were out of luck. It was the Sonos amp or nothing.

But since Sonos is the socioeconomic elite's favourite electronics manufacturer, it's fixed the problem of integration with your existing hi-fi bounty. The ZP80 (pictured) is a new ZonePlayer (Sonos' term to describe the wireless hubs that stream music around your home). Unlike the original ZonePlayers, the ZP80 (£269, not including any controllers) doesn't have an internal amplifier. Instead it will supply a phono or digital optical output to your current amp.

Like all the Sonos gear we've stuffed in our pipe before, the ZP80 doesn't inspire an epic tale of hardship and adventure during its installation. The process basically involves plugging it in. If you can make toast, you're a professional Sonos installation engineer. Judging from our tests this morning, the ZP80 sounds as good as the original, but we can pump our music twice as hard through the Arcam Solo amplifer we're using.

This is a serious step up from Sonos' own-brand amp and speakers. If you're an audiophile looking for a wireless streaming solution for full-resolution audio files, keep a keen eye out for our full review, coming ludicrously soon. -CS

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