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How to use Sonos with ceiling speakers and outdoor speakers

Wireless music players and amps for your favorite wired speakers

Before Sonos came along, multi-room audio systems were expensive and complicated. Sonos wireless systems changed the game. Their self-powered speakers are super-easy to install, set up, and operate.

The only problem is that most Sonos wireless speakers speakers aren't built for outdoor use, and you certainly can't put them in your ceiling. This article shows you the solutions.

W

ant to include ceiling speakers or outdoor speakers in your Sonos system? You’ll need some Sonos gear (and some wires) for that. Below, we'll tell you about the gear, show you a system example, and suggest some useful accessories.

Basic gear requirements

To begin with, you'll need a Sonos music player for each zone/room that includes ceiling speakers or outdoor speakers. You can pair a Sonos music player with an amplifier from another brand. Or you can get a Sonos music player with a built-in amp.

Sonos music players and separate amplifiers

The Sonos Port is a non-powered music zone module. In other words, it's a digital music player that connects to a separate amp, which in turn drives your ceiling speakers or outdoor speakers.

Sonos Port back panel

The Sonos Port requires a separate amplifier. You'll want one for each listening zone in your home.

What sort of amp goes with the Sonos Port?

That depends. For one pair of speakers, a simple stereo amp will do. If you want to drive multiple pairs of speakers, you might opt for a multi-channel amp.

A Sonos Connect for each Zone

This illustration shows you a typical 3-zone system involving Sonos Port music players and a multi-zone amplifier.

Multi-channel amps are versatile, but they can be a bit perplexing. Talk to a Crutchfield A/V system designer for help with your selection.

Niles Si1650 back panel

The back panel of a multi-zone amp includes inputs for several music players and outputs for multiple speaker sets.

Sonos music player with a built-in amplifier

The Sonos Amp is a music player with a built-in amplifier. The amp packs a robust 125 watts per channel, so it’s well suited to outdoor speakers and high-volume listening. The Sonos Amp can drive two pairs of 8-ohm speakers. With two pairs of speakers, you spread the sound more evenly over a large area. The two-pairs approach is great for open floor plans and outdoor installations.

Sonos Amp

The Sonos Amp is a music player with a very powerful amp. It's capable of driving two pairs of 8-ohm speakers.

Sonos by Sonance architectural speakers

Sonos partnered with a company called Sonance to create a line of architectural speakers with power handling ability that perfectly matches the Sonos Amp. With in-wall, in-ceiling, and outdoor options, it's a great way to keep your speakers voice-matched for a seamless listening experience.

Sonos In-ceiling Speakers

Sonos now offers its own line of ceiling speakers that work well with the Sonos Amp.

Do you have to use Sonos speakers with the Sonos Amp? Of course not. Just about any ceiling speakers or outdoor speakers will work well. Please consult one of our A/V system designers for help with your speaker selection.

How to use Sonos with existing wiring

Say your home, like the one in our illustration below, already has speaker wires running from various rooms to a central location like a utility closet. In our scenario, the wires connect to a 16-channel amplifier.

A system example

Hybrid whole house music system with Sonos and multi-room amp
  1.  A 16-channel power amp
  2.  Sonos Port wireless streaming music modules
  3.  A multi-outlet power line conditioner and surge protector
  4.  Your Wi-Fi router (For best results, one of the Sonos Port modules must be connected to the router with an Ethernet cable)
  5.  In-wall speakers
  6.  Ceiling speakers (dining room)
  7.  Ceiling speakers (kitchen)
  8.  Outdoor speakers
  9.  Outdoor rock speakers

Each listening zone has its own Sonos Port. This means you can play the same music in all zones or something different in each one.

Eight of our amplifier's channels are being used in Zones 1 and 2 to power in-wall speakers in the family room, and in-ceiling speakers in the dining room and kitchen.

The amp's other eight channels are being used in Zone 3 to drive our outdoor speakers. Four of those channels have been combined (or bridged) into two channels. This is done in order to supply adequate power to each of our deck speakers. The other four channels are feeding two stereo-input "rock" speakers by the pool.

The beauty of this system is that it can be expanded to include more zones. You can create a new zone by adding one or more Sonos wireless powered speakers, another Port module, or Sonos Amp.

Installation accessories

For a tidy installation in your utility room, consider a rack-mount setup. Racks can be configured with shelves to accommodate a wide range of amps, zone music players, power protection units, your Wi-Fi router, and more. Ask a Crutchfield system designer for help with your rack selection and configuration.

Rack

This wall-mount Flexson rack holds four Sonos Amps.

Sanus makes both free-standing and wall-mount component racks. One Sonos Amp will fit in a 1U rack space, two will fit a 2U rack space, and up to four will fit in a 3U rack space.

Don’t want to spring for the rack mount system? Flexson makes a dock that will hold four Sonos Amps. They also offer wall mount brackets for Sonos Amps.

Need to run wire through your walls to ceiling speakers or outdoor speakers? Make sure you use speaker wire that’s safety-rated for in-wall installation.

Remote control

The Sonos app is terrific. But you may not want to use your phone each time you want to change something. How about using your voice? Sonos is Amazon Alexa-compatible. At some point in 2019, a firmware update will make it compatible with Google Home.

Brilliant Smart Home Control

Brilliant Smart Home Controls let you control your Sonos system, as well as smart lighting and other smart home devices.

Another attractive option is the Brilliant Smart Home Control, which takes the place of a standard wall-mount light switch.

The Sonos Move portable weather-resistant speaker

When this article was first published Sonos did not offer a speaker suitable for outdoor use. Now they have the portable, weather-resistant Sonos Move. It can be used outdoors, but will only remain a part of your Sonos multi-room system if you stay within range of your Wi-Fi signal. Outside of Wi-Fi range, it can be used as a stand-alone Bluetooth speaker. To learn more, read our Sonos One vs Sonos Move article.

Need help?

Want to learn more about multi-room audio systems? Check out our article on how to power a multi-room music system.

No need to go it alone when adding Sonos to your home. Our friendly, knowledgeable Advisors can help you put together a system that matches your unique layout, as well as your budget.

Contact us today.


Get a free system design

In a well-designed home, form and function are on the same team. Furnishings and appliances smoothly serve your family and guests. You should expect no less from your audio/video gear. But first you need a plan, and that’s where your Crutchfield A/V design specialist comes in. Submit a system design request today! You’ll receive a detailed system plan and a link to a pre-filled shopping cart.

3 easy steps

1

Share your info and ideas

2

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3

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  • Jackie from Wells

    Posted on 9/6/2021

    I have a Russound wired system we put in our house 20 years ago. One of the zones quit working. Would I be able to connect a Sonos system to this Russound system I currently have?

    Commenter image

    Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    on 9/7/2021

    Thanks for reaching out, Jackie. Yes, you can certainly incorporate Sonos into your Russound system. I recommend giving our Advisors a shout to help you pick out the right gear. You'll have music playing in that zone again before you know it!
  • Mike from Cambridge

    Posted on 5/21/2019

    I have a current Living Room setup with Sonos Connect in to a receiver with sub, beam, and 2 one's. Remodeling kitchen and have room for only in-ceiling Sonance speakers and need the amp. 1-Do the in-ceiling Sonance need to be wired direct to the amp or are they wireless? 2- Does this amp, since I can't run wires into the current living room setup, need to be powered inside a kitchen cabinet?

    Commenter image

    Jim Richardson from Crutchfield

    on 5/22/2019

    Thanks for your inquiry. You'll have to run wires to your ceiling speakers. To my knowledge, there's still no such thing as a wireless ceiling speaker. Placing a Sonos Connect inside a kitchen cabinet is an interesting idea, but you'll still need an amp. You might try a Sonos Connect:Amp in there. But will you have AC power for it inside the cabinet? Will there be adequate ventilation? Please contact one of our advisors to discuss this further.
  • Commenter image

    Ralph Graves from Crutchfield

    Posted on 1/9/2018

    Stephen:
    I touched base with Jason from our tech support department. He says, "The volume in the app is linked to the volume buttons on the device, you can press the buttons on the device and watch the slider move in the app. Personally, I keep my powered speaker volume close to max and control the volume from the app/device. I don't have any issues at lower volumes but a lot of that would have to do with the particular amp and speakers so in a traditional receiver/speaker setup it might make more sense to have the Sonos volume at like 60-70% and control it from the receiver."

  • Steven from San Francisco

    Posted on 1/7/2018

    I have a question related to what Sam from Chicago has mentioned. If the power amp is set at the optimal/max sound level and volume is being managed by the volume control in Connect, will the music sound good at lower levels? I hear that this could be an issue. Also, are the volume controls in the Sonos app the same as the volume control on the Connect device, or are those different? In short, what is the optimal means s to manage volume in this setup without compromising on sound quality at lower volumes?

  • Nathan from Washington, DC

    Posted on 7/29/2017

    Will your Advisors come setup my house to the Sonos CONNECT?

  • Sam from Chicago

    Posted on 5/21/2017

    How is the volume on the AMP being controlled whether using the Clare or the Russound is my question? I want to make sure you're not turning the volume all the way up on the AMP on all channels and leaving it that way and then using the volume control in Sonos to turn it up and down when it's really at full blast on the AMP. I am sure the AMP won't last long if you run it full blast all the time.

  • Matthew from Thousand Oaks, CA

    Posted on 4/24/2017

    Dave, thanks for the information and easy explanation for us middle aged, analog audio people!! My system is very similar to what you described above with a couple of modifications. My wired home system is being separated from the TV system and will only be used for music. I have 4 zones (2 inside and 2 outside) with 2 speakers each. I might want to install a 5th zone in the dining room in the future. I do not need to play different music in the different zones, but want to be able to select which zones will play. The house is very open and there are no doors between the zones inside and its just my wife and I. Here are my questions: 1) Will 1 Sonos connect serve this plan? 2) What multi channel device do you recommend? 3) Do I need a separate channel select device (I have an old push button box in my closet now)? 4) What outdoor hanging speaker and rock speakers do you recommend for a large patio?

  • Kevin from Orinda

    Posted on 11/6/2016

    Question - I currently have two speakers to watch TV with and another 4 speakers nearby in the kitchen that are hooked up to zone 2. Here's the problem, zone 2 won't play TV audio. So if I want to hear the game (or whatever) while not near the TV I can't. The other issue is that when listening to zone 2 there's a noticeable delay in the music. I'm wondering if I can integrate sonos to fix this problem and create multiple zones (I also have wired outdoor speakers) that will also play TV audio with no delay?

  • Willie from Frisco, TX

    Posted on 10/2/2016

    How do you connect the three Sonos Connects to an amplifier similar to the one listed with only one input. Do I have to something to get all three connects to connect to the amplifier.

  • Darius

    Posted on 10/1/2016

    If using multiple Sonos connect:amps in a centralised utility cupboard. And these amps are connected via Ethernet to the wireless network of the home. Does it matter that the connect:amps are out of wifi range of the person trying to control the speakers? Ie will the command go through the home wifi to connect amp on the utility area? Thanks