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How to use Sonos with ceiling speakers and outdoor speakers

Wireless music players and amps for your favourite 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 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 Connect 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 Connect back panel

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

What sort of amp goes with the Sonos Connect?

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 Connect 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 Connect:Amp or Sonos Amp.

Do you have to use Sonos speakers with the Sonos Amp or Connect: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 Connect 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 Connect 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 Connect. 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 Connect 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.    

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. 

Call, email, or chat with us today.


Last updated 4/29/2019
  • 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?

    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.
  • 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

  • Olga from Houston

    Posted on 9/17/2016

    We have a new house wired for ceiling speakers throughout. Most rooms have a blank plate wired for the sound control. We have a closet dedicated to sound and networking; all the wires terminate in there. We have two back patio speakers and more wires sticking out at the back of the house, presumably for additional outdoor speakers. We recently added a Sonos sound bar to our TV, connected by ethernet. I love the controls. It sounds like we could benefit by using the Sonos system to control everything from our phones and ipads, yes? This would avoid adding another proprietary system that may or may not be around forever, witness the old intercom system hardwired in my previous house. What do you recommend?

  • Joshua Crane from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/22/2016

    Hi Ken, congrats on the new house! You have 11 individual speaker channels that need amplification. For a 3-zone setup, a single home theater receiver won't power all of them. However, you can certainly use a network-capable receiver to control music playback in all three zones of your home. Your iOS device will work as a remote control anywhere in the house that you have Wi-Fi reception. I'm going to pass along your inquiry to our team of Advisors who will reach out directly to help you choose the right equipment.

  • Ken from Chicago

    Posted on 7/20/2016

    Similar to a few folks above, I'm moving into a home that has been pre-wired for in-ceiling speakers in the Living Room (5), Master Bed (4) and Master Bath (2). I've been looking at a Sonos setup but not entirely sure how to go about it. I believe all of the speaker wires meet up in the LR. I'd like to be able to install a 5.1 surround sound in the LR and have separate zones for the other two rooms. I also would like to be able to select the source & playback for each of the 3 zones using an iOS device (i.e. watching a movie in the LR while simultaneously streaming music to the other two zones). To make it more complicated, I'd like to purchase an AV receiver for the LR that ties all of this together, and also has a phono input.

  • Joshua Crane from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/11/2016

    Hi Danny,

    I've forwarded your inquiry to one of our Advisors who will reach out to you shortly. They will discuss options with you, and will get you all set up with the right gear for your system.

  • Danny from San Francisco

    Posted on 7/10/2016

    I would also like to know how to have a sons setup with multi-zones including a home theater.

  • Joshua Crane from Crutchfield

    Posted on 6/17/2016

    Hi Jennifer, there are some other network music options available. I've forwarded your questions to our Advisors, and they will be able to help you find the best solution for your system. They'll be reaching out via email soon. For immediate help, you can contact them via phone or chat.

  • Jennifer from Milwaukee

    Posted on 6/17/2016

    To do the three zone set up I need 3 Sonos connect - so $1,047. Are there any alternatives? Newer technology? Or is Sonos the only option? I want the 3 zones and wireless control. Currently use sonos with their speakers but want to go with in ceiling. thanks!

  • Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    Posted on 6/3/2016

    Jason and Steve, I've sent your comments over to an Advisor. You should hear back from them soon

  • Steve from Corona

    Posted on 6/2/2016

    I have the same question as Allen above. I'd like to have this same set up but incorporate a home theater.

  • Jason from chicago

    Posted on 6/2/2016

    Dave, I am moving into a home with in-ceiling speakers already wired and want to add Sonos. I am looking at doing a similar set up as you have outlined but with Connect:Amp since there are no outdoor or high powered speakers. One of the zones though has 3 speakers (2 in master bedroom and 1 in master bath). The bedroom and bathroom each have an in-wall volume control. Will I be able to hook all 3 to one Connect:Amp and still have use of the wall volume controls?

  • Dave Bar from Crutchfield

    Posted on 5/9/2016

    That's a great question, Allan. I believe there would be at least a couple of ways to implement a multi-room audio system with a home theater in the mix. I sent your question to our advisors for the best possible solutions. They'll be contacting you via email soon. For immediate help, you can contact them via phone or chat.

  • Allan from Dallas

    Posted on 5/5/2016

    Dave- How would this system work or need to be set up if one of the rooms/zones were to include a home theater?

  • Dave Bar from Crutchfield

    Posted on 4/25/2016

    Right you are, Simon. If you're in need of a versatile amp with 16 channels of power, check out our Russound D1650. I think you'll find it quite comparable to the Clare Controls.

  • Simon from Chicago

    Posted on 4/24/2016

    Your link says the Clare Control amp 1640 is no longer available. Do you have an updated recommendation?

  • Dave Bar from Crutchfield

    Posted on 4/17/2016

    That should work just fine, Kate, as long as the amplifier has some kind of global bus input connection that allows a single source to feed multiple channels (8 in this case). Most multi-channel amps these days do.

  • Kate from Richmond

    Posted on 4/15/2016

    If we have a multi-room amp for 8 hardwired speakers in 4 zones (each with in-wall volume control) and want to play the same music in each zone could we use just one Sonos CONNECT unit?

  • Dave Bar from Crutchfield

    Posted on 3/25/2016

    Good question, Joander. While you could use wall controls, the idea here was to use the Sonos app's volume control and the CONNECT's variable analog audio output to control the volume in the zone that it is connected to.

  • Joander from Montreal

    Posted on 3/24/2016

    how do you control the volume, do you need wall controls or can you use the sonos app from your phone?

  • Dave Bar from Crutchfield

    Posted on 2/15/2016

    Rex, In our hypothetical three-zone system, we are using three Sonos CONNECT modules (one for each music zone). No matter how large or small your system is, you will need one CONNECT module for each zone in which you wish to play a different music source, and control independently with the phone app.

  • Rex

    Posted on 2/13/2016

    You are not using multiple connects, correct? Just the one connect on the Clare Controls multi-room amp as I understand it. You should then be able to use the Sonos phone app to control the music selection and volume assuming you have the amp at a reasonable preset volume, right?

  • Joel Shoop from Spring Park

    Posted on 11/24/2015

    Dave, I like the idea of using a multi room amp with a Sonos Connect for each zone. When you have the 3 separate Connects for the various zones, how does that interface with the Sonos app? Is it as user friendly had you just used Sonos Amps?

  • Dave Bar from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/14/2015

    Scott, In the system we used as an example here, the indoor speakers would get along just fine with the 55 watts per channel supplied by Sonos CONNECT:AMPs. But our power-hungry outdoor speakers need more juice than that, which is why we chose to go with the Clare Controls amp. Its 160 watt-per-channel bridged output to the deck speakers and 40 watts x 4 for our stereo input rock speakers give them the extra oomph required to fill the great outdoors.

  • Scott from NYC

    Posted on 10/13/2015

    Why do you recommend the three Sonos Connects + Clare Controls amp instead of multiple Connect:Amps?

  • William from Miami

    Posted on 9/19/2015

    The amp stays on always. The sonos box has no way to control the amp. The clare may be able to withstand the alwasy on... but may be an issue down the line.