If Alexa Doesn’t Kill Sonos, Raumfeld’s Wifi Speakers Will…

Raumfeld's M Series Wi-Fi Connected Speakers

Raumfeld’s Stereo M Wi-Fi Connected Speakers

Sonos now has more competition than ever — starting with Amazon itself.  But rivals like Raumfeld are about to make Sonos’ life even more difficult.

Earlier this year, we questioned whether Sonos could survive the next evolution of connected stereo systems.  Even five years ago, the idea of a Wifi-connected stereo system seemed novel and futuristic.  Now, it’s about to become a fierce battleground, with dozens of companies potentially competing.

And the best part for you? Wifi (and bluetooth) connectivity is quickly becoming a standard component of current-generation systems.

Enter aggressive upstarts like Raumfeld into this picture.  The Berlin-based speaker company is baking Wifi connectivity right into the speakers themselves, right out of the box.  And they’ve been working on this integration since 2010.

The result is that these connected speakers are ready to go in less than 10 minutes.  Without a central controller or any specialized setup.

Sonos eventually ditched their handheld controller for a mobile app.  But Raumfeld has built an app-based controller system from the ground up.  Frankly, the Sonos app is pretty good.  But Raumfeld’s is also pretty tight, not to mention smart.  It quickly figures out the Wifi terrain and ties everything together in about 5 minutes.

Once the mobile (iOS or Android) app is set up, it easily connects with anything else on your phone.  That includes Spotify, Apple Music, Youtube, etc.  And Google Chromecast users are in for a nice surprise.

Apps can be tricky.  But two weeks later, Raumfeld’s app hasn’t presented one glitch.  Pretty impressive.

Now, onto the speakers themselves.

Take it from me, I suck at setting up speakers.  An audiophile would laugh at what I need to search on Google to get it right.  Part of this is paranoia.  But maybe Raumfeld should have a few extra pages for the inevitably non-expert user, just to prevent cross-wiring disasters.

But once the ship was sailing, it was sailing oh-so-smoothly.  Basically Raumfeld’s Stereo M series speakers are overgrown bookshelves, but they easily overpowered my existing towers.  That’s not surprising, given that Raumfeld integrates a 320 watt amplifier and coaxial drivers right into the main speaker itself.

Crank these puppies up, and the output is pretty astounding.

Not to mention crisp.  I largely test the Raumfeld Ms with my Spotify account, though the Stereo Ms also support lossless delivery.  Purists may decry the impact of wireless on truly lossless sound, but hey, audiophiles can become a finicky bunch on the higher end.

Which brings me to…

The price.

How much?  Looking on Amazon, a pair of Stereo Ms will run you about $900.  That’s still a little pricey, depending on your level of price sensitivity.  Smartly, Raumfeld is trying to steer clear of the audiophile stratosphere, which caters towards millionaires searching for that ultra-pristine sound.

The only problem with the audiophile market is that it’s typically too niche to scale.  And 99.9% of the market is probably under $1,000.  Frankly, this comes pretty damn close unless you need to hear pin drops in the back of Carnegie Hall.

That said, Raumfeld may be forced to drop their prices as ‘baked-in’ connectivity becomes de rigueur.  But for right now, this is a competitive pricing range.  For example, Sonos’ relatively tiny ‘Play 5’ is $500, though this is nothing near the size, output, and room-filling capacity.  And scaling up into a serious Sonos setup easily throws you past the $1,000-mark.

Other tidbits.

There are a few other features that may come in handy.  Line-ins are good for vinyl turntables and CD players.  And you can even drop a USB stick into the back to play a downloaded collection.

A bit more on Raumfeld.

Raumfeld itself was started with multi-room connectivity in mind.  Stephan Schulz and Michael Hirsch started in 2008, and were purchased by Berlin Acoustics Group.  That tied the company with Berlin-owned Teufel, a German loudspeaker brand that formed the basis of the high-quality, connected systems of today.

A few pro tips.

If you do take the plunge and buy these on Amazon, skip the $150 setup package.  It’s that easy to get things up and running.  As I mentioned, you might need a Google search or two, depending on your experience.

You’ll also be tying these two speakers together with standard speaker cable.  But that’s included in the box.  Upgrade if you want.

Also, Raumfeld ships these really nicely.  But fair warning: expect a giant box (and lots of padding inside the box).

Specs.

The full-blown details are on Raumfeld’s site, here.  But here’s a quick rundown of the speaker specifications.

SpeakerMaximum sound pressure level108 dB/1m
Frequency range from/to42 – 22000 Hz
Tweeter (number per enclosure)1
Tweeter (diameter)0.98 in / 25.0 mm
Tweeter (material)Fabric dome
Midrange driver (number per enclosure)1
Midrange driver (diameter)4.3 in / 110.0 mm
Midrange driver (material)Cellulose, coated
Woofer (number per enclosure)1
Woofer (diameter)5.5 in / 140.0 mm
Woofer (material)Polypropylene, coated
Acoustic principle3-way
Enclosure typeBass reflex
Enclosure materialMDF
Enclosure surfaceMatte varnish
Equalisation openings1
Equalisation openings (pos.)Back
Removable front coverYes
Spikes preparedYes
Diameter of the stand screw threads6,00
Magnetic shieldingYes
MiscellaneousFront covers adhere magnetically
ConnectionsMiscellaneousGold-plated screw terminals
Cinch input stereo1
High level speaker outputs1
USB 2.01
LAN1
W-LAN1
PlaybackMP2Yes
MP3Yes
WMAYes
WAVYes
AACYes
FLACYes
OGGYes
Apple LosslessYes
MiscellaneousSupports gapless playback
ElectronicsMaximum number of items150000
WLAN Standards802.11b/g/n
WLAN encryptionWPA, WPA2
10/100-Mbit/s EthernetYes
Amplifier technologyClass D
Amplifier configuration2.0
Amplifier channels2
Power output capacity impulse (peak) Satellite160 W
Power output capacity sinus (RMS) Satellite140 W
Power supply voltage230 volts
Standby-FunctionYes
Standby-Power consumption0.60 watt
Maximum power consumption375 watt
Mains cable – IEC connector (non-heating device)Yes
Safety class2
FuseYes
Storage for settings when disconnectedYes
Automatic on/offYes
DimensionsDepth10.8 in / 27.5 cm
Width8.3 in / 21.0 cm
Height16.5 in / 42.0 cm
Weight25.4 lb / 11.5 kg

6 Responses

  1. partyfavorz.com

    If Sonos wants to stay alive (and they are well worth it); they’re going to need to develop their own Alexa type service (which frankly they should have already been doing). The only way to accomplish this is thought a serious round of funding.

  2. Versus

    Is the lossless support really lossless? Or it will reduce the quality depending on WiFi strength, interference, etc?

    As for Raumfeld, unfortunate choice of name (at least from a USA perspective) since it’s too reminiscent of “Rumsfeld”.

  3. ed

    I just don’t have the time to debunk everything you say here, I’m just shaking my head…
    it’s not 375 watts. It’s 140 , but with no stated reference, it’s probably not that much.
    42 to 22000hz? again no reference points , but No.
    And where else would those coaxial drivers go except into the main speaker ?
    the Sonos Play 5 is tiny? it’s actually about the same size.
    there is so much more
    they may actually sound good and may offer competition to Sonos, but unfortunately your credibility leaves me just where i was before I read your piece.

    • Steve

      I am a confessed Audiophile and have spent thousands of dollars looking for the holy grail of audio. A couple of years ago I gave up the pursuit because it leaves you always wanting more and never finding it.

      I bought a new condo recently and decided to give the Raumfeld M a shot. I was not impressed with the Sonos and thought I take a chance on these. I’m glad I did. I paid $800 on Amazon with free shipping.

      These are great speakers for what they are built for but they will not replace a truly good audiophile system. That being said they are very good and really easy to use. I use Spotify mostly with these and I am impressed with both the sound and quality of these speakers. Very well made and sound great. I bought the stands which I believe is also a great value for the price.

      Highly recommend from a retired audiophile. My wife loves them and even she has had no problem with using them.

  4. Chuck

    The idea that this will even remotely “kill off” Sonos is absurd. If I had a nickel for all the Sonos killers over the years…

    Sonos is partnering with Amazon on Alexa voice control, they support 55 or so services. They stress sound quality, and even have room correction built in. No one can compete with their SonosNet reliability.

    Really uninformed and misleading article.