Much like the IOS products from Apple have spawned a whole industry of cool accessories for them, Sonos, with their incredible value music system, is starting to create a niche for companion products to make a Sonos system even more fun! The new Rialto 400 from Seattle, WA based Audio Control is one heck of a great add on for your Sonos system.
Like all products recommended by Audio Advice, we really put this one through its paces before determining it made the cut to our recommended list.
The Rialto 400 is a compact power amplifier with a built in digital to audio converter (DAC). The high performance Wolfson DAC found in the Rialto is similar to those used in high end audio products around the world. The DAC takes the digital signal from your Sonos box or even an Apple Airport Express and converts it to analog. From there the power amp of the Rialto 400 takes over to provide a whole lot more punch and dynamics for your speakers. With 100 watts per channel into an 8 ohm speaker load and the ability to double down into a 4 ohm load and deliver 200 watts per channel, the Rialto can stand on its own against many amps costing twice as much or more.
For our tests we compared the Rialto 400 to the Sonos Connect Amp. The Connect Amp is a great piece for the money at $499. We combined the Rialto with the Sonos Connect and used the digital out from the Connect to feed the Rialto 400. We hooked them up to a pair of floor standing B&W CM9 speakers, which is a great sounding speaker that when properly driven with a good amp, can really shine. The combo of the Connect at $349 (it has no amp and needs one) and the Rialto 400 at $799 made for a $1149 package to compare to the $500 Connect Amp.
The difference was staggering! Even at low volumes all of us could easily hear how much cleaner the DAC’s and amp in the Rialto 400 were. But when it came time to crank it up, we’re talking huge differences! The Connect Amp is wonderful for background whole house music, but it just does not have the power the Rialto has. When you have friends over and the music gets going, power is your best friend of all! The Rialto 400 drove the CM9’s with ease up to extremely loud levels.
We also tried out the AccuBASS circuitry developed by Audio Control to as they say “rejuvenate bass response lost in most digital compression schemes”. Our honest advice is to turn this “feature” off.
The Rialto even has a small headphone jack which is a handy feature if you are using it with a Connect for an office system.
In summary, when you pair a Sonos Connect with a Rialto 400 amp, you’ve got a combination that is perfect for higher performance speakers or driving speakers in an outdoor system where having adequate power is very important. Best of all, the Rialto has a 5 year full parts and labor warranty. Come in and check it out!