I thought with the recent sale going on with Sonos it would be a good topic for a blog entry this week. I have had Sonos now for about a year and I have to say its been very enjoyable. A few years back Sonos took a different approach to music and I think it has really paid off for them. Until Sonos there were speakers that needed wires and/or bluetooth to operate and play music. Sonos did away with the connection point and created a listening “ecosystem” for music.
What is Sonos?
Keeping it very simple, it’s a wireless speaker that uses you’re in home network to play music. That doesn’t sound too impressive. Sonos isn’t even battery operated or portable. It needs to be plugged in all the time. It doesn’t use bluetooth and only a few devices allow for a wired connection. Who would want that you might say? A lot of people!
This is why…
Sonos uses you’re in home network to connect to the internet. The Sonos is independently smart. What I mean by that is even though it can be controlled by a device (iPhone, iPad, smart phone etc.) it doesn’t need one to operate. Sonos has its own “brain” and uses music services as its source for music and playback. Setting up Sonos is super easy. You plug it in, download the app on your iPhone or smart phone and follow the steps. It will connect to any in home server you may have with your own music as well as any music services you are a member of. The services include but aren’t limited to Pandora, Spotify (paid account only), Slacker, Iheart Radio, Songza just to name a few. There’s a bunch to choose from.
Versatility – Lets say I am having a party at my house. I have a Sonos (doesn’t matter which one) in the family room, living room and study. To get things going I decide to connect all three to the same music source (rock). Into the app I go and I can choose all locations and set them to play the same music. It will play in synch perfectly in all three locations. I can adjust the volume in each location independent of one another or all together at once. Now, once the music is playing and I have set it up on my iPhone, my wife says she needs ice. I run out the door like a good husband and guess what. Nothing changes, the music keeps playing. A bluetooth or wired speaker couldn’t do this. Sonos has it own connection and internal “brain” and software so the music is being streamed to and through the Sonos not the phone. The iPhone app is simply a remote control. Now, my wife goes into the living room with a friend and decides to change the music to classical. She grabs her phone, picks the zone, chooses the station and done. Now you have rock in the other two rooms and classical in one. Anyone with the Sonos app can connect and change channels, volume or whatever they choose.
Configuration – I would say the single greatest selling point to Sonos is the ways it can be configured. So its Sunday morning and I want to listen to some smooth jazz in stereo. The Sonos devices are mono so how the heck do you do that? Simple, into the app and pick the two Sonos devices you want to use as a stereo pair and bingo, you have left and right stereo channels. Sounds nice but I need more bass. Open the app and add your subwoofer to the mix and now you’ve got a stereo pair with a subwoofer. All wireless, all in synch and guess what…the Sonos stuff sounds great! I would put it on par with anything built by Bose with similar sizes and configurations. Too bad it doesn’t handle surround sound. It does! You can use the sound bar, add the sub, add two like Sonos units for the rear and you now have 5.1 sound. See sample configuration photo below.
Scalability – This ties into configuration but this I wanted to break out to discuss two points. Low cost of entry and limitless growth. I really like the Sonos system as it allows you to grow when and how you choose. You can buy the least expensive product and its only $199 which is a deal for what you get. Right now you can get two Sonos Ones for $349 which is $50 savings. I have had my “one” for a year and haven’t purchased another Sonos yet. It has a really full and nice sound and I haven’t really needed to add another yet. When I am ready I can just pick my product and I know it will integrate seamlessly. I can have one or thirty Sonos in my house. It’s up to you and what you want.
It’s not all perfect. Yes, no battery means you’re always tethered to a wall outlet but there are many of those in a house. The surround configuration has two limits…its only 5.1 capable not 7.1 but for me that’s good enough and it will only play surround with the surround bar being fed a 5.1 signal from a TV, Blu-Ray or TV Box optical output. The best way to configure for surround is using a TV with 5.1 pass-thru but that TV is not easy to find. Vizio and Sony are a couple of brands that can do this but that’s a little limiting. It will play sound out of all speakers if its being fed a 2.0 channel configuration but it will be simulated surround but that sounds ok.
One last thought…Sonos is a perfect gift for Weddings, Graduations, Students…if they don’t have one they’ll love it and if they already have one they can add to their network! You can never have too many :-).
If you haven’t experienced Sonos get a Sonos One to start and give it a try.
See how the application works on an iPhone. Click either link below.