Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Sonos Wireless HiFi – Mini-Review


About a month ago, while watching Sunday afternoon football, I saw this commercial:



Now, I had heard of Sonos before, and I knew their price-point was high, and their equipment clunky looking.  However, the equipment in the commercial looked good, and the ability to stream different music to each speaker at the same time had me totally hooked.

I started researching Sonos, and found they had a pretty good reputation and their new Play series was looking good.  Plus, at the time, they were giving away a free bridge with a Play speaker purchase.  That was always the catch for me; to make the expensive speaker work, I had to purchase another piece of expensive equipment just to make it work.  Now that it was free, I was very interested.  I just needed to hear them in real life.  Would they sound like they do in the commercial coming from my home theater system, or would they sound like tin cans, like every other portable speaker ever.

Off to Target!  Just so happens that my local Target carried Sonos equipment and had a demo display set up.  Now I could answer the last question: How do they really sound?  Short answer: Awesome.  In the big open area of Target, the sound was impressive and surprisingly immersive.  The bass response from the Play:3 and the Play:5 was above what I expected.   The Play:1 was about what I expected.  It tried, but just couldn’t make it.  However, being resistant to humidity and very small made it perfect for someplace like the kitchen.  You don’t need super audio quality while banging pots and pans together, just some background noise.Now, being the kind of person I am, I left Target after my successful trial run, and placed and order through Amazon for a Play:1, Play:3, and a Play:5.  Amazon was also providing the free bridge with purchase.  2 Days later,


The setup of this system couldn’t be much easier.  First thing you install is the Bridge unit.  It hardwires into your home network and can be placed next to your router or anywhere with a cable drop, if your house is wired for Ethernet.  Our Bridge sits on the video game storage cabinet in the living room, and you’d never notice it.

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Plug in the power and it does the rest. 

Next you need to download the Sonos app.  There are iPad, iPhone/iPod, and Android versions of the app, making it pretty universal.  Once the app installs, it asks you to press the button on the Bridge to establish a connection.  Then that’s it.  Your Bridge is ready for speakers and the app is ready to control them.

Speaker setup is just as easy.  Plug in the speaker, tap the Add Speaker button in the app, press a button on the speaker, and done. 2013-12-11 12.33.27
Sonos Play:5 in our living room.

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Sonos Play:3 in the master bedroom

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Sonos Play:1 in our kitchen.  This one also comes with me down into the basement/lab when I’m working down there.

Sonos even pushes out firmware and other updates the same way.  The app alerts you to an update and the push goes from there.  This was so simple, it’s a technology I’d consider giving to my parents.

In the store, I was impressed with the audio performance of these speakers.  At home, I was blown away.  The Play:1 has the most incredible bass response I’ve heard from such a small speaker.  The Play:3 fills a room evenly and beautifully with well balanced music.  If anything I’d say I was the least impressed with the Play:5.  To be such a large unit, the smaller two really outshine it.

The app is also really easy to use.  You can connect it to your Pandora, Amazon Cloud, Spotify, or even home media server quick and easy.

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iPad interface

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iPhone/Android interface

Q&A Time

Is the Sonos system a little pricey?  Yes, but in my opinion, it is worth every penny.

Does the Sonos system pass the spouse test?  With flying colors, yes it does.  My wife loves this system.  Once of the really cool, kind of hidden features is the sleep timer and alarm clock features in the app.  This is getting a lot of use in our house.

Would you buy more Sonos pieces?  Yes.  I really want at least a Play:1 in every room of the house, and am working toward that too.

Once you set them up, can you move the speakers?  Yes.  You just unplug the power, move it to another room, plug it in and go.  Over Thanksgiving, we moved the Play:3 into the dining room and had music as we ate.

The only true downside I can find with the Sonos system is the cost, but so far, its been well worth the investment.