Noise takes over the house on weekdays, particularly mornings. Noise isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Noise can actually inspire. I once learned about a mathematician or composer or writer who solved equations or created concertos or drafted stories while hanging out in busy and noisy airports. Inspiring people to wake up to noise was the reason alarm clocks were originally invented. But waking up to the tinny music of a cheap alarm clock doesn’t usually motivate me to get moving in the morning.
The incredible sounding Sonos PLAY:1 resting on my bedside table does, however, providing me with the type of organized noise I need in order to rise and face the day: the easygoing melody of Beck’s latest album or the characteristic chatter of a podcast or radio talk show.
Wireless Speakers That Provide a Soundtrack Throughout the Home
On any given morning the silence of sleep is broken by the rising of a mother and her teenage child, the bark of a dog needing to relieve herself, the scrambling of cats in a zoo scrambling for attention. The jungle is hungry, the house announces. Time to wake up! Meanwhile I’m looking to bury my head under the pillows… I’m the sloth of the jungle. But the natives are restless and I can’t hide for long. Sonos wireless HiFi music systems help keep me from taking shelter under the covers.
This collection of Internet- and home network-ready speakers enable me to listen to whatever I want to, when I want — and from any room in the house. Once turned on, I can move from the bedroom to the living room to the bathroom to wherever else I have the speakers placed, all the while listening to the same audio without missing a beat.
I’m not stuck listening to the same soundtrack throughout the house, though. If I want to listen to music in one room, talk radio in another, and a podcast in yet another, it’s easy enough to set the speakers to play different music or audio using the simple yet powerful Android or iOS app Sonos provides to control playback. So if I enjoy listening to the news while taking a shower and music while I’m drinking coffee in the kitchen, it’s as simple as the tap of an icon or two to set up my listening preferences. I’m only limited by the number of speakers I choose to have placed around my home (or office).
Adding additional PLAY speakers is a simple matter of plugging in a speaker, firing up the Sonos controller app, and touching two buttons on the speaker simultaneously. That’s all it takes to configure a Sonos PLAY speaker, expanding my home’s soundtrack as my budget allows it.
Wireless Speakers That Draw from a Variety of Sources
Sonos speakers such as the PLAY:5 are simple to set up and only require a power outlet and Ethernet connection in order to access either the digital music collection I have stored on my home computer or any of around 40 (with more to come) Web music services supported by Sonos. (Actually, an Ethernet connection is not absolutely required with the PLAY: 5 speakers, which do come equipped with an auxiliary port if I’d simply like to connect an iPod or other device to play from.)
Some of the services Sonos supports include Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn, Beats Music, Songza, Last.fm, rdio, iHeartRadio, and my personal favorite, Google Play. Once I’ve plugged in my speaker(s), it’s simply a matter of selecting the audio source using the app’s simple interface. Then tap the play icon and I’m listening to my favorite music or Internet radio station!
I didn’t encounter any issues streaming audio during the eight or nine months I tested the Sonos wireless HiFi system. When streaming from a service such as TuneIn, the reliability of my cable company’s Internet service or the server delivering the audio through TuneIn would be the source of any disruption of sound.
Since my Internet connection is fairly reliable I’ve been able to enjoy listening to streaming audio without any hiccups. It’s as if I’m playing directly from a CD player. Your mileage may vary, of course, depending on the quality of your ‘Net provider or the digital music service you choose to use. I’ve tested Spotify, Pandora, MOG (now Beats Music), TuneIn, and Google Play without any issues that I can recall.
Prior to having PLAY speakers in my home I would have to plug a laptop or iPod or other digital music device into the AUX port on my speakers in order to play back digital audio. Sonos speakers render this cumbersome process obsolete. Now I control the soundtrack of my home (or office) using nothing more than whichever smartphone or tablet I have nearest to me.
And when I misplace my iPhone or iPod or Android tablet, I simply fire up my PC or MacBook and use the Sonos desktop application installed on the computer to control all the PLAY speakers in my environment. Sonos has committed its development to catering to consumers with a variety of devices and operating systems. Only Windows Phone users are currently left out of the mix. (Let’s hope Sonos remedies that.)
Wireless Speakers Built on a Continually Evolving Technology
Sonos isn’t exactly a newcomer to the business of networked audio. The company has been developing high fidelity, wirelessly networked sound systems from its offices in Santa Barbara, California, since its founding in 2002. In the decade since, the company has delivered products that build upon what it calls its Sonos Music System, including the aforementioned PLAY speakers and related components.
One such component is the Sonos BRIDGE, a device which makes it even easier for additional speakers to be added to a home or office network. The technology enabling this network is an encrypted proprietary peer-to-peer mesh known by the company (and many of its customers) as SonosNet.
Currently SonosNet requires at least one device to be connected directly to an Internet router. Customers desiring a completely wireless experience are required to use the BRIDGE as a sort of wireless access point that transmits to all the wireless speakers in their homes. Recently Sonos announced that SonosNet is being developed to reduce the need for the BRIDGE in many homes.
In the near future, Sonos components may only require a software solution rather than having at least one device connected to a router. (Sonos customers wishing to test the upcoming technology before it is delivered to the market may apply for the company’s beta program.) That said, many (perhaps most) customers will still benefit from having a dedicated device (the BRIDGE) transmitting to their speakers.
Sonos continuously updates SonosNet and its apps in order to add features and to improve its existing service. In the eight months or so that I used a Sonos Wireless HiFi System, the BRIDGE, PLAY:5, and PLAY:1 speakers I used were updated a few times and the Sonos controller app was updated more frequently (but not annoyingly so). In my experience, every update introduced new features seamlessly and with little — if any — flaws.
The only disappointments I experienced were due to my own misunderstandings about how the service worked. For example, at first I hadn’t realized I had to purchase a subscription to certain third party services (such as Spotify Premium) in order to use the service with the Sonos speakers. Fortunately, not all services require a paid subscription in order to be used with a Sonos system — it’s just that my current favorite ones do.
Wireless Speakers with Sound Quality That Doesn’t Disappoint
Though many consumers of Sonos technology are more likely to be looking for the functionality a Sonos system provides, I would be remiss to review an audio product without discussing quality of sound. Last October I contacted Sonos to find out some specifics of its hardware, such as its PLAY:5′s frequency response and wattage output. I received the following response:
?The technology we use in our speakers are so cutting edge that using the traditional specs don’t actually describe what the speakers can do.
Though this wasn’t the most satisfying response to my technical inquiry, I can assure you that the sound quality of the speakers do not disappoint. I’m a bit of an audiophile, regardless of what some of my friends think about my taste in music. So fidelity of sound is high on my list of qualities a good set of speakers should have.
Even the most compact Sonos speaker, the PLAY:1, has room-filling sound. Paired together, two PLAY:1 speakers deliver stereo sound that competes with anything I’ve listened to from any high-end speaker manufacturer. For those who want one speaker that not only packs a punch but offers a wider range of frequency, the 5-driver PLAY:5 is about as good as it gets for a speaker in it price range.
I tested one PLAY:5 and two PLAY:1 speakers in various configurations, sometimes solo and most often paired in various rooms of my home using a BRIDGE. I’ve never owned speakers that produced such high quality of sound for the price range at which Sonos offers them. (Sonos offers a reasonable return policy for anyone who disagrees with me.)
Wireless Speakers Built to Be Built Upon
So if you’re looking for a new way to listen to music or simply tired of the cumbersome way your aging sound system delivers Internet radio or podcasts to the rooms of your home, I suggest trying out a Sonos wireless HiFi music system. And since Sonos has crafted a modular system, you don’t have to make a heavy investment to get started. You can simply start out with a PLAY:5 wireless speaker and then build out the rest of your system from there.
Imagine being able to provide a different soundtrack to every room of your home or office, with music and audio drawn from your personal collection or from streaming audio services that provide millions of songs, radio, and other audio programming. And all this at the tap or click of a button or two.
Thanks to a Sonos sound system, this zookeeper has managed to turn a noisy home jungle into an aurally inspiring environment in which to work and play. Try Sonos. You might be surprised by how much wireless speakers can enhance the way you live — at home or in the office.