I do not write about products much here, but I guess, as long as it is not competitive with Mentor in any way, I can talk about a product that I enjoy. I want to tell you about Sonos. I like music, but I am not a hi fi nut. But most of all, I like things that are well designed and just work.
Sonos kit is not cheap, but you get what you pay for. If you think you might be tempted, but do not have the ready cash, read no further …
Broadly speaking, a Sonos system is a means of listening to music – well, audio generally – from a variety of sources at numerous locations around your house. The audio sources include media on the local network, music streaming services [like Spotify and Napster] and Internet radio. You can install an indefinite number of Sonos devices and each one can be playing something different, or they can be grouped in arbitrary ways and synchronized together.
You start building a Sonos system with a single box, which is connected to your router by Ethernet. A typical box has built in speakers and that is all you need. From then on, you can add more boxes around the house and they will communicate wirelessly. They do not use the WiFi that you have already, but have their own private digital network. This has the benefit of greater range, as they can relay data from one box to another. Unlike some other wireless media systems, all data is sent in digital form and only converted at the point of delivery which maintains sound quality.
There are a variety of ways to control your Sonos system. There is a free Windows program, which can be run from any PC on the network. Likewise there are free apps for Android [phones or tablets] and iOS [iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch] devices. I use both iPad and my phone. There is also a dedicated, hand-held controller available, which taps into the Sonos private network. From any controller you can start/stop/select sound in any room, link rooms for synchronization and build/manage playlists.
The Sonos boxes come in a number of flavors. The two basic ones have built in speakers and are quite self contained – they are just different sizes for different size rooms. Another box is available, which has no speakers – you can just connect existing units to it. A further option is a box with no amplifier – it can just connect to an existing hi fi. Lastly, if you do not want a sound source near to your router, there is a cheap Sonos box that just bridges from the house network to the Sonos system.
I have been using my Sonos system – only two boxes so far – for some weeks and enjoy it very much. I am constantly amazed at how well designed it is – intuitive and well thought out and it works effortlessly. Of course, I have no business connection with Sonos. I am just a happy user.
Posted September 22nd, 2011, by Colin Walls
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