One of my first music devices was a Sharp double-cassette player. As a teen, my boombox was my life, giving me hours of pleasure from radio and tapes (and recording from radio and tape-to-tape).
Later on, it was CD. These days, most of my music is non-physical, existing either as mp3, AAC or FLAC, and more recently, as streaming services. As the need to have physical media diminished, the need for large pieces of gear and speakers diminished too. What I wanted was a speaker system that was wireless and easy to set up, so that I could stream stuff from my iPhone, iPad and iTunes Radio.
I toyed with a few wireless speakers, like bluetooth ones, but they had range issues and sometimes needed dongles. So when I had the chance to try the SONOS system at an IT show, I was impressed and SONOS offered me a full system to try at my own home.
The SONOS system uses its own proprietary wifi network. Each speaker is both able to send and receive wifi signals, meaning the coverage is very thorough. I only needed to ensure that just one of the speakers is connected to my home network via the Ethernet port of my router or a nearby switch. If that was not convenient, I could use the SONOS Bridge to connect to my router, then the rest of the speakers could be placed freely in the home.
I played with all the speakers, the smallest Play:1, the medium-sized Play:3, big brother Play:5, the Sub and the Playbar. The Playbar and Sub and two Play:3 speakers made up the home theatre in my living room. The Play:5 was in my master bedroom, the Play:1 was the roving speaker. I added speaker after speaker painlessly with just the app, and labeled the rooms they were in.
Once set up, I proceeded to try playing music from my iPhone. I found the sound quality excellent and lag-free. With their app, I could play one kind of music in the living room, while playing another album in the master bedroom, while streaming some Pandora in the study. All from one device in my hand. I felt like the Master of My Music Universe.
My iPad showed no signs of choking on doing so much, and the music all played in their respective rooms with ease.
Then one day, when the kids and wife were all out, I grouped all the speakers together and played my favorite album in ALL the rooms, in the whole house. That worked wonderfully too.
If you are a Spotify or Pandora user, you will love the integration of these services in the app.
Just to prove how easy it was to use the system, I taught my wife how to play her music with the app within minutes.
The other thing I appreciated was how easy it was to move SONOS stuff around. Sometimes, I would move the Play:3 speakers to the master bedroom if I wanted more speakers there. I could pair two Play:3s or Play:1s to make a stereo pair.
The Play:1, in particular, was awesome in size and sound. For something this small, the entry level SONOS speaker packs a punch and is easy to set up on a bookshelf, or kitchen, or even near the toilet (it has humidity-resistance!).
You can feel the heft of the Play:1 with its double-speaker array inside and the self-powered amp within. This didn't feel like some cheapo speaker you get out there. It looks classy and plays great. At $399, it is a great starter SONOS speaker.
Next week, I will share with you guys the experience of using the SONOS as a home theatre system. Stay tuned.
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