Sometimes the UPS delivery driver is akin to Santa Claus. Today he brought a Sonos Playbar and a set of Play:1 speakers. It was a short trip to this moment, the other day I fired up the old dying Kenwood receiver and found my Infinity speakers had finally dry rotted to failure. My early carrier was in the hi-fi world at a number of shops the best being a store in Pittsburgh called Opus One. There were audio freaks there, they were talented, we did things like draw blue and/or black lines around the outside of CD's to make them sound better, it absorbed rather than reflecting refracted laser light reducing error correction. There was directional wire, stuff that's created in a way to supposedly allow electrons flow one way better than the other. It all seemed to matter, it was interesting to test the ear of people who could hear these things while learning how to listen. Anyhow I digress, but it's a part of what brought me to Sonos.
The Sonos tag line touts the ability to "Access all the music on Earth" and it seems to come close. The packaging is excellent with each device being wrapped in a soft cloth bag. As with most things these days, there wasn't much printed instruction. The setup went smoothly.
Plug it all into power, hook something up to the cabled network and download the app. It steps through the setup process neatly and cleanly. There were some long feeling delays when adding surround speakers. The Playbar was instantly recognized. It all installed perfectly and updated it’s software in the process.
If you like dials and controls, Sonos might not be for you. It is sleek and simple, yet smooth and sophisticated in design and operation. There are not companders, notch filters or even a 10 band graphic equalizer. My audio installation memory bank screams out "but every room is different, they sound different, you hear it different, rooms are different". Sonos simplifies surround sound with a volume and distance controls. There is a little tweaking the sound, but nothing major. That's probably a good thing, the system manages it, like adaptive cruise control. Everything is controlled by the App available for, windows, mac, ios or android.
There are Bass and Treble controls as well as a loudness button. Interestingly TV Dialog can be adjusted for lip sync in 6 delays. The surround speakers come alive for music which is quite nice, giving the room a full sound feeling. The system sounds excellent from various points in the room. The Playbar has mids and highs playing out the sides, which works well for vocal separation but causes a bit of shrillness when standing right beside it. That effect quickly subdues to a nice mix as you move a few feet away.
The Play:1 has a surprisingly full sound. It is a heavy solid feeling bookshelf speaker that puts me in mind of speakers I've sold for 5 times the cost. Everything is cleanly manufactured, tolerances are tight. The parts seem to meld together into a single piece, like a fine piece of wood work. Everybody should try a Play:1 , one $200 speaker will allow you to experience the Sonos "Play all the music in the world" system in stereo. Be careful though, the system supports something like 16 speakers, and the Play:1 is the cheapest.
The Sonos music management system is great, you can pick it up plug it into AC power in network range and it's good to go. I'm pretty sure it can run in the car using a router and an iPhone provided WiFi network listen to all the music in the world on the go. I doubt I actually do that but Sonos seems to support it if I wanted to. How cool to take on vacations. Both of those thoughts require moderate level networking experience, one speaker must be hard wired into network with a router, wireless or not. Other Sonos speakers could connect to that one, but would need configured. I usually carry a router on vacation, so Sonos will come along.
Sonos makes products in white or black with 3 levels of Play: speakers, the smallest the Play:1 is loud, the Play:3 is louder and deeper, the Play:5 is quite loud and adds input jacks and a bit more, gotta have that bass. They all offer stereo sound so you really only need one, but they can be set up in stereo pairs. If you're into specs, don't look to Sonos for the typical RMS watts per channel, THD or most any audiophile spec. No worries, y'all couldn't use those specs anyhow. There are interactions between hifi components that can't be compared by published specs. Sonos builds a package that clearly takes those things into effect in a way that you and I can't. Take it from a high end audio technician, this is a nice sounding system.
I would like to dim my status light just like I can on my wall switches. A Subwoofer would be a good addition providing 5.1 surround sound and of course more bass to the system for those ground moving intense scenes or a dance party. It doesn't seem to support 7.1 surround sound although I don't see any reason it couldn't. On the other hand, 7.1 doesn't really add that much to a 5.1 system in the living room theater system, or for that matter typical theater room. A long theater room wouldn't mind having extra side speakers.
If you’re having a party everyone can download the Sonos app and queue up music to be played. Here's a Business week article on the eclectic Sonos history and a look into the mind of the company. This device will change how you play music and possibly purchase electronics. No more clock radios, a Sonos speaker can wake you up, the kitchen CD player is now portable, all speakers can get everything, but differently, from wherever. It’s a mind boggling change in home audio systems, what was in my lifetime tens of thousands of dollars, only held by the 1 percent can now be had by almost anyone. Who says America isn’t great!
Here’s the Play:5
And the Play:3
If you’re purchasing it and I helped make up your mind, please consider using my links, Amazon give a few grains of corn for each purchase to my daughter. Thanks for visiting the blog, we are enjoying Sonos.