For years I serviced clients with complicated and wired whole home audio systems. Each system we installed became a liability and an endless source of service calls that resulted from simple mistakes, such as pressing the wrong button on a keypad or remote. Then came SONOS – a fabulously simple, convenient, easily scalable wireless whole home music system that appeals to the majority of consumers.
SONOS took the wireless concept and re-designed it from the ground up. The system can deliver the same music to all zones simultaneously or different sources to different zones, up to a maximum of 32 zones, depending on your needs. As complicated as this may sound, it is unbelievably simple; you purchase your first SONOS component (this may be a simple component such as a Play 1, which is a compact and stylish desktop wireless speaker with two drivers), and as long as you have wi-fi, you download the SONOS app to your android or iOS device and you’re done. You can then opt to add components and expand your system as you’d like. SONOS allows you to stream music over the Internet through various content providers, play content on your own device, and access over 20,000 radio stations worldwide. You can even use it to play external sources such as a turntable or a cable box.
There are three basic setups to a SONOS system:
The Play 1 (as mentioned above), the Play 3, and the redesigned Play 5 are portable units that can stand alone in a room, operate simultaneously as a pair of stereo speakers, or be utilised as a pair of rear speakers in a home theatre setting. These are simple plug-and-play units that produce incredible audio and are portable, versatile elements to add to your system. I always recommend clients include at least one Play 3 or Play 5 to use in rooms that do not require regular use, such as a garage or small balcony. You can even travel with the portable units and use them at a friend’s place to play music from your device or connect to their wi-fi and stream music.
The Play 5’s new design is slightly larger due to the elimination of bass ports on the back. The new design is a sealed, streamlined unit that delivers deeper bass, amazing sound quality, and better wireless performance than before. The true play feature allows you to optimise the performance of the Play 5 in its surroundings using the app and the microphone of your smartphone. The Play 5 and Play 3 can both be oriented vertically or horizontally without sacrificing sound quality and performance.
If you’re looking for a more permanent setup, the use of a SONOS Connect Amp allows for the integration of in-ceiling or in-wall speakers. This would be the second setup option. The Connect Amp offers the same wireless operation of all SONOS components without the speaker itself. You install speakers where and how you like and the Connect Amp becomes the amplified source. I prefer to run all speaker lines back to one serviceable area such as a main floor laundry room, the furnace room, or a dedicated cabinet or closet. As long as you accommodate power through an electrical outlet and ensure adequate ventilation, it’s best to house all the components in one location. Each pair of speakers receives one Connect Amp to run them. Through your smartphone app, you have the ability to run different sources of music at different volume levels on each Connect Amp, or you can group all of them to run the same source and have the ability to control the volume of each Connect Amp separately. You are also not limited to one controller; everyone in your home running the app can call for any music they like anywhere in the house while you listen to your music in the room you occupy. If your wi-fi signal is not adequate, the use of a SONOS Boost will resolve most signal issues.
If you have a zone that requires more than one pair of speakers, such as your back yard, you can simply use a multi-channel amplifier that has a built in on/off trigger (the amplifier turns on once it senses an audio input) and connect a SONOS Connect as the music source. The Connect has the same connectivity and music features as the Connect Amp with the exception of the built in amplifier component. You now have every room of your house covered, including the back yard and all of the occasional rooms.
The third setup option is the surround sound system. The SONOS Play Bar and wireless Sub create a spectacular surround-sound setup for most common applications. Although it’s not a true conventional surround sound system, it does a spectacular job and the benefits are many. The Play Bar is a very stylish component that replaces the front, centre, left, and right speakers of your surround sound system. It supplies a wide, deep, and detailed frontal audio experience via an optical connection to your television (unfortunately, this is the only method of connection for now). Add the equally stylish SONOS Sub and you will fill your room with thundering base and have a simple 3.1 surround sound system. Then add a pair of Play 1’s, Play 3’s, or Play 5’s as a pair of rear speakers, or even install your own speakers and power them by using a Connect Amp and you will create a bracing 5.1 surround sound system. It’s important to note that the SONOS Sub can be utilized in any SONOS room and easily add some punch to the system. The best part of running a SONOS surround sound system is the seamless integration to the rest of your SONOS audio setup. You can use it as a surround sound system or simply as another zone of your whole home audio system.
Although there are many worthy systems on the market today, SONOS is a system that offers impeccable design, installation flexibility, portability, and easy future expansion possibilities, all while delivering a rich and vibrant home audio experience.