I’m not easily impressed, but my jaw is hanging open today after installing two Sonos S5 Music Players to cover my home with end to end music. I’ve used computers, Media Center Extenders and all kinds of hardware and software in the past to move music around my home, but I always had to cobble together pieces and use separate devices and controllers to get what I wanted. What did I want? Well, everything imaginable. The list below is not in any particular order:
1. The ability to stream from ANY of my computers (using Play To or anything else) to more than one music player/renderer simultaneously.
2. To be able to control the volume above individually or together.
3. Play Pandora Radio and other Internet sourced digital music
4. Use existing/create new playlists
5. Use iPhones, iPads and iPxxx whatever to control and manage the device as a remote control (including graphical menus).
6. Use the system as an alarm clock with choices to wake from alarm, music, Internet music, whatever
7. Wireless connectivity in my Living Room
8. A system that was upgradeable.
9. Quality sound
I’m still stunned that I found a system that does ALL of the above. (And I’m betting I discover more features – I’ve only had a few hours experience with this all, so my exploration and discovery has only just begun).
First, it’s a nice looking system. Available in Black or White, it will fit in anywhere,
Connecting two of these to my complex network was mindlessly simple. I plugged one into a switch uplinked to my router and connected the power. As for the second one, I stuck it in my living room and plugged in the power. The two units found each other over wireless 802.11n automagically, without my having to do anything. My network is secured by WPA2-AES, but Sonos uses “SonosNet 2.0” which is a secure AES peer to peer mesh wireless network, so this is a separate, but secured network. Interestingly, the speakers have two Ethernet ports for Ethernet bridging. And they also have a jack for a powered sub woofer which the devices find automatically. The docs state that you can use TWO of these in a single room for left/right stereo, but I’m wowed by just one in my living room and another upstairs that covers my loft home office and master bedroom.
I downloaded and installed the latest Sonos controller pc software from the Sonos website (rather than even opening the enclosed CD). After installing the software, I had to push a combination of buttons on each speaker to link to the software, but that was easy and fast. I saw that firmware upgrades were detected for both speakers and they were downloaded and applied seamlessly. I then connected my existing Pandora account through the Sonos Controller software. Done!
I fired up Windows Media Player (already set up for “Play To” with my Samsung TV which was not turned on at the time) and as you can see below, both units were available for Play To.
And of course, it worked beautifully.
I’ve got music stored on a flock of computers, including WHS1 and Vail. So how can I stream to my new Sonos speakers without moving from the sofa or booting up a laptop? Well, Sonos has apps for the iPad/ and for the iPhone/iTouch. Just below is a screen capture from my iPhone. I can browse all my media servers and drill down to Artist, Album, etc. etc. and add to queues, play now, (etc. again). And I can stream my Pandora stations, too!
The iPad Sonos controller software, with more screen real estate, is a real knock out, as shown below.
And yes, there is a Line-In on the speakers themselves to connect even more devices. Like a Zune or whatever. Both the desktop software and the iPad software allow me to set alarms and sleep timers (!)
I will be setting up a series of alarms that I can turn on or off. This is so slick.
The sound is great. Sonos supports a wide variety of music formats (but not WMA lossless or Apple AAC enhanced or Fairplay). Most of my content is mp3, so I’m all set.
This is the most advanced, converged system I’ve seen, and I’m more than just a little impressed. Kudos to Sonos for having the vision that supports my connected home.