Sonos Digital Music System
5GHz networking; extensive subscription music access
Sonos offers Play:1, 3 and 5 speakers to cater for different- sized rooms, with the ability to link speakers as stereo pairs for a wider sound stage. There’s also the Sonos SUB, which adds extra low-end grunt to any room or can be linked with the Sonos Playbar – a long soundbar speaker designed to improve the sound from your television.
The Sonos speakers create their own mesh 5GHz wireless network. Originally, one speaker needed to be connected to your home network via Ethernet, unless you wanted to pay extra for a Sonos wireless bridge. Thanks to a recent update, you no longer need a bridge to link to your home Wi-Fi network.
Controlling your Sonos system from iOS, Android, Mac or Windows, you can play music in sync throughout your home, or send different songs to different speakers. You can listen to music stored on that controller, or from a Samba network share. Alternatively, you can tap into internet radio and a wide range of subscription music services including Spotify, Rdio, Pandora, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi NOW, Deezer, Rhapsody and Last.fm.
You can’t send music directly to a Sonos speaker via Bluetooth, but the speakers show up as DLNA media renderers on your home network. Sonos’ party trick is that some speakers let you connect an audio component, like a CD player, and send the output to any speaker. Sonos also offers adapters for hooking up your own speakers or sound system, but they’re rather expensive.
Put to the test, Sonos speakers sound superb. Audiophiles may be disappointed that Sonos doesn’t support 24-bit high definition audio, but it’s still hard to find fault with the sound. Music is full, rich and clear – with excellent but not overwhelming bass – and the speakers don’t distort even when you crank up your music.
Sonos has long set the gold standard for multi-room audio and hasn’t rested on its laurels.