The Sonos Music Ecosystem

When I purchased my first Sonos device back in 2012, I had been looking for something like this system for at months. I didn’t seem to think that my requirements were that out of the ordinary, but I had a hard time finding something that met all my needs at a price that I considered reasonable. What I’m looking for is an easy way to share all kinds of music across multiple speakers in multiple rooms and control it all easily. I wanted the ability for them to stay completely in sync or to all be playing something independently.

What I purchased

I started with the Sonos Play:5, the Sonos Play:3, and the Sonos Bridge.  Later in 2014, I added a Sonos PlayBar and Sonos Sub.

The Sonos Setup

The installation of the Sonos system could not have been easier. Seriously! Using the included LAN cable (thanks guys!) I plugged the tiny Sonos Bridge into my router and then used the enclosed CD to find it on the network (See my note about this below under “The Bridge”). After that, I plugged in the Play:5 and the Play:3 and used the software to add them as speakers on the network. No network cables required on those guys, they connected back to the bridge using a wireless mesh network.

Once this was all setup, I installed the Sonos app on my iPhone (optional – you can use the computer as a controller or buy a separate wireless controller if you’d prefer) and pointed it at my MP3s which I have stored on a hard drive on the network. In less than 15 minutes in total I was blaring my collection in my living room and my bedroom in perfect sync.

Even More

In addition to my MP3 collection, which is all I ever really thought I wanted, you can also tie your setup to a number of online music services. The entire list is on the Sonos website under Services, but for me I’ve setup SiriusXM, Pandora, Spotify, and my local FM radio stations. Something that they don’t seem to mention anywhere that I’ve seen is that you can also stream music from the device acting as a controller (such as your iPhone, Android, or iPad), but the device has to remain on and apparently (at least for my iPhone) unlocked, so streaming from your computer or a network share is a better option.

What’s not so great

I’ve paid for nice speakers before, so I don’t mind paying for quality, but $400 was getting to the top of my range for what I’d pay for something like the Play:5 if it was just a speaker. The quality is great for the room it’s in, but it certainly made me think a bit more about the purchase before just jumping in. The back end of it all is what really sold me on it – the perfect sync between multiple speakers throughout the house.

The product selection is also a little limited. C’mon guys, you don’t have outdoor speakers yet? I know you can just buy the Amp (which also seems a bit pricey), but having something wireless & weatherproof would be a huge win in my category.

My final “suggestion” (gripe) might be pushing it a bit, but you’ve cut the cord to both my player and my network (from the speakers anyway), so why am I still plugging this in the wall 24×7? A battery should be on the road map if it’s not already. The Play:3 is so light that it’d be great if I could just unplug it and move it in the kitchen while I’m cooking, then to the dining room to eat, and then out to the garage without being bound to an outlet.

The Bridge

Also, quick geek note: The bridge should be just 2 minutes to setup, but for me it was 30+. This is probably pretty uncommon and took a bit of troubleshooting to uncover so hopefully I can help someone out here. If you’re running a virtual network adapter (like with VMWare, VirtualBox, etc), the controller will not find the bridge for some reason. You have to disable that adapter or it will tell you it’s discovered the Bridge, but then will fail when the connection is established.

Summary

If you’re looking to play your music all over your house, and you can stand the price point, this is your product. That’s all there is to it. Quick setup, fantastic sound. If you can play Angry Birds on your smartphone, you can use the controller app.

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