351 of 378 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2013
I have been wanting a SONOS product for quite a while but the cost of any of their speakers has been to high for me - until now.
Pros: Setup is incredibly easy, sounds great, easily controlled from any device, can be grouped with other speakers to create zones or whole home listening
Cons: No auxiliary input jack, cannot be used to output sound from other sources on your device (i.e. video sound from your iPhone's video player)
I've been interested in getting a SONOS speaker but I haven't wanted to put down $299 for their base speaker the SONOS PLAY:3 or $399 for their top model the SONOS PLAY:5. It's amazing what $100 will do to your purchasing decisions, because at $199, their latest speaker was worth a try.
When I wasn't prepared to buy a SONOS PLAY:3 for $299, I went with a Philips AD7000W wireless Airplay speaker for $150 (now $99.98 through Amazon). I went with the Philips for a few reasons. First, it was half the price and did virtually the same thing. Secondly, the Philips has an auxiliary input jack. Lastly, I have an iPhone, iPad and MacBook Pro so having an Airplay device appealed to me. And while I think the Philips is a great speaker, overall I am happier with the SONOS PLAY:1.
To start with, I'm not an audiophile at all so when I say the speaker sounds great, that's coming from the ears of an average person who isn't extremely picky about the audio source I listen to. I can tell the difference between extremely expensive speakers and cheap ones, but the stuff in the middle isn't as easily distinguishable to me. Keeping that in mind, I think both speakers sound great and can easily fill any room in my house with quality tunes. The Philips does have more bass to it but the SONOS PLAY:1 does well in this area too. I won't go into how I think the SONOS handles highs, mids and lows, because as I said, I'm not an audiophile so you'll just have to take my layman's word for it when I say it is a good speaker.
I installed the SONOS controlling software on my PC, iPhone, iPad and every other iDevice in the house including my 7 year-old daughter's iPhone 3g (Wi-Fi only). My daughter loves music and singing and when I showed her the app and how to use it, she started sending music to the SONOS immediately and hasn't stopped since. The interface on all of my devices is straight forward and easy to use. I used the controller application on my PC to point the SONOS to the music on my hard drive. I only have one iTunes folder of music but if you have multiple music libraries or file locations, you can add as many as you'd like. I also quickly set up my Pandora account and the local radio settings. There are a plethora of other internet radio services but I only use Pandora so that's the only one I set up. I almost never listen to local radio but my fiancée likes the radio setting that lets you listen to the radio based on your zip code. Although I haven't tried it, I'm guessing you could enter the zip code for any city and start pulling up their local stations which might be of interest to some people.
The SONOS searches your iTunes library file for playlists and automatically imports them to the controller menu. For some reason, each of my playlists is showing up twice and the first of each duplicate is actually a blank list. I can't figure out why or how to get rid of it. I honestly haven't put more than five minutes into trying to fix it so I might just have made a mistake somewhere. You can also create SONOS playlists which could be useful if you were pulling music from many different sources and making combined playlists.
One interesting feature is the queue. Every time you play a song it gets added to your queue and the list builds unless you delete it. So if I'm playing one song and then select another song, I have several options for the second song including play now, play next or add to queue. So I can build a queue or change songs on the fly. I'm kind of a neat freak so I don't like seeing the queue and I clear it out often.
On the top of the unit is the Play/Pause button and volume button. If you're listening to Pandora and want to stop it for any reason, you don't have to pull up an app, you can just physically press the pause button. So when you get back from the grocery store, just press the play button and pick up where you left off.
I really like that I can expand the system and make listening zones as well as a wireless surround system for my living room. It will be expensive to outfit my entire house but in the end it will be worth it. The main difference between any Airplay speaker and SONOS is the ability to play music through multiple speakers. If you're using Airplay through an iDevice, you can send music to only one speaker at a time. So if I'm in my bedroom and then go to the living room and then back again, I have to use my device to change the audio output each time I change rooms. With SONOS, I can start the music and send it to every speaker in the house at the same time so as I'm moving around doing chores, I always have music. If you have AppleTV you can use your phone and an Apple Remote App to send the music to multiple speakers but only music in your iTunes library, not sound from other app sources. You can also use iTunes on a computer to send music to multiple Airplay speakers at the same time but neither option is as easy as SONOS.
One thing I like better about Airplay is that I can send audio from any iDevice app to the speaker. So if I'm sitting in bed and watching YouTube or College Humor on my iDevice, I can send the audio to the Airplay speaker in my bedroom and get much better sound to go with the video. You can't do this with SONOS at all.
My last observation about an Airplay speaker is that you must have an iDevice to use its proprietary wireless abilities. I don't see switching from my iPhone or iPad to other devices, but if I did, my Airplay speakers would become useless to me. If I outfitted my entire home with Airplay speakers, I would be locked in to iDevices or forced to buy all different speakers. With SONOS, that won't ever be an issue.
As far as the auxiliary input goes, I've almost never used it on my Philips speaker. So while it was a factor in my original purchase decision, I now know that it doesn't need to be in most future decisions. I will most likely end up getting the SONOS PLAY:5 for my bedroom so I can plug my TV into it instead of buying a $699 SONOS sound bar.
One thing I've noticed with Airplay that I haven't seen with the SONOS is dropout. It could be my network so I won't automatically blame it on the equipment but I'll still mention it. I run a dual-band router and the Airplay speakers only run on 2.4 Ghz which is what my iPhone 4S runs on. Every other device in my house runs on 5 Ghz including my fiancée's iPhone 5. When she tried to use the Airplay speaker there was a lot of dropout and there hasn't ever been any with my phone. So I set her phone to use the 2.4 Ghz and there has been less dropout from her phone but it isn't completely gone. There is no dropout on the SONOS at all.
One other unique thing about the SONOS is the equipment requirement. Each speaker has a wireless antenna in it but at least one speaker or other SONOS device MUST be hardwired to an Ethernet cable in order for the system or even a singular speaker to work. Most people opt to buy the $49 SONOS Bridge to plug into their system and then set up speakers wirelessly throughout the house. I bought my SONOY PLAY:1 on an Amazon deal of the day where the bridge was bundled for free; this was part of my decision to buy the speaker. I unfortunately did not read the instructions and forgot to add the bridge to my cart, I thought it would be added automatically. A five minute online chat with Amazon corrected my error and they sent me out a free bridge; their support was awesome as usual. I haven't received the bridge yet, it's sitting at my PO Box waiting for me to go get it, so I can't talk about that piece of the puzzle. I do know that if you plan on having a speaker near an Ethernet cable then you don't need the bridge. You could also decide to outfit your home with speakers, make individual purchases of the speakers and get a free bridge with each of them and then sell the extra bridges online for $40 :)
In the end, I love my new speaker and having it has helped me come to the conclusion that I will make SONOS my home speaker system. I will add a couple more PLAY:1 speakers throughout the house and eventually get a sound bar and subwoofer for the living room. I hope that one day they offer a weather resistant model for use on our patio, but the PLAY:1 is small enough that it won't be difficult to move around if we want music outside. In the end, my only two complaints are that I can't send audio to a SONOS speaker through any other apps on my iDevices, and that it doesn't have an auxiliary line in. I would definitely recommend this product to other consumers.
33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on December 10, 2013
I just purchased a home and was looking into having it wired for whole-house audio. Looking into multi-room systems on Amazon, it was apparent to me that it wouldn't be cheap: cost of the speakers, controllers, PLUS cost of running wires throughout the house. When I saw the SONOS PLAY:1 promotions, I found its wireless solution to be more cost effective, and with better speakers to boot. Below are the pros and cons that led me to decide for the Sonos system.
NOTE: a Sonos BRIDGE is NOT needed to use the PLAY:1. See the INSTALLATION section of this review.
- Hi-Fi. Speakers sound better than the multi-room, wired systems I looked at for less than $500.
- Resale Value. Wired speakers don't add much resale value to your house. So, why spend $1000s, only to leave the audio system behind when you sell the property or move? With wireless, I could take my expensive speakers with me to my new home.
- Freedom to move around.
With wireless, you are free to take the speakers anywhere you want throughout the whole house. For neighborhood block parties, I could even hook up the speakers to an extension cord out to the street, and stream music from my home. Or take it outside to your backyard. They are moisture-proof, but I wouldn't use them as permanent outdoor speakers unless you enclose them in protective casings.
NOTE on wireless: each SONOS component is its own wireless client and repeater. Sonos wireless is a private, wireless "mesh" system, separate from your home WiFi. What does that mean to you? It routes music through its own wireless, leaving your home WiFi untouched. There's an additional benefit for that, as I'll explain after the installation note below. Most of the Sonos components (PLAY:1 is NOT one of them) have 2 network ports. This means, you can plug in the component into the network jack, and use the 2nd one on the speaker to connect your laptop.
INSTALLATION: First, the tech talk. You need 1 Sonos component to be plugged in to your home network (any of the PLAY speakers, Soundbar, Bridge, etc.) So, as an example, you must plug in either the BRIDGE or the PLAY:1 to your network with a network cable. This turns that component into a wireless access point (or as consumers tend to call it, a "Wifi router".) All other Sonos components will now be able to wirelessly talk to that plugged-in device. No other Sonos component has to be plugged in, as long as it's within wireless range of the plugged-in one. Should a component in your house be too far away (say, your garage) from the plugged-in one, you can connect it to your network via cable, if available, or set up a Sonos BRIDGE (or any other Sonos speaker) wirelessly somewhere between the plugged-in one and the Garage speaker. The BRIDGE or other speaker strengthens the wireless from the plugged-in one, and extends the range to the one in the Garage. Each Sonos component is both a wireless client, and a wireless access point/repeater. Each component talks to each other in a mesh network. Think of a spider net. Any part that is touched vibrates to the rest of the net.
Tech-talk aside, think about this: One person (Person 1) is at a corner of the house. When he shouts, the person in the garage (Person 2) can't hear Person 1. The only way Person 1 can talk to 2, is to pick up the phone (talking over a wired connection, or plugging a distant Sonos component to the wired network) or having Person 3 stand between them (having a Sonos component physically be between both speakers) and relaying the information back and forth (what WiFi mesh would do). So, with each Sonos component/speaker, the Sonos wireless range gets extended.
With the Sonos wireless mesh, you could humorously place a few speakers into each house in the neighborhood, and suddenly play the same music through each home. Try that with Bluetooth speakers. You wouldn't be able to.
WiFi mesh TIP: if you have an Android device, you can Google "Android devices on SonosNet", and you will see instructions on how to use your Sonos wireless network ("SonosNet") to connect your Android phone/tablet. This allows you to use your mobile device further away from your home WiFi. This has disadvantages and advantages out of the scope of this review. I decided not to use SonosNet for my tablets.
NOTE: a Sonos BRIDGE is NOT needed to use the PLAY:1. Just plug in the PLAY:1 to the wired network (ie your router), and it will work just fine. You still control it with the Sonos App from your mobile device. Once the PLAY:1 is plugged in, you can add other Sonos components to the system. A BRIDGE is NOT needed for that either. It's only needed if you want to extend the Sonos wireless range to a farther part of your house or yard for $50 vs buying another PLAY speaker for $100+)
- Small size. The BRIDGE is about the same size as an Apple TV/Roku/WD TV Live. The PLAY:1 is about 2-3 of them stacked on top of each other. The PLAY:1 has a fairly hefty weight, a good sign of the good sound coming from its components.
- Ease of Pairing. To pair other Sonos components (or with the Sonos Controller App), simply hit the Play/Volume Up button on the speaker, and the same combination on the other speakers. If pairing with the BRIDGE, hit the pair button on that component.
- LED. The Bright LED can be configured to turn on/off via the Sonos app.
- Ease of music sync.
You can use the free Sonos app for your Android, iOS (iPhone/iPad/iPod), Windows Phone, Mac/Windows laptop/tablet (sadly, no Windows Store app yet) to control how the speakers play: you can easily choose which speakers to pair/unpair into groups. Grouping the speakers allows you to play the same music on those speakers. You can have up to 32 separate groups. You can also individually control each speaker from the app. Each group's volume is controlled by the Sonos app. So, if Speaker 1 is set to 50% volume, and Speaker 2 is set to 25%, lowering the volume by 5% will lower Speaker 1 to 45%, and 2 to 20%.
Once music is playing, you can leave the house, and it will continue to play -- as long as the music source is not coming from that mobile device (meaning: if you're playing MP3s from your phone, and your phone leaves, it will stop playing. But if you started Pandora from your phone, or you told the speaker to play music off one of your network shares, it will continue playing since the source is coming from a device that's still at home.)
PARTIES: one cool feature is that once you download the Sonos Controller app and pair it to one of the Sonos speakers (which authorizes the app/phone to talk to your Sonos system -- this prevents unauthorized people outside your home from controlling your speakers), each device can control the playlist. So, if you have guests coming over, and each guest downloads and authorizes the Sonos app to your system, each guest can now add/remove songs from the queue. Everybody can now be a DJ.
- Stereo pairing for PLAY:1.
You can take two PLAY:1 speakers and set them up as Left & Right channels for stereo output.
Sonos did a smart thing. They released the less expensive PLAY:1 to wet your/my appetite. As you use the system, you will likely buy more Sonos components to expand your sound system, resulting in more revenue for the company. You can add any Sonos component to your system, and they will all work in harmony. You can set up a complete home theater system that way too. I know, sounds pricey. It is. But it still is cheaper than having your whole house wired with nice speakers.
- Alarm/Sleep timer.
You can set up each speaker (or Group of speakers) to play music at a specific time, day, and volume (Alarm) from a specific source for a specified amount of time. Or you can also set a Sleep timer to play music for a specific number of minutes to ease you into sleep. I love getting waken up by mellow music (ie. Norah Jones) in the morning, and when I leave the home, I don't have to worry about turning off the speakers. It'll automatically turn off after the 45 minutes I set up for the alarm.
- Sound. Sound quality is quite good. I will leave you with the reviews by others to read more about that. With the Sonos app, you can control Bass, Treble, and volume. I have the speakers play between 15% to 25% volume in each room -- they are plenty loud enough. Setting them to 100% can be heard through the whole house -- and the potential for your neighbors to complain. Even at low volume, the sound is very good. It's definitely better than most Bluetooth speakers. If you put the PLAY:1 in the corner of a room, the sound seems a bit more muffled due to the amplification of the Bass by the walls on both ends. You can fix this by adding more Treble, or by moving the speaker away from the corner.
- Design. The PLAY:1 and BRIDGE are beautiful devices. They don't look out-of-place in my home. I bought the White ones.
I couldn't find many cons with the PLAY:1. But here are some that have annoyed me.
- Cost. The Sonos system is expensive. Just look at the price of the other components. Holy moly. Still, if you were to wire your house with Bose speakers, the Sonos system is comparatively inexpensive. Again, I chose Sonos because wiring the house won't add much resale value. I like the idea of being able to take my Sonos with me to my new home.
- Sonos App Interface. The app is clunky and looks outdated. It took me a while to figure out where to go to do what (and I love gadgets/toys. I'm a technology tinkerer!). It's not very user friendly.
- Music sources. Not all apps can play to the Sonos speakers. You have to use the Sonos App, add the approved source to it, then you can play from that source. I wish you could re-route any audio from any device to the speakers. Pandora, network shares (NAS), iTunes, TuneIt Radio (built-in), iPod/iPad/iPhone, media files on your own Android/Windows device are all possible sources. At one point (if I remember correctly), my not-so-tech-savvy dad was able to beam his iPad's YouTube sound to the speakers without using the Sonos App. I didn't get a chance to verify how he did it, but I did see the PLAY:1 being available as a target on his iPad. Perhaps it was playing via the DLNA protocol. Either way, that was neat.
- Input source. I wish that the PLAY:1 had a Line-in/Aux port so that you can connect any music source to it for playback, such as your TV or existing home entertainment system. Yes, the Sonos CONNECT takes care of that, but look at the price of that component! Even then, the CONNECT doesn't support SPDIF/Optical input.
Weren't it for the Amazon/Target promotions on Black Friday, I would have been EXTREMELY hesitant to buy these expensive speakers. I bought two PLAY:1 during the promotion. With that said, overall, I'm quite pleased with the purchase. It came out cheaper than wiring the house, and I get to control my music from any of the mobile devices. That's neat. Lower the prices of your other components, Sonos! I hope for increased competition in the market to drive the prices down -- as of today, I'm not aware of any good, alternate, wireless HiFi solution.
I have the BRIDGE installed downstairs in a 2-story home. One PLAY:1 is upstairs, and one PLAY:1 is downstairs. I may purchase more PLAY:1s in the future. The BRIDGE is not needed at all for my home since one of the PLAY:1 can act as the wireless access point for the other.
EDIT 5/12/14: Almost half a year later, and I'm still enjoying the PLAY:1. By the way, Sonos is working on making it unnecessary for any Sonos component to be connected to the wired network/router. From their blog post, titled, "Our Vision for Rock-Solid Wireless, Evolved" (April 17, 2014), "We've found a way to deliver all the benefits of SonosNet without a product directly connected to your router... Start with a speaker and your smartphone, enter your WiFi password and Sonos takes care of the rest."
I've also updated my review with the clarification, "Most of the Sonos components (PLAY:1 is [NOT] one of them) have 2 network ports." (Thank you, JOEKC, for pointing out the original review's error)
EDIT 6/16/14: Clarified that SonosNET is a proprietary, wireless network
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 20, 2014
This review is for the Play:1, Play:5, Connect:Amp, and Playbar, along with the overall Sonos experience. This review will be duplicated on each product page, along with the corresponding rating for each product listed below. First off let me start with the fact that I bought a Play:1 back in November 2013 and am now fully outfitted with all of their offerings other than the Sub, Connect, and Play:3. In other words, they are amazing enough to become addicted to. Below is a review of each and when one warrants the purchase over the other, but first let me say the overall experience is tremendous. I have several different zones and each perform perfectly as intended with the Sonos app for the iPhone, iPad, Kindle Fire, and PC. It is easy to play the same or different songs in each zone and managing the process is simple. If you like the idea of being lazy-as-can-be by being able to play music in any room a speaker is in by using your smartphone or tablet to control music without getting off your rear, then Sonos is for you. It is a superior experience than Bluetooth in the fact that anyone can control the speakers and there's no mess in trying to switch which device to pair to. It is also important to note that these do not need your device to be within range or even on once you start the experience. Your phone is not sending the music to the speakers like Bluetooth, they work more like Roku - they stream directly from the music service (e.g. Pandora) and your device simply acts like a remote control. Now for the individual reviews.
Play:1 (5/5) - These are amazing entry-level wireless speakers. The mids and highs are crisp, while the lows struggle a tad (as to be expected for a speaker of this size). When having one speaker the sound is `mono' in the fact the speaker can only drive sound from its single mid and twitter speakers. It's not a bad experience with a single speaker, but the sound separation is poor. However, once paired with another Play:1 the sound separation is great and the only thing lacking with the setup is punchy lows. With a stereo pair you should expect to get the same experience as a micro sound system, similar to a `boombox' back in the day. You won't be rattling any windows, but the sound will be crisp and a bit fuller than you would expect from speakers of this size. If you cherish stereo separation more than power, I would recommend getting two Play:1s over a single Play:5. In one room I have two Play:1s separated by about 12 feet and it creates a lovely "wall of sound."
Play:5 (5/5) - I skipped right over the purchase of the Play:3s because I didn't see the point in spending an extra $100 over the Play:1 for simply adding a second mid speaker to the Play:1, whereas the Play:5 is essentially 2 Play:1s with an additional sub speaker. I'm sure the Play:3's sound is more robust than the Play:1, but I bit the bullet and paid another $100 to get the 5. The Play:5 sounds just like you would expect if you've heard the Play:1s: two Play:1s sitting side by side with more bass. Like the Play:1s you can pair two Play:5s to create a greater stereo experience, but it is much less necessary to do than with the Play:1s. There is still stereo separation with a single Play:5, just not as dynamic due to the proximity of the left/right channels. A single Play:5 won't rattle pictures off your walls, but the sound will definitely impress. Everything is crisp and tight, with little muddle to the bass and there is plenty of bass (unless you are a bass-head). I would recommend getting a single Play:5 over two Play:1s if you are appreciate larger sound range and power over stereo separation.
Connect:Amp (5/5) - I needed a Sonos product that played outdoors. Unfortunately Sonos does not make outdoor speakers that I could permanently place outside so I had to setup their Amp inside and run wires out to a couple of Boston Acoustics outdoor speakers. After running the wires through the wall and setting everything up I was quite happy with the result. The Amp generates plenty of power and the sound is as good as the speakers you pair it with. The big pluses with the Amp is that if you already have a decent pair of speakers you can create the sound of two paired Play:5s for $300 cheaper, you can connect a powered subwoofer, and it has analog inputs if you want to connect a record or CD player. If you have a location where you don't mind running wires like a traditional amp, you could get a much better sounding setup for the same price as two Play:5s. However, if you like the idea of two speakers on either side of the room with no wires other than the power plugs, then the Play:5s are the way to go. If you are leaning towards the Amp you should probably ask yourself if it is worth it when compared to a tradition stereo amp that can be purchased for under $200. The two main benefits of the Connect:Amp over a much cheaper traditional amp is the ability to stream music and connect the amp to an existing Sonos system. If you already have a great Amp and don't mind a bit more clutter, you could get the Connect (without the built-in amp) in order to connect your existing rig to the Sonos ecosystem. I had considered that approach but I didn't like the idea of more components than necessary, plus $350 for the Connect seems nuts for what it does (it can make sense if you are trying to connect an excellent existing system).
Playbar (3/5) - this is the only component I would have likely not purchased if I had known its limitations. The highs and mids are amazing, I can hear all of the details and dialog of a tv show much clearer than with my previous systems (Bose and component); however, the bass is seriously lacking. The mid speakers in the Playbar are smaller than the ones found in the Play:1. If you have a Play:1 and you think the bass is lacking don't bother getting the Playbar unless you decide you want to fork out another $700 for the Sub. Once the cost of the Sub is added I feel like you could build a much better sound system for under $1400, including connecting it to your other Sonos components via the overpriced Connect. I also do not like the way music sounds through the Playbar. Even with the bass set to neutral and loudness turned off I get the soundscape of a speaker struggling to accommodate the punchy bass portions of the music, as if it were being clipped at a certain decibel. When the bass settings are pushed up the Playbar simply sounds terrible. I was so disappointed with the Playbar that I sent it back to Sonos for a replacement, thinking something was wrong with it (I received a replacement with the same issue). I would still recommend the Playbar if you want a very simple setup AND you intend to pair it with the Sub; once paired with the Sub it'll handle all of the bass while the Playbar takes over the mids and highs, which are brilliant.