195 of 203 people found the following review helpful
A Bold New Way to Listen to Music,
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This review is from: SONOS BRIDGE for Sonos Wireless Network (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
A few months ago, I decided to upgrade my music system. I began looking at CD "jukeboxes" that could load my entire collection. Along the way, I discovered the world of wireless music systems, and began researching them. Sonos seemed to be well-received, so I finally made the decision to purchase a ZoneBridge and a ZonePlayer 120. This setup has fulfilled every expectation I had for a new music system, and more. It's an easy and pleasant way to listen to music you already own, and to discover new music.
Below is my review of all the main benefits I see to this amazing system.
1. System Setup
Sonos offers many hardware options, but they all have a few things in common. A Sonos ZoneBridge connects to your computer - it "indexes" music on your hard drive and connects to the Internet for music services (more on that later), then it beams all this to a ZonePlayer, which is hooked up to speakers somewhere else in your home. It creates a wireless network dedicated just to music and does not interfere with other wireless devices. You can add more ZonePlayers, and they all pick up the same wireless signal and allow you to listen to your collection in multiple locations throughout your home.
The ZonePlayer 120 has standard jacks for directly connecting speakers. You can also hook up an ethernet cable, if you want to stream music through a wire instead of using the wireless signal. Finally, the ZonePlayer 120 allows you to connect an analog device using standard RCA cables. For my setup, I just hooked up two speakers.
To get ready for this system, you must rip all your physical CDs into a music library. This is the most time-consuming part of the process. But there is nothing unusual here. You can use iTunes to rip CDs into your library, just as you normally would. To get the best sound quality from the Sonos system, you should rip everything using "Apple lossless" format (instead of MP3). This is really easy to do in iTunes. Lossless is not required (you can use MP3s if you want) , but it's better because you'll get CD-quality sound.
After you rip all your CDs into an iTunes library, you run the Sonos "Desktop Controller," which comes free with Sonos systems. This is one of the easiest and most intuitive software applications I've ever used. Just tell it to set up your music library. It finds your iTunes collection and "indexes" it in the Sonos system. Depending on the size of your collection, this may take a little while. With my collection of about 400 CDs, indexing takes about three minutes.
After that, there is an automated process where the software "locates" your ZoneBridge and ZonePlayer. On your computer screen, it literally shows a picture of the devices with arrows pointing at the buttons you need to press. In less than five minutes (seriously) the Sonos Desktop Controller can have the whole system done and ready to go.
Other than that, you just decide whether you want to use one of Sonos' remote controllers, or get the free Sonos app which runs on the iPhone or iPod Touch. I use the free app, and it it works great: I turn on the iPod Touch, click the "Sonos" icon, then scan my entire music collection and play anything, within a few seconds.
2. The Listening Experience
Of course, easy set up does not matter if the system doesn't sound good. Well, Sonos sounds great. The music that plays through the ZonePlayer is CD quality (remember to rip in Apple lossless format). It's as simple as that.
There is about a three-second wait time when you first click on the icon on your controller, as the Sonos systems starts up. But after that, you can run through your collection without delay. I like how my music collection is suddenly organized alphabetically by artist, album, or track names. If you're like me and have a large collection, this indexing of your music is itself a great improvement over looking through hundreds of CDs for the one you want! Of course, the accuracy of your index relies on the album and artist data you provide when ripping your CDs into your iTunes library.
Once the music starts to play, it just works. I've never had interruptions due to wireless connection problems. While the music plays, you see album artwork on your controller, plus the standard play/pause/forward/rewind functions we're all accustomed to. You can also create playlists.
3. Music Discovery
Of course, having your entire music collection easily accessible is great. But the Sonos system goes much further. I was pleasantly surprised after I started using my Sonos system to see some excellent music discovery options I had not known about before.
Through the Sonos system, you can access Pandora (the free Internet radio service) and play it through your stereo speakers.
You can also access radio stations from around the world and play them live over your stereo system. I've enjoyed cruising my local radio stations, or stations from around the world. You can find stations in obvious places like the US, Europe, Africa, and South America. But you can also find them in remote areas of the South Pacific, Asia, Antarctica (I'm not kidding), and places you may have never heard of before. It seems as though almost every corner of the globe is represented in this system. If you find a station you like, you can bookmark it as a favorite. It is important to point out that when you play a radio station through this system, it is not a canned pre-recorded program. You're hearing the actual broadcast, exactly as it would be heard by a "regular" radio.
You can also take out a subscription to an online music service. I chose Napster for $60/year. At any time, in about a minute or so, I can locate artists, albums, or tracks and play them on my stereo system. The sound quality of Napster is not quite the same level as the lossless files ripped from my CD collection, but it's very good. You can bookmark your favorite albums or artists to play them easily each time you start the Sonos system. Napster even has some interesting spoken-word "albums" like poetry readings and stories. You cannot create CDs from Napster music, but I use it all the time to hear enough to decide if I want to buy the actual CD, which I then rip into my library.
There are numerous other music services available through the Sonos system. All of them show up right on the main menu of your controller.
4. Product Support
The Sonos system often feels overwhelming when you're first looking into it. When I began reading about it, I was confused about all the different ZonePlayers, could not tell what I really needed, and did not know about the sound quality of the equipment. For me, it was great having the Sonos user forum, a group of customers helping each other. There are a lot of patient people there who are willing to help you understand what the Sonos system is all about. After purchasing the system, you may have a question or two about options and possibilities, and the user forum is great for all of this.
As you can see, I'm a big fan of what Sonos has done with their music system. It really has opened up all kinds of listening possibilities. I can play music easily and at high quality levels, and I even see my own collection better now - sometimes noticing CDs and songs I had forgotten about!
I recommend this system strongly to people who want to modernize their music library but keep the same music quality they are accustomed to with CDs.
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 17, 2011 9:30:07 AM PDT
Extremely helpful. Thanks for such detailed information.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 18, 2011 4:36:44 AM PDT
Matthew Schenker says:
BEDIDIT, no problem. Always glad to spread the word when a company does a good job. Have you also seen my other Sonos reviews?
In reply to an earlier post on May 28, 2013 2:43:33 PM PDT
Bruce King says:
I join in Bedidit's thanks and applause for all the thought and effort you put into your review. It is most helpful, especially in view of the complexity of this MAC-based music system.
I must admit, however, that the entire new e-wave of music delivery systems is daunting to the point of having to ask myself if undergoing the education required to avail myself of all the wireless, MP3, computer-connected, endlessly-expensive Apple-generated options is, in the end, worth it.
Everything costs something, I grant, and I'll first dip my toe in the I-Pad, iTunes waters before giving up on achieving what you have achieved. But I'm a writer and voracious reader, as well as a music lover. So some grown-up balancing will have to be employed, i.e., do I really need all my tunes alphabetized for ease of access (sweet as it no doubt is)?
That I've gotten old and slow during the 'revolution' complicates things, too. All things 'computer' come only with difficulty to me. It's tiring, stressful, etc. So we'll see.
But thanks again for easing my choice-making.
In reply to an earlier post on Oct 1, 2013 1:24:44 PM PDT
G. Carnicelli says:
I'm with you. All I want to do is stream my CD jukebox to speakers in another room or my AVR. Any suggestions on that?
Posted on Oct 1, 2013 1:27:05 PM PDT
G. Carnicelli says:
Hi, you first mentioned your CD jukebox. Do you still use it and if so, have it hooked up to any streaming devices? I have the jukebox in one room and AVR in another. Would like to interface them and any suggestions would be great.
Posted on Nov 30, 2013 1:24:46 PM PST
Andrew Keniston says:
How can anyone think this is a good product.
Posted on Dec 8, 2013 5:45:25 AM PST
Hello. I'm not electronic or coumputer savvy, but I have been trying to find a way to filter sound in each room of my home via in-ceiling wired speakers, or if no other option, similar to your reviewed set-up. Please, forgive my ignorance, but I've read your review a couple of times and having a desktop seems to be a necessity. I only have a laptop and while I love what you did regarding a music library, I would just like to know if this Sonos system could be the solution to my simply being able to enjoy music from my CD's, local radio stations, and perhaps an iPod in any/every room I happen to venture ? I was researching a BOSE Acoustimass 6 Home Speaker System on Amazon as I burned the midnight candle and found an email from Amazon regarding this Sonos system. I then read your very nice and informative review which I thank you for putting the time and effort into. However, not understanding most of what I read, although it seemed user-friendly, again well done, I'm still lost as to whether this Sonos system is the answer to my prayers of just being able to listen to my music and internet radio throughout my home. Thank you for any help and advice you can provide and if my purchasing this Sonos System "Bridge" and one of the Speaker "play" systems, also Sonos which was grouped in along with the Bridge, in the email notice from Amazon, may be a smart investment for me. Much thanks and since your review was done some time ago, I hope you're still reachable. Happy Holidays.
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