A few weeks ago, I twittered about the demise of my Roku Soundbridge music player, and how I was now having to deal with using an old iPod to play my music. The folks on the Sonos twitter account happened to see my situation and agreed to send me two Sonos ZP120’s to review.
To be honest, I have heard of the Sonos system before. I hadn’t really investigated it because it looked too complex to set up, but nothing could be farther from the truth. The whole process was actually incredibly easy. Here’s a picture of the ZP120 in my kitchen. You can see the defunct Soundbridge and the iPod hooked up to my amplifier in the picture below:
I chose the kitchen for a few reasons: it’s where I spend a lot of time, I’ve got speakers hard wired in (see photo below), and it has a network hub. What…doesn’t everyone have a network hub in their kitchen? If you want your Sonos system to play network music or play internet radio stations like Pandora, at least one has to have a hard wire connection. If your network doesn’t have any connections where you want to listen, it’s not a problem–you’ll need a Zone Bridge BR 100. As long as one unit is on the network, it’s fine. The rest of the Sonos units will connect wirelessly.
Now I didn’t get a Sonos controller; instead, I used one of the many iPhones and iPod Touches around the house. You can also use a computer or iPad if you prefer. If you don’t have one, you will need a controller. After that, it was just a simple matter of telling the Sonos system where the music was located (in my case, on a file server in a completely different room), giving it a few minutes to index, and I was all set.
Now here’s where it gets cool: you can turn on the Sonos systems one at a time, more than one at a time, or all of them at once. You can have them playing different music or the same music in sync (if you’ve ever tried to set up home streaming server you know what a PIA that is). If you had two units on the second floor of your house you could have them sync playing the same music, and all of the units on the first floor sync’d up playing different music as well. If you were throwing a party, you could have the same music playing all over the house at different volumes. Here are some screen shots from my iPhone showing that.
As you can see from the pictures it’s actually really easy to change music sources or combine the music sources into one big zone. The Sonos ZP 120 also has a line in, which I hooked up to the TV in the living room. Imagine watching the Yankee game and wanting to have it play throughout the whole house while you’re taking care of some chores. Doing it’s not a problem with the Sonos system.
Another great thing about a Sonos system is that, if you want to add to/grow your music system, you can: just add another unit, sync them together with two buttons, and you’re good to go. If you want to use a Sonos system as a standalone unit, you’ll need an S5 unit with speakers built in. It sounds great.
The only bad thing about a Sonos unit is the price. You can buy the components separately, but for most people the the bundled units make the most sense. They start at $999. That said, I know people who have had them for years without any problems and speak very highly of them.
If you’re looking to take the music you have on digital files and start playing it all over your house without worrying about complicated wiring, I can definitely recommend the Sonos music system.