Photo: Steve Kovach, Business Insider
I’ve been intrigued by Sonos music systems for a while now, and I finally got to try one out this weekend.Sonos stereos integrate with your home’s Wi-Fi network. There’s no CD player. Instead, all the music is beamed from your computer or smartphone to the stereo.
If you have multiple stereos in different rooms, you can network them together and control what to play on each one.
How is this different than Apple’s AirPlay + AirPort Express solution?
With Apple’s system, you’re pretty much stuck using it in the room has access to the AirPort Express. Sonos is completely wireless. You can set up as many different stereos as you want and control them all using the Sonos Bridge accessory.
The Bridge hooks up to your wireless router and acts as a hub that lets all your Sonos stereos talk to each other.
Setup is relatively easy. After hooking up the Bridge to the wireless router, you launch the desktop software to sync the stereo with your computer’s music library.
The only real downside I came across was the desktop app.
It took almost 20 minutes for the app to index the music on my computer. (You can’t play music until this process is done.)
Afterwards, I found the app’s layout to be clunky and difficult to navigate. You can still do everything you can in iTunes, create playlists, search by song, artist, or album, etc. But if you have a lot of music, this could be a daunting task.
The menus are cluttered with a bunch of those flip-down triangles, so there’s no easy way to find the exact song you’re looking for from your list without a lot of scrolling and clicking.
The Android and iPhone app has a much better layout, which makes it a lot easier to control your music.
The stereo’s sound quality is excellent. I’m no audio expert, but music filled my living room, and could be pumped up pretty loud. Perfect for parties.
Sonos isn’t cheap. I’d only recommend this to true music lovers, but you’ll definitely get your money’s worth.
If you’re considering a Sonos, I took some time to put together a setup guide at the link below. Check it out, along with some photos of the system.
The back has audio in/out jacks. You can also attach the stereo directly to your network with an Ethernet cable. Since we're using a wireless Sonos ZoneBridge to connect, there's no need for that.
Once your ZoneBridge is connected to your router, you can complete the rest of the setup from your computer.
You'll be asked to connect to the ZoneBridge. You have two minutes to press the sync button on the top of the Bridge. After that, let your computer connect to it.
Now we have to add the S5 stereo to our network. Select the bubble that says you want to add another component and click Continue
You'll be asked to press the S5's mute and volume button at the same time to connect. Once your computer finds the S5, you'll have the option to name it based on the location in your home.
If you have more than one S5, you can add it now following the same steps. Click continue on this screen once all your devices are connected
Select your music's destination. Sonos can automatically import songs from iTunes, so we're going with that option.
Sonos needs permission to access your iTunes folder. Click continue to enter your computer's password.
You also need to enable sharing on your Mac for Sonos to work. Open System Preferences and click the Sharing icon
Sonos can configure your computer so it doesn't go to sleep while playing music. (If your computer goes to sleep, the music stops.)
The Zone equaliser tool lets you control settings like treble, bass, etc. Since the stereo only has three buttons, everything is controlled from your computer or smartphone.
Just as you did with your PC, press the volume and mute button at the same time to sync with your phone. Make sure you're connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
After you connect you have access to your stereo, you can use your phone as a remote. Browse by artist, song, or album to find what you need.
This is what the screen looks like when playing a song. You have full control over your stereo from here.
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