This post was not paid for by Sonos. I bought every Sonos Play with my own cash and love them all dearly.
I am a giant geek for whole-house audio systems. I have vivid memories of my grandmother playing her ancient record player and having the sound come out of almost every room in the house (albeit incredibly tinny). I thought that was the coolest thing in the world, but all my grandmother had to play was old Greek records and that’s about it. I longed to one day be able to pipe music throughout my abode and have the same tunes playing simultaneously in all three bathrooms. Why? Who cares why.
About five years ago, my buddy Al and I went to an ultra high-end home theater store in Summit to discuss modern advancements in wireless speaker technology. The owner excitedly showed off the first-generation Sonos wireless speakers and walked us through what it would take to wireless pump sound throughout my home. Turns out wireless speakers weren’t cheap. Don’t get me wrong, the sound was awesome, but $400 a speaker was a lot to swallow for mono sound, not to mention the bridge you needed to connect everything.
Flash forward to 2014 and three amazing things happened. 1) Sonos released its Play:1 speaker — a pint-sized Hi-Fi power house that exudes massive sound for under $200. 2) I got an outlet installed in my bathroom meaning that I could finally power a small wireless speaker. 3) Sonos was giving away the $50 bridge that was needed to create a wireless mesh network instead of relying on my home network (you don’t really need it any more). I dropped the $199 on the Play:1, installed it on the shelf in my bathroom and never looked back. Over the next two years, I snagged two more Play:1s (including the uber-limited Blue Note model) and a Play:3 for the garage and haven’t had a single issue.
Bulletproof connection; perfect sound
The sound on the Play:1s is nuts. The bass is rich, without sounding boomy, and the upper- and mid-range hits every note effortlessly. It’s just insane that this much quality can come out of speakers that are barely big enough to call bookshelves. All my speakers are set up to play Spotify (you need a premium account), Pandora and I can pull my entire music catalog from my iTunes server. There’s also a million other services that I haven’t touched yet.
The wireless setup is bulletproof. I have only had one instance of a dropped signal and that was because I hadn’t updated my speaker with the latest firmware. My unattached garage can barely get a bar of WiFi, but I can easily hook up to my Sonos bridge and run sound from my home to my garage.
The Sonos family
The Play:3, which costs $100 more than the Play:1, to my ears, doesn’t sound that much superior to the Play:1 and isn’t as aesthetically pleasing, but it does much better when paired with another Play:3 for stereo surround. The new version of the Play:5 is a behemoth both in price ($499), size and sound. I’ve had the chance to audition one and it’s up there in sound with the B&Ws in my listening room. Sadly, my wallet can’t afford one any time soon. One down note is the Sonos app, which is easy enough to use, but I hate that I have to move songs into a queue on my Sonos app from a playlist on my Spotify app to start listening to music. It seems like one too many steps.
Those problems are hardly worth mentioning. The fact is, I now have a flawless whole-house speaker setup that is nearly invisible and audibly majestic. I’ve played with similar smart speaker systems from Bose and Amazon, but nothing can touch Sonos in terms of sound quality and ease of use. The fact is, Sonos just works. Now if I could just get them to release wireless headphones.