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Review: All-in-One Music System from Sonos


The Sonos Multi-Room Music System allows you to extend your music’s reach to several rooms in a snap.

The Sonos S5, ZoneBridge, and Controller 200 all make up an elaborate system that can take your home audio to the next level. It not only gives you the power to extend your musical collection to several rooms, but it also gives you access to so many incredible sources of music while providing numerous well-executed ways to control it as well.

The S5 has a vague resemblance to an iPod dock. Coming in at 14-inches wide, 8-inches tall, and 4-inches deep, it is relatively small, but it’s what’s inside that matters. The unit that we tried out has 5 built-in speakers which include 2 tweeters, 2 mid-range drivers and 1 subwoofer. It does provide a really full sound that fills a room very comfortably.

Set up “à la Apple”

If you ever set up any Apple product, you’ll find the Sonos set up to be a very similar experience. It was easy, simple and straightforward.

We were done with the set up in less than 15 minutes and everything worked from the get go.

Music for every taste

The S5 will enable you to access all of your DRM-free music from iTunes, ripped CDs, downloaded music, and other song files on your computer. But it gets actually better: you can take your Rhapsody, Napster, Pandora, Last.FM, SIRIUS subscriptions and blast them to your speakers as well. And if that’s not enough, there are over 25,000 streaming radio stations to feed your music cravings.

But the one catch is that you’ll need to connect at least one S5 unit directly to a router. The others can be handled wirelessly with the Sonos ZoneBridge, which enables you to bridge your connection to the S5. The ZoneBridge, separately, costs $99, but it is well worth it if you want a multi-room music setup.

But if you do have the ZoneBridge, you can place the S5 anywhere throughout your home (as long as you are in range of the WiFi connection) and give that room its own “zone” of music.

Play different streams in each room

If you do have more than one S5, you can take the experience even further by giving each room (for each S5 you own) its own settings and musical flavor.

Maybe you can have a techno station pumping in the bedroom while having some classic rock gracing your living room.

The possibilities are endless — just remember that you might require the ZoneBridge to make it possible (unless you like running ethernet cables all around your place).

Control remotely via iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad

1All that music is great, but it’s controlling the Sonos S5 where things get really cool.

Alone, there is nothing more than volume buttons. However, it is only when you add in the software layers that things get interesting. You can load up some free software on your Mac and/or PC to control the S5 directly.

You could opt to go with a controller application (which operates like a remote) for your iPhone or iPod Touch.

Or you could pull out all the stops and install an application for your iPad (if you so happen to own one).

Finally, you could opt with purchasing the Sonos Controller 200, which is a dedicated always-on unit that enables you to control the S5 that is impressive in its own right.

If you do, in fact, decide to purchase the Sonos Controller 200, you can handle the brunt of the workload by managing playlists, music queues, stations, volume zones, and much more.

It is very well designed, and it eliminates the need of a computer and/or other controller combination. But if you have an iPhone or iPod Touch, you could save some cash and opt for the App Store application that can accomplish everything that the Controller 200 can as well.

Any negatives?

The only one we can come up is that if you want to add all of the nifty extras — extra S5s, ZoneBridge, Controller 200, Wireless Dock (for your iPod Touch) — it’ll require you to fork out a few hundred dollars extra, depending on what you want. But it is all well worth it.

The verdict

The Sonos S5 (along with all of its extendable components) has a lot going for it. If you are interested in having an all-in-one music system that can enhance your music’s coverage to various rooms, enable new ways to control your music collection, provide you access to various different sources of music and radio content, and deliver an amazing sound experience, then the Sonos S5 is a no brainer.

Go to the Sonos Website

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