Sonos Digital Music System Washington DC
Falls Church, VA
Baileys Crossroads, VA
Falls Church, VA
Sonos Digital Music System
January 1, 2005 By Dennis Burger
Perhaps this makes me a bit of a Luddite, but I have never bought into the idea of MP3 music servers. Friends and colleagues rave about the convenience of having all their music on a hard drive for easy access. Uh-uh, I said—too much fuss. You can have your complicated setup and your convoluted on-screen control systems. If I want to play an MP3 in my den, I can do it on my TiVo, thank you very much. It took the Sonos Digital Music System to change my mind.
The Sonos Controller lets you browse your music collection through a beautiful color screen. Another screen (right) on the Controller makes it easy to control sound in different rooms of your home. (Click images to enlarge)
What exactly does Sonos do that other music distribution systems cannot? Other than alleviating a lot of clutter, not much. It takes music from Point A—any networked computers or network-attached storage (NAS) hard drives in your home—and moves it to Point B, which is anywhere in your home you want. The concept sounds so simple, but rarely ever is.
With Sonos, distributing digital music around the home could not be simpler. The first clue to the system’s ease of use is its setup instructions: one glossy sheet of paper with three diagrammed steps. I take one of the two ZonePlayers included in the package to my office, connect it to my home Ethernet network and run the guided setup CD on my computer. I then connect the second ZonePlayer to the audio/video receiver in my media room, and less than 10 minutes after I open the box, the Sonos has found all of the MP3 files on my computers and I am wirelessly streaming the soothing sounds of Lyle Lovett from my office to the other end of the house.Operating the system is as easy as the installation, thanks to the Sonos Controller, which is quite a conversation piece. Even my most technophobic friends have no trouble using the Controller’s iPod-like touch-sensitive scroll wheel and full-color LCD screen. They find it easy to browse my music collection, by album or song title, artist or genre. Through the Controller, they can also access an ample selection of Internet radio stations. And since the Controller works on the wireless signal generated by the ZonePlayers, I can operate any player from any room, switching between zones with ease thanks to the intuitive interface. Linking every zone in the house together in party mode is a matter of three button presses. Unlinking them again requires only two.
In truth, the audio/video receiver is extraneous, because each ZonePlayer contains its own 50-watt amplifier and speaker connections. While 50 watts might sound a bit underwhelming, the ZonePlayer drives my large tower speakers with little effort, although that is probably not quite what its designers had in mind. The ZonePlayer works beautifully when used with bookshelf or executive desktop speakers, delivering clean, powerful audio with ample bass and enough fidelity that I can easily ...