I remember how much I wanted an iPod when it was first announced so I could easily transfer my music from my computer to a nice little device and carry it with me. Then I wanted to take my music in the car, then in the house and now I want it in multiple rooms in the house. That may sound like a tall order, but last weekend I hooked up a Sonos Digital Music System to see if it could fulfill my musical desires.
Dan Frakes reviewed the Sonos system in detail earlier this year. But here are my quick impressions after setting up and operating the system.
My Sonos system consisted of two “Zone Players” and a controller. The Zone Players resemble stereo components, albeit a bit taller and narrower. The white and gray zone player was in stark contrast to the rest of my black home theatre components, but it did look quite elegant.
You can setup the Zone Player in a couple of different ways. If you don’t have components in which to plug the player, you can simply plug speakers directly into the Zone Player itself. The actual setup of the device couldn’t have been easier—and I didn’t read the manual first. (Confession: I never read the manuals, and it usually gets me into trouble. Not this time.)
I used the Ethernet cable from my AirPort Express, plugged it into the back of the Sonos Zone Player and ran an application on my Mac to add my music library. I did have a tiny bit of trouble here just because of the way my Mac was named on the network, so I changed the name to “Jim” and all was well.
The Zone Player took about 10 minutes to index the roughly 4,000 songs in my music library. The Sonos controller then alerted me to an update that was available for the system and asked if I wanted to download and install the update. I did this and it only took a few minutes—very easy and painless.
After all the updates were done, I was ready to play some music. I was surprised at how well the system worked. The built-in radio stations played seamlessly and without skipping or stopping, and, for the most part the music in my library did as well. The sound was very crisp and clear coming through the Sonos to my home theatre.
The Sonos Controller is nothing short of beautiful. It has a very easy to see screen that can even be seen outside on a sunny day. I spent a little time outside on my back deck “researching” this on Saturday.
The controls are well laid out and easy to understand—if you know how to work an iPod, this system will present no problems for you. You can do anything you need to using the Controller from changing music to downloading software updates and re-indexing your music library.
If you decide you want music in another room of your house, it is simply a matter of plugging in another Zone Player and assigning a name for it. Of course, if one is for the kids, a new Controller might help future battles.
The different zones can all be controlled from the one Controller if you wish. For example, when you press pause on the Controller, you can choose to pause music on the currently selected zone or on all zones. A nice feature with kids that like loud music.
I only have two complaints about the Sonos system: the major one is that there is no optical out. I want the best sound and I can get from my home theatre—most of my components use optical and I would have expected the Sonos system to include this as well.
My second complaint isn’t as vital. I thought the remote could have been smaller—there seemed to be a lot of open space on the remote. If this were made a bit more compact, the remote would be lighter and you would be able to carry it around the house with you.
Overall, I loved the system. At $1,199 for two Zone Players and a Controller—you can also check PriceGrabber to see if there’s a lower price —the Sonos Digital Music System will not be an impulse buy, but for those that want music throughout the house, the Sonos is the answer.