Digital Music System Bundle 130
Streaming music in multiple rooms (and different music, mind you) is easy with the Sonos Digital Music System. The Bundle 130 is comprised of two satellite streaming units (the ZonePlayer ZP80 and the ZonePlayer ZP100), and a wireless controller (CR100) is used to manage them.
- Simple to set up and use; comfortable and convenient wireless controller; line-in sources can be streamed to other players; plays MP3, WMA, AAC (non-iTunes bought files), OGG, FLAC, Apple lossless, WAV, Audible and AIFF files; can stream MP3 and WMA Internet radio stations
- At least one ZonePlayer needs to be connected to the router via Ethernet, the controller doesn't scroll long title and artist names, the overall sound quality was a little flat, the ZonePlayers don't have headphone jacks
If you want a convenient way to stream a large music collection from your PC to up to two rooms in the house, Sonos' 130 Bundle can't be overlooked. It doesn't have a USB port, so it can't play music off a directly-attached external hard drive, for example; its sound quality is a little flat, the ZonePlayers don't have headphone jacks and its controller doesn't scroll long song titles -- but apart from those quibbles, it's bloody close to being perfect
Price$ 1,899.00 (AUD)
Setting up the bundle couldn't be easier: connect one ZonePlayer to an Ethernet port on your router, install the supplied desktop manager software, initiate the search procedure from the ZonePlayer to the software, add music to your library, search for the ZonePlayer using the wireless controller, and then queue up some tunes. Adding the second ZonePlayer is even easier, as it doesn't need to be physically connected to the network.
The ZonePlayers themselves are solidly built and have Ethernet connections as well as SonosNet encrypted wireless technology. One ZonePlayer needs to be physically connected to the network via Ethernet, the other will work wirelessly.
Each ZonePlayer has stereo analogue and digital outputs, for connection to an amplifier, as well as one stereo analogue input (for connecting an iPod or CD player, for example). The ZonePlayers can play the audio from the line-in either in compressed or uncompressed mode (the quality between the two, using a CD player, was almost identical, but uncompressed audio sounded a little 'brighter') while the line-in audio from one ZonePlayer can be streamed to another ZonePlayer. While the ZP80 needs to be plugged in to an amplifier/receiver, the ZP100 has a built-in 50W amplifier, so two speakers can be attached to it.
The controller is, perhaps, the best part of the whole system, as it offers an intimate and convenient way to browse and play files from your music library. Its controls are similar to an iPod's with a rotating scroll-wheel; it's comfortable to use, it has backlit buttons, a 3.5in LCD screen, it's water (and beer) resistant and has a battery that lasts (seemingly) for days. Dedicated buttons allow music to be selected and played, and the volume to be manipulated, while soft buttons allow songs to be easily added to your playlist queue.
However, while playing MP3s and online streams, the Sonos' overall sound quality was a little flat at both ends of the spectrum. An equaliser is present in the desktop manager software, but it only controls the bass and treble levels.
The Sonos, as well as playing files (MP3, WMA, OGG and AAC to name a few) from a PC, can also play music from a network hard drive, and it can tune in to online radio stations and music services. Sonos told us that its players will be compatible with Sanity's music service (which wasn't live at the time of testing). However, we tested the Sonos' service-playing capabilities using Rhapsody, which, unfortunately, isn't available for users outside the United States. If the Sanity service is anything like it, then users are in for a treat. From Rhapsody, songs or albums can be added to your Favourites list and, in turn, added to your playlist queue. As such, you don't even need to have any music stored on your hard drives.
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