Sonos Digital Music System
Expensive for a streaming audio system, but has unique features and an elegant design lacking in other systems.
Price$ 2,399.00 (AUD)
By no means the only product to stream digital music around your home, the Sonos Digital Music System sets itself apart from the competition with a 50W-per-channel amplifier and the ability to play music from removable storage devices. All you need to add is a pair of high-quality speakers.
Including the amp makes sense if you buy into how Sonos envisions your use of the system. Via the product's analog outputs, you could just hook a single player up to a stereo (and a subwoofer) in your living room or den. But Sonos would like you to place multiple players - up to 32 of them - all over your house. They connect to each other over ethernet or over a proprietary 802.11-based "mesh" network: each player acts as both a sender and a receiver, with no need for a central hub or router.
The system can play digital music from up to 16 sources - computers or network drives - and every player can have its own line-in source that is broadcast over the network. You can queue different music selections on each player, or put all of them into a "party zone" that plays the music in perfect synchronisation. Or you can create multiple such zones in your house.
Two ZonePlayers connected flawlessly, despite being separated by about 15 metres and three walls. The system falls short of wireless perfection, however, because at least one player must be linked to your network via an ethernet cable.
The Sonos system plays WAV, MP3, WMA, FLAC, OGG Vorbis and AAC music files (but not copy-protected files from the iTunes store). Sonos says Microsoft's "Plays for Sure" protection format doesn't support multiple-room listening. Sonos also supports Rhapsody, allowing multiple songs to be heard throughout the house.
The Sonos system plays Internet radio, as well: there are approximately 200 stations (including Australian stations) pre-programmed on the system, and adding more was a cinch, especially via the PC-based control software. Each ZonePlayer also has stereo line-in jacks for receiving analog input - say, from a CD player, a radio, an iPod or a TV - and broadcasting it around the house.
Controlling all these options could be a nightmarish task, but Sonos makes it simple. The Sonos Controller wireless remote includes a 3.5in colour LCD; it also has a touch-sensitive jog wheel and hierarchical menus, both of which are quite similar to those on the Apple iPod. A few shortcuts make it even easier: you press the Zones button to select a single player or to link up several. Then you press the Music button to choose from digital files, Internet radio presets, or line-in sources.
Depending on how you use it, battery life for the controller is good for three to four days and the battery charges up in a reasonable two hours via the included AC adapter, or charging cradle.
The Sonos system is amazingly polished for a debutante, but it still has flaws. The controller scans the network and associates with the nearest player, but it can be a little sluggish when switching from one player to the next. The amp is powerful, and music sounded rich going through a set of Klipsch RB-15 speakers, though a bit heavy on the bass and weak in treble, giving vocals a slightly distant sound.
We'd also like a USB 2.0 port on the player; network drives are great for some situations, but USB-connected disks are cheaper and far more common. However, this was not enough to change our very favourable impression of the product and we would happily put ZonePlayers and speakers in every room of PC World headquarters, if we could afford it.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Samsung Galaxy S8 phone: full, in-depth review
- 2 Ryzen 5 vs Intel Core i5 CPU Australian review
- 3 Mass Effect Andromeda review: One for the fans
- 4 LG G6 phone: full, in-depth review
- 5 Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 phone: Full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- Plex Cloud is now open to all paid users
- YouTube launches streaming TV service with 40 channels and unlimited cloud DVR storage
- Up next for Apple TV: 4K streaming reportedly in the works
- Apple’s original TV shows are almost ready for prime time
- Apple snags Amazon Fire TV exec to lead Apple TV efforts
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- Samsung Galaxy S8 phone: full, in-depth review
- Ryzen 5 vs Intel Core i5 CPU Australian review
- Mass Effect Andromeda review: One for the fans
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- FTTester AnalystACT
- CCSenior Domain ArchitectVIC
- CCSenior Network Security EngineerNSW
- FTDevOps EngineerNSW
- FTNetwork Solution Architect - PresalesNSW
- FTCRM Technical Specialist (Oracle Eloqua)SA
- CCSenior Change ManagerQLD
- FTSenior Project AnalystVIC
- FTSolution Architect l MS Exchange, O365NSW
- CCSAP ISU Functional ConsultantVIC
- CCSenior Project OfficerNSW
- FTBusiness Process AnalystWA
- CCJava Developer IntegrationQLD
- FTSecurity Consultant -10056987-001VIC
- CCSenior UNIX AdministratorNSW
- FTPERMANENT Business AnalystsNSW
- FTTIBCO Support Analyst - PERM DESKVIC
- FTRegional Market Manager - Wide Bay RegionQLD
- CCDigital Solution ArchitectNSW
- FTDesktop Support/ Field Services EngineerQLD
- FTSAP ABAP Technical specialistACT
- FTTeam Leader Application SupportVIC
- CCBusiness Analyst - PegaNSW
- FTProject Engineer - Data & IP NetworksNSW
- CCTechnical ConsutlantACT