Sonos Zoneplayer S5

Sonos Zoneplayer S5 review: A wireless music streamer that's simple and full of features

Sonos Zoneplayer S5
  • Sonos Zoneplayer S5
  • Sonos Zoneplayer S5
  • Sonos Zoneplayer S5
  • Expert Rating

    4.25 / 5

Pros

  • Easy to set up, good sound quality, Anubis.fm is excellent, plenty of other Internet services offered

Cons

  • Expensive

Bottom Line

Sonos's Zoneplayer S5 is probably the simplest wireless music system we've come across. Set up is simple, sound quality is good considering the speakers' size, and the diversity of music services offered -- including the impressive Anubis.fm music-on-demand service -- makes the Zoneplayer S5 a great purchase. It is expensive though.

Would you buy this?

The Sonos Zoneplayer S5 is a wireless music streamer with a premium price. It's extremely easy to set up and operate, sound quality from the Zoneplayer speaker system is good for a compact unit and the diversity of Internet streaming features on offer is impressive. However, we do baulk at the high price tag and the cost of setting up your house with multiple Zoneplayer units.

Sonos Zoneplayer S5: Design, setup and control

The Sonos Zoneplayer S5 has a very simply design — there are two buttons on the speaker system, a couple of 3.5mm jacks for connecting headphones or an auxiliary device like an MP3 player, and two Ethernet ports. To get the system up and running all that's required is a connection to your home network — you can use the wired Ethernet ports, or set up an ad hoc wireless network. A Zoneplayer or Sonos Zonebridge connected to your router can wirelessly share the connection between multiple Sonos products. It's really just a matter of plugging the Zoneplayer into power and your router (add a Zonebridge into the mix if you want to listen wirelessly), and running a program on your Mac or PC to get the Zoneplayer registered.

For the most part, we opted to control the Sonos Zoneplayer S5 with the iPad- and iPhone-compatible Sonos Controller app — there's an Android version coming soon as well. The Controller app works like the iPhone's iPod app on steroids — as well as playing back all the music off your iPhone or connected Mac or PC running iTunes, you can set up and control various music zones with multiple Sonos Zoneplayer devices, including playing different content on each Zoneplayer or group of Zoneplayers. It's easy to understand and operates quickly with song choices and changes generally registering within a second.

Sonos Zoneplayer S5: Sound quality and Internet streaming services

The Sonos Zoneplayer S5 sounds excellent for its size. It reminds us of the Bose Wave in design, and has the same rich, warm sound that Bose units are known for. Like with the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin the Sonos Zoneplayer has very well-rounded audio given its dimensions, with no particular emphasis on bass or treble and no gaping frequency holes. The sound from the S5 easily fills a small or medium room without any trace of distortion. Music buffs will probably prefer the Sonos Zoneplayer 120, which can be connected directly to a home theatre system or large speaker setup.

Sonos has included access to a massive number of free Internet radio stations for streaming through the Sonos Controller app.

Most interesting is the recent addition of the Anubis.fm music on demand service to the Sonos Zoneplayer Internet streaming line-up. We ran through the Anubis.fm system a few times on a trial and found the variety of music on offer was impressive. All major labels are included and there wasn't a point when we were unable find a song we wanted to listen to. If it was just a giant library of songs we probably would have dismissed it, but the ability to create playlists and faux–radio stations of similar artists makes the service a great choice for music buffs — we set up a few channels spanning genres from chill-out to dubstep to black metal, so all tastes are well catered for. The pricing for each month past the 30-day trial is $12.99, and while we're normally turned off by subscription fees the range of content makes the service worth considering if you intend to use it frequently.

Sonos Zoneplayer S5: Conclusion

Pricing is our only concern with the Sonos Zoneplayer S5 and its family of products. Setting up a house with two Zoneplayers and a Zonebridge will cost almost $1500, so it's an investment that needs to be carefully considered. We do appreciate the scalability and modular design of the system, though — you can choose as many or as few speaker systems as you want. Otherwise, the range of content and ease of use makes the Sonos Zoneplayer S5 a highly recommended choice.

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Read more on these topics: media streaming, media streamers, Sonos, Sonos Zoneplayer
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