• Howard Tries a Sonos


    Until recently, my wife and I used Bluetooth speakers when we wanted to listen to music at home. I figured Bluetooth speakers were the most flexible solution. After all, pretty much every phone, tablet and computer sold in the last 10 years has it. Bluetooth support is also built right into Android/iOS/Windows so you donít need any special software to use it. There are also many, many different Bluetooth compatible speakers available at all price points.

    Still, Bluetooth isnít a perfect solution. I wonít cover all of them here but for us, the 3 biggest shortcomings are the range, support for multiple users or lack thereof and the fact that the Bluetooth speaker will playback everything thatís playing on your phone including alerts.

    In terms of range, our phones will only stream reliably while weíre in the same room. This is inconvenient if we need to leave the room temporarily with our phone.

    However, the bigger problem is the lack of multiple users. When you turn a Bluetooth speaker on, it usually tries to connect to the last device that was using it. This is fine if Iím the only person trying to use the speaker. However, what happens when Iím around and my wife wants to use it? Switching users can be a hassle.

    Then thereís the fact that Bluetooth speakers playback alerts from your phone. It can get quite irritating when you get a bunch of alerts during your favorite song.

    With these problems in mind we figured weíd try out a Sonos. Sonos has been around for a while, so they have a fairly mature lineup of speakers. Iíve actually wanted to try one for a while but various issues with them me from trying it.

    By issues I referring to the fact that a Sonos solution isnít cheap. They start at $200ish for the entry level model and go up from there. Donít forget, the point of buying a Sonos is for whole home audio. You gotta pick up a couple of them to really take advantage of them.

    In some ways, theyíre also not terribly flexible. Most donít hook up to your computer or TV like a regular speaker would. Heck many models donít even have a input!

    They also lack Bluetooth and no devices have native Sonos support built-in. That means youíll need to download a special Sonos Controller app to use them.

    Each Sonos has its own processor; You tell it to play music and it actually retrieves the music from your preferred music service and plays it back. Itís actually a lot like a Chromecast in this respect. It can also playback local music files stored on your device but youíll have to do it via the Sonos app.

    This means it wonít be able to play music from any videos youíre watching on your device. At least, not using the Sonos player app. That said, there are 3rd party apps available that do bridge some gaps in functionality. Thereís an app, Sonos Tube that will allow you to watch YouTube videos on your iOS or Android phone while playing back the music on your Sonos.

    Iím not an expert on Music streaming services; our family uses Apple Music though we also have Prime Music because itís included with our Amazon Prime subscription. The fact that we use Apple Music is one of the reasons why I chose a Sonos because I donít think it works with Amazon Echo or Google Home. I need to mention that the Sonos isnít compatible with Prime Music.

    I also excluded the Apple Homepod because itís too expensive, thereís only one model available (did I mention itís very pricey?), and it isnít officially available in Canada at this time though itís coming soon.

    That said Iím thinking of switching to Spotify eventually as it works with all these as well as Sonos. Spotify is just music and doesnít have a smart speaker offering, so Google and Amazon have less of a reason to block Spotify from their services.

    Since I wanted a few units to get the full benefit but wanted to save some money at the same time I purchased all my Sonos speakers used. Weíll talk about them soon.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Howard Tries a Sonos started by howard View original post
    Comments 2 Comments
    1. mikethaler's Avatar
      mikethaler -
      $onos i$ Expen$ive!
      We have a flawless system in our 2300 Sq. ft. home. 2 AVR powered speaker systems connected to wifi via chromecast audio devices (CCA), a sound bar connected by a CCA, Google Home, and 2 Google mini on the balconies.
      What ties it all together is a wifi mesh system.
    1. howard's Avatar
      howard -
      That sounds great, however my wife isn't a fan of having receivers all over the place. So we need something more 'life style-y" looking. Will discuss that more soon.