Sonos Multiroom Audio

Sonos distributes audio from any PC or NAS over IP (wifi or wired) to any room in your house.  Any fool can distribute audio throughout their house using Sonos.  It's the Apple Iphone of the multiroom audio world. I bought my first Sonos boxes about 4 or 5 years ago and haven't once regretted buying them.  The wife loves it because it's easy to use and my friends love it when they come round for a few beers.  It's a winner all round.  Oh, and I think it's pretty good too.

Sonos_in_rack

 

The picture above shows a couple of my Sonos boxes sitting on a shelf in my rack.  I wish they were rackable but they're not.  I have another non amped sonos box tucked behind those two.  I didn't want to stack them because they emit quite a bit of heat.  The bigger amped sonos box on the left powers my Kitchen which has 2 8" B&W ceiling speakers in.  I didn't think it would have enough power to drive 2x 8" speakers so originally ran it off a Cambridge Audio 120W amp.  Quite simply the Sonos box blew the Richer Sounds special away.  The clarity was a massive improvement and the punch was a mile ahead.  Sonos and B&W speakers really do work well.

 

My Set up is as follows

Kitchen - Amped Sonos - 8" B&W ceiling speakers

Old Lounge - non amped, CA Amp, TDL speakers(to be upgraded)

New Lounge - non amped, Yamaha 5.1 amp - B&W all round, 6" ceilings for rear, Monitor Audio 500W 10" sub

Office - non amped, M-audio studio monitors amped with 8" sub

Bathroom 1 - amped - 6" twincone Sonance ceiling speaker

Bathroom 2 - amped/split with master bedroom - 6" twincone Sonance ceiling speaker

Master Bedroom - amped - 8" B&W ceiling speakers

Party Hut - non amped - loud but crude with a 12" sub!

All Sonos boxes have physical cable running to them.  Wifi is used for control.  They will run quite happily on their own wifi mesh.  I've heard the American version has much more wifi power if you're having problems.

Reasons I chose Sonos

  • Easy to use for anyone - foolproof.
  • Wife approval
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Enjoyable to use - excellent GUI
  • Ability to stream analogue audio sources
  • Iphone/itouch apps available
  • Homeseer Integration
  • Method of audio distribution over IP

Iphone/itouch Control

Sonos have written a great app for the Apple Iphone/itouch which is free to download.  I have two traditional bulky controllers which were awesome before the Iphone came about  But now a touch screen wins hands down.  It's smaller, easy to carry and the Sonos app is very fluid to use.  The older controllers do however have a great advantage in dirty or wet areas such as Kitchens, Bathrooms or Garages.  I've heard stories of old style Sonos controllers being completely submerged in water and still working!  I use mine in the Bathroom and Kitchen all the time and they do a very good job considering the abuse.

Integrating Sonos with your Automated home

Although not supported I use Homeseer to control my Sonos system and retrieve it's current state. I use SRSL v1.5 which can be found here.  It's a Homeseer Forum link so you'll find plenty of information.  I mainly use the script to turn on Sonos when I'm turning on amps or TV's, but I also use it for alerting audio to all or selected rooms. It gives me an good selection of sonos commands which i can fire from any web page.  Recently I've started using the new Homeseer Sonos Plugin and it's well worth a try. There are other options if you don't use Homeseer.   Below are a couple of screenshots from my HStouch App.  Click here to read the article.

HStouch Sonos Style home automation control app for iphone Controlling TV via HSTouch Sonos style app for iphone

If I take the Master Bedroom as an example.  I have a 32" Samsung LCD with detachable speakers.  Rather than use the speakers supplied with the LCD I've routed the audio via my matrix switcher to an input on Sonos box in my rack.  I can now use my itouch to turn on the TV and the sonos from one button.  I also have a timer so when i fall asleep with the TV on the timer will turn off the TV at the wall using X10 and the Sonos.

You can also use your Sonos for alerts or announcements.  I for example use a combination of PIR and motion detection to tell me when someone is at my gate.  Homeseer turns on Sonos, plays the wav file or message and then shuts it down or reverts it to what ever it was playing before.  Being able to script actions for Sonos means the possibilities are endless.

The Alternatives in short

There are alternatives from cheaper options to the hyper expensive pro installs.  You can use your PC or server with a big multiroom amp and control that via an Iphone or Itouch, but the buy and forget factor that Sonos provides seems to allow it's quite hefty price tag.  You could spend alot more and in reality get nothing better unless you're an Audiophile who wouldn't dare listen to a compressed Mp3, but in most situations you are not sitting down in one spot listening to the music in a perfectly acoutic room.  You're moving around doing things in a room which will never have the perfect sound.  Bathrooms are good example. So in short Sonos ticks most boxes at a fairly high standard compared to what's on offer.

Sonos Conclusion

Great sound quality, easy to use, easy to setup, easy to integrate - makes music accessible.  Downsides are cost, but still a bargain compared to high end systems.  I don't know anyone that hasn't enjoyed using it at my house.  Everyone wants a go which is great at parties because they build their own play lists - err, actually, maybe that's a disadvantage!  I find that when i go away I miss it so it must be good..  Sorry for the bias conclusion.

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