Top positive review
Now with native Spotify - these are more impressive than ever
5 January 2018
I bought one of these during a Black Friday sale. The sound quality was immediately excellent, and a huge upgrade to the cheap bluetooth speaker I had before it. Sound is rich and booming; it punches far above its size, although from the heaviness of the unit, there's some seriously good kit inside.
I was initially a bit disappointed with the software. I expected it to function like any regular bluetooth speaker, where all sound would be piped wirelessly to the device. Instead, playing music meant going through the dedicated Sonos app, where a list of pre-approved apps and integrations were awaiting my choice. This meant I couldn't just, say, hit 'play' on a Youtube video and get the sound to come out. It doesn't work like that. Sound is synchronised (perfectly, I might add) through Sonos servers, using a clever orchestration of local software, firmware built into the speaker, and the Sonos service itself. It's really very clever, but the downside is that sound that has no discernible 'source' URI cannot be controlled remotely so you're limited to just the apps it supports.
In practice, this isn't a problem. Since purchasing the device, the Sonos app has grown leaps and bounds. I've been a frequent member of the Sonos Beta Program, and was able to try the 'deeper' Spotify integration early on (initially, one had to use the Sonos app to play Spotify tracks, which was quite a fiddly process and didn't use the native UI.) Nowadays, everyone gets it as standard, and within Spotify you can simply select Sonos as the source speaker and stay within the Spotify app, either on mobile or through a laptop/desktop device. This is my primary use of the Sonos, although there are plenty of other apps (and now, Alexa too) that you'll almost certainly find that what you want to use them for, is supported.
Where this device really shines, is when paired with a second speaker in a stereo or multi-room setup. I spent the first month listening to music in mono, which, albeit a rich and satisfying sound, lacked depth/direction. When I sprung for a second Sonos to act as a sibling to the first, the experience was stepped up to a whole other level. The sound is so crisp and clear, and not at all distorted even at maximum levels. It's just pure, beautiful noise - the kind that could keep me in a permanent feud with neighbours if I'm not careful!
Pairing with other speakers is trivial, and you can elect to join an existing 'room' or speaker group, or to pair as a stereo combo with another device. I've done both. When in stereo mode, the music is PERFECTLY in sync. There's some seriously impressive tech at play to handle the complexity of data flying back and forth between devices (all of which are individually connected to your router wirelessly, and receive their own data packets of music), and sound in step. This is irrespective of where placed versus your router; Sonos take care of the nitty-gritty details like handling packet losses, different connection speeds, etc. Very clever stuff.
Or, you can elect to have the speaker act as its own group, which then makes it easy to choose, say, to push music through to your kitchen or bedroom from the same app.
Very happy with the quality all-round -- the sound, the build, the reliability, there's just no faulting anything. I also find these very stylish in almost any setting (I opted for the white, which looks nice even surrounded by the all-black periphery of devices in vicinity of my speakers.) and plan on adding to my Sonos collection during the next sale, to push sound to even more rooms. Best speakers I've ever owned.
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