Their commercials are awful but how does the actual SONOS system stack up? I now have a bit of a collection going in my house and have some things to say about the SONOS system and what you should know before diving into this WiFi home speaker system.
Before deciding on a WiFi system, my husband and I had a great iPod dock called the Apple Hi-Fi, a truly divine-sounding box that beat out the Bose system in my personal test and bought from what was at the time, Future Shop. The world disagreed, I guess, because Apple discontinued the Hi-Fi nearly the moment it was released. But it was portable with optional battery use, looked sleek and unbranded, and filled the mainfloor of my open concept home with ease. The only con I could find? Your phone had to be plugged into it because it didn't have Bluetooth, which also meant it couldn't be linked to other speakers in the house. So, we went out in search of our next system.
SONOS was aesthetically uncomplicated but more important, it won my sound test and, after spending ten years as a musician recording and mixing with my brother in his studio, I am annoyingly picky. My husband and I settled on an all-black Play 5 ($649) for our mainfloor and when we got it home, I was glad that not only did it blend in nicely with my black wallpaper (I dread sore-thumb tech) but it was nearly as big-sounding as its Apple predicessor. Almost as impressive as the sound quality was the controller app which I installed in moments and mastered easily, playing a Spotify station within the minute. So far, so great.
In fact, it was so great that we decided to expand the network of SONOS in our home. We bought Play 1s ($249) for our daughter Petra's room, the play room, the kitchen, and our bedroom. We might have bought one for the patio, too, but unfortunately, SONOS hasn't yet come out with a battery-operated, portable speaker. Each can play as part of a group, which the kitchen and living room often do, or be independently controlled, as the one in Petra's bedroom ususally is (she's got a playlist that accompanies her bedtime routine). The Play 1 doesn't have the depth of the 5 but it's still pretty fantastic-sounding, convenient, and compliments any space.
But here's the thing with WiFi systems: they rely on WiFi. And though using the SONOS app via WiFi certainly avoids those annoying notification dings or silences when you're running music directly from your phone, the real problem that WiFi is imperfect. Maybe you're the one person whose internet is flawless 24/7 but mine is just NOT and when your child is listening to their sleepytime playlist only to have it stopped by a bad connection, you're starting that bedtime from scratch and you aren't happy.
Solution? There are two: the Play 5 has an audio-in that no other SONOS boasts so it can accommodate your phone in playing music you've stored on there or via Spotify outside the SONOS app or, you can buy a transmitter and plug it into the audio-in jack making your phone capable of connecting via BlueTooth. Both options have the drawbacks of reduced quality and being reliant on the Play 5 to be the source (and I am not buying one strictly for my child's room).
So here we are, in the midst of the WORST month of internet connections I've ever experienced (I'm lookin' at you, Shaw...) and I'm starting to hate my pretty little SONOS speakers despite them not technically being at fault. Do I recommend them? Absolutely, so long as you're better connected than I am.