Sonos is a modular system which can bring music into one room, several or anywhere up to a maximum 32 rooms or “Zones”. It can access music stored on your computer hard drive or network attached storage (NAS) drive. In addition, it can access Internet Radio and web-based music subscription libraries such as Spotify, Rdio, Mog, Last FM, Wolfgang's Vault and Deezer, to name a few.
Product Page Links: The components from which you can make up a system are the Connect:Amp, Connect, Play:5 powered speaker, Play:3 and Play:1 powered speakers, Bridge, Playbar and Sub.
To make sure all bases are covered, you can also connect any source directly into most of these Sonos components. Once a CD player (for example) is connected to one Zone Player it becomes available to all the other zones as well.
This system has won a huge number of customers by virtue of its ease of use, access to so much material, and relative ease of installation. In a lot of cases there’s no hidden speaker wiring needed at all, and many people self-install their Sonos. Let’s look at some of the building blocks you might use to create your own customized Sonos setup.
What Is A Zone?
A Zone is a room or area that is individually controllable for program material and volume. It can be controlled via your computer, an iPhone/iTouch/iPad with the free app, or similarly with Android phones/tablets. The whole system can always be controlled from the computer you installed the Sonos software on in the intial setup phase.
There are three ways you can create a Zone. Firstly, there’s the Connect:Amp (ZP120), which is in effect a transceiver (it receives and transmits the digital code simultaneously) and a 55w stereo amplifier which can drive the speakers in this zone, whatever style they may be – bookshelf, floor standing or in-ceiling/in-wall.
Secondly there’s the Connect (ZP90), which is a transceiver with line level stereo inputs and outputs, that you can attach to any sound system that has a spare Aux or other input. It turns that system into a Zone, givng it access to all the Sonos-linked sources.
Thirdly, there’s the Play:5 (S5) which is an all-in-one (transceiver/speakers/amplifier) Zone in itself. It can be placed anywhere and serve as a Zone – it just needs power. You can also think of it as a portable Zone, since relocating it is as easy as relocating a portable radio or iPod dock system. Added later was the smaller Play:3 powered speaker. More recently we saw the introduction of the wireless subwoofer which can be used with the Playbar, Play:5, Play:3 or Connect:Amp.
The Missing Link
One piece of Sonos has to be connected to your router, either directly or via Ethernet cable from some part of the home. This job is often done by using the Bridge (BR100), which is inexpensive and can be connected, tucked away and forgotten. Additional Bridges can be placed around the home if wireless propagation is weakened by distance or construction materials (such as mesh reinforcement in concrete walls & floors) to boost the strength of the wireless network. Each piece of Sonos you have adds to the strength of the network by acting as a backup relay station, so the more the better. In some situations we have connected all the Sonos pieces to the Ethernet network, but this is not normally needed.
A typical Sonos system might have a kitchen/living room zone, a bedroom zone, an outdoor zone and an entertainment room zone – which might be achieved by connecting a ZP90 to your surround receiver. The kitchen and bedroom zones might run off two of the Connect:Amp (ZP120), while a third one might run the outdoor zone. Or, you could use a Play:5 portable for those times when you need something outside, while at other times it can be used in another area inside. A complete home theatre sound system can be made up using the Playbar, Sub and two Play:3 speakers. More about this on the Playbar page.
Linking Zones: All the zones can be linked to play the same music, or each zone can be completely independent, playing different music at different volumes.
Controllers: The wireless touch-screen Control (CR200) controller is no longer available, but your iPhone, iTouch & iPad (via Apple's free App) can be used to control it, as can Android devices, with their app.
It’s such a flexible system in terms of access to program material, ease of use, and in terms of how the system is designed and implemented, that it has swept all the others aside.
Each of the above component parts has its own entry in this section of the website so you can take a closer look at all of them via the links: Connect:Amp, Connect, Play:5, Play:3 and Play:1 powered speakers, Bridge, Playbar and Sub.