It’s late October. The days are shrinking, and I found myself entirely offended and inconvenienced over the fact that I had to scrape my car window the other morning. But I do love the Hibernal solstice for it’s obvious hibernation-inducing properties: eight hours of daylight means plenty of excuse to cozy up indoors in the evenings. Of course, I can’t just sit there staring at the wall, and since I stare at a computer 40 hours a week, I’m not going to spend five more flipping through the dearth of cable entertainment options, and, I’ve long since listened to everything in my music collection a million times. Then I came across the Sonos multi-room music system. It seemed like the perfect entertainment addition to my hibernal home.
The first selling point is the brochure. It’s got a picture of a woman lying on a couch, happily communicating with her Sonos system via the wireless controller. I was off to a good start. Even though I’m a fairly active person, I don’t consider it beneath myself to spend a winter day lying on the couch in a half-comatose state. Add a wireless controller, and what could possibly make that easier?
The second selling point is the minimal components. At most you need the ZonePlayer S5 speaker and the Controller 200 (or you can download a free controller app to your iPhone or iPod touch). You can add the ZonePlayer 120 amp to connect extra speakers, the ZonePlayer 90 to connect your home theater, and the ZoneBridge to wirelessly extend your Sonos system.
But, the Controller 200 and the S5 speaker are all you need for a basic setup. Add speakers to each room (zone) and control them all with one Controller. The Controller comes with a plethora of free internet radio and podcast apps—over a 100,000 according to Sonos. Plus, you can connect to iTunes on your computer and stream your own music. And the operation is so simple. There’s a home menu button and a volume control. Surfing through apps is intuitive too. All it takes is a flick of your fingertip. Just select the room and then select the radio station (like Pandora, Sirius, napster, or last.fm) you want to play in that room. You can even play a different station on each speaker. Instant entertainment.
If your concern is sound quality, the Sonos puts out. The S5 speaker has (surprise) five speakers (two tweeters, two 3-inch drivers, and one 3.5” woofer) and a built-in digital amp. The sound is big for a speaker the size of a breadbox. Even at the low end of the volume spectrum, the sound was loud and clear. And because the speaker is small, it can be placed just about anywhere. Plus, there’s volume and mute controls on the speaker itself, which is mighty convenient if the controller is in another room and the phone rings when you’re jamming out.
All in all, I was pretty impressed with the Sonos system. Did I think it was the “ultimate” experience–only if it came with someone to flick through the stations. (I guess that’s what my mate is for with his channel-flipping obsession.) But, endless hours of entertainment right at my fingertips fits in perfectly with the dark, cold days ahead.