The love of music is ageless.
I’ve been in the audiophile hobby for decades and have been fortunate enough to own some pretty cool gear over the years.
Today’s youth it could be argued, be it Millennials well into their careers now or Generation Z getting to and-or just graduating college, might just love music more than the older Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers. We all now have access to much more music in far more affordable ways. That is a sea change for audiophiles and mainstream music fans alike.
My primary method for musical enjoyment is sitting down to listen to my dedicated high end audio system. I relish the time spent in my audio room listening to stunningly reproduced music. It brings me constant and considerable happiness. I have invested most of my life and a considerable sum of hard earned funds all in high end audio’s pursuit. Not one minute or one single dollar has been wasted from my perspective.
Most of my friends LOVE the sound that my system can create but are hardly enticed to own such a system themselves. They don’t normally get it and that’s absolutely understandable. One of my good friends is a car enthusiast and loves Porsches. While I am thrilled to ride in his 600 horsepower monster of a car – I don’t feel the burning need to run to the Porsche dealership and plunk down a $100,000 or more but I will get on a plane and fly all over the country to hear ultra-high-end audio gear that I might add to my system. Different strokes for different folks – they say…
As impressive as my high performance system can sound – it is deficient in one principal area. It is not designed for social gatherings where music is not the principal function. This system demands your attention and that doesn’t always work in a more casual or social setting.
Begin my audiophile love affair with Sonos. (Yes, Sonos!)
When I have friends over for dinner or to watch a ballgame or any other reason my friends and I get together, music is something typically part of the fabric of the even – albeit in the background. Just recently, I had several couples over for burgers and hot dogs cooked on the grill. People were flowing in and out of the house and not one of my friends was remotely interested in that gleaming, hand-curated high end audio system in the system at the top of the stairs. And that’s perfectly OK.
In circa 2002, four friends envisioned a musical delivery system taking advantage of the huge popularity of the Internet and how homes were being transformed by wireless innovation. Sonos’ goal was simple, provide a simple, affordable, music delivery system utilizing the Internet, connect everything wirelessly, and most importantly, make it simple to use. After much trial and error, Sonos was born.
What Makes Sonos So Essential To This Experienced Audiophile (Let Me Count The Ways…)
- Sonos is super-easy to setup. Anybody with Wi-Fi and half of a clue in the App Store or with their iPhone (or iPad, tablet etc…) and make what custom installers call a “distributed audio system” in mere minutes. It is THAT easy.
- Unlike clunky and expensive distributed audio systems of the past, with Sonos’ mesh system – you don’t have to cut any holes into your walls (unless you want too). Can you use Sonos with in-wall or invisible speakers and-or subwoofers like a traditional whole-home audio system if you want to get fancy. And many do.
- Sonos makes a whole range of speakers and subs. Soundbars. Freestanding speakers. Subs. Portable speakers. Even amps. Everything. And they aren’t crazy expensive by mainstream standards. You can make a whole home theater from Sonos. You can make an audio room. You can make a 2.1 system. It is up to you. And you can have an easy upgrade path too as the products are pretty much plug and play.
- I use the Sonos App on my iPhone (you pick the device(s) you like best – you know the list) and can have access to pretty much everything. My music collection – check. Pre-curated playlists – check (and they can be very good for setting moods for a party, relaxing at home, dinner for two etc…). Albums – check. Songs – check. Internet Radio – check. You get the picture.
- It is unlikely that in 2022 you don’t have some access to streaming be it services like Pandora and Spotify or more HD oriented options like Tidal or the more ubiquitous Apple Music or Amazon Music (comes with Amazon Prime). Sonos makes these all work in conjunction with a gorgeous, ultra-easy-to-use interface. Internet radio. More. Lots more…
- You can also play different music in different rooms at the same time. One touch on the app does that.
What Does Sonos Not Do So Well?
- Sonos is a bit of a closed-ended system. It works on its own network and like Apple keeps you “in the bubble”. That’s not to say that you can’t mix and match products – especially the “Port” controller which could go into ANY AV system – because you can.
- Many AV dealers sell Sonos regardless of the fact that it isn’t a high profit margin product. It is hard for smaller dealers to make the kind of money that keeps the doors open in 2022 but then again – why miss out on the sale – right?
- Not all Sonos speakers are audiophile grade – nor should they be expected to perform at that level. If you want audiophile performance from a Sonos system – use the Port controller in a system with good electronics, speakers and a sub and expect great sound. At that level Sonos can deliver. That little portable speaker that you can charge and take to the beach isn’t going to sound like a pair of Wilsons or Focals.
Sonos allows me to still enjoy music with my friends. It also, not surprisingly, allows me to enjoy music in my home when I’m doing all those many Saturday chores. I can spend an entire Saturday afternoon conquering those tasks I always seem to put off until next time and have music help me complete my tasks and pass the time more pleasantly. It’s no wonder Sonos has grown from an idea among four friends to the game-changing, Super Bowl advertising player that it is today.
My first musical love will always be my high end audio system. I’m also a music lover and as such, I’ve found a way to surround myself with playback devices perfectly suited for the purpose. Sonos delivers this in an easy-to-use, DIY platform that is affordable to the kid in college or the Boomer waxing his vintage car collection in the garage – and everybody in between.
If you’ve never taken a look at Sonos or think that you would benefit from having music in more rooms of your house – take it from this experienced audiophile that Sonos is well worth your attention.