Sonos Play:5

1 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Apple Music Finally Comes to Sonos December 15th.

Powerful audio performance with seriously deep bass and accurate highs. Streaming music and Sonos speakers go together like peanut butter and jelly, which is why Apple Music’s absence from Sonos’s list of supported streaming services was perplexing.

San Francisco • Apple is adding a missing element to its streaming music service by making it possible for home listeners to send tunes from Apple Music to WiFi-enabled speakers made by Sonos.When Apple Music was announced in June, the comprehensive streaming service which mixed tracks you owned with 30 million plus tracks streamed from iTunes, excitement was high. But Apple Music is joining the roster of supported music services on Dec. 15, so Sonos speaker owners will have another option for streaming songs throughout their homes. The two companies say Apple Music subscribers who own Sonos sound systems will be able to play a “beta” version of Apple Music through the Sonos app starting Dec. 15. Sonos originally said that its speakers would support Apple Music “when [Apple is] ready to focus on the home listening experience,” then confirmed that would happen by the end of the year.

Apple Music has attracted millions of subscribers since its launch last summer and constituted a major service hole in Sonos’ otherwise robust listing of service, which includes important Apple Music competitors like Spotify. The Sonos Play:5 speaker justifies its very high price by delivering excellent wireless audio in a seamless, simple design that’s expandable to serve every room of your house. This is significant also because it’s an apparent admission on Apple’s part that its limited AirPlay wifi music protocol won’t be the only show in town.

Sonos is alive and well in 2015, despite attempts on its life from AirPlay (which has seen better days) and Bluetooth (which is enjoying its best days thus far). Sonos speakers have become a byword for brilliant sound quality and utterly intuitive set-up, so the absence was annoying, though not surprising, these compatibilities take time to bring to fruition. Sonos thrives because it doesn’t just make wireless speakers, it makes an entire wireless speaker ecosystem that functions quite well and—most importantly—delivers great sound. Apple Inc. said last month that it had signed up 6.5 million paying subscribers for its new service, while 7-year-old Spotify claims 20 million subscribers. Granted, purchasing this speaker means buying into the Sonos ecosystem, but it’s hard to imagine a better-sounding building block for a wireless multi-room system, and so it earns our Editors’ Choice.

Sonos cofounder and CEO John MacFarlane told BuzzFeed that more than 90 percent of music listened to through Sonos speakers comes from streaming services. Measuring 8 by 14.3 by 6 inches (HWD) and weighing 14 pounds, the Play:5 features a single button for Play/Pause, with volume controls on either side of it—all of which are centrally located on the top panel. But it makes it more complicated for music services as they have to provide APIs, make songs streamable for Sonos and comply with Sonos’ rules in general. The back panel, where the power cable plugs in, also houses an Ethernet cable connection (to connect to your network directly) and a Join button for connecting the speaker to an already present Sonos system.

However, once the Trueplay software had run – essentially involving the speakers producing a series of noises while you walk round the room gently wafting an iPad or iPhone up and down for a minute or so – the transformation was astonishing. The Play:5 has another trick up its sleeve: Sonos claims it can analyze the acoustics of the room it’s in and base its audio performance on the results.

There’s undoubtedly some digital signal processing going on here, but it’s subtle enough that purists likely won’t be irked, and it will please everyone else. Sonos even claims the speakers are designed to work in relatively heightened humidity, so you can place the Play:5 in a bathroom and not worry about steam ruining it (the speaker is not water- or splash-proof, however). The Play:5 doesn’t have Bluetooth as an alternative connection method; if you want to use the speaker without relying on the 3.5mm auxiliary input, you’ll need to use the free Sonos app for Android, iOS, OS X, and Windows, and connect the Play:5 to your home Wi-Fi network. All music playback is controlled through the app, which, thanks to Sonos’ constant development now supports a startling number of streaming music services. But also Apple as a company has developed the ability to come up with products that make it easy to make the leap into the future. “And we think the effort they’re making in turning people onto streaming music is going to be good for musicians, it’s going to be good for music lovers and candidly it’s going to be good for Sonos, too.”

The speaker also supports playing any of your locally stored music from up to 16 different storage devices on your network, and can access over 100,000 streaming Internet radio stations outside of the different apps. The app handles all of the aforementioned multi-room and multi-speaker setups, including configuring two Play:5 speakers as a stereo pair or playing music across multiple rooms in the house. The system’s drivers definitely have the capability to boost the drums to unnaturally hefty levels like some bass-forward systems tend to do, but instead the drums sound full and powerful without getting boosted in the deep lows. Callahan’s baritone vocals have an excellent rich presence in the low-mids that the Play:5 highlights beautifully, and compliments with a solid presence in the high-mids. On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild,” the kick drum loop’s attack gets plenty of that high-mid treble edge, retaining its sharp contour and allowing it to slice through the mix.

This track highlights what the Play:5 is capable of on deep bass—when the sub-bass synth hits occur, it sounds like there’s a powerful subwoofer in the room. On orchestral tracks, like the opening scene in John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary, the higher register strings, brass and vocals own the spotlight—they sound crisp and articulate through the Play:5. If you’re looking for an excellent wireless speaker, but don’t need the multi-zone capability, consider the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless and the Bang & Olufsen Beolit 15, or the more affordable Marshall Stanmore and Audioengine B2.

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