Home music gear maker Sonos has long offered multi-room digital music systems that hook together via a wireless mesh network to make entire digital music libraries—plus Internet streaming—available in any room and controllable with wireless remotes. But the systems haven’t exactly been inexpensive, especially considering users still need to hook up speakers of some sort to each wireless ZonePlayer unit. Sonos looks remove some barriers to entry with its new Sonos ZonePlayer S5, an all-in-one audio system with five speakers that can tap into a home network’s music libraries (as well as Internet audio streaming services), and be controlled wirelessly via a free app on an iPhone or iPod touch.
“Our customers tell us they listen to twice as much music after bringing Sonos into their homes,” said Sonos CEO John MacFarlane, in a statement. “The new S5 is our latest effort to simplify the Sonos experience so more people can enjoy more music than ever before.”
The S5 makes an effort to be a cut above the standard set of powered speakers, offering a five-drive system with two tweeters, two mid-range drivers, and a built-in subwoofer, each of which are controlled by dedicated digital amps. The unit also offers filter settings and what Sonos describes as state-of-the-art DSP processing for high audio quality.
As with other ZonePlayers, the first ZonePlayer on a home network requires a wired connection, so users stepping into the Sonos universe with the ZonePlayer 5 will have to hook it up to their network via an Ethernet connection. (A wireless bridge is available as $100 alternative.) But once it’s connected, the system can access any iTunes library on a home computer or NAS device (although only non-DRM music is supported), as well as streaming audio services like Last.fm, Napster, Rhapsody, Pandora, SIRIUS, and Deezer. Owners can use existing wireless Sonos controllers to manage the unit, or leverage their iPhone or iPod touch as a controller using a free Sonos application.
The ZonePlayer S5 will be available in late October for a suggested price of $399.