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I had heard and read a lot about Sonos systems, but was always a bit of a stick-in-the-mud, preferring to keep well over a thousand CDs, which were never in the room where I wanted to play them. So I bit the bullet and prepared for Sonos. And that's the hard part - it took me the best part of four months, and hour or so every other day, more at weekends, to rip every CD to high quality (320K) mp3 files. These files were all copied to a Western Digital MyBookLive network drive, which has loads of room.
Once that was done, I went out and bought the first Sonos components - the Bridge and a Sonos 3 for the kitchen. And it went amazingly well. The Bridge connects via a network cable to the back of my router, and the set up just worked first time. It was easy to find the drive with all of the music on, and a few minutes later it had indexed the lot. Then I plugged the Sonos 3 in - just a mains lead and that's it. Press a button on the top, wander back to the PC and type in the name of the room, and it finds it. Simple. I was stunned by the sound quality from a box so small.
So good that the next day I bought a Sonos5 for the conservatory, and a Connect unit to link up to our existing hi-fi in the living room. And both of those were equally quick to install. The controller software or apps have been added to two PCs, two android phones, an android tablet, and an iPad, so everybody in the house can choose the music. My original CD collection has been added to by the children, who were already ahead of me in the mp3 game, so their downloads collections are now in the Sonos library as well. On top of that we can get digital radio in any room, a massive selection of internet radio stations, and one day I might splash out on a paid Spotify account to get every tune under the sun.
All in all, a massive thumbs up.
Sonos are manufacturers of audio streaming devices whereby you can access audio content from your computer and/or via the internet to any room in your home. You can have upto 32 room/zones in your Sonos system with the ability to stream different content to each zone. In addition, because the Sonos system streams between hubs there is no wiring installation required so your Sonos equipment can move home with you and is expandable when you choose.
Previous Sonos devices required that you had either a hifi system or purchased speakers to connect to one of their streaming hubs. For some users this could be seen as a hassle or just not a possibility due to space etc...so Sonos designed the S5 which incorporates a; streaming hub, amplifier and speakers all in one svelte portable device.
The main role of the S5 is to be used in small room spaces or areas where the audio experience isn't required to be as high as in other areas of the home, so spaces such as; the bedroom, conservatory, kitchen etc... but having said that the quality of the S5 sound output is really rather good considering the size of it. The output won't match a dedicated amp and speaker system but the speakers distribute the sound around a room very effectively that it fills the space.
To get the S5 working is pretty easier and I go into quite abit of depth in another review but the basic jist is that you need to somehow access the audio content that you wish to stream. This depends on whether you have gone out and bought the S5 standalone and have no other Sonos kit or you have an existing Sonos system in place.
If you only have the S5 then in order to access the audio content you will want to connect the S5 direct to your modem (to access internet audio) and/or your computer to access the audio content on there.
This is OK if you have the internet access point and/or computer in the same room as the S5 but what happens if you don't. The solution is to purchase the Sonos Zonebridge. You can connect this hub to the modem and/or computer and it will transmit the signal to your S5. EG; you have the modem in the backroom but the S5 has to go upstairs.
2. Part of your Sonos system
If you have Sonos in place then you already have sorted out your audio access whether over the internet and/or computer/storage device. Just plug in the S5 and set it to search mode via the front button much like Bluetooth. Done.
Once setup you can access the S5 via your Sonos controller or free app on the iphone/ipod touch and can start selecting what audio content to stream to it. In addition, the S5 also has an audio input and headphone output jack in the back of the S5 so you can plug in your headphones or input another audio device through the S5.
Starting or extending a Sonos system doesn't come much easier than the S5. I have an existing Sonos system in place and have replaced the hub and speakers in the bedroom with this as it produces a great quality sound whilst doing away with extra speakers and cables that took up too much space. It's been even easier to setup then the previous gear but I don't think setting up gets much harder than plugging it in and pushing a button. Like the rest of the Sonos equipment in the house it has been totally reliable. It just works. When I got mine it only came in white but have noticed that there is a black finish available now as well which looks pretty slick.
The S5 retails at about £350 and can be had in various Sonos bundle deals that are around.