Developer: Sonos, Inc.
Price: free Download on the App Store
What could be better than accessing your entire music library from a set of high quality speakers in any room of your home? How about adding internet radio, local radio stations, Pandora, Last.fm and the ability to connect to subscription services such as Napster, Rhapsody and SIRIUS?
Now, what if you could also ditch your remote and control all of these music services from your iPhone? Welcome home to Sonos.
The Sonos sound system takes a multi-room approach to music in the truest form. Rather than just broadcasting the same music throughout the house, Sonos actually lets the listener have complete control over how and where the music plays. Reggae in the rumpus room and country in the kitchen? No problem. Little Mikey's head-banging metal too loud? Control the volume from any room in the house.
In addition to desktop software to manage the music, the Sonos system already has a portable controller. Now by adding an iPhone app too, Sonos proves their attention to detail and customer satisfaction. The Sonos App is just one more way the company is letting customers manage music on their own terms.
I haven't used the Sonos Controller hardware, but the Sonos Controller iPhone app is great. I love being able to control the music from my phone. I can hang out in the kitchen and still skip songs, change albums, or bypass my music library entirely and switch over to a local radio station for a while. And, since my iPhone is always in my pocket I never have to look for the remote.
Once the Sonos music system is set up, adding the Sonos app to control it is no big deal. Just launch the free app, push two buttons on your ZonePlayers and your iPhone or iPod touch will be connected to the system. If you have multiple zones set up — living room, kitchen, den, etc — you can choose which zone to control using the Zone Menu.
Managing your music with the Sonos app is just as simple. Once you're in a zone, use the Music Menu to choose the source of your tunes: music library, music service (it comes with trials to Rhapsody, Naptser and SIRIUS), radio or line-in sources. Keep drilling down and eventually you'll be presented with a standard play button which will start the sounds flowing.
The whole process behind Sonos is pretty intuitive. The only task I had problems with was setting it up to shuffle and play continuously. This option wasn't immediately obvious. From the "now playing" screen tap the album cover and a new screen will pop up that allows you to shuffle and/or repeat songs in your current queue.
One of my favorite features of the Sonos App can be found in the Radio category. There are 15,000 free Internet radio stations all categorized so that you can find exactly what you're looking for. But, to my joy, there's also a category for Local Radio. Type in a location using city or zip code and the Sonos App provides access to a list of local stations. With just a few taps I was able to find all the local stations from San Francisco. Hella sweet.
The Sonos App works well and it's easy to be mesmerized by the technology and start gushing. After all, it's pretty much exactly what I expect from top-of-the-line software. You plug it in and it just works. There are a few downsides though.
The first is an issue that is more of an iPhone issue than a Sonos issue. If you don't use it for a few minutes, the device goes to sleep. On a phone this is a battery-saving feature, but in a remote it's a pain in the whatoosie. Each time it wakes up, you need to wait around 20 seconds for the app to reconnect to the wireless network.
The other thing to note: the Sonos App is free but the Sonos Multi-room Music System is not. And of course, the app only works with the music system.
The bundle I tested — the Sonos Speaker Bundle with two speakers, a zone 120, zone 90 and controller — is $1149. I think it's worth the price. The speakers are great with rich, room-filling sound, the two zone devices let me connect my music library wirelessly to any room in the house. And, like I said above, it's a system that just works. Good technology is worth the price, provided you're in a position to afford it.
If you have a Sonos system already in your home, then don't wait. Download the Sonos App now. If you're in the market for new quality home sound system then Sonos is definitely worth a listen. Visit the Sonos website for details.