Review: Sonos Play:3 multi-room audio player
There won’t be any need to punch any holes in your walls and run any cables around your home because the Sonos system can connect its speakers wirelessly within your network.
And you don’t have to worry about buying a remote to control everything – if you own an iPhone, iPad or Android smartphone – you already own it.
Sonos is a well-known brand in streaming music systems and has just added another product to its line-up – the Play:3.
The Play:3 is a powered speaker/player which can connect directly or wirelessly to a network to stream music from your collection or from the internet for all to hear.
The player has three speakers and three digital amplifiers and provides a wide sound landscape from such a small product.
Music played through the Play:3 was rich and detailed with the right level of bass that punctuated the sound nicely without overpowering it.
Another clever feature of the Play:3 is a directional sensor which can detect whether the speaker is laying sideways or upright so as not to confuse the left and right channels.
Customers can also buy a pair of Play:3 players and set them up as a left and right stereo pair.
And being so portable they can be easily moved anywhere within your network whether that’s inside or outside your home. Once it is plugged in again users will see it appear again on their controller.
The Sonos Play:3 players can be placed in different locations around your home for true multi-room audio.
It is possible to play different music in each location at the same time or to link each speaker together to play the same music at the same time.
A larger Sonos player – the Play:5 (formerly called the S5) – can take the audio experience even further.
It is a five-driver speaker system powered by five dedicated digital amplifiers. Also on board are two tweeters, two mid range drivers and subwoofer.
The sound from this larger Play:5 player has real authority and can be played at high volume with hardly any distortion.
What is just as impressive as the sound through the Play:3 and Play:5 was the ease in which the Sonos system can be set up, expanded and controlled.
The Sonos system sits within your home’s network to allow wireless streaming of music and to connect to the internet.
Sonos sells a separate small device called a Bridge ($79) which can connect directly to your router to create the first part of your music network.
Alternatively a Play:3 or Play:5 can be used if the area near your router is a desirable position for the player.
If this area is away from your preferred listening area the Bridge can be used instead and, as its name suggests, it can then link your network to the rest of the speakers in the home.
At least one Bridge or player needs to be connected to the router with a cable with the rest then able to link wirelessly.
After we installed the desktop controller on our computer it literally took a matter of minutes to connect four speakers to our network – two Play:3 players and two Play:5 players.
After each device was connected we were able to name them based on the room they were located in. Alternatively we could also type in our own name.
We went with the room descriptions to make it easier to identify the players and distribute the music where we wanted.
A separate iPod dock can also be incorporated to share music from your iPhone or iPod to any of the Sonos players on your network.
Now this is all great sitting at your computer but the whole idea of the Sonos system is to be able to listen to music anywhere in your home where a player is located.
That’s where the free Sonos app comes into play.
After downloading the app to your iPad, iPhone or Android device it become your ultimate remote control.
Not only can you control the player’s volume and move back and forth between tracks, you can also access your entire library as well as link to online content.
The app can also allow the listener to nominate the player they’d like to control, what music it will play and how loud you want to play it.
It’s also possible to link several players to play the same music together right there from your touchscreen device.
Another added advantage of the Sonos system is the ability to not only play your own content but also stream music from the internet.
Part of Sonos’s marketing campaign is: “Stream all the music on earth wirelessly in any room” – and that’s exactly what it can do.
There’s internet radio to access music, shows and podcasts for free from TuneIn Radio, ESPN, NPR, BBC and iTunes.
It’s also possible to stream custom and curated stations like Stitcher and Aupeo where listeners can choose stations or create their own.
Other popular subscription music services that can be streamed through Sonos include Anubis.fm. Users can search and find virtually any song using service and enjoy it anywhere in their home with a Sonos player.
And the playlists created using these services can be viewed, managed and controlled either with the desktop controller on your computer or on the iPhone, iPad or Android device.
Sonos ticks all of the boxes when it comes to sound quality, convenience, value for money, ease of set-up and access to your favourite music whether it’s on your network or on the internet.
And the beauty of the Sonos players and connection is that it can easily grow from one room and expand as much you want.
If you love music and want to hear it at home in any room and at any time then the solution is Sonos.
Price: Play:3 ($419); Play:5 ($599); Bridge ($79); iPod Dock ($189)
Five stars (out of five stars)