Open Sonos thread

by Volker Weber


A bunch of people around vowe's magic flying circus got a new Sonos for Xmas. I am wondering how you are liking it? Sound off. :-)


Should have bought enough Z80s / Z100s for my entire house.....

Now some rooms need to wait.
My wife: "So what, I can play a CD"...
My kids (9 & 11): "Wow, can we have that in our rooms?" ;-)

iRadio on Sonos is great!!
Love that!


Heiko Müller, 2008-01-11

Volker I have been meaning to blog about my new Sonos setup but haven't had the time. Both Gayle I love the setup we purchased which consists of the ZoneBridge, a ZP100, a ZP80 and a Sonos Controller. We placed the ZP80 in the family room and I keep the ZP100 in my office. The setup was easy and worked flawlessly. We have it hooked into our iTunes libraries, have both Rhapsody and Sirius subscriptions all playing through the system. As a matter of fact we purchased Rhapsody and Sirius simply to use with the Sonos and in turn the car. Playing music in each of the zones is amazing and combining zones to play one set of tunes throughout the house is wonderful.

The Sonos controller is well designed, easy to use and sits on my arm chair always there if I want to switch songs without haveing to get up. Gayle even is enjoying the Sonos. Gayle who is as non tech as they come told me last night that she was rocking out to tunes all day while she cleaned the house. She did this using the Sonos with no help from me.

I will post a more thorough blog posting as time permits.

Bruce Elgort, 2008-01-11

Oh and I should have purchased a second Sonos Controller. Gayle now know what I want for Valentines Day. :-)

Bruce Elgort, 2008-01-11

Controllers are pretty expensive, when bought outside of a starter kit. Maybe you can gang up with somebody who did not buy enough players. :-)

Volker Weber, 2008-01-11

I have a review planned soon, but I'll hit the high notes (heh):

The setup is unbelievably easy, and the automatic updating of the components is fantastic.

The playback is perfectly smooth, even when I play different songs in every zone, which in theory should be true, but with other music distribution products has been iffy at best.

The controller is both extremely usable and extremely useful. I can think of a few major software development companies who should take notes...

The motion sensor in the controller, which I thought was just kind of a cutesy toy, is one of my favorite features now. The controller comes alive when you pick it up, but otherwise stays off and conserves battery power.

The controller gives me a great way to see what I'm listening to (I'm old enough to have lots of music, and old enough to forget some of it...) - I find myself picking it up just to check an artist or song title, too, as you've said Ute does.

When playing with radio stations, the controllers become unresponsive, and it's surprisingly difficult to change between radio and playlists.

Also, with the radio stations, it's too hard to know which stations will play and which will not. That's not necessarily Sonos' fault, because there are too many variations among the various formats, but I think the radio feature could be a bigger win than it is now if it was easier to find and add new stations.

At the risk of sounding ridiculous, Sonos has given me back my music. I have CD players and iPods and stereos, but once I had my music available digitally I got too impatient to use the stereo - but on the other hand, iPods or computers require headphones or awkward speakers, and that gets annoying over time. The overall effect of all this was that I have listened to less music for the past few years, even though I have it available in more ways. Now that I have Sonos, though, it's so easy to listen to whatever I want, wherever I choose, that I'm listening more than ever.

Rob McDonagh, 2008-01-11

Much like Rob, I plan on a more full review soon, but I have to say, it's everything I hoped it would be.

You see, I had read about Sonos before they even released their first bundle. I had studied their site and even passed a quiz on it to have some sort of evangelist title way back then. I had wanted one ever since, but just never quite had the disposable income necessary.

Well, now that I have it, I wish I had just gone into debt to buy it years ago. It's that good. I placed one zone in my living room and one in my office. The office one is pretty much responsible for me starting to work out again. I now go down with Sonos in hand, fire up the music, and start my workout.

I have 100GB of music all at my fingertips now. I also have Sirius, so being able to stream that all over the house is a very nice addition. Once my subscription to Yahoo Music ends this year, I'll probably switch to Napster so I can use that with the Sonos as well!

I'll definitely be picking up a couple more zones before long, so who knows, I may buy another bundle. I need to get a 100 to run the speakers outside on my deck, and another 80 for the bedroom.

That's where no other system can touch a Sonos. Being able to have 32 distinct zones, all playing something different, all connected via a wireless mesh network is phenomenal.

I'm listening to more music already, and since it's one of my resolutions this year to listen to more music, the Sonos is really going to help.

Anyway, I'm thrilled with the purchase right now, and couldn't be much happier. When I write my review, I'll compare it to streaming to my xbox 360 and throw out a couple suggestions for future improvements (waterproof remote to use in the hot tub, video out on amps to show artwork if connecting to a TV, supporting star ratings)


John Roling, 2008-01-11

Am I right to assume that one controller and a single amp-less player are enough to start (with an existing Wifi and Stereo setup)?

Stefan Tilkov, 2008-01-11

I'm also really impressed by the ease of installation. I think I've never installed a system of whatever that easy!

And as Rob Sonos gave me the music back. I've never listened that much music in so different styles like I did since chrismas. One of the first things I do when coming home is looking for my controller.
The handling is very easy and everyone understands it after a few seconds. I tried with 10 year old kids to 60 year old non-geeks - all were impressed.

But there are some negative things also. Sometime I'm unable to use the motion sensor of the controller. It just doesn't recognize my fingertips. Maybe they are to dry or whatever. In that case I have to use a PC oder notebook to change music. Or I have to stop playing - really annoying. I've never had this with my ipod.
And I've got some trouble with the Wifi connection. The ZoneBridge is located in my office. The first player is about 4 meters and one wall (lightweight construction) away. The second one is in my living room about 6 meters from the first one away. Wifi for my notebook works everywhere. But with the Sonos I've sometimes have trouble connecting to my livbrary or a online source for music.
Most times the first song of a list doesn't start playing because of connection problems. Sometimes (like yesterday) I'm not able to play anything. I was standing 2 meters away from the ZoneBridge but the signal on the controller showed one red bar. After a reset everything worked fine. I tried changing the channel but the behavior is the same. My next steps will be changing the location of the ZoneBridge again and connect the 2nd player directly to a Wifi router. Maybe this helps.

To be clear: In 9 out of 10 times everything works really fine and I'm very happy with my Sonos!

Thomas Lang, 2008-01-11

i am just getting started. as my new flat is not ready yet i could not resist to give the sonos-system a chance in some of the old, now stuffed with packing cases, rooms. so 2 of 5 zones up and running.

setup was a breeeze. i liked the automatic setup and update, the easy connection to the nas and even before that how nicely everything was packed in the boxes.

biuldup: as i got two 130-sets i wondered a little bit about the fact that the cradles were not part of the (original) sets. i believe without the cradle it would be a big tradeoff - and certainly it would not be too expensive for sonos to include them with a 1k-bucks-set. so i am very happy with the two cradles i got.

controller: i am split on that one, i like it more than i don't. it feels warm and round, it fits my hands and its easy to use - except for search, and switching radio/mp3. what i am sceptical of is the "fat and old" design. it really looks to me like some sowjet missle launch controllpad in some roger moore bond.
i would like it to look and feel somthing like my iphone or ipod touch, maybe a little bigger - and to be honest i am checking the sonos store frequently to check if a new controller may just have been announced...

zp80/100: very nice buildquality - i imagined the zp100 a bit smaller.

use: best thing ever: the alarm. finaly getting up with music is as easy to achieve as it can get. WE like it (WAF!).
- radio is a little disappointment for some reasons: major radio-stations in austria (fm4, ö3) are not supported as they use some special streams (yes, the persons responsible in austria already received some mail...). at least ö1 (classics) works fine. also i think it would be less offending if i would not have to see some radio-channels marked with "us only". some channels simply do not work, but we like "marthas vineyard" in easy-listening. easy access to a lot of radio-stations all over the house will be a very nice thing in the new flat.
- with only 2 zones up i am not ready to comment on the zones-experience.
- i am wondering if napster or rhapsody service would/will be worth the money, so i will start my napster trial soon (only available since i changed my location setting to germany). also i am interested in sirius - is there a trial too?

mid-term-conclusion: i like it very much. it will bring me back to living with music even more than my ipod(s) did already over the years and i am sure thats a good thing to my work-life-balance and my general mood.

more to come.


Lukas Praml, 2008-01-11

Rob: "Sonos has given me back my music" .....I agree !! ...and don´t forget the WAF ! vowe is right ! a perfect 10 !

Alexander Schäfer, 2008-01-11

eagerly waiting for my deliver of one bundle and then it's lets go. will give my grains of salt asap.

Volker, You had me HOOKED!!

Chris Frei, 2008-01-11

Thomas, you are experiencing way more problems than you should. I think you should contact support. They are very good, and you can send them a long debug log from the desktop controller.

Here are a few things to check out.

I am confused about your statement about the motion sensor. I think you mean the scroll wheel. The motion sensor is a component you cannot see. It is just an accelerometer which tells the device to come out of sleep mode. It can be disabled and then you have to press a button to wake up the device. You are probably referring to the scroll wheel.
If your controller acts up, you may try to soft reset it. Press and hold the mute and the music buttons for a few seconds and it will reboot. I find it necessary to do this once in a while.
For wireless performance use the controller as a meter. Switch off all but one player or zonebridge. Let the controller attach to the remaining player/bridge and watch the wireless indicator as you walk around. Two bars means you are safe. Repeat for all players to find out if they are well placed.
I have disassembled one player and found the antennas placed in the feet of the device (small "needle" in second picture). This placement is somewhat unfortunate because it forces the signal through too much "meatspace", depending on where the player is placed. Watch out for metal in boards etc.

Volker Weber, 2008-01-11

Volker, you're right, I mean the scroll wheel. The motion sensor work really fine. The reset option for the controller is a nice hint. Sometimes the Controller slows down like a Windows system running out of memory. So the reset might be helpful.
I think I will have to test a little bit with the placement and maybe contact the support.


Thomas Lang, 2008-01-11

Stefan, yes, that would be enough. Actually, a single zone player gets you started since there is a software controller available for free which runs on a Mac or on Windows. The zoneplayers have three buttons on the front (mute, volume up, volume down). That would be the bare minimum.

Having said that, you really have to experience multi-room audio to "get" Sonos. There are a lot of people who think that a Sonos is similar to a streaming device like the Airport Express. However, in that scenario the music is served by your computer and streamed through the APX. Switch off iTunes and the music stops. Sonos looks a small step from this since it still plays music through a single device and the only difference appears to be that you need to keep iTunes open. This changes completely as you add more controllers and players. Each controller, software or hardware, reflects the state of the system. What is playing where, what are the audio levels. Everything runs in sync, there are no noticeable delays or echoes.

You have to look at it in terms of systems architecture. Sonos players are servers, or at least peers. They don't depend on the controllers to deliver the music. Having a (hardware) controller also frees the music experience from your computer. Think of it as a giant distributed iPod.

Buying one controller and one player is fiscally not very rewarding. It is a small step from buying a setup with two players.

Volker Weber, 2008-01-11

There is music in the house now! I'm very happy that I listened to vowe and rather went for more than for less sonos.
The WAF is overwhelming - I installed the system at 2 a.m. and woke up by listened in to nice music, because my wife had found the controller and simply had played her favourite songs.
The easy access Web radio but also Napster is really great!
Thx again to vowe for the friendly push to go for sonos!

Stephan Bohr, 2008-01-11

My music is free!

Much like Rob, since I got iPods/Walkmans/Wife all my CDs went into the roofspace (lots of CD's in racks = zero WAF), and therefore I only every listened to music when I was on holiday and put some tracks on the mp3 players.

Now, I am rediscovering music again. Not just my own music either, the internet stations too, and especially napster.

The sound is great (actually better from the ZP100 than from my Sony Cinema Centre!).
I have had to reboot the controller once. My microwave (which is close to the ZP100 causes the music to skip so I meed to reposition the ZP)

I have a few suggestions for UI improvements on the controller, and I will post on the Sonos forums - which are a good source of info too.

The big unexpected plus though is the WAF. She loves it.

The big con is that I have to listen to her music!

Oh well. Lifes complicated isnt it.

And I gotta start saving for more ZP units...

Thanks vowe


John Cawrey, 2008-01-11

We just moved to a new appartment, putting up the furniture and unpacking the moving boxes is a bit more important right now, so the new Sonos hasn't been set up completely. The local MP3 server is still missing, we're using the Sonos with internet radio and the Napster trial account included with the package.

The Sonos is impressive. It just works, installation is easy and even from this computer geek's perspective, the mesh network "works like magic". (This geek is just wondering about its security.)

The Sonos mesh network is a major advantage for the new appartment: We'd have to pry open the walls to install network cable in this house, so we'll be using the mesh to connect the living room's internet connection with the computer room. (I wish the mesh would allow laptops to connect, then the Sonos would increase the WLAN coverage as an additional advantage.)

The controllers are great. I like the old, heavy design; I guess James Bond wouldn't use it just to launch soviet missiles, but also to knock someone unconscious with it. The only thing I hate about the controllers is the non-replaceable battery.

The user interface is very clever and I can confirm the wife acceptance factor. The Napster trial account is also very nice. My wife and I spent an evening using the two Sonos controllers to compete who can find the corniest music on Napster. (Yes, we found Limahl.) Napster search with the clickwheel is a bit cumbersome, I guess that the controller would need a trouchscreen to improve search input.

The desktop software is a bit disappointing. On my windows-based UMPC, the screen resolution of 800x480 is not enough to use it. Since the Sonos boxes are based on Linux, it was a bad surprise that the desktop software is for OS X and Windows only. I hope that they will provide desktop software for Linux, soon.

All in all, a very good investment. I now really look forward to rip and encode our complete CD collection so that we have it all available through the Sonos.

I hope that the Sonos engineers are working on a Sonos box that is able to play HD video. That'd take the system to the next level.

Hanno Zulla, 2008-01-13

Thanks Volker. My main reason for thinking about the single controller/single player setup is that I'm looking for a wife-compatible solution. It seems the controller is the kind of device that "normal" people can actually use ...

Stefan Tilkov, 2008-01-13

@John Roling - The Sonos controllers are fairly water resistant. I've used mine in the shower, and I mean literally IN the shower for 4 years now with no adverse effect. I know of several owners who use it around the hot tub.

@Thomas Lang - As Volker implied, your experience is not normal. It sounds to me like a classic example of wireless interference. There are 3 distinct non-overlapping wireless channels, 1, 6 & 11. Ideally put Sonos on 1 and your home wifi on 11. You can use channel 6 if 1 or 11 clash with a neighbour's wireless network. This will give you the optimum setup. Tech support will sort you out.

All owners should note that the Sonos controller will not re-connect to the closest player unless signal to the previously connected one is completely lost. So whilst you're stood next to a player with a controller, the signal strength isn't necessarily the signal from that player. If you go into the 'About' menu you can see the player with which your controller is associated.

@John Cawrey - I'd be getting that microwave over checked out. If it's sending out radio interference it may well be cooking your brain too. I've never seen a Microwave affect Sonos. Next time you feel you have an issue, submit a diagnostic to Sonos (from the desktop controller), note the reference number and then call tech support.

@Hanno Zulla - The controller batteries ARE replaceable, but it's best left to an expert, Sonos replace them for around $100. My original congtroller is now 4 years old and I'm still more than happy with the battery life.

Ben Rose, 2008-01-14

Some of my first open questions so far:

- Is there a way to take music to another room? Say there is a list of music playing in the living room, but I want to go to the computer room. How do I pick up the music there and stop the living room's zoneplayer at the same time?

- Is there a way to split zones without stopping them? Right now when I listen to music in a joined zone and then split it again, the music stops and the playlist is empty. That's inconvenient.

- Can I use a custom icon for a zone or can I use the default icons, only?

Hanno Zulla, 2008-01-14

Q1) Is there a way to take music to another room?
A1) There is no 'move' function. The only option is to link the new zone and then drop the old one. It's only a couple more button presses but has been requested many times in the Sonus 'sound ideas' forum

Q2) Is there a way to split zones without stopping them?
A2) Not sure I fully understand this question. Scenario - You're listening to music in Zone A and linked to Zone B. You no longer wish to hear this music in Zone B, so you drop that zone. Music continues in Zone A. If I wanted to continue listening in Zone B, I wouldn't drop it.

Q3) Can I use a custom icon for a zone or can I use the default icons, only?
A3) You cannot supply your own icon, but you can change the icon for one of the other supplied ones.

Ben Rose, 2008-01-14


to move music from zone Living Room to zone Computer Room:

Select Living Room, link to Computer Room
Select Computer Room, drop Computer Room

The music only stops playing when you Drop [All Zones in Group.


many of your body parts can be exchanged by a skilled surgeon. I would still maintain, that you battery is not user-replaceble. Li-Ion batteries will wear out during the life time of a Hi-Fi appliance, so it would be desirable to have standard AA cell style batteries.

Volker Weber, 2008-01-14

@Ben & Volker: Thanks for your answers! I always used the "drop alle zones" option so far.

To add to Volker's comment: 100$ for a battery change is ridiculously pricey, even if the Sonos is considered a high end device. Non-replaceable batteries are part of the made to break design strategy and that disappoints me when I look at a Hi-Fi device. One of my two Hi-Fi setups is 19 years old now, btw, and it still works.

Hanno Zulla, 2008-01-14

As I mentioned earlier, I've been a Sonos owner for 4 years and my original controller is going strong.

I completely agree that a battery cover and replaceable cells would be nice, but I've not seen a AA battery device have such longevity. The AA batteries in my cordless DECT phone seem to die after a year or so, maybe it's something to do with the usage pattern.

Additionally, the Sonos CR-100 design incorporated the 'splashproof' feature which makes the unit very water resistant. When opening up the controller it is likely that the rubber gasket seal will be damaged.

So, for your $100 you get:

1) New battery
2) Insured shipping
3) Warranted repair
4) Replacement rubber gasket
5) Indemnity insurance etc.

A guy on the Sonos forums did look into DIY replacement but he simply couldn't buy the required battery at a cost effective price as it was an OEM design. He certainly couldn't offer replacement to other owners at a price that was less than the Sonos cost.

So I feel the price for a return to base fix is reasonable, the main issue is the complete lack of DIY option. A user replaceable battery option simply wasn't on the feature list when the product was designed, just like it isn't for iPod.

It's fair to say though, that Sonos isn't making money on these battery replacements for sure.

Ben Rose, 2008-01-14

Ben, I can follow your arguments. Yes, there are prefectly valid reasons to using a non-standard, non-replaceable battery soldered into the device.

Yet still, I strongly dislike non-replaceable batteries and whenever possible, I buy the product that allows me to replace the battery using standard rechargeable batteries.

as it was an OEM design

I'd consider that a design mistake. This inflates pricing and makes users dependent on a single source. Now Sonos has to order and keep a stock of expensive replacements. (Even unused batteries age over time, so the amount of batteries a company keeps in stock is a tricky decision.)

'splashproof' feature

It's not impossible to make a device with a battery compartment splashproof. I've seen my share of gadgets in the past that used standard batteries yet were splashproof. This design problem was solved several decades ago, I played with divable electric toys when I was a kid.

Sonos isn't making money on these battery replacements

Then why does a company go this design route?

And what happens when Sonos goes out of business? Will anyone be able to offer the OEM battery design to this limited customer base?

They could have "outsourced" the additional burdens involved (employees handling replacements, keeping stock and storage, additional warranties) by using a simple battery compartment. These controllers are thick as a brick, anyway, so there's enough room for standard batteries.

You like the "the user doesn't need to care" design approach. I am aware that standard NiMh batteries last less and need to be replace more often than custom-made LiIon batteries. But to me, that's a minor disadvantage I'm willing to accept.

Hanno Zulla, 2008-01-14

Q:Then why does a company go this design route?

A good question. Obviously Sonos, as a startup company, had specific design requirements for the unit. When it came to the power source, it needed to power the large screen, backlit buttons and wifi adapter that are built into the controller. This requires considerably more juice than your standard infra-red remote of cordless phone.

It's not abnormal for a cellphone manufacturer, like Nokia, to design it's own battery unit for this kind of purpose and then sell them as an aftersales part. This kind of design/planning requires a lot of money though, which a start-up company doesn't always have. I seriously doubt they'd have met their voltage and current requirements from a bank of standard AA rechargeables and instead they chose to get a battery part that was already available from an OEM supplier that was already tried and tested in other products. This obviously saved considerable design/testing costs.

The ZP-100 Zone Player and CR-100 Controller were both design ready in 2003 and first showed publically at CES in Jan 2004, we're talking about a 5+ year old product design here.

Over the three years since the original product launch, Sonos have not only sold thousands of units but listened to their customers. People asked for a charging cradle and Sonos designed one, whilst the connectors were already on the CR-100; the cradle wasn't actually launched until over a year later.

People asked for a higher track limit and now Sonos supports up to 50k tracks on the same hardware that used to only handle 20k. People asked for a power-scroll feature to jump to an artist by first initial letter, it was added. People asked for a full-text search function, Rhapsody, Sirius, Napster etc....they're all there. None of these were in the original product that I purchased.

Hardware wise, people asked for a smaller, lower cost unit without an amplifier that would connect to an amplifier...the ZP-80 was born.

People asked for a wireless bridge to connect Sonos to their home LAN without "wasting" a zone player. The BR-100 was launched.

Sonos have listened to the feedback on what was missing from their products and I've never seen a company that liases with it's customers more. Only the Infrant ReadyNAS forums are comparable imho.

So, taking the above into account, I'd make a safe bet that the new bigger Sonos, won't rush into designing another controller with a sealed battery compartment again. It's about one of the only slight imperfections in an otherwise perfect product.

Ben Rose, 2008-01-14

Ben, it takes you quite a lot of words to agree with Hanno that a replaceable battery would be preferable.

Volker Weber, 2008-01-14

We'd already agreed on that, I was trying to explain perhaps why it didn't happen in the original design.

Ben Rose, 2008-01-14

@Hanno, Ben, Volker re. "splitting zones but not stopping them":

Wouldn't it be the easiest way to simply mute the zone you won't wanna listen too, but don't stop?

Heiko Müller, 2008-01-15


Depends on the requirement I guess. If you're going to resume playback in that zone later, it's certainly an option.

The main technical difference between the 2 options is that Sonos does not assume it's low power state whilst on mute. It's still routing all the packets around the mesh as the player is still linked.

The second you drop a zone, the amplifier is turned off and the player will go into low power mode...nice if you like to keep energy costs down.

The benefit of the mute option is that you can effectively "re-link" by simply pushing the mute button on the front of the zone player, no controller required.

Ben Rose, 2008-01-15

Haha, setup is a breeze if you have a router instead of a switch....
Finally, all is working, now the music needs to move to the WD MyBook World, then all should run smoothly.
one questions though: how do i add ibiza sonica again? or any other station i cannot find the stream url?

Chris Frei, 2008-01-18

There might be some of you who started liking napster , too, over the last 30 days.
I was just going to subscribe to Napster and then found a 3-month-test-code.
c45972p (valid until 4th Feb08)
It seems that you need a Windowscomputer to activate it. Install Napster and click on "Prepaid-Karte oder Promocode einlösen"
It provides full access for three months. It only means that I will subscribe and pay for Napster now 3 months later, because I already like it so much to just be able to listen to any song I like via sonos.

Stephan Bohr, 2008-01-20

@Chris - The Internet Radio forum on the Sonos site will help you capture streaming URLs as required. Just post of there and tell them what you need.

Ben Rose, 2008-01-21

Thanx Ben, will try that.

Chris Frei, 2008-01-22

Probably of no use to anyone but what the heck, bought Sonos Bundle 130 in the beginning of January and it is as about the same as what Rob McDonagh wrote earlier, i.e. it brought the music and radio back to the house. Also love the Napster connection and even the lady of the house approved an extension of the system to the rest of the house.. :-) if I could find it for the same price conditions as the original bundle. Still working in that one though...

Thomas Jona, 2008-01-27

One of the unexpected surprises is the near gapless playback...I have a Zen Vision M which has about a 1/10 second gap between tracks. The gap on the Sonos is much shorter and is almost undetectable...bravo!

John Czimbal, 2008-02-07

Now that we've got 4 zones up and running smoothly, I was interested in how much power the ZP80 really consumes.

Here are some interesting informations on the ZP80
ZP80 power consumption.

You can also find information about the ZP100 power consumption.

Just thought this might be interesting for you guys as well, though some might already have read it.

Thore Bosk, 2008-05-22

Thanks Thore - I never thought to post that link here!

Ben Rose, 2008-05-23

Looks like Sonos will update the zone players.

Thore Bosk, 2008-05-27

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