What Sonos is working on

by Volker Weber


Within the first hour of arriving in Santa Barbara, I set the ground rules for how I would like to handle my visit: everything that I learn and that is not announced simply does not exist. This enabled Sonos to do something that is usually unheard of. I was able to walk through all of their labs without them having to cover up prototypes. When you are allowed to do this, you will see new products that may come out in the future, and you also see products that never shipped.

Now I set the ground rules for how we will handle these secrets here at vowe.net: I will not tell you anything. I will not tell you about ideas, or products, or technology in development. I will also not tell you which products Sonos is not working on. With that out of the way I can tell you what is happening.

Look at the photo above. This is but one of the giant anechoic chambers Sonos is building. It only shows the top part of one of it. The chamber continues down unter the net I am standing on. An anechoic chamber does not reflect sound. It's quieter than anywhere in the real world. Why is it so big? The larger it is, the lower the frequencies are that it can absorb. These chambers will help Sonos better understand what they are building. And it will not only affect future products but also existing ones. A Sonos speaker is the worst it will ever be right when you unbox it after getting it. After that it will receive a stream of updates, each time that Sonos discovers how to make it better.

Sound quality is one of the areas that Sonos is investing heavily in. The 2nd generation PLAY:5 is testimony of that goal. Imagine what can happen when Sonos has better measuring testbeds. The audio people have fought hard to get the money for this investment. And they know exactly what to do with it.

Trueplay Tuning may be the best thing that ever came out of Sonos software development. The ability to tune your speakers to the position in the room raises the bar for everyone. Currently this works on PLAY:1, PLAY:3 and the two PLAY:5, both single and in stereo pairs, with or without sub. And this is ongoing work. It's not impossible for PLAYBAR, but more difficult since you don't only want to correct frequency response but also timing. Even CONNECT:AMP is not out of the picture, even though Sonos does not know about the speakers you are using.

This week you will be able to use Apple Music on your existing Sonos speakers. If you think about it, even the oldest ZonePlayers are able to use a technology that nobody could foresee when they were developed. Sonos may be slow, but they don't ship shit.


So how does it feel standing in one of this anechoic chambers?

Alexander Kluge, 2015-12-14 17:23

A little bit weird. But I did not feel any anxiety.

Volker Weber, 2015-12-14 18:16

Hopefully, one of the things they are working on is fixing the Android Controller.

Since upgrading everything to version 6.0, neither of my Android devices can find my Sonos speakers ... yet my wifes iPhone 6, iPad, Mac and PC all can see them and use them fine. I am on the beta program and the beta version worked fine on Android. It was the final release through the play store that broke it.

Chris Hudson, 2015-12-15 04:48

Work it out with support. All of my Android devices have no trouble seeing my Sonos.

Volker Weber, 2015-12-15 08:42

Yup. Sonos don't ship no shit. And it completely changes the way one consumes music. I have a ReadyNAS NV+ (yes, your fault too, Volker) in the cellar with all my painstakingly ripped 900 CDs, and it never gets used. Everything is streamed.

I'm hoping for Trueplay tuning for my connect:amp. That would be really cool, although obviously Sonos won't be able to do the same amount of fine tuning, since with their own boxes they can control each individual amplifier, which is also excellent engineering.

Andrew Magerman, 2015-12-15 10:18

So Sonos continually improve their products. You'd think this would diminish their possible market. There are many tech producing companies that willingly let their products date to generate a future market, the faster old models become obsolete the better! But, even though my Sonos products are improving almost continually I still feel compelled to go back and buy more new released products. That's some marketing success.

Mark Skinner, 2015-12-15 12:57

I call it "Do the right thing".

Volker Weber, 2015-12-15 12:58

This is a great post, Volker! Thank you! I am now subscribing to your outstanding personal website! I have 3 Play:5s, 2 Play:3s and 2 Connects in my home - and, as you so brilliantly stated, "they don't ship no shit". Sound quality is superb and I am a raving Sonos fan!

Carolyn Zeytoonian, 2016-01-13 15:46

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I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.


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