Sonos 101

by Volker Weber

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Sonos customers know the product line, much like Apple customers do. They can give you the full list of options. Sometimes they know the difference between PLAY:1, PLAY:3 and PLAY:5, sometimes they don't. But there is one thing that is really, really hard to understand and to communicate for that matter: what makes Sonos more than a speaker.

There have only been two ways to "get" Sonos. Visit somebody's home or take a leap of faith by trying it yourself, at home. I helped quite a few people to take that leap of faith, and our home has also been a Sonos showroom.

And now there is a third one.

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Sonos has built a unique retail experience with their new flagship store in the middle of the New York fashion district, just a few steps away from the iconic Soho Apple Store. 101 Greene Street, New York, New York.

This is not a store you need as a Sonos customer. This is a place for people who fit the profile of a Sonos customer, but who did not "get" it until now.

And here we are again: you don't get the store until you experienced it yourself. At least I didn't. Not from the photos, not from the stories. But now I did. I spent two hours with the people who created the store, and they explained every little detail.

I will try to explain, but I guess I will fail as much as everybody else who did.

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Do you see it? Let me try again.

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The store has seven small houses. And one of those is yours when you visit. If all houses are busy, you will be put in a queue. A band member, that's how Sonos calls its employees, will give you a short introduction, but then you are free to play.

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What I did not understand is that all of these houses are complete and self contained. They are decorated in different styles, they have different sets of speakers, but they all contain three distinct rooms. You don't have to go from house to house to house. You get one, and it's complete with kitchen, living room and studio. Kitchen is a single speaker room, studio is a stereo pair and living room has a full surround experience. You don't see three rooms? Kitchen is the left wall, studio is the right wall, and the back of the house is the living room.

Go back to the photo of that house. Do you see it? The glass isn't broken in vertical stripes. These are individual panes, slightly angled to break sound reflections. All the furniture inside, including the book shelves, serve a purpose: to create a feeling like you have inside a home, and to enhance the sound experience so that you don't feel like you were sitting in a relatively small space. Here is a small dump from Snapchat:

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What makes the experience so special is that little tablet on a stand. It helps you explore the different rooms. Play your favorite tune in any one room, play it in all of them, play something else in a different room, then experience the surround system in 3.0 (Playbar only), 3.1 (Playbar with Sub) and 5.1 (Playbar + Sub + 2 Backchannel). And you can switch back and forth between these different configurations with a tap of your finger. And boy, do they have some nice and funny videos to go with it.

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Once you are done playing, a band member will press a button, and the house resets itself for the next customer. There are six of those houses on the main floor, but there is a seventh one downstairs:

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This seventh house contains some very special collectables. Old meets new. Dieter Rams designed Braun stereo, an old record player, Connect and Connect:Amp (old or new?), vintage cassette tapes, the all familiar Eames Lounge Chair. And there is no TV:

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I don't want to bore you with too many photos. Just one that sums it all up:

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Finally, band member Errin and I in front of the Wall of Sound:

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Btw, all photos shot on iPhone with Olloclip wide angle. Distortions are on purpose. It makes me look way thinner than I am. :-)

Comments

I love the fact that the store's street number is 101. A perfect match. That cannot be coincidence.

Markus Dierker, 2016-07-21

Anyway, looking forward to that! :)

Ingo Seifert, 2016-07-21

a 303 or 909 would as well be nice

thorsten ebers, 2016-07-22

Only 101 works like 'sonos': you can turn it upside down and it still means 101!

Friedrich Holstein , 2016-07-22

Aren't they lucky that it was already 101? :-)

Volker Weber, 2016-07-22

and to get to Sonos HQ, you take Hwy 101 to Santa Barbara, CA

Dan Sickles, 2016-07-22

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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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