Bringing back the old Sonos enthusiasm

by Volker Weber

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Did you notice I haven't written anything substantial about the Playbase? I have seen it years ago in the lab, but I never actually heard it. I haven't even installed a new beta release this year. I turned into just another happy Sonos customer, enjoying my music every day.

What happened? Sonos has grown into a big company with lots of people handling different things. And I ended up in the reporter bin. Send him a press release a day before we announce, and offer him a two weeks product test. I did not want to be in that bin. I did not want to just test drive a finished product, so I politely declined. I want more, or nothing at all. My frustration with the company grew and last night I tweeted about it.


Sonos got the message and now a very good fried inside the company is about to fix it. I will catch up on the Playbase and then tell you about it. Look at the photo above and see how I hacked the TV with a small board so that Playbar does not obstruct the screen. I am firmly in the target audience for a Playbase.

I also hope to join some of the things in development, so that I can see into future. You know that I don't spill any secrets, but I don't have to if I want to guide you. Example: I have a reason that I nudge you to buy a Play:5 but not a Connect. One is the newest, the other is the oldest product. Knowing about the Playbase let me advise people to offset a living room decision for a few months.

If you watched last year's annoucement in New York, you know about Alexa integration. What I am looking forward to even more is the prospect of a proper API so that anyone can extend Sonos without relying on the clunky UPnP reverse engineering.

With a proper API you could be building a beautiful UWP app for Windows 10. You could be building a simplified controller for small kids, managed by their parents. You could be integrating Sonos into your home grown home automation. You could be streaming from your PC directly to Sonos. And the list goes on.

This is something I have been talking to Sonos for many years and things start coming together right now. I need to bring the enthusiam back. It has created quite a community of happy Sonos users.


Speaking of Sonos, have you ever tested to run a Play:1 on a switchable power source?
Is it ok to pull the plug and does it keep its settings after reboot?

All our power outlets in the bathroom are switched on/off together with the lights. I'd like to replace the crappy radio there, but wonder if the Sonos would be fine with that situation. Best WAF would be a default playlist on startup so she could keep her radio as stream.

Kai Nehm, 2017-05-23

Yes, you can pull the cord. It will keep its configuration, but not its play queue. Also, this is a full computer which takes time to boot up. It will not turn on immediately and it will not start to play. That means your use case will not work.

Volker Weber, 2017-05-23

...and if the Speaker was set up in a group before switching off, after the Boot the speaker is all alone now (except Stereo-Pairs).

Ralph Hammann, 2017-05-23

Can't wait for proper API!

Jan Tietze, 2017-05-23

Yes and that community extends even further. After reading a few older posts from you I was finally convinced that Sonos was the way to go. Now my friends, family and I have easily surpassed 30+ Sonos products.

Sonos has an incredible ambassador in you. Good that they understand this.

Dominik Mähl, 2017-05-23

Not everybody does. But the younger ones can learn from those who started it all.

Volker Weber, 2017-05-23

Thank you vowe for introducing & inviting me to Sonos back in "the early days".
In the meantime our home is kind of "sonoszised" (nearly no room without a Sonos speaker / component) and especially my kids are totally used to use Sonos everyday.
Wake up calls, wake up scenario in the morning (bath-room, kitchen, living-room), chilling or party mode in the afternoon or with friends. (Soviet i-Pod is always a big attraction at parties ;-) )
Simply: Just the way, we like to listen to music.
Due to budget restrictons, Play5 2.gen and Playbase have to wait....

Heiko Müller, 2017-05-23

Not directly about Sonos but maybe a competitor. You also used to cover Zound Industries products (Urban Ears, Marshall). Any chance that you review the new connected speakers from Urban Ears?

And can't wait for your verdict on Sonos / Alexa integration.

Joachim Bode, 2017-05-24

No, I will not. That would be a distraction, like Squeezebox once was. One of my goals is to protect you from investing in the wrong products. Multi-room systems come and go, when vendors see they cannot make an impact.

Sonos has pretty much cornered the WiFi-connected home speaker market with a stable platform, integrations into all streaming platforms and their superior sound delivered through Trueplay Tuning.

Currently they are only vulnerable to products like Amazon Echo or Google Home, in the future to Microsoft Cortana powered devices or whatever Apple comes up with instead of their primitive Airplay architecture. These are great products, but they cannot match the sound that Sonos delivers.

I have no idea how Sonos will be able to compete with these offering, simply because I am currently blind. I know the challenges, but I don't know how far along Sonos is in mastering them.

Volker Weber, 2017-05-24


I've looked at the Playbar and Playbase over the weekend. I'm particularly interested in the feature that enhances speech. Unfortunately the demo installation in the shop (John Lewis) doesn't include that feature.

For some people with specific kinds of hearing loss (for example cookie bite) it might make watching television enjoyable. It would be interesting to hear your thoughts about how good the speech enhancement if you get a chance :-)

Jason Hook, 2017-05-31

I can't speak for Playbase but I can explain how it works on Playbar. PB has three channels with three speakers each. When you turn on night mode, PB will compress the sound. Loud parts are less loud, quieter parts get amplified. Compressed audio sounds louder but it isn't. That already helps you without shaking the walls. Speech enhancement sends the typical speech frequencies to the center channel and amplifies them. I use that sometimes with foreign language videos.

It should work the same on Playbase and it is only available while watching video. This may be the reason you did not find it at John Lewis.

Volker Weber, 2017-05-31

Old archive pages

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


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