The Sonos iPad Controller app is out and there was a very significant leap forward today in the world of music systems. It’s something you don’t want to miss. Sonos, makers of the World’s #1 multi-room music system, released their free controller for the iPad and we are not only going to review that app right here for you, but we are also going to show you how you can create one of the most amazing home music systems you have yet to see [or experience].
Who Is Sonos?
To appreciate what we are about to review, you will want to know who Sonos is. They are a company headquartered in Santa Barbara, California that was created by music lovers, for music lovers. Their philosophy is to create products that are well designed, express their passion for music, and of the best quality. When we unboxed their latest ZonePlayer S5 system, you could feel that passion they have right there in your very hands.
Sonos takes a new approach to consumer electronics. They make it super easy (and we do mean easy) to enjoy the best music all around your house. And now, you can control that music from your iPad. Essentially, Sonos has created a way to experience music that we all thought would one day be possible. And now it is.
What Is A Multi-Room System?
The Sonos multi-room music system is a way to have multiple wireless speakers located around the home that can all be controlled using a single controller. But these speakers wouldn’t be much without great music right? As it turns out, the Sonos system also has access to your own home music library, thousands of internet radio stations, and several great online music systems such as:
- Wolfgang’s Vault
- Zune Marketplace
All of these music choices are sent out to each of your wireless speakers separately or in unison. Now, in order to connect all these wireless speakers together, Sonos has created a great little accessory called the Zone Bridge. It is a small white box that plugs right into your wireless network and allows all of the speakers and your controller to talk – instantaneously.
So, what do you need to set up your own multi-room music system? Not a lot. And just a few minutes. Here are 3 things you will need for the most basic set up:
- ZonePlayer S5 (one or more)
Sonos does make other products that you can use, but we tested out the components listed above. In fact, we have two ZonePlayers ( a white and a black one) along with the ZoneBridge and the new iPad controller.
For the specs and details of the ZonePlayer S5, see the chart we created at the end of this article.
The setup of the system took all of 15 minutes. Here are the steps we took:
- Unbox the ZonePlayer S5′s and place them anywhere in your home ($399 each)
- Unbox the ZoneBridge and plug it into your Wireless router ($99)
- Download the Sonos iPad controller app (free)
- Install the Sonos Connection software on your Mac or PC (free)
- Turn all your equipment on
One you have everything turned on, you launch the software and it literally takes over from there. It finds the ZoneBridge, sets it up, and then it asks you to perform a connection on each of the ZonePlayers. That took less than 10 seconds and everything was connected. No issues. No problems. Easy.
The software then lets you name the location of your ZonePlayers if you choose and that’s pretty much it. At this point, you can send music directly to your ZonePlayers via the computer software if you choose. But being iPad users you will want to do what we did next: Get the free Sonos iPad Controller.
And this is where the innovation and value comes in. This is where you will get “hooked”.
The Sonos iPad Controller
Music throughout your home does not get much better than this. If you are looking for a home music system that not only takes advantage of the latest technology but one you can use with your iPad, then here it is.
When you first launch the Sonos iPad app, you will have to associate it with at least one of your ZonePlayers. No problem though, it just takes a few seconds (literally). All you have to do is push two buttons on the ZonePlayer and the app sees it instantly. Now it’s connected to all your ZonePlayers!
The layout is extremely well designed and easy to use. On the left, you have your “Zones” which are the ZonePlayers. We named ours “Living Room”, and “Master Bedroom”. In the middle of the app you have the current music being played and on the far right are your music choices.
If you have network attached storage or your computer is turned on and sharing, then it will location your home music library. We tested it out with our Mac iTunes library and it found it and listed all our music just as you would see it in iTunes (it even listed the Playlists).
Additionally, we tested out several of the music services including Pandora. The great thing here is that we could sign into Pandora and it loaded up all our stations. The only thing we want to mention about the Pandora app is what happens when you have two iPads with the controller software. It appears that both iPad’s get the same Pandora settings. The reason for this is because while they are separate apps, they “share” the same settings once connected to your Sonos home system.
All of the music services worked great.
Additional features we loved were the timers and alarms. You can easily tap on “timers” and it will let you set a sleep timer up to 2 hours as well as set an alarm. So it’s like having a wireless alarm clock as well.
If you have one iPad or two or more, each one can control the ZonePlayers. This is nice because you might want to have Internet radio playing in the Living Room but Rhapsody playing in the Master Bedroom.
The app did not crash. It was intuitive. And it worked so well we really don’t want to part with it. We are also tried using the app on the Beta release of iOS 4.2 and it supported multi-tasking without any issues.
Here is the perfect example of taking an amazing multi-room wireless music system and pairing it with an app that actually makes sense. It brings together two amazingly innovative systems: the iPad and the Sonos.
From the minute the Sonos arrived to the time we loaded the new iPad controller app, we have not only been impressed but amazed. Sure, it’s a speaker system. But it’s more than that. It’s a well thought out speaker system that changes how you listen to music completely. It’s a system that works right out of the box. It’s a system that just about anyone can set up and use. And most importantly, it shows off the value of the iPad and makes it that much more useful in your everyday life.
Sonos isn’t paying us for this review – this is solely based on our entire experience. We test and use a lot of equipment, accessories, and apps here at TCGeeks but nothing yet compares to this. Play a world of music in every room with Sonos. Watch the demo.
Here are the specs for the ZonePlayer S5 Speakers:
|Amplifier||Five Class-D digital amplifiers|
|Speakers||Five driver speaker system, two tweeters, two 3" mid-range drivers, and one 3.5" woofer|
|Headphone||Auto-detecting 3.5 mm connection|
|Audio line-in||Auto-detecting 3.5 mm audio line-in connection|
|Stereo Pair Setting||Allows you to group to S5s in the same room with one S5 as the left channel and the other as the right channel|
|Audio Formats Supported||Support for MP3, iTunes Plus, WMA, AAC, MPEG4, Ogg Vorbis, Audible, Apple Lossless, Flac, uncompressed WAF and AIFF|
|Music Services Supported||Deezer, iheartradio, Last.fm, Napster, Pandora, Rhapsody, Sirius, Internet Radio, Spotify, Wolfgang's Vault|
|Operating Systems||Windows XP SP2 and higher, Mac OS X v10.4 and higher; NAS devices supporting CIFS|
|Internet radio supported||Streaming MP3, WMA|
|Album art supported||JPEG, PNG, BMP, GIF|
|Playlists Supported||iTunes, Rhapsody, WinAmp, Windows Media Player, and MusicMatch|
|Playback modes||Crossfade, shuffle, repeat|
|Wireless||SonosNet 2.0, a secure AES encrypted, peer-to-peer wireless mesh network|
|Network bridging||2-port switch allows Ethernet devices to connect through SonosNet|
|Power Supply||AC 120/240V, 50-60Hz, auto-switchable|
|Top-panel buttons||Volume and Mute|
|Top-panel lights||Indicate ZonePlayer status and Mute status|
|Dimensions (H x W x D)||8.50 x 14.40 x 4.80 in.|
|Product Finish||White with light metallic grille; black with graphite grille|