Sonos had a strong showing at the Vancouver Audio Festival with it’s PLAY:5 speaker system, and the new PLAYBASE television sound base. I’ve seen, and heard the budget-oriented PLAY:1, PLAY:3, and PLAY:5 speakers a number of times, but almost always singly or in different rooms throughout a home, and the 5s were always on their side… not in the Hifi Centre demo room though. No, this time the PLAY:5s were on dedicated speaker stands, and had a matching wireless SUB. Their clean, white lines perfectly complimenting the minimalist aesthetic of the room.
The idea of getting people listening to their favourite computer audio streaming through quality wireless speaker systems is not new, but Sonos seems to be doing it better than many. By utilizing their own dedicated wifi bandwidth, you can stream music from apps like Spotify or Tidal directly from your phone without having it interrupted if a call comes in: pretty slick for the crowd whose phone is also their listening source – and there are many, many people who use their smart phones as their sole music source. This isn’t something the audiophile community or manufacturers should scoff at, or take for granted. This is something they should legitimately recognize, and these are people they should actively court like Sonos is doing.
Just about everyone I know thinks it’s crazy to spend $2,000 on a cartridge for a turntable, but dropping $300 on a Sonos so they can hear music in their home from their phone is a no brainer. And to me, it’s that initial investment in something like a PLAY:1 or PLAY:3 that starts many music lovers who know nothing about high-end audio down the path to ever better listening experiences, and straight into higher-end products; or not. Many will be more than happy with the sound from a Sonos-based system, and not ever feel the need to seek out higher fidelity – who can blame them? For a minimal investment they can have wireless speakers in every room of their house or apartment, and listen to different music on each Sonos product.
And for the cinephiles, Netflix, or sports junkies who worship the big-screen TVs that seem to dominate our homes, Sonos showed off their new PLAYBASE: A heavy-duty, multi-channel sound base for televisions that had no problem pressuring the demo room on its own, or in conjunction with a SUB unit.
Whether it was the wireless stereo system or the TV-centric audio experience, Sonos impressed me with it’s capabilities at delivering clean, accurate audio with tight bass, and punchy midrange, all for a fraction of the cost of most audiophile-centric sound systems. Like I said, this is a fantastic way for the average consumer to get a taste of how great the music on their phone can really sound, and that’s a start in the right direction as far as I’m concerned.