Wondering about Wireless?

Wondering about Wireless?

Posted by:  Keith Gibbons (I.T. Specialist)

When my wife and I purchased our first home, it never crossed our minds to install built-in speakers for our audio system -- or even to run some relatively inexpensive wire through the walls so the option would be available down the road. The fact is we had too many other choices to consider: the type and colour of our cabinets, the flooring, the fixtures, the wall colours. Not to mention we were on a very tight budget. If it wasn't needed, it wasn't included.

Fast forward a few years. Now armed with a little bigger budget and a little more foresight, we installed speakers in the ceiling and ran wire to a few select locations throughout the house. Life was grand. We were living large.

Until the day we decided to re-arrange the furniture. And suddenly nothing was where we wanted it again.

But then a friend introduced me to the Sonos Wireless Music System. (That reeks of a marketing slogan, but a friend really did tell me about it!).

The Sonos system is an elegant, wireless multiroom music solution that lets you place any number of speakers in any location throughout your house. You can access the iTunes library stored on your computer or smartphone, tune into an almost unlimited selection of music, talk and other programs from the Internet, or connect to any external audio source in the house.

The Sonos system can accommodate from 1 to 32 zones (or rooms in a home). It uses something they call SonosNet (a wireless mesh network) to provides reliable whole-house coverage. Each room acts as a separate wireless hub providing wide coverage and, very importantly, audio synchronization between rooms with no audio delay. Many comparable systems use a central hub network that broadcasts the audio signal from a single centralized location making device placement critical (and often frustrating). With Sonos, you can place your speakers anywhere in the home and still expect great results.

How do the speakers sound? Well, pretty darn good. When last I checked, Sonos offered two different speaker models (differing mainly in price and total wattage) plus a sub-woofer option to really bring out the base. I found that both units (the Play:3 and the larger Play:5) provided a rich, full sound. Of course, I'm no audiophile. In fact, I doubt that a true audiophile would be satisfied with these units. They're not top-shelf speakers by any stretch. But they'll fit nicely on any top-shelf in your home (or anywhere else for that matter) and I'm convinced that 90% of people will love them for their ease of installation and their decidely above-average performance.

Some multiroom audio systems are only slightly less complicated than launching a satellite into orbit. Many require trained specialists to set up and program the system. In contrast, the Sonos system is refreshingly simple to set up and use. The only way to make it easier would be to bribe the 12 year-old tech geek next door to do if for you. Don't bother - you can do it yourself. The process involves a short automated software installation, and then literally the click of a single button on your Sonos device.

Now, the downside to the Sonos System is that it's relatively expensive. You can definitely find cheaper systems. But it's hard not to recommend the Sonos Wireless Music System to anyone looking for a simple setup, convenience, and scalability.

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About the Author

Keith Gibbons is Encore's resident I.T. Guy. His office has no windows but adequate air circulation. His request for an office plant is still pending.

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