A Spirited Defense of SONOS

Okay, I recognize that this isn’t directly a Mac issue, but I think the communities overlap.

For the life of me, I cannot understand the Apple Podcast community’s stubbornness (as I perceive it) with regards to Sonos. Regularly, while listening to podcasts (ATP, The Talk Show, Upgrade), I find myself yelling SONOS at the radio.

People want wireless audio technology that works across multiple rooms without all the errors and hassle of airplay 2. SONOS

People want audio from their TV or entertainment system that can be simulcast in other places around the house. SONOS

People want speakers that have some level of concern for audio quality and don’t just sound like the crummy speaker “tubes” sold by Google and Amazon. SONOS

Of course they aren’t perfect, but they’re way better than all the cludgey solutions people keep trying to use instead. I used to think price was the issue, but now people regularly defend pairs of full-size HomePods as an alternate.

I listen to music between 6-10 hours most days while working, reading, socializing, etc. I want it to move around the house with me. We host cocktail parties nearly every weekend and want music indoors and outdoors. I used to have a very high end DT 5.1 surround setup, so I’m not opposed to spending on audio when the difference you’re paying for is audible to most people.

Over the years I tried a lot of different things as well (including early Airplay 1 speakers). In the end, SONOS was just better. I spend nearly zero time “futzing” with my audio gear. When I want to hear something, I choose the location, the thing I want to hear, and I hit play. It plays.

So why the widespread contempt for SONOS? It seems like some (Casey Liss, Jason Snell) are really missing out on an opportunity to get exactly the functionality they want with way less hassle. Yet their rants always include, “Don’t tell me to use SONOS. I won’t.”

6 Likes

Sunk cost fallacy?

1 Like

For me or them?

:rofl:

20chars20chars

Yes.

:joy:

3 Likes

@Jezmund_Berserker I use the heck our of my Sonos system, but more often from Spotify than Apple Music because the Sonos app is kinda gross. How do you typically play music via Sonos?

I use the Sonos app 100% of the time. The few times I’ve tried from Spotify the latency on controls (adding/removing speakers, volume, etc.) has driven me batty.

The Sonos App is not designed to my preferences, for sure. But it gets the job done. Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years that help.

  1. Put the playlists, artists, XM channels, etc. that you want in favorites. Much easier than browsing deep into the “Browse” interface to find what you’re looking for.
  2. Create groups of speakers in the system interface for the speakers you group together frequently. I’ve got “dinner,” “jam session,” “indoor/outdoor party,” etc. Two taps and I quickly get the music I want on the speakers I want.
  3. Use search. It’s one of the rare things in the Sonos app that works really well. If I’m not looking for a favorite, I use search. It’s faster than you’d think.

edit for my sources lists
Home
LivePhish+
Plex
SiriusXM
Spotify (multiple accounts)
Line-in (my office computer setup)

Church (yes, we have it at the church)
Line in (sound board)
Apple Music (And you’re right, the interface for finding stuff on Apple Music in Sonos is really terrible. Favorites and Search covers 95% of it for me.)

2 Likes

I use both Sonos and HomePods and definitely have had less trouble with Sonos. Soundwise a stereo pair of original HomePods sounds better than a stereo pair of Sonos 1. One of my HomePods died recently, never happened to any Sonos speaker I have owned.

Also, Apple decided to kill some backend features that now prohibit HomePods to connect to Roon as a stereo pair. If I want to listen to my collection in Roon on HomePods, I need to unpair them first and then use special equalisation in Roon to make 2 individual HomePods sounds like a stereo pair.

For that reason, I use Roon exclusively with Sonos and HomePods only with Homekit and Apple Music. Wish I could have fewer speakers in my setup.

I’d hope so! :wink: A pair of Sonos 1s is $300-400. That’s the price of a single HomePod. I tested a single Sonos 5 against a pair of HomePods in our sunroom and felt that there was no clear winner. The Sonos Arc ($900) crushed the Dual HomePods ($800) in the estimation of all the listeners in our family.

[edit: I should add - I don’t think the Arc is a rational purchase for most people. It’s way too expensive for a sound bar. We only went Sonos in the living room because I was selling even more expensive gear and we were able to “break even” on the exchange.]

I’m sorry for being dense, but what are you getting from the HomePods that you can’t get with the Sonos? We use them at church with Apple Music and it seems to be fine?

1 Like

I was trying to have a pair of HomePods as my only speakers in my study. For listening to my music in Roon, but also for conference calls, HomeKit/Siri announcements, Dolby Atmos speakers for my Apple TV, Apple Music and Podcasts.

Unpairing the stereo pair and re-pairing them all the time is a PITA, so I left out the Roon bit and only use that with a headphone amp and a good set of cans only. Luckily Apple Music went lossless recently, but never thought I would consume my music that way as Roon has a far superior interface.

1 Like

Well said. I’ve been deeply invested in the apple device economy for many many years. However, SONOS “just works” for music.

1 Like

I forgot to mention my favorite use case of all!

Watching live streams of concerts on the TV and being able to have the audio playing anywhere and everywhere else in the house I want. I think that is not my family’s favorite Sonos feature.

1 Like

Great tips, thank you. I’m gonna tinker tomorrow and see how it goes. What about no longer being able to control from the lock screen or control center?

1 Like

Hmmm, good question! I remember that being an issue right when Apple made the change. I remember doing some tweaking (disabling Airplay?) to get it to work? Then I think I decided it wasn’t that big a deal to me. At my desk I have hardware controls for the volume and when I’m upstairs I just use fast app switching to get back to the control screen on Sonos when I need it.

Even so, I feel like sometimes I am using lock screen controls? I’ll pay attention over the next few days and see if that’s true.

Sonos’ conditions (because of Apple) are quite narrow for them to work:

Enable iOS lock screen control

  1. Open the Sonos app for iOS.
  2. From the Settings tab, tap App Preferences.
  3. Tap Lock Screen Controls to enable.

Limitations

Lock screen controls will not appear in the following scenarios:

  • A non-Sonos AirPlay capable device is present.
    • To allow lock screen controls to appear when using Sonos, disable the AirPlay feature on all non-Sonos AirPlay endpoints such as Apple TVs or Apple AirPort base stations.
  • Another app on the iOS device is playing music or video.
  • While the iOS device is connected to a non-Sonos Bluetooth audio device.
  • VoiceOver is enabled.
  • Headphones are connected to the iOS device.

The limitations above do not apply when playing audio to Sonos using an app that supports Sonos direct control or when playing AirPlay audio directly to Sonos. We recommend using either of these options if the above limitations are preventing lock screen controls from appearing on your iOS device.

1 Like

I wonder if something like this would work. I didn’t think of it until your question, but it might be fun to try.

1 Like

I’ll keep my Sonos until I get better access to Bluesound then I’ll probably make the transition along with the addition of some NAD equipment.

Sometimes my Sonos acts up but most of the time it does what it’s supposed to do.

Dang Apple, that’s harsh.

Great find! I just gave it a spin and it works great so far. You can control rooms, manage what speakers are used, change volume for the group and/or individual speakers, change music (pulls from your favorites, which would be great for you, @Jezmund_Berserker). Well worth the two bucks based on several minutes of testing.

1 Like

I also really like my Sonos system. I have both their portable speakers which have come in handy, as well!

I did not find they worked well on my eero system, however. I ended up switching back to a single wireless router because the mesh system was just causing some of my devices (not just Sonos) to act really weird.

I have half a dozen chromecast audios around the house at $50 or so each. One into the high end Marantz HiFi, one into an old stereo amp, one into a pair of (old) Logitech powered speakers, couple of others into various sound bars and powered speakers. Just works, all in synch, and you get to choose the output device you want, be it the logis, or the Klipsch set off the Marantz, input device agnostic, so long as the chromecast audios are on the wifi network. Just my $0.02

I know, heresy! Nearly all of my input is from apple devices, via Spotify, or from music I own on a hard drive or two.