June 20, 2012
| by Grant Clauser
Yes, I was a bit skeptical on this one. I mean, the subwoofer looks like a Cheerio, so how good could it sound? Two drivers facing each other? The only time I’ve seen that before was in a Smokey and the Bandit movie. After spending a couple days playing a wide range of music with the new Sonos Sub, count me a believer.
About a month ago I went to a swanky New York hotel where Sonos was set up to show off its line of wireless music products. There was even a display of PLAY:3 speakers hanging from the ceiling in a kind of speaker chandelier. I was invited to check out the just-announced sub in a small suite (read about that here). In the small hotel room it sounded pretty decent, but that wasn’t an ideal place—small room, big windows, and not my music.
Weeks later I’m unpacking the odd-looking subwoofer, a couple of PLAY:3 speakers and the Bridge (the thing that sends out the wireless signals to everything). One (of many) nice things about the Sonos system is you don’t even need to set it up with a computer—I did the entire setup process over my iPhone and then added my Samsung Galaxy Tab as an additional controller. Setup time: about 10 minutes.
Before I get off track and talk about what I listened to and how it sounded, here’s a brief refresher on what Sonos is all about. Sonos is a networked music system for distributing music all around a house over IP. It sets up its own Wi-Fi network so as not to interfere in your existing network. You can use your own speakers and amplifiers or use Sonos speakers—there are several to choose from, and you can learn all about the cool PLAY:3 speakers in an earlier review here. You control your system through apps for iOS or Android. Both apps look and work pretty much the same. You can read more about the app controller here.
Sonos has built a reputation for delivering an easy whole-home audio solution that brings together all your music—your iTunes, Pandora, Slacker, Rhapsody etc.—in one place and letting you play in individual rooms or all room together, without rewiring the house.
Many users opt for the simple method of buying the PLAY:3 speakers because they come with their own amplification and don’t require any wire except for the power cord. The drawback though is the smallish (about the size of a bread loaf) speakers are a bit lacking in the bass department. If you wanted a bigger sound experience, you needed to use the Sonos Connect amp and your own speakers and subwoofer.
Now the new sub fills in that hole, and very nicely I should add.
Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had audio training from Home Acoustics Alliance and Sencore. He's also the author of the book The Trouble with Rivers
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.