May 12, 2009


We have a lot of music in our household. I think something like 35,000 songs by my last estimate. And that doesn't include about 500 albums worth of vinyl that I have to rip. And yet I haven't owned a stereo since high school. I get very little use out of my music collection. I sometimes listen to the music on my computer but I don't even have speakers on my computer. I use the built in speakers which are atrocious sounding. And while I have an iPod I rarely use it. It makes me claustrophobic when I can't hear my surroundings. I prefer to listen to music when I'm not concentrating and just mulling around the house.

So for my wife's birthday/mother's day I decided to finally purchase a Sonos system. It's an admittedly pricey affair. But I justified it by classifying it as more of a one-time spend than a recurring spend. Something we can own for at least a decade without the need for replacement. My friend docRPM owns one which kind of pushed me over my apprehension about spending so much. Sonos is a hardware/software system that allows you to pull music off your computer and transmit it wirelessly to your stereo system or (in my case) to a Sonos amp/speaker combo. Because it's wireless you can put it anywhere. And it supports multiple nodes. You can have the system in your bedroom, kitchen, living room, etc. and control all of them from your computer or their proprietary controller or (more importantly) an iPhone. In other words you can have Miles Davis playing in your bedroom and Michael Brooks in the living room. The iPhone application sealed the deal for me. It's a slick app that replicates their expensive proprietary controller feature for feature.

It works as described. I just have one node in my family room as of now but I'll probably put something in the bedroom eventually. The one thing that sets Sonos apart from almost any other electronic device is the ease of setup. All electronic makers should study the Sonos setup as a benchmark to reach for. It is stunningly easy and straightforward for what could have been an awfully complex process. And the controller app is also extremely intuitive. No need for an instruction manual. Again controlling multiple nodes with different music streams could be complex. But it's remarkably straight forward.

The other nice thing about the system is the current version now works well with Windows Home Server which is where I centralize all my music (WHS is probably the best, and largely unknown, product Microsoft makes).

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