The venerable Sonos has had a few hardware tweaks – including a stonking new controller. Time to bin that iPod Touch?
The Sonos system has been a favourite at Stuff HQ for years: this wirelessly distributed multiroom music system works seamlessly and, with half-decent source material, it sounds great, too.
It’s not even that expensive, as you don’t have to pay through the nose for an integrated hard drive. Instead, it connects up to your router and pulls your music – MP3, AAC, Apple Lossless, whatever – from your computer or NAS (network-attached storage) device.
Millions of tracks available
The Sonos’s appeal has increased thanks to its ability to access online music services, including Deezer, Last.FM and Napster – the last of which costs £10 per month, but gives unlimited access to millions of tracks.
The hardware’s been refined over time, too, with smaller and cleverer ‘ZonePlayers’ – the music hubs you use to distribute music around the house.
The system we tested here includes one of each type: an unamplified ZP90, which you connect to your existing system, plus a ZP120. This is essentially a local mini system, with its own power amplification – just add speakers.
But this new version puts these hardware tweaks in the shade, with the biggest change to hit the Sonos system since it first launched: the arrival of the CR200 controller.
In essence, it’s pretty similar to an iPod Touch – and it’s a timely development, for last year the company issued an app that lets Apple users operate their Sonos systems with a Touch or iPhone.
Why get a CR200, not a Touch?
You might be raising your eyebrows and asking why it’s worth upgrading from a CR100 to a CR200, when you could simply buy an iPod Touch instead and pocket the change.
All we’d say is that the Sonos version feels nicer in the hand, is faster to use, and appears sharper and brighter than its Apple rival.
And this new handset only adds lustre to an already polished performer. Sonically, the Sonos is still top-class. And with lossless files, it’s as close to hi-fi as Wi-Fi gets.
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