Despite brave challenges from Logitech’s Squeezebox Duet and Philips’ WACS7500, the Sonos system remains the gold standard for multi-room music. Sure, collecting ZonePlayers can bite a sizeable chunk out of your savings, but the system is user-friendly, stylish and sonically exceptional.
So what has the sequel done to keep its nose ahead of the competition? Well, most obviously, it’s got a lot smaller. The amplified ZP100 was already compact, but the new ZP120 that replaces it is a whole 7cm slimmer. The ZP90 is identical in size to the ZP80, but it was already dinky begin with.
In the Zone
The BU150 comes with two ZonePlayers (one amplified, and one not), so that’s the lounge and bedroom covered. Of course, if you want to play tunes in the kitchen and toilet you can an extra zone or two. If you happen to live in ambassadorial palace, one system can contain 32 zones.
The CR100 controller remains unchanged, but that’s no bad thing. Its full colour display is simply gorgeous, and the overall weight and ergonomics of the remote make it a joy to use. It’s deputy only to the iPhone when it comes to usability.
Improved wireless range
Aside from the new styling, the biggest improvement over the original Sonos is its wireless range. SonosNet 2.0 is built into the new ZonePlayers, and this combines the Sonos mesh network with MIMO technology to double the range of the wireless signal. As each ZonePlayer sends as well as receives, this means your music can travel to infinity and beyond. Well, at least out to your garden shed and back.
Of course, wireless range and style mean nothing if the music sounds dreadful, but Sonos is pretty much unique for a wireless multi-room system in that it sounds awesome. Use high-quality files and you’ll get a performance equal to that of the best micro systems.
On demand record store
You’re not limited to your own music collection either. Pay a £10 monthly subscription to Napster and you have instantaneous access to over 5 million songs, anywhere in your house.
Everything is done via the remote, so there’s no need for a PC. You simply search for a track or select one from the Napster Top 100 and it’s immediately streamed to whichever zone you’re listening to.
Automix and match
You can even hit an ‘automix’ button, which finds hours of songs similar to the one you selected, and stream internet radio. As an all round music experience, it really is the nuts.
If your wallet can take the hit, the only decision left is to decide on speakers to accompany the system. For the lounge we’d recommend Mordaunt Short’s Mezzo 2s or, if you want something a little more subtle for the boudoir, go for Roth Audio’s Oli1s. Whatever your choice, you’ll have the finest house-wide music system cash can currently buy.
More after the break...
More evolution than revolution, but the improved Sonos has cemented its place as the king of multi-room music