Back in 2004, Sonos appeared with a multi-zone music system that anyone could buy and set up in minutes. It was perfectly pitched, stylistically and technologically. We loved it.
The range has evolved, with the ZonePlayers getting more compact, and Sonos has added music services such as Napster – as well as adding a touchscreen controller and iPhone app. We love all that, too.
Scalability has always been key, with users able to add extra zones at will. Perhaps the one problem with this was that the cheapest and simplest way to add a complete zone was to buy the amplified ZP120 for £400, and add a pair of affordable speakers, like the £120 Q Acoustics 2010s.
Although this partnership results in great sound, some would see it as excessively pricey and large for a bedroom, kitchen or study.
That’s where the ZonePlayer S5 comes in. This all-in-one box functions in the same way as the ZP120 and ZP90, but has five digital amps, each powering an individual, built-in driver.
That’s right, this stylish unit contains two tweeters, two midrange drivers and a single subwoofer. In unison, they sound superb for a product of this type.
Wirelessly fed some Lossless tunes the S5 responds with a delivery far bigger than any room it’s likely to be placed in (unless you happen to live in a mansion or an empty warehouse).
Vocals are focused and full-bodied, but the overall soundstage is wide, deep and three-dimensional. Dynamics and rhythm are equally impressive, with plenty of detail and deep bass.
Review continues after the break…
Like other ZonePlayers, the S5 can access internet radio, Last.fm and Napster. And there’s a 3.5mm input and headphone socket.
Another fine mesh
It’s worth remembering that Sonos’ wireless mesh technology results in fine wireless range and impressive robustness and speed. This means there’s no drop-out when playing different content in different zones, and total synchronisation when playing the same track in all zones at once.
There are factors to consider, though. If this is your first ZonePlayer, you’ll need to wire it to a router or buy a £79 ZoneBridge to start the mesh. Also, if you’re not an iPhone or Touch user, you’ll need a CR200 controller, or settle for computer-based operation.
Such solvable issues aside, the S5 is the perfect way to begin or extend your Sonos system.