Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sonos Creates Its Smallest Speaker Yet

Ever since Sonos emerged as the hands-down best wireless multi-room audio solution on the market, there has only been one barrier between it and a broader audience — price point. But even that has changed this year.

Sonos has developed the tiniest, cheapest wireless speaker yet. The new Play: 1 bookshelf speaker produces enough big sound for small- and medium-sized rooms for $100 less than any previous offer.

The new addition will appeal to those who always wanted to try Sonos, but were concerned about any investment. And, even more likely, the new Play: 1 is perfect for someone like me. I own the Bridge, Connect (living room) and one Play: 3 speaker (bedroom), but always wanted to add one to the kitchen.

Play: 1 speakers fill every corner with music.

Sonos didn't scrimp on the size of the design. The Play: 1 comes with two custom-designed drivers with dedicated amps. It's easy enough to integrate into any existing Sonos system or works out well enough on its own.

The rich, powerful sound is largely produced by a 3.5-inch mid-woofer and tweeter. They produce a surprising amount of sound, performing especially clear highs and decent lows despite the size. In terms of HiFi sound, the Play: 1 is every bit as good as its bigger predecessors (only smaller).

The real breakthrough, of course, is that the Play: 1 lets you access music from your music library or any music streaming services you might have. If the only device you have is a smart phone or tablet, then Sonos is the perfect solution, negating the need for attaching, docking, or otherwise tying up your mobile devices to play music in every room of your house. Every room with a speaker, anyway.

The first Play: 1 speaker doesn't come on its own (for now). It comes with the Bridge, which connects to any router with a standard Ethernet cable. The Bridge gives the speaker more portability because it frees it up from having to be connected to the router.

Simply put, the Bridge is what gives your Sonos system the ability to expand its wireless range throughout the house. According to Sonos, the Bridge is ready to handle up to 32 rooms out of the box (which is important to know because so many people have 32 rooms to fill). Suffice to say that once you have even one Play: 1 and the Bridge, adding more Sonos components will be addictive.

Some additional tips for serious Sonos fans.

What makes the Play: 1 perfect for me is that I've been putting off purchasing additional components until now. It makes more sense, especially because the Play: 1 can fill more rooms (and create the illusion that you have a much bigger system than you do). It's easy to mix in other products.

There are only a few limitations of note. You can pair two Play: 1 speakers for real stereo sound, but you cannot pair it with a Play: 3 speaker for stereo sound. In order to achieve stereo sound with a Play: 3 speaker, you need another one.

As part of a home theater system, Play: 1 is perfect for anyone who already has the Playbar component. The Playbar was specially designed for achieving HiFi sound from a television, with a nine speaker design. The Play: 1 works perfectly as rear speakers for surround sound.

While I don't own a Playbar, everyone who does seems legitimately impressed by it as a home theater speaker that also functions perfectly with music libraries and speakers too. That always was the point. Sonos is a system designed from the beginning to be as adaptable and expandable as you want it to be.

The Play: 1 Speakers By Sonos Sounds Off 8.6 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

For a long time now, I've always considered Sonos the best alternative to Bluetooth speakers. They just sound better for all-around sound. While I would like to see some improvements to the iOS app (and I would assume Android owners feel the same way), it continues to raise the wireless sound standard.

The best place to purchase Sonos is from the company direct. However, other outlets also carry the speakers and components, including some at Amazon. As a closing note, it's also good to know that Sonos doesn't require iOS or Android products. It also makes a standalone remote.
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