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Wireless Hi-fi Speakers - Sonos Play vs Bose Soundtouch vs Bowers & Wilkins A7?

Discussion in 'Audio Visual and Digital Home' started by Shaun, 12 May 2014.

  1. Shaun

    Shaun Über Geek

    I organised a "girls night" at our house for my wife's birthday this past weekend and having set the food out on the table, taken everything out of the fridge and filled it with bottles of wine, moved all the valuables upstairs, and put the neighbours on alert - I dug out the Kylie compilations, Now 83 onwards, Girls Anthems etc. and switched on our aging mini stereo system to get it warmed up.

    The night went well - the carpet survived, the food got eaten, there wasn't much wine left and the party guests (and hostess) all had a great time (but were a little worse for wear the next morning) - but the poor old stereo system didn't survive, so I'm looking for a replacement.

    I don't actually want a stereo system though - especially as most all of our music is now digital (the CDs can quickly be ripped) - and remembered that my sister has a dock that she plonks her iPod into that I liked so as I was passing Currys I had a quick look-in at the SONY RDP-X200iPN Wireless Speaker Dock (with Lightning connector for my iPhone 5). It has a nice deep bass and a "big" sound and I was tempted to buy one, but decided to come home and Google a bit first - which is where I found Sonos.

    Sonos is a wireless speaker "system" with three speakers (Play 1, Play 3 and Play 5) a Subwoofer (called Sub) and the Play Bar for your TV. What's interesting about it is that you can connect just one speaker (3 or 5) to your router or home network via an ethernet cable (or use the Sonos Bridge for wireless connection) and then stream any music to it. You install the free app on your phone / tablet, set-up each speaker (usually by denoting the room it is in) and then you can control each one, or group them, or play to all of them at once. You can stream wirelessly from your iPhone music library (but not from apps without an Airplay adapator) or use your NAS box or other internet based services (most of which need a subscription).

    All sounds pretty cool, and other makers such as Bose are following behind with their own systems like SoundTouch - but I wondered if any of you have a Sonos Play 3 or 5 or have spent time investigating the system? How does the sound compare to other speakers / docks? Is it as easy to set-up and use as it sounds? Do you feel the expense (they're not cheap) was worth it?

    Shaun :D
  2. Shaun

    Shaun Über Geek

    I've since had a listed to Sonos vs Bose at a local hi-fi shop and was impressed by the largest Bose model, which had a very deep and full sound, but I've also stumbled across another player in the field in the form of Bowers & Wilkins.

    Anyone already own any of this kit and care to give us a review?
  3. amusicsite

    amusicsite dn ʎɐʍ sᴉɥ┴ Staff Member

    I have always liked Bose. Had some Bowers & Wilkins speakers. They died within 18 months :(
  4. JtB

    JtB Active Geek

    I've just bought the following Sonos components:
    2 x Play:5 (wireless speakers)
    + Bridge (gateway to internet)
    + Connect (gateway to Hi-Fi in living room)

    They are really easy to setup, all you do is download the free application onto your Smartphone and follow the instructions (it literally is "plug&play"). Once setup, they form a mesh network (Sonosnet) with your Smartphone becoming the controller (or remote control). One thing I learnt yesterday is that you can configure your Smartphone to log onto your Sonosnet rather than your home wireless router and because the Sonosnet is a mesh network then it has much better range than the wireless router, so I can now get good Wi-Fi coverage throughout my house.

    The Bridge allows me to stream music off the internet and the Connect allow me to stream music to and from the existing Hi-Fi in my living room. Each wireless speaker and my existing Hi-Fi can stream a different channel (either internet radio or from the existing Hi-Fi) and I can create groups so that each device streams the same channel. This cuts down on internet bandwidth and also ensures that all devices are in synch. Additionally, I can place both wireless speakers in the same room and create "Left" and "Right" stereo channels.

    In terms of music quality, they are absolutely amazing, far better than I ever imagined. They have excellent clarity and bass, and they have more than enough volume to annoy the neighbours. The other thing I find very surprising is that with living in a village our internet connection is very slow (less than 2 mbps), yet the sound quality is fantastic and I've not noticed any impact to the computers on my home LAN.

    I've not subscribed to any of the subscription music services so I don't know about them, but the Sonos components come with the Tunein app pre-installed and this enables you to stream literally 1000's of free international internet radio stations.

    I'm very pleased indeed (so far) with these Sonos components and when I upgrade the TV then I shall be adding a Soundbar and Subwoofer to my Sonosnet.
  5. JtB

    JtB Active Geek

    Ps. I think Sonos is rather expensive and if price was my overwhelming concern then I would have gone with something else. But something is only worth what people are prepared to pay and Sonos clearly know their market. When I first looked at the cost of the Bridge (to the internet) which is about £32, I couldn't understand why the cost of the Connect (to the existing Hi-Fi) is about £280. But Sonos are losing the sale of a Play speaker when customers purchase the Connect, so they want to recoup part of that lost sale by charging excessively for the Connect. Similarly, the Play:1 wireless speaker doesn't have a line out to connect an external speaker. I would imagine Sonos don't want customers buying the smallest Sonos speaker and then connecting a larger external speaker, they would rather customers who want large speakers purchase the larger Play speakers instead. So clearly Sonos are in total control of everything that accesses their proprietary Sonosnet mesh network (even indirectly) and they make sure they get the biggest bite of the apple every time.