has been highly successful with their digital music system largely because of
the ease of use and great sound quality. The company has just announced two new
Zone Players to take the place of the original ZP100 and ZP80 designs. The new
ZP120 takes the place of the ZP100 and the new ZP90 replaces the ZP80. Similar
to the BU130 bundled package, Sonos is offering a new BU150 bundled package that
includes a ZP120, ZP90 and a CR100 controller for only $999. Sonos supports compressed
MP3, WMA (including purchased Windows Media downloads), AAC (MPEG4), Ogg Vorbis,
Audible (format 4), Apple Lossless, Flac (lossless) music files, as well as uncompressed
WAV and AIFF files.
the Sonos system into the home is easier than most distributed audio products.
The Sonos system uses standard home networks with CAT5 cables or wireless 802.11b
WiFi connectivity. Each zone has its own zone player that is completely configurable
through the controller or PC software. The Sonos system does not hold the music,
but instead streams the content through the network connection using a PC, Mac
or Network Attached Storage box. We used our existing file server PC running Windows
XP to distribute our music.
the zone players are attractive, we decided not to have them displayed at all.
In fact, each room only has a pair of in-wall speakers with no other components
needed for playing music. To control the sound system the user picks up the CR100
controller to select the zone and music.
The CR100 controller is an ergonomically designed unit with
an impressive looking LCD display. Similar music information found on the computer's
main software screen is also provided on the wireless portable controller. A total
of nine backlit buttons and three soft buttons located below the screen are provided.
Volume and mute buttons are located on the left side with standard controls for
selecting and playing tracks on the right. Navigating through the menu system
is made easy with the iPod-like navigation wheel built into the unit with the
center select button. The Zones button selects the zone while the Music
button chooses the audio content by Music Library, Playlists, Internet Radio stations
or Line input. A built-in light sensor automatically illuminates the keys when
low ambient light is detected. The LCD display and button backlight levels can
be adjust through the settings menu. Powered by a rechargeable Li-Ion Polymer,
factory-replaceable battery, the CR100 controller has a battery level indicator
on the top right corner of the screen. When charging the unit, the top right indicator
illuminates orange. Once the unit is fully charged, the indicator illuminates
Controller provided excellent two-way communication in every room inside of our
home. Most wireless products run into reception problems at extreme ends of our
single-story house, but the Sonos CR100 communicated with the ZonePlayers without
a problem. In addition, our second CR100 Controller worked seamlessly with the
first, allowing us to have both controllers operating different zones in the house
simultaneously. When viewing the same ZonePlayer on the two different controller
screens, one controller updates accordingly with the other used to control the
Using the Link Zone feature, users can link some or all of
the listening zones to a single group. This is particularly useful when having
a party or when one might be moving from one room to another within the house
and would like to hear the same music. At the same time it is possible for one
or more of the other zones to be running fully independent audio streams. The
controller clearly shows which zones are linked and what music is currently playing
on each zone. In addition, the mode (Stop, Play or Pause) is also indicated on
the screen next to each zone grouping. The Drop Zone button is visible
when more than one zone is assigned to a given group. Pressing this button allows
the user to release a zone.
the volume level of all linked zones is easy using the Group Volume control.
The Group Volume control appears as part of the individual volume levels
when multiple zones are linked in a group. The volume for each zone within a group
can be individually set and are globally controlled using the Group Volume.
If the Group Volume level is set to the maximum, all zones are also set
to the maximum levels. When the Group Volume is reduced, all zones are
reduced equally even though the initial values may have been different from one
another. The implementation of the level controls proved to work very well in
One thing became apparent when we used the handheld controller.
We did not like having to connect and disconnect the power plug to the unit each
time we wanted to charge it. Luckily, Sonos recently introduced the much anticipated
Charging Cradle (CC100), designed specifically for the CR100 controller. The CC100
is simply a docking station that uses the controller's existing AC adapter to
power two metal contacts at the base of the unit. The power jack attaches to the
bottom of the unit as seen here. Once set up,
the user can place the CR100 controller in the cradle and the unit charges through
these contacts. The cradle is also a convenient way of holding the controller
for easy viewing. The $49.99 price tag seems steep for a piece of plastic, but
is an essential part of the system. The CC100 package also includes a bracket
with anchors and screws for wall mounting the unit. Not only does the new cradle
look good, but it makes using the controller simple with easy docking. We chose
to use the cradle on our table without mounting it to a wall.
The ZP120 ZonePlayer is more compact the its predecessor measuring 8.15"
wide, 7.3" deep (including speaker terminals) and 3.5" tall. ZonePlayers
can go anywhere AC power is available and connect wirelessly when a wired Ethernet
connection is not available. Our setup used a wired connection for each of our
ZonePlayers. Each ZonePlayer is identified by pressing the Mute and Volume
Up buttons on the front of the unit simultaneously. This lets the Desktop
Controller software identify the location of each of the ZonePlayers during
the initial setup process. Coinciding with the launch of the new zone players
was a release of new firmware for all of the units. Both our Controllers and ZonePlayers
required a firmware update that was automatically detected by the software. The
updates were easy and automatic as data was transferred from the Sonos website.
The front panel has a white indicator when the unit is online. This light can
be disabled if it causes a distraction in environments such as home theaters.
The green Mute light will illuminate on the front panel when the user activates
mute on the ZonePlayer. Using the SonosNet 2.0, each of the ZonePlayers
form a self-configuring secure peer-to-peer wireless mesh. This allows different
audio streams to flow to and from each zone. Each ZonePlayer also serves as an
access point for the handheld controller.
The rear panel of the ZP120 ZonePlayer has a smaller detachable
power cord with an input voltage selector switch (115VAC/230VAC). A pair of speaker
outputs designed to provide 55W minimum RMS per channel into 8 ohms, a boost of
5W per channel from the older model. A pair of line level inputs are also provided,
but the old line level outputs have been removed. A line-level subwoofer output
is also provided for powered subwoofers and can be especially important when using
main speakers that lack low frequency response. This autosensing output automatically
applies an 80 Hertz crossover to the subwoofer output.
rear panel also includes a 2-port ethernet switch which allows another wired ethernet
product to use the same network drop. An autosensing pair of analog inputs is
detected by the ZonePlayer and can be used as an audio source for any of the other
ZonePlayers. The new ZP120 does not include analog line-level outputs that was
featured on the ZP100. However, the ZP90 does includes this feature.
our tests we tested the ZP120 with our in-wall speakers including Phase Technology
CI-20VII and CI-70VIII speakers. Sound quality was similar to the original ZP100
zone player we have in our system. We also ran the ZP120 with a pair of M&K
S150THX speakers that we use in our home theater system. These speakers are rated
at 4 ohms and can play very loud without a problem. The ZP120 was easily able
to handle the load and the audio sounded great. Much to my surprise the digital
amplifiers in the ZP120 produce great sound regardless of the load we placed on
The ZP90 ZonePlayer is designed to interface to a system that
already has a power amplifier, so only line level and digital audio outputs are
provided. Both coaxial and optical (toslink) digital outputs are provided. Like
the ZP120, line level inputs are also available to provide audio to the other
zone players in the system. The same small detachable power cord jack and input
voltage selector switch (115VAC/230VAC) is on this zone player. The unit works
best in systems that have an A/V receiver with an existing speaker system. This
allows customers with an existing A/V system to make good use of the Sonos.
We have had the Sonos digital music system in our home for the past three years
and according to my wife, it is by far the best system we have had simply because
it is so easy to use and it sounds great. Our current Sonos system consists of
three ZP100s, one ZP80, and two CR100 controllers. We have four zones in the house
and both my 7 and 8 year old daughters already know how to use the controller
play music on the system. They are fortunate enough to have one of the zones in
their bedroom. As part of this review, we added a fifth ZP120 zone player to the
system and it worked flawlessly with the rest of our system. Adding the new ZP120
was just like adding another ZP100 as everything went smooth. Sonos has a very
stable and reliable platform that has always worked for us. We have never had
any problems since the initial installation three years ago. Music is on-demand
in seconds and there is no waiting once the music is on saved the server. The
only downside is each zone will initially cost several hundred dollars. However,
you start small with a simple system such as the bundled package (BU150) and add
to it as needed.
software behind the Sonos system is one of its strong points and with updates
to the system you can be assured that they are working to make it the best experience
as possible. Even with the price set at $999 for the bundled package, the system
brings high value to the home in which it is installed. We see a lot of fancy
equipment every year, but the Sonos is still one of the top products to come our