Product Review (May 2011)
Sonos - S5 ZonePlayer Wireless Music System

By Kevin Nakano

Sonos has been amazingly successful with their Digital Music System since they introduced their first products back in 2004. Unlike other music systems that have cumbersome user interfaces and computer dependent server software, Sonos is virtually standalone with the ability to stream from a standard NAS drive or the internet. Sonos was designed to work right out of the box with no technical expertise required, which is why so many users are attracted to this product. All you need is a high-speed Internet connection and a router to get started. Sonos works flawlessly all over the house because it has been designed from the ground up to support multi-room music using their mesh network. As a result, the system works seamlessly and wirelessly. This is why users can play the same song in every room (party mode) with perfect synchronicity. Of course the system also supports playing different songs in different rooms.

We have been using Sonos for over 5 years now and it remains one of the best music systems to date with unparalleled performance and ease of use. In fact, my wife and kids love this system and have no problem at all playing the music they want to hear anytime in any room. Best of all, the system keeps getting better each year with more capabilities as Sonos rolls out new features. Free automatic software updates offer users the newest features and music services by simply registering the system. Simply press one button and the system updates itself.

Sonos S5The New S5 ZonePlayer
Sonos music players have been traditionally limited to two types of ZonePlayers, one with a built-in amplifier (ZP120) and one without any power amplifiers (ZP90). This required users to use their own speakers or connect to an existing audio system using the line level or digital audio connection. For the first time, Sonos has introduced the new S5 all-in-one music system, which is a high-performance standalone player that delivers high quality, room-filling sound. Simply plug the S5 into an AC outlet wherever you want music and add the zone to your Sonos system. The S5 is available in both black and white to match any decor. The S5 comes well packed with a power cord, line-in audio cable, flat ethernet cable, Sonos System Setup software CD-ROM, and product guide and setup poster.

Sonos S5S5 Setup
The Sonos S5 is designed to bring great sounding music wirelessly to any room in your house by simply plugging it into AC power. A two-port wired ethernet switch is provided, along with a headphone jack and auxiliary input jack. The system relies on SonosNet 2.0, a wireless mesh network technology that provides superior wireless range for whole-house coverage enabling synchronous music playback without wireless interference. There is really not a whole lot required to get the S5 up and running and is similar to configuring any other Sonos ZonePlayer without the hassle of connecting speaker wires or audio cables. Sonos is designed to tune in up to 100,000 Internet radio stations, shows and podcasts and stream millions of songs and stations from the most popular online music services. In addition, users can play their entire personal music library in any or every room from iTunes® or a NAS. Users can even connect to their favorite audio source, such as an Apple AirPort Express®, CD player or TV and listen on it on any ZonePlayer in their home.

Handheld Controllers
Like all Sonos equipment, the S5 works with the older Sonos controller (CR100), the new controller (CR200), as well as a variety of other devices such as the iPhone®, iPod touch®, or iPad™, and now even Android phones. We took a photo of all of our devices connected to the Sonos system. While Sonos offers their current CR200 handheld controller for running the system, there is no comparison to using the iPad when it comes to ease of use. Sonos can also be controlled using the Sonos Desktop Controller software for the PC (Windows® XP and higher) and Mac OS X (10.4 and higher). All controllers works seamlessly together with the screens automatically synchronizing to one another.

We tested the S5 with our legacy ZonePlayers using an iPhone, iPad and Android-based HTC Incredible (version 2.2). These handheld devices all performed well without any problems. Android-based devices require the latest free (version 3.4) Sonos update to operate properly. All devices synchronized and offered full control of our music in all zones.

iPad Running Sonos App
While the smaller handheld devices work well with the Sonos system, they pale in comparison to the amount of information the iPad provides with its large screen and excellent user interface. My first generation iPad only cost $349 (refurbished) and came with the same one year warranty as a brand new unit with a new battery and outer shell. Frankly, I could not tell the difference from a new unit, so my recommendation would be to pick up an iPad as soon as possible. The large iPad screen offers a lot of information, making it easy to read. This can be especially nice for us older folks who have trouble seeing small fonts. Navigating through the list of artists or songs is fast and smooth with the iPad and the cover art graphics are particularly impressive.

Even with advances being made with other distributed home audio systems, Sonos remains one of the best products on the market with solid reliability and unparalleled ease of use. The new All-in-one S5 is yet another premium sounding product being offered by Sonos with the same reliability and user-friendliness. The S5 can play quite loudly without fatigue or harshness. Music can be played in any room quickly, without worrying about server software running on another machine. Sonos continues to make significant product enhancements without the need to buy new equipment. Additionally, my older CR100 controllers along with my ZP80 and ZP100 ZonePlayers have been able to keep up with all of the Sonos updates even though Sonos no longer sells them.

To this day I continue to recommend the Sonos Digital Music System to friends who ask about distributing audio in their home. While the cost of the Sonos system can be significant, customers can slowly build up zones as their budget permits. We started out with two zones and now have five. Sonos is here to stay in this house and for good reason.

- Kevin Nakano

OPPO BDP-103 Blu-ray Player

Review System

Living Room ZonePlayer: Sonos ZP100, iPad Controller
Bedroom ZonePlayer:
Sonos ZP100, CR100 Controller
Patio ZonePlayer: Sonos ZP100, CR100 Controller
Home Theater ZonePlayer: Sonos ZP80, CR100 Controller
In-Wall Speakers #1: M&S Systems- WG150W
In-Wall Speakers #2: Phase Technology - CI 70VIII
In-Wall Speakers #3: Phase Technology - CI 20VII

Review - At a Glance

Sonos S5 ZonePlayer Wireless Music System

5 speakers powered by 5 dedicated digital amplifiers
The S5 uses 5 state-of the-art digital amplifiers individually coupled with 5 speakers to deliver superior sound to any room. The wireless music system provides crystal-clear, high-quality sound that rivals much larger, more complicated systems. A subwoofer produces powerful bass while two mid-range drivers and two tweeters fill out the sound.
Class-D amplifiers State of the art, great sounding amplifiers that are light weight, powerful and very energy efficient in standby and use.
Tweeters 2 tweeters create a crisp and accurate high frequency response.
Mid-range drivers 2 dedicated mid-range drivers ensure the faithful reproduction of mid-range frequencies crucial for accurate playback of vocals and instruments.
Subwoofer driver Dedicated subwoofer driver provides deep, powerful bass you can feel.
All-digital sound architecture From the recording studio to your home the music is reproduced as the artist intended. All filter settings, active equalization, and time-alignment are done in the digital domain through state-of-the-art DSP circuitry so there’s absolutely no loss of audio quality or energy.
Acoustic port The acoustic port on the rear of the unit serves two purposes – it’s vital to the sound output of the S5 when in use and it’s also a convenient handle when moving it from one room to another.
Adjustable bass and treble controls Optimize sound performance using zone-specific bass, treble, balance, and loudness controls. Adjust volume by individual zone or by groups of zones.

Amplifier Five Class-D digital amplifiers
Speakers Five driver speaker system – two tweeters, two 3” mid-range drivers, and one 3.5” woofer. Each driver of the product is individually powered by a dedicated amplifier.
HeadphoneAuto-detecting 3.5 mm headphone connection. The S5’s integrated speakers mute when headphones are inserted.
Audio line-inAuto-detecting 3.5mm audio line-in connection
Stereo Pair settingAllows you to group two S5s in the same room with one S5 serving as the left channel and the other as the right channel.

Company Information
Sonos, Inc.(Headquarters)
223 E. De La Guerra
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Phone: 805-965-3001
Fax: 805-965-3010

Model: S5 (Available in Black or White)
Source: Manufacture Supplied
MSRP: $399


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