Thursday, May 24, 2007

Sonos ROCKS!

I rarely purchase anything that has so far exceeded my expectations as Sonos. I'm a big digital music freak. I ripped 900 of my own CDs - something like 15,000 songs and love blasting them everwhere in the house. The problem was that I always found it inconvenient to connect this to that or turn up the volume here or whatever. And I'd looked all over for the perfect digital music solution.

SONOS is that solution and so much more!

The idea is, with the dual zone pack (I'll explain), you get two zone controllers and a wireless remote. One of the zone controllers connects to your router, providing it with access to the Internet and your network. This is Zone One. You can label it - mine is called "Patio". You connect unpowered, normal stereo speakers to it. Mine are outdoor Bose. Zone two is inside the house and is named "Living Room". Both zones can talk to each other, sharing the network connectivity established by Zone 1. Then, the wireless remote can control both Zones - independently.

For instance, I can have 80s music playing on the Patio Zone and Radio Disney playing in the Living Room Zone. I can sychronize both zones to play the same thing. I can mute either zone (or both). I can independently (or together) control the volume, treble, bass and balance of each zone.

Cool. So good, so far. So, out of the box, I get access to all my MP3s and 300 Internet radio stations. You can always add more from the remote or your laptop. Now comes the fun part. For $9.95 / month, I signed up for Rhapsody (used to use Napster at $9.95/month). Rhapsody is FULLY integrated into the product with over 3 Million songs. You can search by artist, genre, sub-genre, sub-sub-genre. You can created playlists modeled off of an artist - they call it Artist Radio. Go to Journey- but you don't want to listen to just them. It will create an entire playlist of Journey and Journey-like music that is actually pretty damn close to what you would expect. Rhapsody also includes a boat load of their own "themed" radio stations - 80s, 90s, Funk, Disco, you name it - they have it.
You can create play lists on your laptop and it auto-synchs with the controller. I've created playlists or added new music to my account at work and when I get home - it's been added to my remote controller. Fucking SWEET!
Speaking of the controller - it is very iPodish - with the usual spin touch dial. Nice big color screen. It shows the current artist, album and track. You can also next/prev through both the playlists and radio stations. While it is not super easy to search for tracks in Rhapsody using the controller - it is possible - it just takes a bit of time. The best way it to use a laptop and let it synch. Finally, when listening to a playlist or radio station, you can click a button and tell it to add the song, artist or album to your collection.
Rhapsody allows you to add as much music as you want to your collection for 9.95/month. So long as you pay, it is yours to listen to. For an additional .99/song, you can actually own the music (to rip to CD, etc) instead of rent. But, I'm perfectly happy just renting the music - saves me the hastle of storing it all.
The performance of the system has been fantastic and the sound quality is nothing less than THUMPING. Every person who has had a chance to play with it instantly loves it. We frequently fight for control of the remote!
The basic system is not cheap - this is definitely for the serious - but I promise that it is well worth it. $1,199 gets you the two zone controllers and the wireless remote control. Add speakers to taste. Again - very rarely have I bought something where my expectations have been so far exceeded. Simply awesome! You can find more at SONOS.