My Sonos Setup at Home

| Dave Hamilton's Blog

Anyone who has heard me talk on Mac Geek Gab knows that I'm totally gaga over Sonos. I (currently) have 6 rooms covered by Sonos, including my living room with a Stereo pair of PLAY:5s and a SUB. Along those lines, many of you have asked what my own personal setup looks like... and why. If you're interested in what, exactly, Sonos is, I wrote that up, too, just in a different post to keep things pithy and concise.

Sonos PLAY:5

I've done a lot of A/B testing between the PLAY:3 and the PLAY:5 units and have come up with my own personal preferences. Both are standalone speakers that can be the core of your Sonos system. The PLAY:3 has 3 speakers (with 3 discrete amplifiers, one for each speaker) and the PLAY:5 has 5 speakers (and 5 amps). For me, I've found that in smaller rooms (i.e. bedrooms and the kitchen) I prefer the PLAY:3's sound. For whatever reason in smaller rooms I find the PLAY:3 feels like it has more low-end range than the PLAY:5, and has a better overall sound. However, as soon as I move to a larger room (think living room, playroom or larger) I actually find the PLAY:3 starts to sound thin and the PLAY:5 has more beef. Not sure why this is — and it's important to remember that sound is subjective, of course — but that's the way it is. So… with that, here's my setup:

Living Room: two PLAY:5 units in a left/right stereo pair plus a SUB. I've actually got the sub in the back corner of the room and the speakers in the front two corners. It gives us a great, full sound at any volume level. Because all 3 of these are paired together, Sonos treats them as one "room" and volume is controlled via a single slider. Again, they've made it easy.

Bedrooms: all have a single PLAY:3 in them.

Kitchen: a single PLAY:3 (and while I've toyed with the idea of a second PLAY:3 for the kitchen to make a stereo pair, I'm not sure of the efficacy of this given our home's layout).

Playroom: a single PLAY:3, though because this is a larger room I prefer a PLAY:5 here, and this will likely be the next replacement I make, perhaps moving the resulting PLAY:3 up to the kitchen, or to my office… or maybe I'll treat myself and put the PLAY:3 in the master bathroom so I can listen to music while I shower. Hey, a guy's gotta have goals, right?

On the subject of hardware, Sonos's new PLAYBAR aims to solve the "problem" of needing two setups in the living room. We have Sonos for music listening, and then a 5.1 surround setup for the TV/movies (yes, I have two subwoofers in my living room… I know). The PLAYBAR, would, in theory, allow me to use Sonos for both music and home theater. As I understand it can be used on its own, with a SUB, with two PLAY:3s as rear-surround speakers, or all 4 together for a "full" setup. Not sure how the stereo spread will be coming just from the one bar, but we'll test that eventually and I'll let you know!

The Sonos product line, including the SUB, PLAYBAR, PLAY:5, PLAY:3 and more

Sounds Great, but What's the Cost?

In the "you get what you pay for" category, Sonos stuff isn't cheap and is rarely (if ever) discounted. The PLAY:3s list for US$299, the PLAY:5s for US$399, and the SUB and the new PLAYBAR are each $699. It's expensive to build a full system like I have (and I'm clearly not finished!), but oh, so worth it if you can afford to do it. I suppose it's like having a crack addiction, except you don't get the short-term high. wink I suppose I also don't have to live in a crack den, though if given the choice of having Sonos or not I might wind up living in a crack den WITH my Sonos stuff. It would give the kids something to talk about later in life, that's for sure.

RELATED: What is Sonos?

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4 Comments

Jamie

Awesome, thank so much for this. I’m working on building a killer, modern, stereo setup, and this is great information. smile

Mark Withers

Wow! Sounds awesome! I may experiment in the future with a PLAY:1, though I would need a bridge and definitely an 8 port switch to connect it to.

We currently use Bose sound docks connected to an Airport Express or an i-device using Airfoil.

We’ll see! Thanks for the info!

vbroido

Nah, the last gen Apple Airport boxes do it better - all you have to do is to set up a server (an old MacMini does the trick) - way cheeper, way nerdier smile

Mark Withers

I do have an airport extreme, but not sure what generation it is. It does have the latest 7.6.4 firmware. Don’t have a Mac Mini to use, but maybe I could run server on my mid 2010 MBP? smile

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