Sonos, the wireless home audio company, announced Tuesday its next-generation software platform, Sonos S2. This platform will allow Sonos to bring new features like room groups and increased audio bandwidth, allowing for a richer Sonos experience going forward. What it won’t bring with it are older Sonos units like the original Play:5 (Gen 1), Bridge, and others. No worries, though – there’s a path to keeping those online, too.
Sonos S2 will just be Sonos
Come June, the app named “Sonos” in the App Store will be the new S2 app, available to take advantage of all the new features that Sonos has in the pipeline. There will be another, “Sonos S1 Controller” app, that will work with all the older Sonos hardware which lacks the memory and processing power required to take advantage of the Sonos’s upcoming new features.
Perhaps the most beneficial announced feature of the new platform, Room Groups promises to make our Sonos systems a little smarter about keeping certain sets of speakers linked. It might even notice that you routinely play music in the same rooms and offer to make a group for you. Imagine having “main floor” or “upstairs” groups so you didn’t have to set these each-and-every time, and you start to grok the convenience benefit here.
Upgraded Audio Bandwidth
It’s important to note that “increased audio bandwidth” doesn’t necessarily (or immediately) mean that Sonos users will gain the ability to play higher resolution audio formats, but this certainly allows for that, and it’s reasonable to presume it’s coming…soon. Sonos just hasn’t made any specific announcements about which formats that might mean to include, though they do say that this will apply to both music and home theater.
I wouldn’t over-stress about this in the short-term, especially for your music listening – most of the music most of us stream is at CD Resolution or much lower, and most of us humans can’t tell the difference anyway. Still, this will be a nice feature for Sonos to have to appease the audiophiles or anyone else who prefers to know they’re hearing higher resolution audio, regardless of whether or not they can tell the difference (“finally”, some might say).
What about my older Sonos units?
Some older Sonos units, specifically the original Play:5 (Gen 1), Connect (Gen 1), Connect:Amp (Gen 1), Bridge, CR200, and anything titled “Zone Player” (which encompasses the first three items on this list, albeit with their original names), do not have the memory or processing power to support Sonos S2. If you have some of these older devices, you’ll have three choices:
- If all you have are older devices, just keep running the newly-named-but-otherwise-familiar “Sonos S1 Controller” app, and you’ll have all the features you know-and-love plus bug fixes, security patches, and support for your existing music services for as long as that’s reasonably technically possible. Given Sonos’s track record of supporting their products (15 years and counting for the OG Play:5), I feel pretty confident here as the owner of three of those.
- If you have a blend of older and newer devices, you can still run all your existing devices on the existing/older S1 app, and get all the benefits of #1, OR… you can split your system, and control your older devices with the S1 app and your newer devices with the S2 app.
- You can trade-up your older devices with a 30% discount on any new Sonos devices, putting your whole system on S2.
Note: any currently-unannounced, new Sonos hardware released after April 2020 will only run on the S2 app, so bear that in mind as you’re making your decisions.
No More Recycle Mode
For a brief period of time, Sonos had a very unpopular program where you could put your old devices in Recycle Mode to acquire the aforementioned 30% discount. This rendered these old devices completely inoperable, despite still being fully functional from a hardware standpoint.
Good news: Recycle Mode is a thing of the past. If you have an older Sonos device, you qualify for the 30% discount, and you don’t have to change a thing about your older device. You could continue running it, you could gift it to a friend, you could even sell it on eBay if you want. It’s still yours to do with as you please. You just get a 30% discount now for being a long-time Sonos owner, no strings attached.
Nothing to do today except think
June will be here soon (perhaps not soon enough!), but for now there’s nothing to do except consider your options and plan things out. Maybe it makes sense to move those older speakers to the newly-formed home office or another portion of the house that doesn’t really share its listening environment with the house as a whole. Maybe you’ve got a music studio over your detached garage where you’ve always wanted a separate Sonos system but didn’t want the headache of switching inside the app? Good news: now you’ll have a separate app for each setup.
Lots of options, and lots of great features coming from Sonos in the future, too!