Sonos Digital Music System

It took forever, but you've finally gone and done it. Filled up 277 gigabytes of your brand-new 300GB PC or Mac hard drive with digital music -- .mp3s, .wavs, .flacs, .accs, . wmas, tens of thousands of files in all manner of formats, genres, and moods.

Now you'd like to hear them. Not only while you're sitting at your computer desk or umbilicaled to your iPod at the gym. You want access to your music in the living room, the bedroom, the den, the garage, the patio. You want access whenever and wherever  you happen to be ' total access, instant access, access to every title in your music library at whatever moment the muse in your mind whispers 'let's listen to ' '

What you want is music on demand.  The question is: Can you get it? And drum roll, please the answer is ' YES!

The Sonos Digital Music System is a true multi-room (or 'zone' in Sonos-speak) music player.

Connect one of the system's ZonePlayers to your Ethernet network, position additional wireless ZonePlayers here, there, and everywhere, plug each into a stereo or surround system, a pair of powered speakers, or a set of high-quality passive speakers (the Sonos is the only digital distribution system with built-in audiophile-quality amplifiers) and you're good to go.

Where? Why anywhere there's a ZonePlayer, of course. Using the system's three-quarter pound, palm-sized Controller you can freewheel through your realm enjoying your favorite music in every nook and cranny containing a ZonePlayer. You can play different music streams in each room, view album art, adjust the tone and volume to match the acoustics of every location, select songs by artist, album, title or genre, enjoy Rhapsody or Internet radio feeds, even create playlists on the fly.

The Controller, incidentally, is a piece of work -- uncommonly good work. Highlighted by a 3.5-inch, backlit, color LCD that turns on instantly when you pick it up, it displays seven highly legible text lines along with album cover art. A touch-sensitive scroll wheel and 12 buttons allow you to make program selections almost as fast you can twirl your finger.

The Controller is also splash, crash and dirt resistant and will run for about 20 hours before requiring a two-hour recharge.

Each Sonos ZonePlayer contains high-performance DAC components comparable to those used in highly evolved, top-dollar, standalone studio-quality converters. Regardless of what you're listening to a highly compressed .mp3 file or an uncompressed .wav or .flac file the Sonos will deliver the sound without any degradation of dynamic range, signal-to-noise ratio, or frequency response.
All ZonePlayers also share another unique attribute, an integrated Sonosnet network hub that makes each player a separate wireless access point. The system's range is limited only by the distance between ZonePlayers -- not by the distance between each player and a computer or wireless router. The net result is music in places far beyond the reach of other systems.

In considering music systems, you should keep in mind that you, as a person, are constantly evolving, just like the technology that powers so much of your life. 

Today you may be interested in cramming as many songs as possible into as small an amount of storage space as feasible. The number of songs dangling from your fingertips may be more important to you than the excellence of their reproduction.

By this time next year, however, you may have decided you'd like to hear fewer songs in more brilliant detail. You may, in fact, be busy re-ripping all those thousands of CDs you've now got stored as .mp3s into a current or yet-to-be-invented lossless format. But will your wireless music system play that format?

Some music players can handle uncompressed files, some can't. Some can do it only via a Mickey Mouse software plugin, others do it seamlessly and internally. Some are upgradeable to support new formats, some are not.

Sonos ZonePlayers support digital-sound codecs internally and firmware upgrades to support new formats or features are so simple and automated they can be performed from the remote.

As with buying a car or choosing a transplant surgeon, there are many options when shopping for a system to beam music from the captain's pod to the rest of the Enterprise.

If you're looking for the optimum combination of awesome sound fidelity, multi-zone flexibility, user-friendliness, and upgradeability, however, you'll be hard pressed to find anything  remotely comparable to the Sonos.

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