Sonos S5 Music System Review
The Sonos S5 is basically a Wireless Speaker (note: note an iPod Speaker) that you can control from anywhere in your house through an Android Phone or Apple Device (iPod, iPad, iPhone), and you can stream music from your computer, or via the many online streaming services provided through Sonos (some of which unfortunately bear an additional cost).
Sonos has this to say on their own website – “The S5 is a high-performance, all-in-one wireless music system that delivers crystal-clear, room-filling sound. The 5-driver speaker system is individually powered by 5 dedicated digital amplifiers and includes 2 tweeters, 2 mid-range drivers and 1 subwoofer for high-quality sound that rivals much larger, more complicated audio equipment” and that’s quite true, but it would be best to explain it properly in the review.
For our Review we got 2 Sonos S5 units, and a ZoneBridge (which allow’s the speakers to connect wirelessly to your computer and stream music fast).
The Sonos S5 Speaker System is quite well built, and the best way to compare them is to my Bose iPod Dock which is roughly the same size. Put it this way, if I removed the Sonos logo and placed a Bose logo on it, people would not be able to tell the difference. It’s well constructed, feels solid, and it also looks great sitting in either your bedroom or living room. Since we received two of them, one was placed in a bedroom, the other in the living room, and both look quite in place.
They’re not the lightest speakers in the world, but not the heaviest either, weighing in at 4.17 kilograms (or about 9.2 pounds), but they make it fairly easy to place around anywhere they want, besides, they’re lighter than my Alienware laptop. Size wise, the speakers are a little bigger than we would have wanted, since they’ll take a big chunk of your side table’s space – 217 x 365 x 123 mm or 8.50 x 14.40 x 4.80 inches.
Still, at the end of the day, they’re well built, and we were quite happy with how they look as well, and they’re very comparable to anything Bose creates, which impressed us. The Sonos S5 also feature a rubber bottom, which feels great and it sits comfortably on any surface, without scratching that surface.
The S5 is available in both black and white.
As for the Zone Bridge System, it was small, compact and easy on the eyes. Well built, and fit in nicely amongst the dual router setup here.
Ease of Use
The first thing is the Setup of the System, which was ridiculously easy thanks to the setup guide they give you in the form of CD’s. The setting up for the Sonos Desktop Controller is the same process as any other program you will ever download on your computer, and you simply go through the setup process normally. Following that, you have to update the program, otherwise certain features won’t work. Once you’ve done that, you’ve got to setup each individual Sonos S5 System and this is the part that gets a little frustrating.
While the actual process is quite simply, where to link the Zone Bridge to the Sonos S5 system (once you’ve plugged the Zone Bridge into your Modem), you have to click the ‘mute’ and ‘Volume up button’ at the same time on the Sonos System, as well as the’Connect Button’ on the Zone Bridge to register it, and presto they’re connected. The problem? While setting them up I had placed both my Sonos S5 Systems upstairs, and the computer downstairs, and since you have to register each system by itself, I had to be constantly running up and down making sure I pressed all the required buttons before the 60 seconds ran out for each System. Annoying, but not the worst setup process we’ve been through.
The setup process took roughly 15 minutes all up, very snappy, very breezy (both systems as well as the Zone Bridge had to be plugged in to work). Then you have to setup the Desktop Controller, which is the program you installed earlier on the computer, to recognize all the music on your computer. This was fairly easy as well, as long as all your music is in one folder or location. Once done with that setup, it was easy enough to start playing music from your desktop, or from your Android device, or Apple Device (iPhone or iPad). Let me put it this way, if you own an iPad, the Sonos Experience becomes incredibly easier. The Sonos app is available in both the Apple App Store and Android Market, and can be downloaded for free to control the Sonos S5 system(s) from anywhere around the house, as long as you have wireless.
On an Android Phone or iPhone, transferring music to your playlist is simple, but could have been easier. You have to tap and hold on each individual song (or pre-created playlist on your computer) and add it to your ‘Now Playing’ List. The problem on the phone is you keep switching between screens, but you can add an entire Album, or all the songs by a single artist so it makes it slightly easier. But the iPad makes things so much easier and better. As one of my friends put ‘the iPad makes THE experience’. And he’s right, as the iPad obviously has a bigger screen so rather than flipping through screens you can simply drag and drop the music or play lists you want. You can easily flip from one system to the other, to either play different music on both systems, or connect the two together as a Party Zone, and play the same music. Yep, using it on an iPad is too easy, but don’t get us wrong – Using a phone to operate the system is quite easy as well, just not iPad easy, as I found out while testing it on my Motorola Milestone. We do wish Sonos would develop and app for Windows Phone 7 as well, but I suppose we can live with the Android and Apple apps… for now.