Sonos S5 ZonePlayer Hands-on Mini Review

Sonos S5 ZonePlayer

We’ve just had a play with the new S5 Zoneplayer (now re-named the Play:5), thanks to Sonos’ UK distributor.  Watch the video below and read on for the new social networking features coming in the new software version next week.

The Bose-like design of the S5 is matched by Bose-like acoustics.  It benefits from a warm sound that belies its size, thanks to its ported subwoofer.  While not as powerful as a ZP120, we reckon most S5’s will live in bedrooms, kitchens and conservatories, rather than be bought in place of its bigger brother.

As well as selling for additional zones for existing Sonos owners we can see the S5 opening up a whole new market.  Even though Sonos has been designed with simplicity and ease of use as core values, the thought of a box with wires and speakers is still too much for many people.  The ‘all-in-one’ nature of the S5 makes it very appealing to people looking for minimal fuss.

On the top the unit has the usual ZP controls – an up/down volume, plus a mute button.  Round the back are mini-jacks for headphones and, as with every other ZonePlayer from Sonos, an analogue input.  You can use this socket to feed in another source (say a DAB radio for example), allowing you to listen to it through the S5 as well as streaming it to all the other Sonos Zones around the home.

As always the first zone in your Sonos setup must be hard wired to your network, so if you are planning on starting a system with the S5 then you’ll need an Ethernet socket where you want to site it.  Alternatively you can plug a ZoneBridge into your router and use the built-in wireless of the S5 instead.  As usual, Sonos have thoughtfully fitted 2 Ethernet sockets, so if you are going for the hardwired option you won’t be a socket down in that room.

A 30 second look round the Sonos S5 ZonePlayer

Social Software – We hear the next version of the Sonos software (V3.1) is also due for release on the same day the S5 becomes available – 11th November.  The update will give the CR200 and iPod Touch / iPhone App a new look with a screen of icons to choose your music service.

The bigger surprise is that the new software will include some ‘Social Networking’ features.  You’ll be able use your Twitter account (facebook to follow no doubt?) right from a Sonos system to send out a quick message from the CR200 / iPhone app.  With a couple clicks you’ll be able to fire off a tweet that will automatically include your artist and zone location information.  For example you might get – Listening to COLDPLAY in the KITCHEN – then be able to add some free text on the end perhaps giving something like – “Listening to COLDPLAY in the KITCHEN, can’t wait to see them live on Monday”.  These tweets may well be tagged with a link to Sonos to hep them sell more systems of course.

Sonos S5 ZonePlayer

With Sonos refreshing the regular ZonePlayer range last year, then fulfilling the need for a new touchscreen controller with the CR200 and and now a ‘boom box’ zoneplayer with the S5 it’s perhaps unlikely we’ll see more new hardware from them anytime soon.  However we do expect to see more features added to the system as Sonos concentrates its resources on the software.  We wonder if we’ll see any rise in the 65,000 track limit in the new version coming?

We hear as many as 60-70% of UK Sonos users subscribe to a paid streaming service.  With Napster recently dropping its price to £5 per month for unlimited access to its 8 million tracks, it may not be long until storing music locally really does become a minority interest.

The £349 / $399 S5 (now Play:5) is due for its world wide release on 11th November, although we’re told pre-orders have already taken up a lot of the first allocation.  Let us know what you think of yours in the comments below.

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10 Comments on "Sonos S5 ZonePlayer Hands-on Mini Review"

  1. The Masked Installer | October 22, 2009 at 10:16 am |

    Nice piece.

    It’s an interesting solution and as ever some of the best news lies in the software update. Kudos to Sonos for continued development of the platform

    I’m enormously sceptical of the stat about the paid services. I think a couple of our Sonos customers subscribe to Napster. It would be astonishing if 60-70% took it up, particularly when there’s free gems like last.fm on offer. What’s the source of the stat?

  2. I Wonder if someone does not subscribe to Napster! It is an absolutely Great experience when you realize to have (nearly) all the music of the world under your finger at free choice! And they have Grammophon Classic music, too! I have got the BU250 for 3 weeks now and I think it is the greatest gadget I have ever bought. And no: I am not working for Sonos nor for Napster…

  3. The Masked Installer | October 23, 2009 at 4:23 pm |

    We’re a Sonos dealer. Either we don’t push Napster hard enough or we’re unusual. I can tell you the huge majority of our customers don’t use it.

    I think it’s OK, we have it running in our showroom. I know some people love it.

  4. This all looks great but I have a comment on pricing – If I am not mistaken has the price of the ZP120 now just jumped up from £349 to £399. I purchased our ZP120 only a few months back and I’m sure the list price was £349 then???????????

  5. Kevin Savage | November 10, 2009 at 7:48 am |

    I am also amazed at the claim of 60-70% Napster subscribers

    I certainly don’t see the need to pay when, as someone else remarked, the fabulous Last.FM app is free of charge. Also, its main benefit (recommending stuff based on your listening habits) has introduced me to some fabulous new musicians.

  6. Last.fm is certainly nice (and free) but it’s not Napster. You can’t search for a particular song and play it, you have to take what you’re given.

    I think a lot of us more techie types have no problem ripping CDs and having them available on a NAS or home server. For lots of other people though the idea of having millions of tracks available without the need for any of that setup, and all for the price of half a CD per month is probably very attractive.

  7. you’ll need a hard-wired connection or the $99 wireless bridge accessory if it’s your only Sonos component; somewhat expensive, especially if you don’t already own an iPod Touch or iPhone; not much stereo separation.

  8. Hi r4i – We mention the fact that if it’s the only zone in your Sonos system it needs to be hard wired or used with a bridge. Checkout the paragraph above starting “As always the first zone in your Sonos setup must be hard wired to your network…”.

    Stereo separation – that’s a product of the size of this unit and the same for any “Boombox” / “Ghettoblaster”. If you want more speration then use a standard zone player.

  9. More separation coming – you’ll shortly be able to use a pair of S5s – one for left channel and one for right – after a software update coming soon.

  10. Bob Henderson | January 1, 2011 at 5:27 pm |

    I’ve got an old but good music system with amp. cd, radio, tape deck, speakers, etc. Can I integrate all this with a Sonos wireless system? I have an iMac and iTunes plus an iPod. Can you get BBC2,etc, over the internet.

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