What is a Sonos digital home audio system?
I'm considering getting a Sonos system, but I don't understand how it works with my computer and home stereo, and what I would need in terms of equipment to set it up. Can you give me some idea of what I'd need and how to make it work?
The world of computer based audio is growing so fast that it is easy to become confused about the best way to run your setup. There are, in fact, a number of very good ways do it. Luckily for you, you picked a system that can accommodate almost all of them. The Sonos is a versatile unit.￼
The first thing you need to do is make a commitment to using a computer as a music storage site. Rather than running over to the CD rack, you will be listening to your music off of a harddrive. There are a great many advantages to this, from ease of filing (no more lost CD cases or scratched CDs) to the ability to take your music with you easily, via an mp3 player of some sort.
One of the nicest things about a computer based system is that you have the ability to totally customize what you listen to - mix up all the albums from one artist, pick a few dozen songs or cds to listen to in random order, listen to all your music from one genre, or make custom playlists so that you can listen to only the songs you want, in the order you want.
The Sonos allows you to listen to you computer based music from any stereo in the house. You can even use it instead of a stereo and hook speakers directly up to a Sonos unit. It's like having an iPod in every room of your house, all having access to your entire music collection.
Now to your question. Let's assume you have all your music on your harddrive. The Sonos comes with two units, called Zoneplayers, and a remote, called a Controller. One of these Zoneplayers needs to be hooked up to your network through an ethernet cable. It can be anywhere in your house, as long as it's connected to your network with a cable.
Once you've done that, the other Zoneplayer, and future Zoneplayers that you add, can all be setup through wireless connections, so they can be anywhere in your house. The first controller can even be run over a wireless router and be placed anywhere in the house, but it's an unsupported installation.
￼The Zoneplayers that come with the base Sonos system are designed to connect directly to your stereo through a variety of audio hookups (they accommodate most any type.) Let's say that you plug your first Zoneplayer into a ethernet cable running to your computer in your office, where you have a stereo setup.
All you have to do is connect some RCA cables from the Zoneplayer to your auxiliary input on the stereo and you are connected. Now, pick a place that your second Zoneplayer will be located - maybe next to the stereo in your bedroom. Again, run RCA cables from that Zoneplayer to your auxiliary inputs and you're done.
Next, you follow the quick setup guide that came with the system, and you tell it where the Zoneplayers are located, and where your music library is. After charging the controller, you're ready to listen to music! Sounds easy, doesn't it? That's because it is. This is more a piece of stereo equipment than computer hardware, and it's just as easy to hook up.
Now you can access you entire music collection from anywhere in your house with the Controller. You can play playlists, albums, mixes, and even internet radio over any stereo in your house that has a Zoneplayer hooked up to it. You can tell the system to play the same thing over every stereo that it's hooked up to (great for parties) or have a different playlist or source going in every room of the house. You even get to see album art on the full color Controller screen.
￼Then the fun part starts. You can buy additional components for the system, and have zones all over your house. Want to listen to your music on your living room stereo? Connect a Zoneplayer 80. Want music in your garage? Just buy a Zoneplayer 100, which has a built-in amplifier, hook speakers up to it, and you are ready to go. You can even get matching speakers from Sonos. Any of the Zoneplayers with the exception of the first one can be connected via ethernet cable or can be run wireless, so the possibilities are endless. Stick a stereo in your kitchen. Add one in your bathroom. Put one in the guest suite, along with a controller, and your guests can listen to anything they want. Your kids can have their own system in their own room, while you listen to something else downstairs. Since the Zoneplayers each transmit individually, each player you add increases the range of the Sonos network. You can even connect an mp3 player to a Zoneplayer and listen to it anywhere in the house.
It's a well conceived system with a host of possibilities. Enjoy it!
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