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What is Sonos? A Step-by-Step Beginners Guide on How it Works
New to Sonos? Let us explain exactly how it works
what is Sonos, how do you use it and why is it the perfect choice for playing music in every room of your home?
You may have heard of the company Sonos, but are not sure what it is or how their products work. This is the perfect blog for you.
If you get stuck along the way, feel free to give us a call or email, and we'd be happy to explain further.
Sonos is the leading multi-room wireless speaker system that lets you listen to your music all around your home.
It offers a modern alternative to traditional HiFi systems that take up large amounts of space, are fiddly to use and do not take advantage of today's offering.
If you are looking for the ability to get music in multiple rooms or you are simply wanting the best sound with complete flexibility, then we feel there is no better solution out there.
The range includes a small variety of speakers from compact to very powerful, each with their own purpose and suitability for each of your rooms.
Let’s jump right in and explore how it all works.
How does Sonos work?
Sonos uses your WiFi to stream music from more than 100 streaming services including all the popular ones like Spotify, Amazon Music and Apple Music but you can also stream free radio, podcasts or even audiobooks to your speaker.
All a Sonos speaker needs is mains power and WiFi or ethernet internet connection, and the rest is done via the free Sonos app on your phone, tablet or PC.
If you have more than one speaker, you can group the same audio to all speakers at once, or you can choose to have each speaker playing something different. This is a big benefit of your speakers operating over WiFi.
As each speaker is given a room name, it’s also straightforward to know what you are controlling at any given time.
This means that someone can watching a movie on their Sonos soundbar in the lounge and your other half can be listening to the radio in the kitchen at the same time.
How to set up Sonos
The speakers run off your mains power, so the first thing you need to do is plug them into a power socket.
Then, download the Sonos app from any app store for free on your chosen device. This could be a smartphone or a tablet. The app will act as your remote control for your speaker, where you can play music, adjust volume, add your music service accounts and much more.
The app takes you through the set up step-by-step and will ask to connect wirelessly to your WiFi and enter your WiFi password. This is similar to any other device in your home would connect like a laptop or mobile phone.
The whole set up of a Sonos speaker takes about 5-10 minutes.
You’ll call your speaker a room name such as Dining Room and this will appear in the app under “Rooms”. You’ll do this for each Sonos speaker you have.
You can play the same music in every room, or each room can play their own music.
Sonos does not support Bluetooth as this not only limits the amount of range and flexibility you have around your home but also as Bluetooth compresses the quality of the files, it takes away from sound quality too. Bluetooth speakers are great for taking away from home, but in a home audio application, WiFi prevails.
What music services can I play on Sonos?
As mentioned earlier, Sonos supports more than 100 music streaming services from across the globe including the popular ones like Spotify, Amazon Prime Music (included with any Prime subscription), Apple Music and many more.
The chances are if you have a music streaming subscription, it will be supported by Sonos.
Sonos is also starting to support native app control. This means you will be able to control your speakers by using the official music app of your selected services to control your music. This is great for those of you who already love your current music app and don't want to be bound by the Sonos app.
Currently, native app control works with Spotify, Tidal, Deezer, Audiobooks with more planned for 2019.
You can also stream any radio station using the built-in TuneIn radio app as well as import an iTunes library that you have at the moment.
Got a vinyl or CD collection? No problem, you can use certain Sonos products to integrate your existing HiFi with Sonos.
How to play TV audio with Sonos
Sonos provides 3 solutions for TV audio. These are the Beam, Playbar and Playbase.
The Sonos Beam is their most compact soundbar but also the smartest, coming with voice control and AirPlay 2 (more on these later). We recommend the Beam for small-medium sized rooms.
Similar to Sonos’ music speakers, you can group the TV audio to any other Sonos speakers you may have in your home too.
On each of these TV products, they have simple connections to your TV that are designed to work with almost all TV set ups.
For convenience, Sonos do not provide a separate remote control - instead you can pair your existing TV remote with the system for volume controls.
How do I control my Sonos speakers?
Sonos gives you choice on how to control the speaker.
The first way is by using the Sonos app outlined above. The app is a breeze to use and has been focused on the end user which is you. It has been refined over many years and even technophobes should have no trouble setting this speaker up and using the app day-to-day.
Another way is by using your voice as a form of control. Sonos have approached voice services the same way they have with music services, by making their platform agnostic.
This means any voice service can be selected by Sonos users. Currently Sonos supports Amazon's Alexa with Google Assistant support due later in 2019.
Currently, two Sonos speakers have integrated voice support, the class-leading Sonos Beam soundbar and the Sonos One which both feature Amazon Alexa built in to the unit. Google Assistant is coming as a software update to all existing and new users in 2019.
Another bonus is that if you have any Amazon Echo device at the moment, you can integrate that with any Sonos speaker, not just the voice-activated ones.
Amazon Alexa lets you use your voice to do cool things like turn your TV on and off (Beam only), play music from your Spotify or Amazon Music library, as well as using it for fun things like quizzes, stories and world knowledge - all completely hands-free.
The Beam and One also have AirPlay 2 which is a way of casting audio from one device to another. This means you wouldn’t even need to use the app to get the music playing. As this service is owned by Apple, you would need an iPhone, iPad or Mac to do this.
Ok, I think I get it. Where should I start my Sonos journey?
First, consider if you are primarily looking for a soundbar for your TV or if your smart speaker will be for general music listening.
For your TV audio, the Sonos Beam is their latest soundbar released to the market in 2018 and has already won WhatHiFi best soundbar in the £300-£500 category. It does an excellent job of filling small-medium sized living rooms with TV audio, music and radio that is both crystal clear and far-reaching. It has received hundreds of 5* reviews from customers already enjoying the experience of significantly better TV audio.
If your budget is more flexible and you are in pursuit of something extra special, for example, a cinema room, consider the Playbar or Playbase which can offer a richer listening experience.
All TV speakers mentioned above have the ability to add a Sub and rear speakers for a more immersive surround sound experience. These can be added at entirely your own pace.
For general music listening, the Sonos One is an affordable smart speaker which looks great, sounds great and is ideal for filling bedrooms, kitchens, studies and similar rooms with exceptional audio. It has also won numerous awards such as best gadget of the year in the 2018 T3 awards.
With both the Beam and One featuring Amazon Alexa voice control and Airplay 2 built in, we believe there is no other speaker out there offering this much choice in this price category.
Still have questions? Contact our friendly team of Sonos specialists who can help with any questions you have on 0800 677 1100.