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This article was published on October 6, 2010

Review : Sonos Multi-Room Music System and Controller for iPad

Review : Sonos Multi-Room Music System and Controller for iPad
Jeff Cormier
Story by

Jeff Cormier

Jeff Cormier, a graduate of SMU and the TW School of Law, is the co-founder of C4 Universe, LLC. Desire to know more? Jeff Cormier, a graduate of SMU and the TW School of Law, is the co-founder of C4 Universe, LLC. Desire to know more?

Recently I received the Sonos Multi-Room Music System for review: one Sonos ZonePlayer S5 in white, one Sonos ZonePlayer S5 in black, and a Sonos ZoneBridge.   Combined that hardware with last week’s release of the Sonos Controller for iPad app, and one has a music-meets-technology home audio system, a system unlike anything I had previously experienced.

Sonos is a company consisting of music lovers, who make products for music lovers.  Everything Sonos does, from the products they design to consumer interaction reflects how much Sonos loves music and more importantly, how much they enjoy making products for music lovers.

According to Sonos,

“At Sonos we excel at building systems that combine hardware, software, industrial design, usability design, and services into a simple package that works right out of the box.”

Let’s see if that’s the case as we review the Sonos Mult-Room Music System and Sonos Controller for the iPad.


Sonos ZonePlayer S5 ($399)

  • 5 state-of the-art digital amplifiers individually coupled with 5 speakers
  • Class-D amplifiers
  • 2 tweeters
  • 2 dedicated mid-range drivers
  • Subwoofer driver
  • Acoustic port
  • Adjustable bass and treble controls

ZoneBridge ($99)

  • A wireless bridge extending the range of the Sonos system
  • Two-port Ethernet switch, bringing standard Internet connectivity to your set-top box, DVR, PC, game console, or NAS drive.

Sonos Controller for the iPad (free download from App Store)

  • Wirelessly stream of songs and music stations right from your iPad
  • Instantly access iTunes content
  • Play the music stored on your computer or NAS drive or Apple Time Capsule
  • Play the same song in every room or different songs in every room
  • Control the music selection and volume in each room individually
  • Search for any song with the touch-screen keyboard
  • Drag and drop songs or albums into the queue or now playing pane.
  • Wake up or fall asleep to your favorite music or Internet radio station with full-featured alarms

In Use:

Out of the box, setting up the Sonos Multi-Room Music System could not be more easy.  To test this I opened the box, looked at my wife, and asked her to set it up.  Not that she is a dolt, but I wanted someone with no prior knowledge of the system to give setting it up a try.

Within thirty minutes she had set up both speakers (one in the living room, one in the office), the ZoneBridge, and  connected each of our respective computers, iPads and iPhones to the system, enabling system control from a computer or from anywhere, wirelessly, from within our house.

Once set up, it was time to play some music. Again, depending on how you choose to listen to music, Sonos has you covered.

The Sonos music system works with online music sources including: Napster, iheartradio,, Pandora, Rhapsody, SIRIUS, and more.  Further, the system can also play music directly from an iPod (your own or that of another through the analog line-in jack on the back of the S5), or you can stream your music library to the system (up to 65,000 songs) from your own storage devices.

Regardless of where your music comes from, online, from an iPod, or from a personal music library, control of the Sonos Mult-Room System through the Sonos Controller for iPad is just as easy as setting up the system.  If you’re streaming from Pandora, you can like/unlike a song, skip songs, change the volume and more.  If you’re streaming music from your iTunes library, you can choose individual songs to play, or elect to stream a playlist, all complete with the full-color album art.

The sound quality the Sonos Multi-Room Audio System provides is top notch.  At 20 percent of the max volume, music could be heard throughout my entire house.  Granted my home isn’t large by any means, so to put the speakers to the test, I stood outside, but still within WiFi range, and cranked the system until I could hear it.  At 40 percent I could clearly hear music playing from within my home.  Simply put, the S5 speakers are grand.

What I Liked:

  • Extremely slick design
  • Extremely easy to set up and use
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Ability to play music from nearly all online services, an iPod, an iTunes library and more
  • Ability to Tweet what one’s listening to from the Sonos Controller for Mac or PC

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Design and functionality reflected in the price.  One S5 speaker, a ZoneBridge and if you don’t own an iPad, a Sonos Controller, will run one $849.  If you own an iPad, the cost is a “measly” $500.


The Sonos Multi-Room Audio System and Controller for iPad are grand.  The ability to stream music, wirelessly, from multiple sources, is truly a joy.  Having complete control over what music is playing either on an iPad, iPhone or one’s computer are features that cannot be beat.  If you have the means, I highly recommend that you consider the Sonos Multi-Room Audio System and Controller for iPad for your home.  I’m saving up for mine.