The economy took its toll on digital audio in 2009, with CD sales continuing to decline (even as vinyl makes a resurgence), digital start-ups going bankrupt or disappearing after takeovers, and labels expressing dissatisfaction with would-be digital saviors like MySpace Music. Even so, there was actually quite a lot to cheer this year. The following five products aren't necessarily the best, but to me, they did the most to move the state of digital audio forward in 2009.
Last week, Sonos unveiled the ZonePlayer S5, the first product in its streaming-audio family to boast built-in speakers. Monday, we got the opportunity to see (and hear) it in person for the first time when Sonos reps dropped by our New York office for a demo.
The setup was a two-zone system (two S5s) pulling music from an Apple Time Capsule. The one caveat of a Sonos setup is that at least one component needs a wired network connection. In this case, a ZoneBridge BR100 was connected to the Apple router via Ethernet, which in turn enabled both S5s to … Read more
We've long been fans of the Sonos Digital Music System, which lets you stream all manner of digital audio throughout your home. The latest BU250 bundle is an enthusiastic CNET Editors' Choice, in part because it can be controlled either via the included touch-screen controller or with any iPhone or iPod Touch (running a free Sonos Controller app). Unfortunately, it costs $1,000--not bad for a two-room system, but still out of reach for many consumers--and it needs to be connected to external speakers or audio components to hear the music.
The new Sonos ZonePlayer S5 aims to address both of those issues. It boasts an all-in-one design with built-in stereo speakers, so it's plug and play. And it costs $400--not cheap, but well within the price range of refined iPod speaker systems we've seen from Bose, B&W, and other luxury brands.
Add the Sonos Digital Music System to the list of Twitter-friendly hardware platforms. The network music streamer (which recently garnered a CNET Editors' Choice Award) will be integrating the microblogging service into its CR200 touch-screen controller, its iPhone app, and its Windows and Mac Desktop Controller software later this fall. In the meantime, it's in beta testing.
According to Sonos, the Twitter function will allow users to post (or "tweet," in the parlance of our times) track and artist info with one click. More interesting for users of the free iPhone/iPod Touch Sonos app is that … Read more
The Sonos CR200 is the wireless touchscreen remote control that's included with the Sonos Digital Music System BU250. It replaces the CR100 that was available with earlier iterations of the Sonos bundle.
Additional CR200s can be purchased for $350 each (with included charging cradle), providing the ability to control the Sonos multi-room audio system from additional locations throughout the house. However, it's important to note that the Sonos Controller App--a free download from the iTunes App Store--will deliver much of the same functionality of the CR200 to any iPhone or iPod Touch.
For more information on the … Read more
Sonos is back for 2009 with a new version of its signature Digital Audio System. Like earlier iterations of the Sonos product, the new Bundle 250 lets you wirelessly access your computer's digital music collection as well as a wide range of Internet radio and streaming-audio services (Pandora, Last.fm, and--with paid subscriptions--Napster and Rhapsody) in two rooms of the house, with the option to expand that up to a whopping 32 rooms. But the latest Sonos system adds a major upgrade: the CR200 touch-screen remote.
If that wasn't good enough--and the remote is excellent--it can also be … Read more
The folks at Sonos told us they had some new stuff coming out soon, but we weren't expecting to get any details on it until they briefed us in a few weeks. However, word of a new remote started to trickle out recently, and on Tuesday Sonos itself leaked info on the new CR200 controller on its own Web site (the page has now been taken down).
Unlike its predecessor (the CR100), the new controller has a touch screen, and the 3.5-inch VGA LCD is capacitive, which means it's more responsive. The other thing to note is … Read more
The kind folks at Eos Wireless sent me one of their wireless multiroom audio systems to test out a couple weeks ago, and after setting it up tonight, all I can say is that it made me long for the power and solidity of the Sonos system that I got to try out last December.
CNET's Jeff Bakalar already hit all the high and low points in last month's review, and my experience was much the same. I started by plugging my iPhone into the base station. Some of the promotional material for the system says the Eos … Read more