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Linux HiFi: The Sonos Digital Music System

CmdrTaco posted more than 9 years ago | from the stuff-to-want dept.

Media 183

TractorJector writes "Mad Penguin published a 5 page review of the Sonos Digital Music System, a wireless music distribution system built on Linux. According to the site, you can use a single remote to control up to 32 "zones" (locations throughout your house where the receivers are placed). The interface is intuitive and well done for such a compact device. According to the review, it's extremely simple to setup as well."

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Sonos? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12891822)

Sounds of Fate?

Re:Sonos? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12892138)

Charlie Brown: How can Linux be Hi-Fi?!

Good one... (1)

2names (531755) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892567)

The sixth Incarnation of Immortality

He rides in on a skateboard with a doobie in one hand and an iPod in the other.

... neat idea ... (3, Interesting)

ninjagin (631183) | more than 9 years ago | (#12891824)

I looked at this system awhile back, but it seems a little too costly.

I ended up just putting a computer with some decent speakers in each room I wanted music and accessing my music files over my existing network.

One thing in Sonos' favor is that their system is a lot more consumer-accessible.

Very neat.

Re:... neat idea ... (1)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892152)

I did the same thing as far as speakers, but instead of computers, I bought squeezeboxes from Slimdevices. They have a decent remote control, decent search funtions, stream Live365 and Shoutcast, among others, and the devices can act independently or be synced together.

Re:... neat idea ... (1)

pivo (11957) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892421)

The best thing about Sonus is that you can control everything, including volume, from the remote. The problem with streaming devices like squeezebox is that, while you can control a lot of things via a web interface, volume isn't one of them. So you need at least two remotes. And, in my opinion, that just sucks too much.

I'm using mpd [] now, which does allow you to control volume. So I use my laptop as a remote to one of mpd's web UIs, then I can hide the ugly sound system in a closet. It's not ideal, because it means you have to turn your amp up really high and attenuate it with your sound card, but it works well enough. The Sonous is so much cooler, though, so I'm thinking of switching.

Re:... neat idea ... (1)

cruff (171569) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892702)

The problem with streaming devices like squeezebox is that, while you can control a lot of things via a web interface, volume isn't one of them.

Not true, the current slimserver interface allows control of the volume from the web interface.

Re:... neat idea ... (1)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892773)

But you don't have a volume control on a CD player, tape player, or record player either.

Now if you could program your tuner remote to the Squeezebox code, that would be something.

Re:... neat idea ... (1)

pivo (11957) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892877)

That's true, but the Sonos isn't a stereo component like those other things are. It's an amp with an ethernet input and software to control what it reads from that input.

They're obviously not aiming this at people with CD/tape/record players. But honestly, those are ancient audio technology now.

Coincidence? I think not... (1)

2names (531755) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892263)

How convenient that there was an ad for a Microsoft Media Center at the bottom of the page...

Check out the screen shot []

Re:Coincidence? I think not... (1)

generic-man (33649) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892301)

That's not ironic. That's targeted.

ipod clickwheel (2, Interesting)

x102output (536049) | more than 9 years ago | (#12891825)

i wonder if they will get sued for apple, or got the proper rights for that clickwheel

Re:ipod clickwheel (2, Informative)

y2dt (184562) | more than 9 years ago | (#12891894)

Apple does't make the click wheel for the iPods. They buy them from Synaptics, the same company that makes touch pads for laptops.

These guys probably got them from Synaptics too.

Re:ipod clickwheel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12891942)

but Apple holds the pattent.

Re:ipod clickwheel (1)

Mattcelt (454751) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892332)

Much more profitable for Apple (or whoever) to license the patent than try to sue everybody who wants to use the same idea. Apple is not quite so pugilistic as, say, SCO.

Re:ipod clickwheel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12892774)

> Apple is not quite so pugilistic as, say, SCO.

That's faint praise if I ever heard it.

Nope (2, Informative)

Dorsai42 (738671) | more than 9 years ago | (#12891945)

Interlink Electronics []

If cool tech music toys come out on Linux first (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 9 years ago | (#12891826)

won't this cause people to desert Windows in even greater numbers?

I mean, think of all those MSFT coders ...


Re:If cool tech music toys come out on Linux first (1)

m50d (797211) | more than 9 years ago | (#12891883)

Lol. Users don't care it's linux, what difference does it make to them? You don't see big takeup of whatever embedded OS is running the iPod, do you?

Scalability (2, Funny)

ndansmith (582590) | more than 9 years ago | (#12891833)

What if your house only has one zone? Do you still have to pay full price?

Re:Scalability (5, Funny)

justforaday (560408) | more than 9 years ago | (#12891851)

And why is there no bathroom zone in their screenshot? They'd better have a toilet icon, or I'm not getting this...

Re:Scalability (1)

klausboop (322537) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892358)

Users would be confused: they'd try to drag and drop their least favorite songs into the toilet.

Re:Scalability (1)

GuineaPigMan (663444) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892665)

There is a bathroom icon actually, it's a bathtub though. Check the demo, it's like the last icon they show.

Re:Scalability (1)

Seany-Heady (151106) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892399)

you need one zone player per zone that you want to cover... so, yes you only get what you pay for :)

Not free (-1, Troll)

Seth Finklestein (582901) | more than 9 years ago | (#12891843)

OK, you built it on Linux. Now let's see your source code.

TiVo delivered. [] Unless I see some code from Sonos, I can only label them as open source leeches and will recommend a thorough boycott.

Re:Not free (4, Informative)

isometrick (817436) | more than 9 years ago | (#12891973)

I assume you are trolling, but here you go [] .

Re:Not free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12892113)

Where's the HOWTO so I can turn my own boxen into Sonos boxen? I don't want to buy any more boxen.

Re:Not free (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12892205)

Are you afraid that your boxen will get virii?

Re:Not free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12892694)

What do I look like -- a luser? Now don't make me LART your virii-ridden boxen!

Scroll wheel (2, Interesting)

Dark Paladin (116525) | more than 9 years ago | (#12891853)

Looks like a very cool system - well outside my price range (and with 3 small children, outside of my "what can my heart stand when the little buggers touch the expensive equipment").

My only question is on the school wheel interface. My understanding is that Apple had purchased the rights to use the patents to the scroll wheel touchpad system for their technologies (I don't recall the actual patent holder). Does this mean that Sony's scroll wheel is not touch pad based (could be a physical wheel and *not* violate the patent, I guess), or did they also get a piece of the patent license somehow?

Just curious.

Re:Scroll wheel (3, Informative)

ductormalef (260954) | more than 9 years ago | (#12891916)

I asked them this exact question at CES in Vegas. First off, it IS a touch-sensitive scroll wheel. Second, they said they had someone else design it and got around the patents somehow (this was their salesperson speaking, not their patent attorney). Anyone from Sonos care to weigh in.

Re:Scroll wheel (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12892144)

The Panasonic Toughbook CF-R1 has a round, scrolling touch pad for quite a while, and I haven't seen Apple complain. I believe they just have an exclusive license with the clickwheel manufacturer, not a patent, so there's probably nothing they can do.

Re:Scroll wheel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12892061)

I'm not sure what technology/combination of technologies the Apple patent is for, but I know that sells a chip designed to implement a capacitive scroll-wheel type sensor. You can buy one on Digikey for about $6. So I don't think Apple has a lock on every touch-based wheel interface out there..

Slashdot (0, Offtopic)

8086ed (876715) | more than 9 years ago | (#12891876)

Sometimes I wonder why I sit here, waiting for the next Slashdot story only to find that it is something I've already seen months ago, time after time.

Re:Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12891919)

Because you're hopelessly addicted to the internet and need some fresh air and less slashdot?

FP! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12891886)

Dupe (somewhat) [] , FP!, Yes It does run linux, yes you can setup a cluster of these (of sort..), No - this is not only for old people in Korea, Nah .. In soviet Russia the remote control does not use you. We know, the idea went .. 1. Customize free OS, 2. Slap some nice hardware on it, 2. Exploit Digital Music Popularity. 3. Profit! and yes it is also famous in Japan!

Re:FP! (1)

richdun (672214) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892146)

Wow, you almost covered all the bases.

Except for the ones with "
" in them.

You are the weakest link! Goodbye!

Seems pretty expensive (2, Interesting)

Roginator (540832) | more than 9 years ago | (#12891914)

I could buy a cheapo $299 Dell for each bedroom, network them wirelessly to a huge 300GB drive and have far more functionality than this setup. Am I wrong?

Re:Seems pretty expensive (3, Insightful)

generic-man (33649) | more than 9 years ago | (#12891948)

Yes. The $299 Dells don't have surround-sound-out or wireless, you would have to rig up a PDA or laptop as the wireless controller, and the towers are much larger than the Sonos stations. You would also lose out on the ability to play the same thing in multiple zones all at once without some careful synchronization (also not easy).

Re:Seems pretty expensive (1)

Hell O'World (88678) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892101)

And that cool remote control... sweet.

Re:Seems pretty expensive (4, Insightful)

RapmasterT (787426) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892055)

I could buy a cheapo $299 Dell for each bedroom, network them wirelessly to a huge 300GB drive and have far more functionality than this setup. Am I wrong?
No, you're not wrong, you're simply not in the target market for this device. Clearly they're marketing this at people who's first reaction WON'T be how much cheaper they could do it themselves

Ultimately, they will reduce the price by about 50% or they will fail. I looked at the Sonos a while back and it was great, pretty much everything you could want in a multi-room wireless music distribution system, as long as money is no object.

My only complaint is that by making it white and oddly sized, they made it look like a Mac Mini, not like a stereo component. I don't know why so many companies have such a difficult time understanding that oddly shaped/colored components may be a plus in the computer world, but not in the audio one.

Re:Seems pretty expensive (1)

ShawnOster (894546) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892451)

I'm not sure how soon they'll drop the price. I talked to a guy at BestBuy (where they are also selling it as part of their new Magnolia line) and he said they were jumping off the shelves. Some guy had just bought 8 zone players and 2 remotes without blinking. Anyone with a house big enough to want different zones will more than likely have the dosh to drop on the system. About the size/shape, I like it. For my stero rack maybe not... but for my bedroom? For my patio? for the garage? I definitly do not want a stero looking piece in my bedroom. I really do *hope* though that they drop the price 50%. I am right on the edge of picking a bundle up. It it was $900 I'd grab it in a heart beat.

Re:Seems pretty expensive (1)

RapmasterT (787426) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892672)

It it was $900 I'd grab it in a heart beat.
exactly my feelings on it. But when I was looking at it, I found it was far cheaper to produce pretty much exactly the same thing with a PC and a wireless PocketPC. If I could buy something cheaper, and that probably had far better integration than what I could whip up, hell yeah I'd buy it. But at twice the, just not gonna happen.

I still want it to be black though.

Re:Seems pretty expensive (1)

pivo (11957) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892637)

they made it look like a Mac Mini, not like a stereo component

When my ancient stereo system gave up, I went to the audio store expecting to be wowed by all the new audio tech, instead I found myself in a timewarp back to 1980 or so.

Aside from remote controls, there hasn't been a significant advance in audio equipment UIs since the '70s or '80. The Sonous probably isn't for someone who still appreciates all those dreary kobs and switches, but it's exactly the thing I was looking for.

Re:Seems pretty expensive (1)

klausboop (322537) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892300)

You're absolutely correct from what I've seen. Most of the audio manufacturers' flavors of wireless multiroom entertainment (a bunch are covered in on_id=2&article_id=831&page_number=1 [] ) are awfully expensive, on the magnitude of dropping multiple thousands of bucks.

The key is the consumer-friendliness other posters have noted. Personally, I entered the world of open source when I pulled an old Pentium II machine out of the closet and installed the Slimserver software on it ( [] ). I also like SlimServer because their hardware for wireless streaming is cheap compared to other solutions (roughly $300 if I remember right), so you can have mutiroom pretty cheap if you're providing your own server. I skipped the wireless hardware they sell for now and just have a second PC hooked up to the stereo.

Recycling a couple of unused computers meant my cost of entry was almost $0. I enjoyed selecting, installing and configuring an operating system, ripping CDs using EAC and LAME or FLAC, etc. But I have to think that most consumers probably don't want anything to do with any of that! They'll spend the multiple thousands of bucks to avoid the geeked-out installation, configuration, maintenance and day-to-day usage.

While we're on the subject: if anyone is considering dropping those thousands just to utilize their iPod or similar device in their house, I'd advocate that you to do something the article mentioned, but without the Sonos or any other fancy device: go buy a 1/8 stereo to RCA adapter for <$7 at Radio Shack or Wal-Mart, and plug your iPod into your stereo that way. Sure, you get no fancy touch-screen remote and the ability to change music while you're on the toilet, but so what? Your receiver (or even your TV!) likely has front-panel inputs. Plug your portable player into that: just because there's a video plug sitting there doesn't mean you have to plug anything into it.

Re:Seems pretty expensive (1)

ghukov (854181) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892592)

I built mine out of an old amd k6-2 350 Mhz NLX system running gentoo, using an old SB0090 audigy sound card (alsa) and a 1/8" mono to rca adapter for the digital (gotta use mono for that) audio output. xmms is good stuff. For the next step in my project I plan to use the built in IR port and an old palm VII for playlist control.

Re:Seems pretty expensive (1)

pivo (11957) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892690)

I'd say you are wrong. Unless those Dell's are small, silent and have a built-in 50 watt amplifier. Not to mention that if you wanted to play the same music in two rooms with no delay/echo you'd have a very difficult time.

Re:You are wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12892783)

The system has the ability play the same music at the exact same time or play different music in each zone. Also, the zones act as repeaters that extend the range of the WiFi and commands can be sent to one zone intended for another zone. Have this running all through my house and there is no other product or simple "Computer" way to do it.

Re:Seems pretty expensive (3, Insightful)

dr.badass (25287) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892813)

I could buy a cheapo $299 Dell for each bedroom, network them wirelessly to a huge 300GB drive and have far more functionality than this setup. Am I wrong?

Yes. What you save in dollars you'll be spending tenfold in time.

Stop thinking of price as something only measured in dollars and you'll better understand why people buy things like this when they could have something "better".

Re:Seems pretty expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12892932)

There are some differences than having a bunch of networked PCs in different rooms.

First-Sonos gives you the ability to control all zones from a single device. Yes, you could configure remote logins on each machine, but it could be a little cumbersome.

Second-Sonos gives you the ability to have multiple zones in sync, so that music playing in your living room is the same as in the kitchen and the same as in the family room. A great feature for parties or doing work around the house when you move from room to room. Again, you could use Shoutcast or some other software and configure something similar, but this is above the head of Joe Consumer.

Third-I would not want to put a whole PC/monitor/keyboard in my kitchen, living room, family room and each bedroom. While I agree that it could be configured to only need the CPU and speakers, but do you really want to have to go to another room to use a PC and change your music?

Lastly-the average consumer will not have the knowledge and patience to network machines together and configure them.

So depending on your listening habits, home layout, etc. it may not be worth buying something like Sonos, but networking a bunch of cheap machines together doesn't give you the same thing.

Consider the list... (4, Funny)

bedroll (806612) | more than 9 years ago | (#12891935)

of things that I don't need, can't afford, will never get, but want anyway, updated.

What I hoped AirPortExpress would be (2, Insightful)

mfago (514801) | more than 9 years ago | (#12891987)

The Sonos sounds more like what I had hoped the AirPortExpress [] would be: awesome looking remote control and multiple zones. Although Apple's product is much cheaper...

Jobs has hinted at a remote control feature for AirportExpress, but nothing has materialized so far.

Re:What I hoped AirPortExpress would be (2, Informative)

generic-man (33649) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892033)

The Keyspan Express Remote [] plugs into the USB port on the Airport Express and lets you control playback. You still need a computer that broadcasts the music, just like the Sonos. Sadly. the Express Remote is nowhere near as cool as the Sonos remote.

Re:What I hoped AirPortExpress would be (1)

sarahemm (707486) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892082)

There is at least one third party remote for the Airport Express, the KeySpam URM-17A [] plugs into the USB port on the Express and lets you control it.

UPnP media player for linux (2, Interesting)

Hollins (83264) | more than 9 years ago | (#12891993)

The biggest need I have in this realm is for a UPnP media player that runs under linux and can play streams from a Windows server. I'd be happy with one that only supports audio, but so far no dice. I'd like to interface with Real's Rhapsody from a Linux box.

There seem to be plenty of UPnP servers being developed under Linux, but no clients.

Are there proprietary codec issues that are hindering this?

Re:UPnP media player for linux (1)

Albanach (527650) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892670)

I'm sure you could capture the audio stream from rhapsody and do with it as you please. Why though? Rhapsody does run pretty well under wine as long as you stick to version 2, not the v3 update.

V2 is still available from the Rhapsody home page.

This is OK... But no AM/FM/XM/CD player options. (5, Informative)

brundog (675895) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892015)

I looked heavily at a Sonos system and decided against it. Although it's got an incredible "coolness" factor to it, it's limited. There is no built-in support for AM/FM radio. XM Satellite radio or a CD player? Nope and nope.

Therefore, what I did opt for is a system from Russound. Their "CA-Series" is very nice. Check them out at [] . I have two six-zone systems, creating a total of twelve integrated zones.

You definitely loose the oohs-and-ahhs factor that Sonos brings with their remote LCD. However, when I walk into a room in my house, I can control that zone from any one of six sources: two AM/FM radio tuners, XM Satellite radio, a CD player, my MP3 collection, and even a cable TV feed. Yes, I can even tune the station I want on the radio, skip tracks on the CD player, etc.. This is all done via the in-wall control panel.

It's not as [fancy|sexy|cool] as the Sonos, however, it's more functional for my listening style.

Re:This is OK... But no AM/FM/XM/CD player options (1)

CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892345)

Completely agree! Russound/Niles/Nuvo/etc/etc systems are WAY beyond this system for the price. There are TONS of options to add WAY more oohs-and-ahhs (including the LCD remotes) by integrating with a good HA system like Homeseer [] .

Re:This is OK... But no AM/FM/XM/CD player options (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12892617)

Checked this out and it looks good. How much did this setup cost you?

Re:This is OK... But no AM/FM/XM/CD player options (1)

pivo (11957) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892793)

Why would you want to connect a CD player? That seems crazy. Almost the whole point of this is to get rid of your CDs. Rip them to disk, then put them in storge. Now streaming support, that would be nice.

Re:This is OK... But no AM/FM/XM/CD player options (1)

brundog (675895) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892959)

I want to connect a 5-disc CD player because others in the house aren't exactly as tech savvy as myself. :-) Also, when guests come over, occasionally it's nice to be able to pop in one of their CDs. (ie, friend's band's demos, etc).

Russound does have a streaming media player. This isn't the best link [] for it, but if you click on the "SMS3 Media Server" towards the right, you'll get a pop-up. The SMS3 supports up to three simultaneous streams, I think. (Meaning that different streams can be playing in three separate zones at the same time.)

Also, somebody below posted about how the Sonos is the only system which supports a "syncing" of different zones. The Russound I have supports "party mode", meaning that all zones play the same source. And, of course, its got nice hookups for muting when the phone or doorbell rings, and an "all off" feature on every keypad for turning the whole house off when it's bedtime.

Like a different reply said, Niles makes similar equipment, and these Sonos-competitors (Russounds, Niles) just seem to be a whole lot more flexible and extendible than the Sonos if you are looking for more than just MP3 streaming.

Why didn't they use OS X? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12892049)

It's faster, easier to use, more secure, has the benefits of being closed source, and runs rings around Linux in just about every aspect of technology. Wy are so many companies stupid enough to fall for the hype of Linux when the REALITY of OS X is here today?

Re:Why didn't they use OS X? (1)

RoadKill1313 (862329) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892087)

What are you talking about? Running linux on the Sonos system? That would be retarded. As for the Sonos works with Windows as well as OS X, and you can get it to work with Linux. Please explain yourself.

Re:Why didn't they use OS X? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12892614)

Running linux on the Sonos system? That would be retarded.

Exactly my point. In case you missed it, the Soros system does run Linux and that IS retarded. Linux has the WORST sound support of any OS since maybe the VIC-20. You can only play one sound at a time, and that is only if you are lucky enough to have a sound card that is supported. 99% of the PeeCee sound cards just don't work.

Had they gone with OS X however, they would have had the BEST OS ever made. It is technologically more advanced than Linux in every respect, AND it is closed source so they would have been guaranteed quality and accountability.

Two ponderances (1)

hostyle (773991) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892062)

1. Will it interfere with existing wireless networks?

2. Have they now beaten Apple to the crunch ahead of their proposed Airport expansions?

Hah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12892072)

Here in Santa Barbara, Sonos is getting the reputation of an arrogant and bad company that treats their employees very poor. They ALWAYS have openings posted on job boards that never seem to get filled.

Re:Hah... (1)

RoadKill1313 (862329) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892142)

I'm not even an employee and their support team treated me great. Respect was shown through the three conversations I have had with them. Two convo's with their Santa Barbara crew and one with their Cambridge people. Sniff some more glue! Sonos is great!

Which is pretty much what you'd expect... (2, Insightful)

MattW (97290) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892115)

Of course, the excellent is pretty much what you'd expect given that you're paying $1200 for a remote control and a pair of wireless bridge+tuner boxes.

Expensive (4, Insightful)

anonicon (215837) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892125)

I checked this out via an ad at Engadget, and it is pretty nice, but man, that price tag is way too expensive to even consider them. While I like the remote control that has the built-in monitor (for the love of God, all remotes for small devices should have that, otherwise you can't see what you're navigating around in unless the player is at arm's length, in which case, who needs a remote?), $1199 for two wireless boxes and a remote w/monitor is waaaaaaay out of my price range.

What sort of interference will this cause? (1)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892129)

What sort of interference will this cause, or will be affected by? My grandson showed me something with his cell phone: turning it on near his computer speakers would cause them to emit unusual reverberating sounds. And before the phone rang, the speakers would emit a squeal. Would this sound system be affected by cell phone or wifi or wireless networking or other similar devices and technologies?

Re:What sort of interference will this cause? (1)

Marc2k (221814) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892775)

Bzzzt! That's his shitty speakers' fault! More likely than not, the wires going from his computer to his speakers are improperly shielded and are picking up electromagnetic interference. That really has little to do with "interference" as you'd tend to think of it, that is, one device messing up the broadcast/transmission mechanism/frequency of another device, the problem there is relatively lo-tech. Get better speakers, get better speaker cables (although with low-end consumer grade speakers, it's simply easier to get better speakers), or move the source of interference a bit. Sometimes, it's a matter of moving the computer desk farther away from the wall outlet if you've got older wiring, or in this case have your grandson not set his cell phone on the computer desk. I can't imagine that the field around the phone is very large, that should solve the problem.

Finally... (1)

Nytewynd (829901) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892132)

A system that will let me create a different playlist for each of my 3 bathrooms.

How many people need different music for different rooms anyway? Aren't most people listening to the music in the same room as the device? Plus, unless you happen to be cruising around you house with the giant remote control, you're just going to have to run to the room with the remote in it instead of the room with the stereo...

Re:Finally... (1)

ShawnOster (894546) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892354)

I do. I want different music in my office/bedroom than my wife wants downstairs in the kitchen/patio. She has the remote while I can control the music via my computer, so no running around.

Re:Finally... (1)

generic-man (33649) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892479)

If you have to ask, it's not for you. This system is meant to go in expensive homes where you might want to have music running in the living room, the dining room, the parlor, the kitchen, your bedroom, the kids' bedrooms, the maid's bedroom, the patio, the poolhouse, and the wine cellar. Systems that the Sonos competes with cost thousands upon thousands of dollars and have to be installed by professional installers. For someone who wants a simple solution with a really sweet remote control, the Sonos fits the need.

Sonos is a luxury product. If you have to try and rationalize the purchase, then you're not in the company's target market.

Great product, terrible price (0, Flamebait)

birge (866103) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892166)

It's nice to see that the free work of so many programmers was put to use to create an overpriced product with huge profit margins. Weren't we all supposed to benefit from opensource? It looks like the monetary fruits of OSS are going entirely to the deep pockets of a few.

I bet it's gotta kill guys like Linus and the people who spent years working on linux to go into a store and see a company trying to make them pay for what they wrote for free.

ARGGG! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12892212)

Damn it! I clicked on the link thinking it was a system I could emerge on my Gentoo box. Never post something again that has the word 'Linux' in it and requires you to actually pay for something.

Cute, Badly Positioned Product (1)

podperson (592944) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892238)

Essentially Airport Express and a bunch of less usable products from Cisco et al do everything Sonos does except the analog loophole (which is a cool feature ... but only useful in rather odd situations).

Consider possible users:

1. Hi Fi enthusiast.

This person is not going to pay $1200 to use a cheesy 50W amplifier.

2. Computer Nut.

Already has all his/her audio digitized and several spare computers lying around along with a wireless network and some decent stereos. Why pay $1200 for Sonos when $129 per Airport Express hub gets you even more?

3. Idiot with too much money.

Sonos only started providing speakers as an afterthought, and the speakers do not match the rest of the gear. The standalone server hasn't been released yet. So now you need to install software, show them how to rip media, etc. Hmm, iTunes sounds better every minute.

So what's their target market?

Re:Cute, Badly Positioned Product (1)

karnal (22275) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892403)

4. Businesses.

Which sometimes fall into the category #3 you quoted above, sadly.

It almost seems like this is supposed to be used in something like a restaurant, where you can control the different zones... however, I don't know of a restaurant that has "zone" control that plays different music on different zones. Usually just volume - that's it.

Slashvertisment? (2, Insightful)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892280)

"[if (blahblah) and if (blahblah2)...] then the Sonos Digital Music System is for you. It's the current state of the art for wirelessly controlling music in a large home or business where you need just the right music in the right room at the right time.

Analog loophole, analog loophole... a whole page raving about that and the fact that you can rip CDs to MP3s on your computer and play them on this thing! And there isn't even a single real-life photo, only those found on the official [] site. [] Nobody seems to be complaining about the slashvertisment now, eh?

Do it yourself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12892291)

Are there any projects out there to do similar things for do it yourselfers? I know that all the pieces are certainly there, but has any project put them all nicely together?

If not, anyone want to start such a project? Here's what I'm imagining: a simple multi room (multi PC) sound switching system which can streams music from any input(s) to any output(s).

Needed (all dirt cheap or free these days):
-old networked PC's in every room where you want sound in or out.
-sound card in PC for audio out
-sound card(s) in PC for audio in
-amplifier and speakers in every room where you need sound
-old palm pilot in every room with either IR or serial connections to control things?

Software components needed:
-Palm UI?
-Switching software, JACK?
-Streaming software?

Re:Do it yourself (1)

Marc2k (221814) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892946)

Yes, I was actually thinking about doing this this morning independently. It'd be hot to write a Qt app for my Zaurus to control the system from any room. Goddamn, I'mma go do this when I get home.

I have demo'd these (2, Informative)

KenFury (55827) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892308)

The company I work for. [] sells these and I had a change to demo them for use on our network. We only used three zone but they were dead simple and worked great. If you can afford them (I can't) you will love it. Before I hear the cries of "astroturfing, astroturfing!" I did not submit the article.

It's a pretty cool system... (4, Interesting)

loudgazelle (861612) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892313)

My dad got the Sonos a couple of months ago, and I saw it in action last weekend. It's really cool stuff and well implemented.

The big selling point for him was being able to have all the "zones" synchronously play the same song in every room. None of the other solutions he looked at were able to do that.

As far as I remember, the scrool wheel doesn't move- it's touch based, like on the recent iPods.

I just wish I had the money to buy one for myself...

Build Your Own (1)

porkface (562081) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892362)

What I really want to know is which approach they use for synching audio between multiple rooms/zones. That's pretty much the biggest hurdle to designing a home-brew version. The only reliably synched method I can think of would be a custom streaming protocal that partially relies on LAN performance to keep many rooms/zones playing the exact same audio so that your ears don't hear delay from the speakers in an adjacent room. When I tested this at home I think I had to get down to 40-60ms offsets before my ears couldn't tell.

Re:Build Your Own (1)

porkface (562081) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892424)

I should have added that most streaming solutions I found required buffering of the source. The only way I could see around that was to have the server be silent, and all of the clients (even if one was the server) connect using the same buffering settings. And even then you'd have to eliminate other factors like DNS lookups and software load times on disparate hardware. I kept coming back to the need for an embedded-like realtime system.

Re:Build Your Own (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12892949)

40-60 ms isn't a problem - a decent 100mbit LAN is below 1ms, and a crappy 10mbit lan with cheap NICs is well below 10ms in any case. Anyway, what you want in a case like this is multicasting (or, on a LAN, broadcasting) - the server sends one packet, which is received by all clients at the same time, so they all play it at once.

Surround Sound (1)

knipknap (769880) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892376)

Nice, but for a complete solution I would at least expect a surround module for the home cinema room. I'd seriously consider buying this then.

Amp-less Version? (2, Interesting)

706GL (172709) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892381)

Couldn't they lower the price a little bit by selling a version of the box to integrate with your existing stereo. Just a receiver box with a RCA and digital output jack on the back. For a lot of applications I would image people already have the amp covered and don't need to spend the extra money on a part of the system that isn't going to get used.

Re:Amp-less Version? (2, Interesting)

.killedkenny (589139) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892474)

The Squeezebox is an excellent low-cost solution, especially if you already have amps and speakers, music ripped on a server, and a home network.

Re:Amp-less Version? (1)

kefa (640985) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892749)

surely you've just described the Squeezebox2 from SlimDevices. This solves the multiroom audio just nicely, is easy to set up, leverages your existing hifi investment, and will appeal to audiophiles with its flac support and digital outputs.

I hope the have the (1)

suezz (804747) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892454)

approval of RIAA and the MPAA - where is the DRM how dare they create a device that lets us play music that doesn't have any DRM - how absurd.

You are not suppose to be able to play you music in any room you like - when you buy a song/cdrom you can only play in one room and one place - you want to play everywhere you have to pay for multiple copies.

Come on where is the humanity.

Ack! -1, Uninformed (1)

RealProgrammer (723725) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892463)

TFA is talking about "high-quality speakers which have bare-wire connections:
Running wires this way allows you to trim your speaker wires to exact lengths without having to crimp a jack on the end of your speaker wires.

That would be a "plug". The male (sticky-outty) thing is a plug. The female (takie-innie) thing is a jack.

I'm about to run speaker wire to the upstairs bathroom, to put a pair of car speakers in the ceiling above the sink. That means crawling in the attic, pulling wires, etc. I'm not about to spend $1000 to do that!

But then, I'm a hands-on kind of guy.

Easy ... Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12892485)

"a wireless music distribution system built on Linux." ... "it's extremely simple to setup as well."

Looks like the Linux community is scared of the encroachment on Mac into the x86 world.

Sonos vs. Airport Express vs. Cheapo Dells (4, Insightful)

kurkpeterman (840658) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892489)

I see a lot of people out there discounting the capabilites of Sonos because they really don't understand what exactly the system does versus alternate setups. To be fair, Sonos competes directly with high-end multi-room, multi-source systems such as [] , [] , and [] . All of these systems can cost tens of thousands of dollars for product/install and require that you hardwire your whole house.

*multi-room capability (control up to 32 rooms on one controller)
*multi-source capability (play different songs in different rooms)
*synchronization capability (play the same in different rooms, or in groups of different rooms)
*built-in amplifier (not everyone has a speaker amp in each room)
*line-out to existing amplifier (for those beefy existing home theatre setups)
*line-in on each zoneplayer that can be streamed to any other zoneplayer (connect any legacy device like cd/dvd/tape/sat radio/etc.)
*integration with music services (rhapsody)
*integration with internet radio streams
*wireless controller w/ lcd (huge benefit on getting the wife/gf to use it)
*ease of use (anyone can use that scrollwheel interface)
*ease of setup (not everyone is a tech)

Now let's look at the other talked about solutions and compare their capabilities:

Airport Express
*line-out to existing amplifier
*can play one audio source at a time (so can either play on my computer, or my airport express)
*walk back to computer each time you want to change anything

Cheapo Dell ($500 - I have yet to actually see anyone get a computer for $299)
*computer functionality at each room [benefit, assuming you have a montior, keyboard, and mouse to take advantage of it]
*no sychronization (might was well have a indepent cdplayers in each room and burn cds)
*need powered speakers at each location (more $$$)
*walk up to computer and change tracks on it

Besides all the extra functionality (link/separting rooms of audio, rhapsody integration, ease of use/setup,...) everyone is missing the most important thing [and what makes the iPod so successful]. THE INTERFACE! Why do people buy iPods in droves instead of getting a regular flash/hard drive based player. It's because the iPod has blended simple but powerful functionality with elegant design. Sonos wireless lcd controller gives that same beautiful abstraction and gives *anyone* control of the audio in their house seamlessly.

Re:Sonos vs. Airport Express vs. Cheapo Dells (1)

ghukov (854181) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892753)

Cheapo Dell ($500 - I have yet to actually see anyone get a computer for $299) I got one. check in the Hot Deals Forum, they list them there quite often. I got a SC420 w/ P4 2.8 HT, 256MB DDR2, PCIx and an 80GB sata drive for $320 shipped.

$1200 starter set and no digital outputs?!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12892642)

....what were they thinking? No thanks....

Rhapsody (2, Informative)

MSG (12810) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892645)

I'm a RealNetworks employee, and we recently saw these things demoed after they added support for RealNetworks' Rhapsody service. Add a Rhapsody subscription to the cost of the device, and you get a massive library of music accessible for high-quality streaming. It was pretty impressive.

It's a Great System (1)

EZR-2000 (266142) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892691)

I have a Sonos, and I can say definitively that it's an excellent system. It has the ease of use of an iPod (I would say that its remotes' UI is actually better than the iPod's) and the power of a Squeezebox. The only problem I've had with it is that it doesn't have FairPlay permissions, and thus can't play iTMS music. But other than that, it's great.

WinXP 10/10 ; Linux 2/10 (3, Interesting)

meanfriend (704312) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892692)

Hmmm, cool looking product but from looking at the last page of the article, the reviewer rates the ease of setup on WindowsXP 10/10 but gives the ease of linux setup as a measly 2/10.

The reviewer said he had to ask the Sonos community (maybe a web forum?) for help getting it to work under Suse. Apparantly you need to run Samba for the Sonos controller to be able to access the music and gave the reviewer enough trouble that he writes:

"For Linux wizards, this is probably just another opportunity to play and have fun, but for me it was some serious work, and I would not have been able to do it but for the graciousness of the Sonos community. "

It seems that they haven't put a lot of polish on the linux support for the server end yet. I'm wondering why is there no NFS support which should do away with needing Samba... I have my entire music collection on an NFS share, and I'd expect any linux client to simply mount it over the network and away we go.

Should we be giving much credit to a product just because it runs linux if it's really that difficult to make it play nicely with existing linux networks?

Roku Soundbridge (1)

angle_slam (623817) | more than 9 years ago | (#12892898)

The Roku Soundbridge [] is a system that solves some of the problems mentioned in the comments. 1) No amp, just provides RCA jacks to integrate with your current stereo. 2) Cheap. $150 to $400, depending on the size of the screen.

It solves some problems of the AirPort Express (no display, no ability to control the host computer).

Has anyone here used it?

(And to answer the question of why get this instead of an actal computer--some people have home theaters or stereos and want something that integrate with that, instead of having another computer.

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