Sonos ZP80 Bundle review

Price when reviewed

When Sonos released its wireless music system last year, it was universally heaped with praise. We were particularly impressed by how well all the complex technology involved was so simple to set up and use. But with a high-end specification, it required quite an investment too.

The good news is that the new ZP80 dispenses with the integrated amplifier of the larger ZP100, but it remains otherwise highly featured. At the rear, there’s a two-port Ethernet switch, separate optical/coaxial S/PDIF outputs and RCA phono outputs, as well RCA phono inputs, allowing you to freely route music round to other components of the system. At the front, the unit retains discrete volume and mute buttons, plus a status indicator light, and there’s still an integrated PSU.

The introductory bundle is good value, with two ZP80s and a CR100 hardware controller for £779 (inc VAT); all you need for two audio zones. While a single ZP80 and the freely downloadable software controller would also work, there’s no point in spending this much unless you plan on extending the system at some point – Logitech’s Wireless Music system will do much the same job for £69.

It’s when you start chaining several devices together that the system comes into its own. While it’s recommended that the initial ZonePlayer uses a wired connection, subsequent units can be wirelessly connected, forming a secure peer-to-peer mesh network – all you need to do is initiate a handshake by pressing the volume-up and mute buttons. Once connected, the wired Ethernet switch acts as a network bridge, extending the scope of your network.

Support for Audible talking books, Apple Lossless format, more flexible playlist management and increased use of album art are all welcome, but some bugs also appear to have crept in: we found the controller becoming sluggish and erratic, particularly after coming back from Deep Sleep mode. We expect these issues resolved sooner than later – we’d like to see support for DRM and WMA lossless codecs too.

These complaints aside, there’s still nothing to touch Sonos in this price range, be it for features or its sheer scalability. If you’re serious about your music, the introduction of the ZP80 makes buying into the system even more tempting.

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