Sonos ZonePlayer S5 review
Sonos’ multiroom music-streaming systems have always been on the expensive side, requiring separate speakers and sometimes amplifiers to get them up and running. The new ZonePlayer S5 cuts out those headaches by taking care of everything: it’s a wireless streamer, amplifier and speakers in one elegant package.
First things first, it isn’t strictly wireless if it’s your first Sonos purchase. You need at least one device cabled to your router to initialise the SonosNet peer-to-peer wireless mesh network, so if the router isn’t conveniently located, a ZoneBridge BR100 at £79 inc VAT may be a sensible addition. Hook that up directly to take care of setup, and you can put the S5 wherever you like, along with any further additions.
There’s also a second Ethernet port to extend internet access to nearby devices, along with a headphone socket that automatically mutes the speakers when connected, and a 3.5mm line-in for older CD players and devices.
Once you’ve installed the Sonos desktop software on a PC, it’s a simple case of pressing two buttons on the S5 to link it instantly to the SonosNet mesh; each further device communicates with all others to extend the range around the house.
The PC software is standard media player stuff, but the S5 gives us our first chance to try out the Sonos iPhone app. Previously, controlling a Sonos setup from the sofa required the CR200 remote which, at £280 inc VAT, is no small expense. The app replicates all the major features of the CR200 in an almost identical layout – and it does it all for free. Admittedly, having to keep your iPhone available for the family to change the music isn’t ideal, but even buying a dedicated iPod touch works out a lot cheaper than the Sonos hardware.
Whichever method you choose, the ZonePlayer S5 offers a huge range of options, with internet radio access, Last.fm and Napster integration, and even the ability to set the Sonos to wake you in the morning. It all works so smoothly it’s difficult not to get sucked into planning the next addition to your Sonos audio network.
Sound quality is excellent, far more so than the petite size would suggest. Sonos has crammed in two tweeters, two mid-range drivers and a subwoofer, each with its own dedicated amplifier. The bass is rich and the treble crystal clear, the app has an equalizer for tweaking, and the volume is ear-splitting enough to fill a large living room with ease.
Time and time again, Sonos devices deliver quality that lives up to expectations, and the ZonePlayer S5 is no different. But the best part is that by eliminating the need to choose separate components to go with it, it makes setup effortless, which is key to pushing this high-end technology into the mainstream. Yes, it’s still dear, but as an entry point to multiroom music the S5 is Sonos’ most accessible yet.
Software and OS support
|Software supplied||iPhone app|
|Dimensions||365 x 123 x 217mm (WDH)|
Audio format support
Ports and communications
|Wired adapter speed||100Mbits/sec|
|RCA (phono) outputs||0|
|3.5mm audio jacks||0|
|Optical S/PDIF audio output ports||0|
|Electrical S/PDIF audio ports||0|