Now that the Sonos S5 is shipping I can finally post about my experiences with it! Like any new devices there are pros and cons, but it seems that the S5 has way more pros than cons if you look at it in the right light. For those of you that don’t know what the Sonos S5 is the short answer is that it is a wireless music player for the Sonos wireless music distribution system. Want to know more? Click here. For me the Sonos S5 is a great addition to our existing setup of 2 ZP100’s, 2 ZP120’s, ZP80, ZP90, and three CR100’s.
I’m finding that the S5 works great for bathrooms and bedrooms where you don’t want to have to have a ZP120 and speakers setup due to space constraints. In our main bathroom we currently have a ZP120 with two Polk Audio bookshelf speakers. While this setup works it isn’t the most visually appealing setup. When this setup is replaced by a Sonos S5 you can see the difference made by using an all in one solution.
But the real benefit of the Sonos S5 is how portable it is and how you could easily bring it from one location to another. The Sonos S5 features a built-in carry handle to make this process easier, however, I would much rather see a nice fitted and padded bag to carry the S5 along with the power cable and a CR-200 for easier movement between locations. I could see us using the Sonos S5 up at our parents cabin where we tend to try to string extension cords and boomboxes all over during our annual cabin party weekend. Next year we’ll be able to simply bring a S5 and a BR-100 to the cabin and provide music around the yard while we sit at the campfire or play bags.
There are a few features on the S5 that I would like to see, one of them being a cradle for the CR-200 (even though we don’t own any, I would find it useful if we did!), another being more integrated controls for at least starting / stopping music that you have selected from one of the controllers. Often we leave our Sonos sytems on regular channels, our bedroom is typically on Sirius 61 Highway, the garage and my office are typically on Sirius 36 BPM or Energy98. If there are items in the queue a quick play button would be great for a “headless” setup.
One feature I’m glad is not on the S5 is an iPhone/iPod dock. I’ll be the first to stand up for Apple products and how well they are built, but the Sonos S5 to me is not an iPod speaker dock system. I don’t want the Sonos S5 to be tied to a dock connector for input or have the beautiful aesthetics impaired by a dock that only a small fraction of users are going to use. The Sonos concept for music playing requires the use of one of their controllers to really control the playback, not a third-party device. I also find that any music I could access on my iPhone I can access via the Sonos (Pandora, Sirius, Internet Radio, local music).
Overall though I am very pleased with the build and sound quality of the S5. I don’t expect it to compete with my ZP90 hooked up to a Denon A/V receiver with Bose speakers, I expect it to compete with my Klipsch dock speakers for my iPod. When the two are pitted against each other the S5 sounds much better and I have a much larger selection of music to choose from.