Is there such a thing as cheap, compact, high-ish quality, portable speakers with no wires connected to it?

By Jesse Robinson

People ask me all the time for recommendations on home stereos. Here’s an email from a friend…

“I’m not looking to spend an arm and a leg. I do not want subwoofers and whatnot. I want a compact set of portable wireless/WiFi speakers. Like a Jambox, but maybe something a little better. If I need to plug them in, that’s fine. But something I can use the bluetooth with my computer or my iPhone or pandora. Right now I only have the speakers that are attached to my work computer and those are a pain to unplug, disconnect, and move to the kitchen if I want to listen to music or something.”

Ok, so they want a cheap, compact, high-ish quality, portable speakers with no wires connected to it, right? No problem. Enter SONOS.

You might be thinking, “Hey I thought SONOS was some kind of multi-room music system thing-a-ma-bob?” Well, I use to think the same thing. It’s true, SONOS can distribute music to a variety of sources located in different rooms. But instead of a multi-room device, I like to think of it as a scalable (both in quality and quantity) digital music delivery system. I use it control my main system. I don’t have multiple systems located in different rooms. Just one really nice stereo in one room. So, why buy SONOS?

Well, I have instant access to my entire digital music library (a butt-load of music) with my iPhone! Yes, any iPhone or android device can control your SONOS stuff with a FREE app! I can connect a Digital-to-Analog (DAC) converter to it for a very high quality sound. I like to use the term “Hi-Fi” for a transcendental musical experience, which usually means spending a lot of $$$. “Hey, I thought we were talking about a cheap, compact, high-ish quality, portable speakers with no wires connected to it, right?

Yes, remember I said scaleable? That was the high side; let’s slide down to the “cheap” side. SONOS is a wonderfully elegant  system and the cost of entry is only $199. Buy the PLAY:1 ($199) and BRIDGE ($49) and you’re done (get both when you buy the PLAY:1 GIFT PACK currently on sale for $199). Stop reading.

Okay, you could get the PLAY:3 GIFT PACK for $299 (includes the BRIDGE). I’ve heard the Play 3 and would highly recommend it! Okay, now you’re done…

Okay, well there is a PLAY:5 GIFT PACK for $399 (includes the BRIDGE). I’ve heard this too, and it’s damn good. Perfect for a kitchen counter. You choose: PLAY:3 or :5?

“So, what’s this BRIDGE?”

Ok, maybe we’re not finished yet. The BRIDGE lets you connect the music on your computer, i.e. your iTunes Library, to your SONOS devices, the PLAY: 1, :3 or :5 in this case. So, without the BRIDGE there would be a cord between your computer and say the PLAY:3. I should say there are a few minimum requirements for one of the GIFT PACKS to work: a Mac or PC running SONOS software (FREE) and an internet router to connect the BRIDGE to. If you have those 2 things, you’re ready to roll! Don’t forget to get the free SONOS app for your mobile device (it’s amazing on a iPad).

Once you get it all hooked up, you’ll see plenty of ways to stream free music and content to your SONOS: Pandora, Spotify, Songza, Amazon Cloud Player, TuneIn and MOG to name a few. All are available via the SONOS interface. You can even listen to radio stations around the world for free!

Once you’re hooked on SONOS then you can add more devices and extend your system. That’s the “quantity” part of scalability. If you have a pair of speaker laying around, hook them into a SONOS CONNECT:AMP ($499) and you’ll have music. Do you have a full stereo you want to add the SONOS experience too? Do what I did and get the SONOS: CONNECT ($349). There are plenty of other combinations, but you get the general idea.

So, my answer to my friend’s questions is to get the PLAY:3 GIFT PACK and enjoy.