Product: Sonos Play:3
Rating: Strong Recommend*
Wireless music has always been a pain to set up, making it a domain reserved for those who with superior technical skills or those who can pay to have it set up for them. The Sonos Play:3 music player wants to bring the wireless music to the masses with their easy-to-set-up Play:3 system, paired with devices many of us already own. Its design is simple, from the way it looks to how painless everything about it is. Read on to see how this system brought big sounds in a small package.
The Sonos Play:3's design is very simple yet well thought out. It looks like it's just one speaker, but packed within are three separate speakers that make more sound than its size might suggests. We really dig the understated design, you can put it in any room and it won't clash with your decore. We particular liked the ability to stand the player vertically, so we can stow it away in tight places. We can definitely imagine one of these blending in with the books on a bookshelf.
Even though the Play:3 is controlled through computer or mobile apps, it does have some physical buttons on it. So even if we don't have the controller nearby, we were be able to mute or control the volume of the system. Since it is designed to be placed vertically, Sonos placed rubber feet on the side of the speakers so we weren't confused on which way to turn the speaker. The EQ also adjust itself when it is in the vertical orientation, so its sound won't be affected. All in all, we like how the Play:3 is put together and won't mind having it out in the open in our apartment.
The Sonos Play:3 just hiding amongst books on a shelf
The setup for the Play:3 is dead simple. There are two options for initial set up, either plug in one of the speakers or a "Bridge" (purchased separately) to your wireless router and set it up with the Sonos app your Mac or PC and it's ready to go. This does mean that if you only had one speaker it will be restricted to wherever your wireless router is, unless you purchase a Bridge.
To add on a speaker is super simple as well, just simply plug in the additional speaker, set the app to detect, and follow the instructions. Although Sonos recommends to set up the first speaker through the Mac/PC app, the additional speakers can be set up using their mobile apps which comes in both iOS and Android flavors.
The Bridge ($49) serves as a connector at your router in place of your first speaker
The sound is surprisingly good for such a small system. In a smaller, enclosed room, we could hear the low end of the music, but not feel like we're getting pounded. However, one player did feel insufficient in our open living/dining room. The feature Sonos came up with that will remedy this, is the ability to create a stereo pair with multiple players. This can be done easily through any of the apps, and will instant transform your players into a two speaker systems.
We also really enjoyed the ability to group different speakers so they will play the same music simultaneously. This feature came in super handy for our summer barbecue, where our guests never missed a beat when moving inside and out.
We saved the best for last. The apps that Sonos developed is what this system is really about. All of the music played through a number of the app controllers. You can share music from iTunes on your Mac or PC, or use a variety of popular included music services such as Pandora, Rdio and Spotify. These music services are pretty well integrated into the Sonos app, for example we could still "Thumbs up" a song on Pandora just like we could on the Pandora web app. However, keep in mind that most music services, such as Rdio and Spotify, do require paid premium accounts to be able to play on the Sonos system.
We had the opportunity to test out the Mac app, iPhone app, iPad app, and the Android app. First off, we were impressed by the responsiveness of all the apps, volume changes and switching between songs are instantaneous if your device is within good wifi range. All of the apps are really well thought out, from basic control functions down to the details like the ability to turn off the indicator light for when we put it in our bedroom. We can definitely tell the good people at Sonos put a lot of thoughts and effort into making all the apps easy to use yet complete with powerful functions.