Price Range: $349.00 - $399.00
CNET Editors' Rating: 4.0 / 5
The good: The Sonos Connect brings the Sonos ecosystem to users who don't want a standalone speaker system. Setup is incredibly easy, and the software apps are effortless. Sound quality is good, and the digital output means it can be even better. The analog input means the system can stream analog components around your house.
The bad: There are other components in the Sonos range that beat it for sound quality. If you're not using it as part of a multiroom setup, it's somewhat pricey for what it does.
The bottom line: The Sonos Connect brings effortless wireless media streaming to existing hi-fi owners, but it's not the first Sonos system we'd recommend.
Design, Features & Performance (out of 10)
When Sonos first appeared on the market in 2005, the focus was squarely on replaying music from networked computers but with the glut of streaming services its scope has increased dramatically. Sonos' biggest strength is simplifying the networking nightmares of installing most wireless music systems and sounding good in the process. The Sonos Connect brings these capabilities to users who want to add network music to an existing stereo, but is the asking price too high?
While most of the media streamers available today are no larger than a drink coaster in platform shoes, the Sonos Connect is one of the larger options. It measures 2.91 inches high and is roughly square at 5.35 inches wide and 5.51 inches deep.
The Sonos Connect resembles the larger Connect:Amp with the same squat shape, but instead of the two-tone color scheme the Connect opts for a simpler, and arguably more attractive, all-white design. The device sits on blue rubber feet, which offers some isolation from the outside world.
The front panel, like all Sonos players, features a mute button and volume up/down but sadly it lacks an on/off switch.
If you have an existing stereo or home theater system and you're looking to add streaming, then the Sonos Connect is your beast. It's essentially a Sonos:Connect amp without the 55W-per-channel amplifier and as a result comes at a $150 saving.
The Connect was formerly known as the ZonePlayer ZP90, and was renamed just after the Play:3 came along. The company offers free control apps for PC, Mac, Android, and iOS.
Unlike some of the competitive media streamers on the market, this is a music device only. While it may seem expensive for what it does at more than three times the price of the Apple TV and the Western Digital WDTV, the Sonos distinguishes itself by both a friendly interface and in the number of services it offers. Sonos' tagline is "Stream All The Music On Earth" and music subscription providers are added periodically. The most recent is Amazon Cloud Player and it joins a dozen other services such as Spotify, MOG, Pandora and -- most recently -- Amazon Cloud Player.
While Apple's iTunes Match isn't supported, the Sonos does support streaming from PCs and Macs running the iTunes software, so your home music collection is always accessible. It also supports many NAS servers, for those who don't want to keep their PCs powered on all the time. If you stream music locally, then the device's file format support is quite broad with all of the usual types including MP3, WAV, Apple Lossless, FLAC, and Ogg Vorbis. Though it will only concern a small subset of people at present (myself included), the Sonos system doesn't playback 24-bit files: it's CD quality only.
One feature offered by the Connects, and that the Play:3 and Play:5 systems lack, is audio inputs. The Connect has a single-stereo RCA input, which can be used to connect an iPod dock or even a pre-amp, which would enable switching between among different sources. To connect the Sonos to your stereo system, you have the choice of either analog out or digital coax/optical.
The Sonos family of products is designed as a multiroom audio system, and connect to one another via a proprietary wireless mesh system. The advantage of that is that it's not limited by your home's Wi-Fi network. The drawback is that there needs to be at least one wired connection between your home network and a Sonos unit. (Think of it like a DECT cordless phone system: one base station needs to be plugged into the wall jack, while the others communicate with that one wirelessly.)
If you're looking to add the Sonos Sub to a system featuring the Connect, then unfortunately you're out of luck, as that device is only supported by the amplified Sonos components. However, adding a sub of your choice to your existing hi-fi is a better option anyway.
If you're an audiophile, then the idea of the Connect will be much more compelling than the Connect:Amp. The inclusion of the digital output enables users to connect their own Digital Analog Converter (DAC) for a potential sound quality upgrade. While the Logitech Squeezebox Touch saw very little benefit from an outboard DAC -- its onboard sound is that good -- there was room for improvement with the Connect.
Nevertheless, sound quality of the unit was very confident, but like the Connect:Amp a little lean in the bass. The more expensive Connect:Amp demonstrated a greater sparkle when paired with Bowers and Wilkins speakers than a combination of the Sonos Connect, Marantz receiver and B&Ws. Adding the Cambridge Audio DacMagic into the latter mix helped with the lean bass, but I still preferred the sound -- and all-in-one convenience -- of the Amp better.
In general, the software is quite easy to use, and the capability to make playlists on the fly and control multiple zones around the house on the fly is the Sonos system's greatest strength. If you can use a tablet, you can use the Sonos.
As I outlined in the Connect:Amp review, the interface does have some niggles, but as the Connect isn't amplified the touchy volume control doesn't matter as much. Since at home I use a mix of local lossless files and Spotify almost exclusively, I only wish that the Spotify integration was better. The Logitech Squeezebox's software is more powerful, offering most of the features of the desktop Spotify app and if you use this service often I'd suggest getting the Touch instead (while you still can).
The Connect is an excellent combination of hardware and software that offers a plug-and-play solution for existing stereo systems. I'd only suggest this product if you already have an existing Sonos setup or are looking to get one. If you just want to play network music on your main stereo and aren't interested in a whole-house system, then the Apple TV is the best way to go. It's a pity that Logitech has discontinued its Squeezebox range and replaced it with the UE Smart Radio as it was the only real contender to the Sonos Connect.
|Product Description||Sonos ZonePlayer ZP90 - Network audio player|
|Product Type||Network audio player|
|Enclosure Color||Light gray|
|Dimensions (WxDxH)||5.4 in x 5.5 in x 2.9 in|
|Network Player||Network audio player - WMA, WAV, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis, Apple Lossless, AIFF, Audible, AAC, MP3|
|Connectivity Protocols||IEEE 802.3 (Ethernet), IEEE 802.3u (Fast Ethernet)|
|Power||AC 120/230 V|
Average User Rating: 4.0 / 5
User Rating Breakdown
5 Star: 2
4 Star: 1
3 Star: 0
2 Star: 0
1 Star: 0
Amazing. Easy. Elegant. Worth Every Penny!
Rating: 4.5 / 5
on August 25, 2011
13 out of 13 users found this review helpful
Pros: Easy Set Up
Nearly Endless Music Choices
Turns your iPhone into a full-functioning, easy-to-use remote
Amazing High Fidelity
Seamless Integration with LAN Sources and Internet Sources
Set it up as a Wired or Wireless Solution
Cons: Firewall issues on Windows x64 editions
Difficult to edit/maintain play lists
Summary: I have a huge collection of MP3s that I've been collecting over the years. I also like to stream Pandora and Rhapsody. My problem has always been: How do I get my collection of music from my computer in my bedroom to my high-quality home stereo in my family room? And how do I do it easily--with an easy-to-use interface? And how do I do this while preserving the best sound fidelity?
I've researched this topic for over a year and finally sprung the $350 for the Sonos ZonePlayer ZP90 because (although a bit more expensive) it gets the highest consumer reviews.
Here's what's amazing about this product:
1) Easy Set Up
I always assume the setup is going to be a lot harder than "they" say. Not with the ZonePlayer. Clear instructions, all the required cables, and easy software setup. I was able to point the Sonos software directly to my collection of music--which was a breeze. Then the Sonos software quickly communicated with the ZonePlayer through my home network without a hitch. Full setup took me approximately 15 minutes.
2) Nearly Endless Music Choices
Since the ZonePlayer can access the MP3s on my hard drive, my music accounts on the internet (Rhapsody and Pandora), and a slew of internet radio stations, the music possibilities seem endless. Mind you, Rhapsody is a subscription service that I pay about $15 per month for.
During setup, the software asked my what my postal code is. Why? Because besides all the free national radio stations it can stream, it has a section of my local radio stations. Open up the local radio station section and the full spectrum of local radio stations is there for me to choose from. Pretty cool.
Besides Rhapsody and Pandora, the ZonePlayer can access several other radio "services" including IHeartRadio, Napster, Last.fm, etc.
3) Folder-Tree Hierarchy
While the software shows my MP3 music collection in typical id3 tag categories (genre, album, artist, etc.) like an ipod does, it also shows me my collection in the same folder-tree hierarchy that I have on my computer. In other words, I've arranged and made my own categories for music on my hard drive, i.e., Pop/Rock, Easy Listening, Celtic, Country, Soundtracks, etc. and I don't want the Sonos software to "mix that up." For those with large, well-organized collections, this is a godsend.
4) Turns your iPhone into a full-functioning, easy-to-use remote
My iPhone automatically connects to my home wireless network whenever I'm in proximity to my home. With the free Sonos iPhone app, my iPhone becomes a fully-functioning remote! Funny thing is--you can buy a Sonos remote for $350 that is the same size as an iPhone...OR you can simply download the free app and use your iPhone as a FREE remote. With my iPhone I can access my MP3s, choose songs on Rhapsody, make and play new radio stations on Pandora, and do nearly everything I could do with the Sonos software on my PC.
The genius of all this is that my PC, the ZonePlayer, and my iPhone are all network devices on my LAN that can "talk" to each other seamlessly and instantly. I can kick back on my couch in front of my stereo system, iPhone in hand, and control all my music including volume.
5) Amazing High Fidelity
(Audiophiles will always argue at this point that MP3s are incapable of true high fidelity, but let's just talk about "normal" people, haha.) I used to work in the video production industry and I have a keen ear for sound. Let me just say that with a great pair of speakers and a good receiver/amplifier the Sonos will give you amazing sound. My music has literally never sounded better. I immediately was able to detect nuances in my music that I could never hear before (meaning that it sounded incredibly good).
6) Seamless Integration with LAN Sources and Internet Sources
Using your iPhone or the PC software you can build a queue of songs. Those songs can be a mix of song files from your computer's hard drive and internet streaming sources such as Rhapsody. With that type of scenario, the ZonePlayer won't skip a beat. It can even cross-fade the songs between the two sources. To you, it will all just sound like great music without any detectable difference between the two.
7) Set it up as a Wired or Wireless Solution.
I have not set up my network in a wireless fashion because I prefer a hard-wired solution over wireless so I can't write from personal experience on this topic. But Sonos is designed to work on its own wireless network if you prefer. This means that you can have music anywhere in your home or business where there is an electrical plug to power the device. The only part of my system that is wireless is between my iPhone and my wireless router--yet communication is immediate with no perceptible lag.
8) Multiple Music Zones are Possible with Additional ZonePlayers
I plan on expanding my system to include 2 more ZonePlayers in different rooms of my house. When I do, I'll be able to play different music in each room (and control them all with my iPhone) or sync all the music if I want to.
Sonos nailed it with this product. It's so elegant in the sense that it works so flawlessly--with no lag--with ease--and with high fidelity.
Updated on Aug 25, 2011
Updated on Oct 9, 2011Edit Link
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I expanded my home entertainment system with SONOS ZP90
Rating: 5 / 5
on May 23, 2011
0 out of 0 users found this review helpful
Pros: Easy to install. Great interface with existing system. Great sound. Room to expand.
Cons: A little pricey.
Summary: I have a Niles 8 zone sytem throughout most of my house. I use it for TV, DVD, streaming, AM/FM and CD's. I wanted to include my itunes library. I contacted a dealer about adding an ipod dock and he recommended the SONOS ZP90. I am not a tech savvy person and I was concerned about my ability to interface with my system. Incredibly it took only 15 minutes to install - IT COULD NOT HAVE BEEN EASIER!!!!!!!!!!!!
It not only plays my itunes library but all music stored on my computer plus I can also access thousand's of music stations - locally, nationally and throughout the world. WOW!!!!! On top of that I can access many fee paid music services (if you are subscribed) including Sirius/XM. I had three rooms in the house that were not wired - no problem I just added a S5 zone player (it sounds as good-if not better- than the Bose system) and I plan on adding two more. Soon the entire house will be arocking & arolling - thanks to SONOS.
Ease of set-up / functionality make this system great.
Rating: 4 / 5
on January 7, 2011
0 out of 0 users found this review helpful
Pros: Ease of set-up
Music control: easy to import, search, select, etc.
Functionality: you can play different music in each zone
Cons: Expensive: each module, including the controller, costs between $320 and $450. If you want to add external speakers, you'll pay even more.
Summary: When installing any device that interacts with my home network, I have come to anticipate a significant amount of troubleshooting. Not so with Sonos. After installing the software on my laptop, it ran me through simple instructions, and I didn't run into any hiccups. When I later installed the software on my desktop, there was even less work to do. Adding more zones is a snap.
The user interface is easy to learn as it seems to mirror the interface on similar devices, such as iTunes and numerous smart phones. Searching a large music library is simple, as long as you have kept your tags - album, artist, genre, etc. - well maintained.
Adding internet radio was easy as well. I instantly found my local radio stations through Sonos' simple-to-use radio search functions. You can search for local radios, national radio, by station, by show, by shows playing now, or shows that will be playing soon - it even tells you how long you'll have to wait for your show to come on.
A feature I didn't realize I would like so much is the one touch "group zones" function. By grouping zones it will play the same music / station in every zone. I loved the fact that I wouldn't miss out on the radio program just because I ran downstairs for a few minutes.
I haven't had the system long enough evaluate durability or potential bugs.
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|J&R Music and Computer World||Yes||$349.00|