Review: Sonos Zoneplayer S5 Music Player

By Branko Miletic

We are fast entering an exciting era when music, much like information, is rapidly virtualising. Hard copies of both are getting less common, and even though I believe there will never be a totally paperless office or virtual music store, it is equally true that buying music has changed forever. That also means that listening to music is also now a different ball game.

Which brings me to the Sonos Zoneplayer S5 music player.

So where do I start? First, it was so easy to set up that I thought I was doing something wrong.

Second, the sound quality from the speakers is very good for a such a compact unit and when compared to my Logitech speakers, for example, which are quite good, the output from the Sonos was just a breath of fresh air.

The Sonos speakers are fairly heavy – not too heavy to carry mind you – but heavy enough to work out they were not made in some Taiwanese toy factory.

The set up consisted of sticking in the CD into the computer, installing the software, connecting up the Sonos router with your ADSL and then registering the Zoneplayer with Sonos. Easy- Plug ‘n’ Play at its purest.

You can opt to control your Sonos Zoneplayer S5 with the iPad- and iPhone-compatible in-built Controller app — so you can play all the music off your iPhone or whatever you have running iTunes. Even better, you can set it up so the S5 plays different music on each Zoneplayer – a great idea if you don’t want your kids listening to your Pantera tracks.

This brings me to the Internet radio stations you can access through this system and this is where this kind of music streaming device comes into its own.

One of these is music- an online and on-demand music service that gives you so much variety of radio stations that it’s mind boggling. If you like your country music coming from Texas rather than Tamworth, or if you are a closet Boy George fan or even you want to listen to some BBC talk show, will become your best friend.

You get a 30-day free trial and then its $12.99/month, which considering the choice of genres and content, is not too shabby at all.

There are other streaming music services you can hook up to including Sony’s Music Unlimited, Rhapsody, Napster and Pandora. For the freebie radio stations, there are a mere 100,000 or so to choose from.

But where is the sticking point? Well, in the case of the Sonos Zoneplayer S5, the bottom line really is the bottom line. In other words, if you want to set up your home with say two Zoneplayers and one Zonebridge, you won’t be getting any change from just over $1,400.  This is annoying because once you get the music and radio streaming bug, and start subscribing to every music streaming service under the sun, that Easter bonus you got from your boss will disappear faster than a cold beer in a heatwave.

So technically, the Sonos Zoneplayer S5 is a marvel to own and use – I just wish the price could be as user friendly as the product and if it was, I may well have given it the first 5 /5 rating ever.

Pros: The great sound, the choice of streaming services and radio stations, the ease of set up.
Cons: Price

4 Shacks Out of 5