Sad to say, but the ultimate home streaming solution has arrived. It’s regrettably unseated my long adored (13 years!) Squeezebox setup. Its name? Sonos. You’ve probably heard of the “wireless hi-fi” company before. I’ve tested a lot of gear over the years, and the Sonos system nears the top of all-time greats (along, with the 2009 Motorola Droid of course). While I reluctantly retired Squeezebox, I’ve been enthralled by what Sonos brings to music streaming for our home.
Today, it just got a little better too.
Sonos rolled out a controller update (version 3.7) which breathes new life into the software for PC and Mac.
Gone is the old-school — yet perfectly functional — clunkiness of the old interface which looked basic, and lacked any modern conveniences, and in its place is a decidedly app-inspired version. In fact, if you put the new controller software side-by-side against the iPad or Android versions you’ll immediately note the familiarity. Of course, this is largely the point. Keeping the interface consistent across devices makes it easy for us music lovers to get to our tunes with minimal hassle. From a development perspective, it similarly keeps life easier for the engineers and UI folks over at Sonos.
The new look is a winner. Soft blues and quiet greys provide a pleasing aurora. Everything is right where you’d expect it to be. Sonos devices registered to your system appear on the left. On the right are the music sources (Pandora, Spotify, Slacker, local music library, etc.). And in the middle is the now playing screen featuring album art, playlist controls, and track information. Player controls are located along the top.
Here’s what’s new:
A pop-out mini controller allows you to control your Sonos in a stripped down interface which displays just the (pretty) album art. You can drag the window where-ever you like, and it will remain on top of other windows. Nice feature.
Drag and Drop
Finally. Now you can drag tracks to the playlist(“queue”). Previously you had to click and use a menu. So 1990s.
This is another great one. You can link all your Sonos players, and then control volume level in unison. It’s easy to ungroup players too. BTW another convenience: you can link two Sonos players and use as a stereo pair. I’ve tried it with two Play:5s and was pleased with the results. I can see this being handy for larger spaces, or when you’d like enhanced stereo separation.
Searching is better now- though not perfect, or quite up to Google standards, but good enough. You still need to choose a source before searching. I found it fast in testing.
For me, the biggest gap in the Sonos system is the lack of support for cloud libraries. For instance, I use Google Music to store all my tracks. It would be just peachy if I could point Sonos to that location, instead of having to use a local hard drive.
All in all a solid update.
Indeed, Sonos remains king of the music streaming mountain.
For PC or Mac. Free.
Blue and Grey color scheme looks great; improved search is fast; player controls conveniently located along top; nifty mini player enables control while using other apps; party mode for controlling several Sonos players in unison.
Not much to complain about here, except the lack of support for cloud-based libraries such as Google Music and Amazon Cloud Drive.
4.5 out of 5 “Right on the Money”
The best keeps getting better. Sonos is the gold standard when it comes to streaming music.