Sonos SUB.Sonos’ new subwoofer adds extra kick to its already impressive multi-room audio system.If you want to enjoy music throughout your home, Sonos is the gold standard when it comes to multi-room audio. The Sonos speakers create their own private 5GHz wireless mesh network, making it easy to stream audio around your home. It’s easy to play the same song in different rooms, exactly in sync, which is great for parties. It’s also easy to play different songs in different rooms, which is great when everyone needs a little “me” time — perhaps playing The Rolling Stones in one room and The Wiggles in another.Apart from tapping into your home digital music library, Sonos can stream from a range of online subscription music services such as Rdio, MOG and Spotify. It can also tune in to internet radio stations. Along with this you can plug an audio device such as a CD player or iPod dock into most Sonos points and then send the sound to any Sonos speaker/s around your home.Despite such complexity, the Sonos system is incredibly simple to set up and control. You can drive the entire sound system from a computer, tablet or smartphone — finding music and sending it to any room with only a few button presses.Sonos’ only real drawback is the hefty price tag, although this has come down significantly in recent years. These days you can start with a $419 Sonos Play:3 speaker and extend your Sonos system over time. The next step up is the $599 Sonos Play:5 speaker. Along with these you’ve got the $799 Connect:Amp for hooking up to existing speakers as well as the $549 Connect for hooking up to an existing sound system or powered speakers.It is possible to cobble together a cheaper multi-room audio system using Apple or Logitech gear, but I’d say the performance, flexibility and sound quality of the Sonos gear is worth the extra money.Now Sonos has raised the bar with the introduction of its $999 Sonos SUB subwoofer. It’s not designed to work with a home theatre surround sound system. Instead the Sonos SUB is intended to work in conjunction with a Sonos speaker, or perhaps two Sonos Play speakers linked as a stereo pair. If you like to literally feel your music, the Sonos Sub will rock your world. The Sonos SUB is not about shaking the windows, it’s about bringing out the richness of your music. It’s an amazing piece of engineering with two woofers designed to cancel out each other’s vibrations. This means you can crank the system right up and the SUB won’t distort or vibrate. But the beauty of the Sonos speakers is that you don’t need to turn the music up to 11 to appreciate the rich sound.This focus on sound quality, as well as sound quantity, is important considering that Sonos is targeted at music lovers who care about fidelity rather than simply grunt. When you link a Sonos SUB to existing Sonos speaker/s, they automatically recalibrate to allow each speaker to do what it does best.The clarity of the Sonos SUB helps a rich low-end shine through without sacrificing overall sound quality. You’ll hear and feel things in your music that you haven’t noticed before, whether it’s the thundering bass lines of Rage Against the Machine’s Killing in the Name, the funky slap of Sly and the Family Stone’s Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin), the rich bass riffs of The Violent Femmes’ Please Do Not Go, or the subtle and smooth bass runs of Miles Davis’ So What. If you’ve got an ear for bass, you’ll find the Sonos SUB brings a new dimension to your music.Admittedly the SUB can seem a little overwhelming in a small space, but thankfully you can easily tweak the sound to suit your room. It’s also simple to temporarily disable the Sonos SUB if you feel it’s not needed. The linked Sonos speakers readjust on the fly to compensate.As with the rest of the Sonos gear, the Sonos SUB’s only major drawback is the price. To be fair, music lovers who have already embraced Sonos probably aren’t strapped for cash. But the other issue is that the Sonos system already sounds amazing even without this new subwoofer. A single Play:3 is perfect for small spaces, while you’d go up to a Play:5 to fill a medium-sized room.Existing Sonos owners who feel they need extra grunt should weigh up the Sonos SUB against the option of upgrading or expanding their existing Sonos system. For example you might add a second Play:5 to a large room to create a stereo pair. A pair of Play:5 speakers can easily fill a large space with rich sound and decent low end — especially considering you can crank them up without compromising on sound quality.To be honest, only audiophiles with deep pockets a taste for bass will feel the need to complement a pair of Play:5 speakers with a Sonos SUB. And if these people feel the existing Sonos offerings lack low-end punch they may have already hooked up a subwoofer to a speakerless Sonos base station. The Sonos SUB is stunning. But it’s not for everyone. That’s fair enough considering the Sonos system was initially targeted at cashed-up audiophiles. The addition of the Play:3 and Play:5 speakers has put Sonos in reach of the masses, but this new subwoofer shows that Sonos hasn’t abandoned its roots. It clearly still cares about delivering the best multi-room audio system money can buy and the Sonos SUB is its crowning glory.
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