Sonos wireless music systems have always been deeply desirable but they have also always been rather expensive. Now Sonos has released a one-box player aimed at those of us who don’t own our own Caribbean island. Sonos Play:3 network music player Boom box To be honest, the £259 asking price doesn’t get you a wireless music …
Mama's got Squeezebox
With Slim Devices (let's not say the L. word) I think the defunct Boom (love mine) and the Radio http://www.amazon.co.uk/Logitech-Squeezebox-Radio-Internet-streaming/dp/B002N2YZYU represent much better value for money, without any propriety nonsense - you get wireless out of the box no £40 addon.
Also, the latest versions of SqueezeNetwork server software allows you to split the stereo in a similar way as the Sonos, so it's cheaper to have have two SB Radios to act as a stereo pair and still have £60 left for pies and chips.
I think that I would prefer the Squeezebox for a single room solution, but I like the Sonos & remote (iPod / phone) for multi-room. However the Sonos stuff is very very expensive, and I think that this particular unit is poor value.
BTW I thought that it was the Squeezebox that is proprietary; you have to use squeezecentre; the Sonos work using DLNA.
Bit pricey frankly
It sounds like the speaker quality is very good -- but that being so, you really need two of them to get stereo. Having such a good mono system seems a bit pointless. As such, we're really talking £520 for a single room set up.
For that money, there must be better alternatives. I'm thinking of something like an Apple Airport Express and a pair of active speakers. Something like this: http://www.superfi.co.uk/index.cfm/page/moreinfo.cfm/Product_ID/2543
Hook up with Apple's excellent Remote app for iTunes (other apps and media management applications are available), and you've got something at least as capable, probably sounding as good, and half the price.
You could get a Sonos ZP120 zone player and plug a pair of speakers in to that. Note the Play 3 is a stereo player, it's just that Sonos give you the functionality to use a pair as if they were left/right speakers.
Still slightly cheaper
but all in for a decent 2 speaker system how can it cost £500 quid! Huge gap in the market for something around £100-150 each unit..
I purchased one of these a few weeks ago having moved into a new flat. It's diminutive, versatile, and sounds excellent. I got the Play:3 and the Bridge for £240 as a bundle from BestBuy so shop around.
How about a REAL budget network audio player?
Ever since Logitech discontinued the Squeezebox Classic (and Roku its SoundBridge), I feel there has been a definite "hole in the market" when it comes to a sub-£150 multi-format network audio player.
I stress the word "audio" here - there are tons of network media players in the £50-£150 range, but they're really intended for plugging into your TV. I would be interested in a network *audio* player, which can hook up to both our home LAN (wired or wireless) and my hifi amplifier/speakers, so I can stream tracks from our Synology NAS box and play them via a decent sound system.
If you know of such a box under £150 (and pref. under £100), I'd be very grateful to hear about it. Failing that, perhaps it's off to eBay to look for an old Squeezebox Classic, or a USB DAC to turn our Synology into a network audio player...
SqueezeBox receiver is still available from several sources for about £90. I've got 3 as part of a multiroom setup (separate Amps and speakers). All controlled from Phone(s).
And then there is the SqueezeBox Radio for £100. Excellent sounding mono all-in-one network player, can now be paired for stereo, and even battery powered (£30 extra for battery pack).
Contrary to the impression given by a lot of commentators and reviewers, all SqueezeBoxes can be network controlled and used as part of a multi-room system. You just need your PC or NAS box to provide the central server, and control it all from your smart phone (good 3rd party apps for iOS, Android, WP7 and Symbian), PC or any player with display/controls.
I use a squeezebox touch, a bit over the £150, but superb. I run the server on my synology NAS, visit their website to download it.
That's useful to know
I've looked at the Squeezebox Receiver before - at £100-ish, it would meet the price point, and I also like the Squeezeboxes' multi-format capabilities (much of my digitised music is Oggs or FLACs). Furthermore, the Receiver looks like a "hifi separate" unit, which pretty much fits how I would want to use it.
My only query: I got the idea that even if you have a Squeeze-server (like my Synology NAS box), you can't use the Receiver unless you own the remote as well (another hefty wodge of cash). If as you say, you can control the Receiver via the network, I think I might well look seriously at it again - many thanks!
Re: Tim Walker
Any of the cheap Chinese-made Android tablets can do what you want - they are on the likes of Amazon for around £70, last I looked. Plug it in, connect the headphone to the line-in on your HiFi and download something like 2Player (there are a few apps that do the same thing but I found 2Player to be zero setup). Select your source (any DLNA/uPnP source - 2Player shows both my NAS and my PC), set the destination as "SELF" and you are off. A 7" touchscreen controlled Wireless media player with album art etc that will play any music, in any format from any (DLNA) device in the house and can be moved around and plugged in to anything with a line-in.
Works for me!
Oh, and they actually make half-decent tablets/ebook readers as long as you are patient and don't mind using a stylus.
Thanks Bassey - hadn't thought of that; a cheap Android tablet could act as a media player, and double up as a digital photo frame if I felt like it :-)
I could also look at a USB DAC (basically, a high-quality USB soundcard) for the Synology NAS - the HRT Music Streamer II apparently works very well, but I'd have to move my hifi over to where the NAS is based, and it would cost more than a Squeezebox Receiver anyway.
At least I'm not in a hurry to sort this out, so it's welcome to have alternatives...
re Squeezebox receiver
I've just got bare receivers (no duet controller), with them all controlled from the phone app.
The only slightly awkward thing is getting the network settings into the receiver in first place so that they can be seen on the network. For this you just use the 'Net-UDAP' program from http://projects.robinbowes.com/Net-UDAP/trac. This only needs to be done the once - it's pretty painless. There's plenty about this on the squeezebox forum.
How about a REAL budget network audio player?
Tim. I've got a Synology box - the basic DS110J. I plugged an old (8 years I think) Creative USB sound card into the front USB port. Plugged the audio out into my hifi and voila I can play music from the DS using the so-so DS Audio Android app on my 'phone to control it. If only someone could make a better looking app - like Poweramp for example - it would be near perfect and cheap. I think there might be a list of supported soundcards on the Synology site; they do make their own USB device to do just this too. Hope this helps.
That's the model we have :-)
I've been considering the USB soundcard option too (love having a NAS box which can "drive" a USB audio device), so from time to time I check Synology's USB audio compatibility page. I was wondering about one of Behringer's USB audio boxes (£30-ish), though if I had money to burn I'd go for the HRT Music Streamer II (an audiophile-grade USB DAC for about £150).
Main problem: our DS110j is on the other side of the room from the hifi, and none of the options for bringing them together are exactly ideal, but I may well end up going down the "Syno-as-audio-player" route as the cheapest option, if nothing else.
Shame I can't afford a Sonos system, though...
Still seems expensive...
So, for £259 you can get a mono active speaker? - and if you buy two, you can then have stereo ?
But for £399, you can get a Sonos ZP120 and still have change (from £518) to buy a half decent pair of "branded" bookshelf speakers...ie Wharfedale Diamond 9.0's for around £60/pair.....which is what I did....
Having been sceptical initially, I took the splash and now have 3 zones at home. The Play:3 is a great addition for rooms where I don't want a Sonos S5 or ZonePlayer 120.
Same for me
I initially entered the Sonos world when the new hand controller came out and Richer Sounds panicked, selling the ZP100/ZP120/Old controller set at knock down prices (well 25% off). Never regretted it (was also looking at a squeezebox system at the time). Since then added a S5 when it came out and now a Play 3 for moving around where needed (Richer Sounds did a 20% off weekend a few weeks back).
As to those who those who rate the Logitech system higher - it's a nice system (or at least was - have Logitech dropped most of it now), cheaper, but limited by the range of your wireless router, not the nearest device in the same network, and does not do true zone linking. Also you're not reliant on dedicated software on a PC or flakey versions on a NAS to access your music, Sonos will work with CIFS, SMB, and DNLA.
To those who think the Play3 is a mono device - it's not, but if you have two then you can configure them so they act as a left or right speaker in a pair.
I do agree Sonos can be expensive, but there can also be some good deals out there. Also if you have an android or iOS device then you do not need an expensive Sonos controller or a PC/MAC to run the system.
If you want music for dinner or a party, who cares if it's stereo?
The Play:3 is stereo, its just that you can improve stereo separation by adding another one and configuring it as a stereo pair. On its own it sounds just fine though.
I have 2 Squeezebox Classic 3s and one Squeezebox Duet (mainly for the remote!) and I have been incredibly pleased with them. I am planning to get a touch, mainly for the USB Key functionally, but am very disappointed that they are no longer doing the classic as it was fantastic for the price, and I had the chose of hooking it up to shitty PC speakers or digitally to a high quality amp and speakers, or anything in between! The touch is its obvious replacement but is just too expensive!
Or for a better and cheaper solution....
1. Buy a O2 Joggler - about £50
2. Put Squeezebox on it
3. Plug into any stereo / amp with phono inputs. You can even plug in a USB sound card to give you optical out.
4. Enjoy IPlayer, your own music, Internet radio streams, and all wireless.
Far better value than Sonos kit IMO.
I should note: If I had had the cash I would have bought a sonos system, they look amasing, just much more than I am willing to spend :/
The review misses the point that there are other options from Sonos - the ZP90 (to connect to a stereo) the ZP120 (to connect to speakers) and the slightly bigger but similar Play5. Also the Play3 does do stereo on its own - although obviously not brilliant seperation on an all-in-one unit. The stero pairing is just an option. You also don't need the bridge as long as one of your Sonos units had a LAN connection to share out to the other units.
I'm a very recent Sonos purchaser but really like it. More importantly my wife does - especially compared to my overly techie homebrew attempts.
On the down side the Android app works fine on tablets and resizes well, but doesn't really take advantage of the bigger screen.
Got one for the kitchen as soon as they went on sale
I'm very happy with it. I don't really need stereo while I'm opening a tin of beans or loading the dishwasher. I just wish Sonos would produce a splash proof device capable of running on batteries. Not everyone thinks it's worth running power cables to the loft and fitting ceiling speakers in the bathroom.
hook up a ps3 and nas box to your stereo (or forget the nas if you dont have >80Gb music). not a bad way to do it and you get a blu-ray player, internet & game console too! plus the ps3 remote is Bluetooth so i can use it outside in the garden! :)
a ps3 can even stream from a windows machine. the sound is pretty good and it doesnt make much noise when playing music, compared to the annoying whine of playing optical media (i have a dedicated bdp for that anyway)
You must have a newer style slim ps3. Mine is noisy, hot and power hungry. All in all, not suited to this task.
i have a fat ps3 and for music mine is pretty quiet. maybe as its next to a big B&W floorstander it gets drowned out? :)
i agree on optical it gets noisy.
maybe you need to clean yours?
Maybe worth looking at a Squeezebox Duet on the Logitech site, they have some 'blemished box' ones for 120 notes:-
Looking now just reconfigured my squeezebox network and this would free up my Boom for Kitchen duty.
If this offer holds out a couple more months...
...I think I know what's just leapt to the top of my birthday/Christmas list :-)
(Of course, S*d's Law says they'll all be gone by next month, so it's probably a trip to eBay... thanks for the head-up anyway!)
DLNA for under £150
I had a SqueezeBox but flogged it on eBay because of the annoying Squeeze Centre software.
I bought a Roberts Stream 83i:
These are under £150, sound pretty good. WiFi/Wired, DLNA, Internet Radio and DAB thrown in.
So good I bought another one.
Richard and Linda Thompson
Great hardware, software is falling behind
You need to spend more time using the system to truly appreciate how limited the Sonos system software is. I mean they have great hardware but the software is feeble.
Playlist support is circa 1998 like a Rio PMP300 (you can't save files to a playlist, you can't backup Sonos playlists, no smart/dynamic playlists). Extremely limited tag support, no year/date!!!! tag support, no multi genre/moods, no utilization of acoustic ids etc. No ratings, The desktop controller has not seen any meaningful attention in years (you can't multi select tracks with shift or control when building playlists WTF?). You can't limit file types. No way to see a list of recently added music.
Further the glacial rate of software updates scares the hell out of me. (It took them 8 weeks to figure out SMB support for Lion and didn't warn customers not to upgrade beforehand).
This may be the best network music player out there, but it is not without its major limitations.
Play:3 versus Play:5
I had a brief back-to-back listen to both the Sonos Play:3 and Play:5 in a Tottenham Court electronics emporium a few weeks back.
I wasn't too impressed with the Play:3, but the Play:5 sounded significantly better. If you've got the space and budget (and it's not that much more expensive) then I'd recommended going for the bigger brother.
Costco currently have the Sonos5 + bridge on offer for £295
Squeezebox solutions: Good and bad
I have owned a variety of music players from the Roku Soundbridge through pretty much the entire range of Squeezeboxes. Currently I have a SB Transporter in the lounge, a boom in the bedroom and a Touch in the kitchen. The older equipment is def better. I had the Radio for six months and sold it due to buggy software. My Touch I only keep as my wife finds it easier to use the touch screen.
I run Squeezecommander (android) to control all devices on a cheap £150 Hannspree tablet over wi-fi, this is great for viewing album art etc.
I do love the SB range but the user inteface is looking really dated and isn't particularly intuative to use. The server software is also nowhere near as stable as it used to be since Logitech took them over.
BUT, if you love quality sounding devices they are hard to beat for the money. ebay and 2nd hand are the way to go.