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Sonos users are a picky bunch. The latest Sonos Controller app is attracting some strongly negative reactions amongst its customers – yet more users like it than dislike it. Sonos Controller v5.0 runs on smartphones and tablets, streaming music stored on them or from internet music-streaming services like Spotify, Google Play …

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Silver badge

I thought of 'updating' my aging Squeezebox setup recently - mostly because I am stuck with wireless and the Logitech devices only support 802.11g.

I was very keen on the original Sonos system and loved the dedicated controller but went with the Logitech solution because I felt the options, extensions and customisations available put it ahead. While Logitech may have all-but killed-off its Squeezebox line, the open and extensible nature of the platform means that it is still going strong and those of us who invested in the system have a wealth of choice of interface - all the way from command-line (over SSH no less) to browser (including the ability to easily custom-code a simple web interface) to desktop applications, IR remote controls and 'apps' on a mobile device ranging from the shiny to the nerdy.

My decision, by the way, was to build some cheap, low-powered boxen running SqueezeLite - most likely on a Pi as there are a few decent DACs available.

The point - so far as I ever have one - is that these systems are all about how they are controlled; restricting the system to one official controller that is a 'like-it-or-leave-it' option is not ideal. I realise they want to control the end-to-end experience as this allows them to promote streaming services if they want (and they do) but providing options would hardly make the system less desirable!

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Music networking ?

Don't quite get it.

Sonos and similar stuff so expensive and technical that it would be cheaper/simpler to have a compact stereo in each room and carry CDs from one room to another. Probably sound better too.

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Re: Music networking ?

Well rather than having an entire room full of cd's I have a little box sat in a cupboard providing all my musical needs through a number of speakers in the house, and if the wife doesn't want to listen to my stuff she can put her own stuff on a different speaker in a different room whilst she does her work.

Then there's streaming service that allows me to listen to music I've never heard and probably wouldn't ever have listened to if I had to go to HMV and flick through the vast banks of cd's and then pay the full cd price for it.

Seems to me to be a decent little innovation.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Music networking ?

CDs?

What about online services, cloud services and so on?

The quality of Sonos is well known and the technology solid. It uses its own mesh Wifi network, unlike Apple and others who use the busier Wifi networks shared with computers.

I'm guessing you've never used one.

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Re: Music networking ?

@Fihart

I'm very much a CD guy. I have lots of them and I listen to my music one album at a time. I like the restriction enforced by having to choose a CD, pop it in the player and sit back down. I have a short attention span so putting a barrier of effort between me an my desire to play amateur DJ is a good thing and I enjoy my music more.

BUT, even for me there is amazing utility in a multi-room, HDD-based music system. The ability to flick my playlist from the lounge room into the kitchen has meant that I neglect to feed myself less than I used to.

I have also found that I actually enjoy leaving the system on random. I have a relatively large and diverse collection of music and sometimes it's great to just leave it up to fate.

There are many benefits to such a system - once you try one (setup properly) you will know.

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I'm agin it

It's as though the designers had assiduously read all the criticism of the beta versions of the UI in iOS 7 — stick-thin, low-contrast, hard-to-read text; no differentiation between text that's buttons and text that's not; obscure symbols that must be touched to expose random functionality; poor information density … and said "Wow! Let's have some of that!".

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First world problem

How people get so exercised over something so trivial is remarkable: the new controller isn't as functionally elegant as the old one and the layout makes compromises to fit with some designer's idea of what a "cool" phone screen should look like but, stupidly, doesn't scale well to a tablet.

Oh my God, the sky's falling in.

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Re: First world problem

Not sure people are usggesting it's the end of the world, but it does seem perfectly accepatable to voice opinions about a product you've paid money for in an attempt to make it better going forward.

I've personally not commented on it but I still like the whole eco-system regardless of how you press start and pause on it.

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Re: First world problem

"Oh my God, the sky's falling in"

Agreed, there are much more serious problems in the world, but Sonos systems, while being good (apart from their unreliable hardware controller - yes, I'm looking at you, Sonos), are pretty expensive, so there's a tendency for users to get a little more more splenetic than you'd expect if using it isn't like falling off a log.

My first impression was that they'd let someone with windows 8 design skills loose on it, which wasn't a good start...

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Re: First world problem

@gazzton

You are correct - this problem is squarely in the 'not starving, not cowering from hostile gun-fire, not being tortured for your beliefs, not freezing out on the streets' basket.

But so what?

There is this odd notion that you can't complain if there are people out there worse-off than you are. What a load of rot.

I am a middle-class white fella and, as such, I enjoy a level of comfort and ease in my life that is foreign to a disturbingly large percentage of the rest of the world. I don't have to worry about where my next meal will come from or if my son will be conscripted into a local warlord's private army. I have plenty of warm clothes and a solid roof over my head. Add to that, I have gadgets and goods so numerous that I don't know where half of them are.

By any reasonable standard I am well-off. Does that mean, then, that I can't complain about anything?

It won't make the world a better place if someone complains about their Sonos controller app but nor will it make it a worse one. What this system does do, however, is add to the quality and enjoyment of life of those who use it. That is why those people bought it - because they believed they would be happier with it than without it.

It is the right (if not mission) of every human being to seek happiness. This update, while not important 'in the scheme of things', has reduced the happiness of many Sonos users and so they are justified in bringing it up.

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Re: First world problem

well said Dan - I was going to write something similar but you did it far more eloquently !

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Re: First world problem

The reason people are son annoyed is because Sonos have changed/downgraded the experience of customer who have already purchased Sonos equipment based on how it operated when they bought it.

For Sonos to change the control method so substantially & not allow owners the ability to revert to a previous version, let alone cripple existing control methods such as original iPads orders on criminal.

Yes the App is "free" but if you've spent a couple of thousand £/$ on the equipment and you no longer enjoy using it, you have a right to complain.

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Was there a minimum word limit on this article? I've never seen:

"Some people don't like the new Sonos app"

"Sonos say they aren't going back to the old one, and will make it better"

... stretched out to such extremes. It repeats itself about three times over.

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It took me ten minutes to find the current queue with the new interface because the UI element for it is so small as to be nearly invisible.

Sonos also make it difficult to avoid updates because if one person on the network upgrades their controller app, it triggers updates in the system that mean everyone else has to follow suit. I had a house guest once who had their own Sonos system, and once they came on my network, an earlier update that I had resisted because of flaws was also forced onto the household.

There are much older threads on their forums with more than 150 posts I am sure, where the response is the usual "we're listening" mantra.

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Anonymous Coward

It's not very intuitive.

If things are meant to be clicked then that should be obvious, not expecting the user to prod various parts of the screen to work out what is text and what is a button.

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I am disapointed with the lack of Windows Native App support.

I have one Sonos play 3 speaker, and its pretty decent. I'd like more, but the software support isn't good enough.

I'm probably going to go to Windows Phone next (because its cheap and not android) but the lack of this app alone is making me consider getting a new iphone at some point. At which point I'll start saving up for some more Sonos things may be?

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AMW

Re: I am disapointed with the lack of Windows Native App support.

There is a simple but effective app for windows phone called phonos in the app store.

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Re: I am disapointed with the lack of Windows Native App support.

Sonos keep updating the hardware and tinkering with the controller apps, but they have nothing to increase the fundamental capacity of the system to store metadata. Library size limitations and lack of support for multivalued tags are (in my not isolated view) the biggest daily drawbacks of the system.

For those saying that not many people have libraries that big:

1. the people who typically buy Sonos are more likely to have large, well-managed libraries

2. a household of people with varying tastes and libraries will hit those limits very quickly

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