DJs are at heart music lovers. Dedicating your life to sharing and mixing a superior taste in tunes suggests a serious passion for sound. Most demand the very best equipment when they play out. But how about in the home? What do DJs and dance fans use to listen back to mixes and tracks — especially when they're short of space?
More and more people have gone digital, not just in their choice of DJing equipment but in the way they listen to music. But many speaker solutions that run music from computers or smart devices offer sub-par sound. It's a gap in the market certainly and one that Sonos have endeavoured to fill since they first emerged with their revolutionary hi-fi wireless speakers and audio components.
So far, Sonos have wowed us with a range of different kinds of hi-fi speakers and components designed to sit in various rooms of the home. PLAY:5, a super powerful speaker with a potent bass response designed for larger spaces, PLAY:3, a slightly smaller but almost as banging version, the PLAY:BAR, aimed more at home cinema/television sound reproduction, and the rib-rattling SUB which as its name suggests delivers rippling waves of bass response. Thus far the cheapest has been the PLAY:3, but there's a brand-new addition to their range which for the first time makes the Sonos experience more affordable: the PLAY:1.
To get an idea of how Sonos works, consider the concept of having an integrated music system piping tunes around your home, each room with the capacity to play different tracks and styles, all controllable with an easily navigable remote. Until recently such a thing has been astronomically expensive but with the advent of better wireless internet, Sonos entirely negates the need for such a thing. In fact, it improves upon it.
The PLAY:1 — small, but solid, with a metallic speaker grill across most of its body and a matt white top (it's also available in the more dapper, serious black) with only a few buttons and light indicators — is a deceptively powerful device. Beautifully and cleanly designed with an intuitively simple control surface, it's essentially a wireless speaker. But it's the quality of what it offers that so astounds. Hook it up by connecting the BRIDGE (a Sonos peripheral which comes free with the PLAY:1) to an existing internet router; download the free Sonos app to your computer, tablet or smart phone, and you're away. Ridiculously user-friendly, simply assign PLAY:1 to a specific room in the house (kitchen, master bedroom, living room and so forth), and you can access all the music stored on multiple computers within range using a phone as a wireless remote, or simply by using the computer itself. It's as easy as pushing a button. And because Sonos uses its own dedicated wireless network, there's no danger of the music dropping out because of an interrupted wireless signal.
It gets better: not only can Sonos access all the music you own, it also takes full advantage of its internet capability and can connect to all existing digital radio stations, internet stations, and even cloud storage “drives” to stream music directly. Connect to Napster, Spotify, Last FM and other online music streaming services: the possibilities are legion.
The opposite of tinny desk-mounted computer speakers, PLAY:1 has powerful sound to say the least, packing two custom-designed drivers with dedicated class D digital amplifiers, one tweeter and a 3.5 inch/9 cm mid woofer for mid range frequencies and resonant bass.
Control the volume with your phone or tablet and boost it up, and the relatively small but tough little unit pumps out a sound that can easily fill a room. Clean, clear, flawlessly uninterrupted, it breathes new life into a music library. One PLAY:1 is easily enough for one room, but those wanting to take their sound to the next level can hook up a second speaker in the same room in order to create all-immersive stereo sound. You can even have 5:1 surround sound by adding a PLAYBAR and SUB to the set-up: unparalleled sonic bliss.
Affordable, easy to use, with brilliant sound, Sonos' PLAY:1 is so good, it might just be the speaker to convert curmudgeonly vinyl luddites...