A small Mebourne distributor has snared the rights to one of the worlds hottest lifestyle technology products.
A little known
He added” We are going to be very selective over which resellers we appoint to sell this system. Overseas the product is very successful and I am confident that it will take off in the Australian market”
One hurdle all vendors of multizone audio systems face is how to synchronize music streams so that a user will hear music played in a continuous stream even while walking between rooms. Systems from vendors such as Elan and Russound create copies of music files in media servers and distribute music to speakers from a central location. Such systems require expensive centralized multizone controllers.
In addition to the expense of multizone controllers, another limitation is requirements for where they are placed. Controllers must be placed in central locations because long audio connections can make Analog and digital wiring too expensive and complex to distribute. For instance, NAS appliances and PCs must be networked through media servers before controllers can receive any audio signal. These setups are attractive in new-home constructions where laying wiring is a simple task, but are limited in retrofits. Another option is to use wireless speakers with multizone controllers, but this is not acceptable due to their generally poor performance. Integrators still have to run speaker and network wires to each room to hook up touch panels and speakers to media servers and controllers. Wireless touch panels also are not adequate in large homes with many dead zones unless integrators add wireless boost adapters over the power line. Wireless networks are useful when transferring music files into media servers as long as network traffic is low and stable. Ultimately, these systems are expensive and difficult to implement.
Sonos takes several steps to avoid the complexity of competing systems. First, there is no central server in a Sonos system. Instead, users attach a Sonos ZonePlayer to a speaker system in every zone throughout a house, and the ZonePlayers communicate with each other. The Sonos Controller remote control is used to select and manage music in any room. A Sonos introductory bundle, consisting of two ZonePlayers and one controller, costs $2,399. Additional ZonePlayers and controllers cost $999 and $799.
Comparable systems from other vendors cost several thousand dollars more. Instead of storing all of the music, each ZonePlayer only stores the names of all the tracks a user has, along with pointers to the locations of the files on devices in a home. The system allows music to be shared simultaneously, but also allows users to control the music from any room and in any combination.
The system synchronises music at the hardware level using special clocks in each ZonePlayer that maintain oscillation at a constant rate. Each oscillating device’s rate of control is maintained through constant latency checks between each ZonePlayer. The Sonos software uses proprietary wireless communication across an entire network of ZonePlayers to maintain synchronization of music within milliseconds of each other. After accessing the same source, all the ZonePlayers place the music locally in each room and decode it. The Sonos system can have up to 16 ZonePlayers simultaneously accessing music from different sources.
Adding a ZonePlayer in a new room is as simple as going to a Sonos Controller, choosing the new room option and pressing the volume and mute button on the ZonePlayer until it is recognized. A message pops up on the controller asking what room name to call the newly found ZonePlayer. Once the user picks the room name, music starts coming out in that room. In less than 10 minutes, digital integrators can have five rooms installed.
Sonos’ ZonePlayer has four Analog RCA jacks and one for a subwoofer. The jacks have auto-sensing capabilities that know when music is playing from a CD player or any A/V equipment and alerts the Sonos Controller that a new line source is active. Users can select the new source and make it play in any room or all of the rooms at once. The ZonePlayer receiving an Analog signal becomes an Analog router and works similarly to more expensive multizone controllers.
The Sonos system is a true mesh network because all of the players must know what each one is doing even if they do not see each other. As long as a connection exists to hop from one ZonePlayer to another, each player can communicate with any other player outside its scanning range.
To test the system, SmartHouse Reviewers used a wired connection with one ZonePlayer that was out of wireless reach of two other players. The other two players communicated via a wireless connection. Because each ZonePlayer arrives with four Ethernet ports, digital integrators can place ZonePlayers in zones unreachable by wireless signals and use power line networking boost adapters to reach them. Within seconds, reviewers successfully made two ZonePlayers communicate via wired Ethernet and were able to identify the third ZonePlayer that communicated via wireless. What’s more, reviewers immediately were able to control the wireless ZonePlayer. All ZonePlayers maintained seamless network communication with each other.
All three players produced perfectly synchronised music, even after extensive changes between albums, rapid music changes, halts and replays. Reviewers were extremely impressed with Sonos’ wireless performance. With this system, users can balance the sound level in each room with better control than is offered by competing products.