The very popular Sonos whole house music system has announced a new wireless music player and lowered the price on its Zone Bridge device making the cost of getting into the Mac compatible system significantly cheaper.
Sonos is now offering the Play: 3, a US $299.00 compact stereo speaker system small enough for a kitchen counter-top or a nightstand. The Play: 3 consists of 3 integrated speakers and 3 digital amplifiers. An interesting feature of the speaker is what Sonos calls 'smart directional design', which means the equalization of the speaker changes depending on whether the unit is horizontal or vertical. Although the speaker is stereo, the unit is not very wide, and a second Play: 3 can be added to the system to provide a wide stereo pair.
If you are just starting with a Sonos music system, you will need what Sonos calls a Zone Bridge. The Zone Bridge has been cut 50% in price to $50.00. It plugs into your router, and connects to your iTunes library, and gives you access to more than 100,000 internet radio stations and music services like Pandora, Rhapsody, SiriusXM and Spotify. Some music services require a subscription.
You can add more speakers to create a multi-room system, and Sonos offers other players that can be connected to existing audio setups. Once the system is up and running, everything can be controlled from a free iOS app for your iPad, iPod touch or iPhone. You can also control the system with a free OS X app. An existing wireless network is required.
I think the only thing missing from the Sonos product mix is a battery powered wireless speaker for use outside or anywhere in the house where AC is not available.
Sonos is not the only way to get a whole house music system up and running, but it is one of the easiest to deploy and expand. The Play: 3 goes on sale today, and I'll be testing one soon to hear the quality of the sound.
Important note to current Sonos users: The Sonos software does not work with your iTunes library if it is on your Mac. A fix is on the way, but it is surprising that Sonos was not ready for this update. Music streaming services work just fine, but not your local iTunes music share.