The Sonos Play:5 speaker.Matthew DeBord/BII spent almost two years researching a new audio setup for my house. By way of background, I don’t own any TVs and although we pay for a variety of video-steaming services, I don’t watch them all that much (everybody else does, on laptops, tablets, and iPhones).
However, I do listen to a lot of music. Before I moved from Los Angeles a couple of years ago, I had a kind of evolving hybrid old-school/new-school audio setup. At any given time, there was a component hi-fi stereo plus a Wi-Fi streaming rig and of course the car radio. There were CDs and even some survivors from my once-vast vinyl record collection. There were cassette tapes. There were iTunes libraries and a stray iPod or two.
When I came back to New York, I decided to commit to a simple Bluetooth setup. So for a while, it was iPhone + Bluetooth speaker. But it wasn’t a very good Bluetooth speaker. I missed the old component configuration I had lugged around for two decades, in the 1980s and 1990s. I realized that I wanted to listen to music and have it sound good.
So began the quest. Fortunately, I wasn’t in a hurry. And I had reference points. It boiled down to whether I had in mind a static or dynamic listening experience. Or perhaps better stated as stationary or ambient.
A key point of reference was my father-in-law’s budget audiophile arrangement, with NAD components mated to a pair of excellent Ohm speakers. Good sounds!
But to really enjoy that setup — which I was familiar with from my own systems — you have to commit to sitting in a chair or on a couch, figuring out how to best position the speakers, and in this day and age go for an amplifier-turntable-speakers rig and start rebuilding the vinyl. It’s also a wired system, so there are, you know … wires.
The listening experience is unparalleled, of course. But as I worked through my options, I realized that I don’t listen to music that way anymore — unless I’m in a car, where I get to sample no end of multi-speaker, high-end audio systems.
We listen to music holistically, and we want to fill our house with it. So you can probably guess where I’m heading here.
Yep, we took the Sonos plunge. But what an odyssey it was before we finally made that decision!