Last week I got the coolest thing ever: a pair of Sonos S5 ZonePlayers. What the hell are those, you ask? Well, lemme tell you.
Imagine if you could listen to essentially all the music on the planet, instantly, without necessarily owning it. Imagine if this music played all through your house via top-shelf speakers. Imagine that this same setup gave you access to satellite radio and any one of the multiple thousand live webstreams from around the globe. Imagine if it also let you tune into “predictive radio” like Last.fm and Pandora, where the “stations” are tuned to your particular taste. And what if it was all controlled wirelessly with your iPhone?
I call that living.
Sonos systems are fairly pricey. Actually, I probably would have never have bought the one I’d originally drooled over, due to not quite being able to justify the expense. But the S5s are compact “shelf” units that are comparable to those Bose jobbies you see advertised. Except these actually sound better and are cheaper. It’s crazy how balanced they are. No matter where you stand, you’re in the sweet spot. Probably has something to do with the fact that there are five separate speakers in each rig. Whatever the reason, they sound awesome. Check out the demo here.
I picked up a pair mostly because it was the first Sonos system I could theoretically afford. And I did get a VERY generous discount (which I shan’t divulge the amount of) courtesy of being in “the music industry.” Yes, kids, there still is a music biz.
I’d like to say that setup was a breeze, but there were problems updating the system due to my arch-rivals Comcast, aka THE MOST EVIL FUCKING COMPANY THAT SHOULD BE CONSIGNED TO THE INNERMOST RING OF HELL, THE ONE RESERVED FOR CHILD MOLESTERS AND GLENN BECK.
But I digress. After battling with the weak-ass cable broadband that I pay an exorbitant amount for and have to reset at least five times a day, I was able to bring my Sonos system online. Suddenly, I had all the music I could think of at my fingertips: my iTunes collection, the aforementioned web stations and listen on-demand via Rhapsody — a paid streaming subscription service. So if I’m tipsy and need to hear “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” I can do so without downloading a 99 cent file. Good deal.
I’m psyched at what this system has already done for my at-home music listening, which was definitely at a low ebb. I’m done with plopping CDs in the player (my system wasn’t that good anyway) and I get enough of headphone/earbud listening at work. It’ a real treat to be able to call up almost anything I can think of remotely and get that instant gratification. I also love being able to split my system into “zones,” meaning, I can play stuff in one part of the house or both, and independently control the volume on each. And it’s a huge advantage to be able to use my iPhone (which is basically in my hands at all times anyway) to run the system. And, unlike other iPhone applications, the music doesn’t stop when you close the app.
The only downside is Comcast. Even though I have a brand-new, high-powered router, the signal is very iffy. Sometimes it works great — other times I have to stand in a certain spot in the living room to get the iPhone app to “dial in” to the system. I’d bitch to Comcast, but it literally wouldn’t do a shit bit of good — in our four years with the company (love that competitive broadband marketplace!) we’ve been “escalated” six ways from Sunday, and had a battalion of service people come to our home to… not solve anything. And that’s when they bothered to show up at all.
The good news is that my Comcast nightmare may soon be over: Verizon has checked the condo as a preliminary for installing Fios, and I think we should be up and running by the new year. Which will make my Jetsons home that much better.