I just got back from a California visit to see our friends at Sonos. It was a fun trip and confirmed that the way we enjoy music is changing rapidly for the better! I read stats around the first of May when the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) released numbers about music sales in 2014. They are just staggering. Both CD and downloaded music sales were down 14%, yet streaming sales grew 28% to surpass sales of all physical media. (This was even with a 43% increase in vinyl sales.) Predictions are that by 2016, streaming will be the way the majority of Americans enjoy music. Interestingly, in some European countries streaming already accounts for close to 85% of all music consumption!
For those of you who are into streaming already, you can smile in your knowledge of being ahead of the curve and skip this paragraph. For the rest who may not fully understand – read on! Streaming means many things. First of all: the music you hear comes in over the internet. Secondly: you do not own the music. The cool part is you have access to more music than you can dream of. Some streaming services are free and supported by ads. More have a small monthly fee giving unlimited access anywhere you go. A few services provide a random selection of music in the category you picked, while the majority let you hunt down music you want to hear. Pandora is far and away the most popular service. They offer a radio like experience that you can fine tune what plays by a thumbs up or down system that is pretty cool. Pandora has both a free ad supported service and a paid service.
Right now there are close to 75 streaming services available in the world, but it doesn’t stop there. Almost all radio stations on the planet now stream out their feeds, so your choices are virtually unlimited. Many services have over 25 million albums in their library giving you access to more music than you can imagine. Most have great ways to discover new music which are really fun, and some even have a way to capture the music you enjoy in playlists to recall later. My favorite is a relatively new service, Tidal. They give you full CD quality streaming with a huge selection of music to browse.
Now the question is: how do you get this great music all over your home? Well, that is where Sonos comes in. Back in 2002 when Sonos was first born, they had the foresight to see all of this coming. Their great products have become the bestselling ever at Audio Advice. What I really like is that our customers who have Sonos love it. They tell us they are listening to and discovering more music than ever before. Why is this? It’s so darn easy with Sonos.
When you visit their headquarters you can see how Sonos makes it so easy. They have literally hundreds of software engineers working on their interface who keep improving it over time. With a Sonos component, you can sign up for any number of streaming services – they currently have 67 different ones! You can then add all the music you own that’s on your computers around the house.
That’s all pretty straight forward, but here is where it gets interesting. Sonos has a great feature called universal search. Type in an artist, album, or song and Sonos will search every single service you subscribe to and your library to get results. You can add any of these to a Sonos playlist that can cross reference services and your library! How cool is that? It’s so easy to find music, it makes you want to explore like crazy!
Sonos also keeps improving the interface to add features. Not only that, they keep updating firmware to improve their audio performance.
Another reason Sonos is so popular with Audio Advice customers is the way they make it so easy to get music around your home. By far the bestselling Sonos pieces at Audio Advice are the Connect and the Connect Amp. The Connect basically replaces your CD player with a small box that gives you access to the streaming world. It also has digital out if you want to improve the audio. You can just take a Connect, connect it to your system and off you go! The Connect Amp is the same type of component with a power amp built in. With Connect Amp, you just need a pair of speakers.
You are probably starting to see how easy it is to put Sonos components around your home. But how do they talk to each other? Sonos creates its own wireless network between the components. They have spent millions making sure there is no audio lag from room to room. This means you can have 20 Connect Amps with speakers spread throughout your home and hear either the same thing in every room or play different music in each one.
The Play series is the all in one group of Sonos components. These are made up of self-contained powered speakers: the Play 1, 3, and 5. While these sound pretty good for what they cost, we don’t feel they provide the same experience as a good pair of speakers. However, if you need sound in some secondary areas, they make a great choice. The Playbar is another option, It’s a combination speaker bar for your TV that also has streaming available. The Playbar paired with the Sonos Sub has been very popular at Audio Advice.
We have every Sonos component set up in both of our stores. You can experience for yourself just how easy and fun it is to get into streaming. If you have not explored streaming, it’s probably time to come by Audio Advice, take a look and have a listen. You are missing out on a whole world of music!