Reviews
Sonos Play:3 and Sonos Bridge

By Jorge Figueiredo - September 26th, 2013

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I grew up in a house full of music. My dad was something of an audiophile, and he loved listening to records. It wasn’t uncommon for us to all hang out as a family at the apartment, going through our routine with music playing in the background. When we moved into a house later on in my childhood, my dad ran speaker wire so that we could have music in more than one place. With the advent of widely-available wireless technology and easy-to-configure ethernet networks, practically anyone can have a multi-room sound setup without having to run cables. In this regard, Sonos has you covered with the Sonos Bridge and the Sonos Play:3.

The Play:3 ($329.99 CAD) Is a compact, standalone, powered speaker that has an ethernet port on the back. The wedge-shaped unit is relatively small (5.2 x 10.6 x 6.3-inches), but hefty (approaching 6 lbs), and it is well-built. The Play:3 is colored black, and looks as if it could fit in most of the places around your house without ruining your household design aesthetic. In fact, the Play:3’s interesting shape (as well as the placement of protective rubber feet on one of the larger surfaces) means that you can let it rest horizontally or you can place it vertically. It is possible to set it up this unit as part of your wired home network with a little bit of in-room CAT5/5E/6 cable and the Sonos application for your PC.

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Basic black.

The real magic happens when you remove the network cable from the unit, move it to another room in your house, and hook up the Bridge wireless transmitter (a small, nondescript white box – $59.99) to your network instead. Once paired with the Bridge, the Play:3 becomes even more useful in its wireless state, playing streaming audio without so much as a hiccup – all thanks to the Sonos App.

Setting up a Sonos network in your house is a very simple affair. First, you hook up the Bridge to your router (I hooked mine up to my Linksys wireless router), and then you run the setup disc, which creates a connection between the Bridge, your network, and your desktop. Once this is done, you can add the Play:3 by providing it with electrical power from a socket in the room of your choice and the pairing it with the Bridge. That’s it. What is great about the Sonos is that, aside from your PC or Mac, you can access and control your new in-home audio network using the Sonos app for your smartphone or tablet (iOS or Android).

From this point, a bevy of options are available to you. Want to play music from your iTunes library off of your computer? You can do that using the application either on your desktop or on your handheld. Want to play music off of your iPod Touch? Just select your iPod as the source and start listening. Want to listen to a bazillion network radio stations? Want to listen to Songza and SiriusXM Canada (or Spotify and Pandora if you’re in the United States)? Well, you get the idea.

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The Bridge is the most important part of the Enterprise. It is also the nexus for your Sonos network.

Regardless of what you listen to, the Play:3 will impress you. Contained within the solid speaker casing are three Class-D digital amps; the three-driver speaker system features a tweeter, two mid-range drivers, and one bass radiator – and all drivers are each powered by a dedicated amp. In plain-speak, the unit delivers great all-around sound; supposedly full from low end all the way up to the top of the high end. When I tested out the Play:3 using the Bridge (and my iPod touch as my source), I found that the sound was quite good, and it did a pretty good job filling the room. Highs were crisp, mids filled in nicely and the low end was pretty good. I was expecting a bit more from the bass, to be honest. No matter what music genre I drew samples from, I wasn’t really getting the “oomph” that I really wanted. That being said, it is important to consider the fact that I was only using one Play:3 speaker, which, even when cranked, did a really great job managing distortion.

The Sonos system has the capacity to accommodate as many Sonos components as you like. This means that you can have a Sonos in every room (or link two together in each room for a set of stereo pairs – one left channel and one right channel), all by simply pairing each component to the network. What’s more, by using the Sonos application, you can have every room playing the same music, or different music – simultaneously. In addition to the song selection, volume can also be adjusted with the application, giving you some amazing opportunities to tailor your household music presentation the way you want – which is awesome during parties.

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Who says you have to stop at just one?

So is it worth getting yourself into the Sonos frame of mind? I guess that depends on what you currently have. If you have spent a lot of money on other expensive components, adding a Sonos Play:3 and Bridge might not do you any good, as it is not compatible with anything other than Sonos. If you have a good set of speakers and a sub, those would trump a single Sonos speakr (the only advantage for Sonos being the footprint). On the flip side, if you don’t have a decent sound setup (or if you don’t have a setup at all), this might be the way to go for you. Having the ability to buy more than one Play:3 will help you fill out the sound profile in your house (I am confident that multiple speakers would technically increase the bass resonance due to multiple sources). The price point is right for those who currently own low-quality speakers.

The Sonos Play:3 is an interesting and innovative product. Great sound quality, coupled with the convenience of an easy setup, the versatility of being able to put it (or multiple units) anywhere in your house (they are available in black or white), and a fantastic control application make this a no-brainer in terms of setting yourself up with great sound. The price point is fairly low, and the quality is surprisingly high for a “value” product. Plus, if you’re interested in really kicking some butt in the sound department, you can check out some of the other Sonos devices that are available (like that really cool Sub-woofer) – provided you have the coin.

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