How to get started with Sonos: An In-Depth Guide

New Sonos Logo

So the time has finally come where just about every person I know either already has Sonos or knowns they want it. As an early employee at Sonos (and now a proud shareholder) most of my friends ask me, “What is the best way to get started with Sonos?” I’m pretty sure I’ve answered this question oven twenty times now so I thought I’d write a short article with the answer so I can refer people to this in the future.

First things first, there’s no right or wrong way to get started with Sonos, it just depends on who you are, where you live, and how you see Sonos fitting into your life. Still there are a few suggestions that I think can lend to ensuring that you have the best experience possible, so here it goes.

Start with at least two
Sonos is a multi-room music system and while having one Sonos player is awesome, having two honestly will blow your mind and you might not totally understand it until you have two. If your budget is under $500 then start with two PLAY:1’s – they sound great and can be either used to play music in two different rooms or set to “Stereo Pair” to make a kick-ass two channel system.

Think of which rooms in your house you want to listen to music
Once again, Sonos is a multi-room system, so start thinking about where you would want to listen to music in your house that you can’t right now. Sure, you can always turn up the stereo in your living room or carry that wimpy little iPhone speaker you have with you, but this is a whole different ballgame. I usually tell people to start with their living room, bedroom, and kitchen and grow from there.

Sonos Playbar

How to use Sonos in your living room/tv room
There’s a good chance that you spend a lot of time in the room that has your TV and home theater system, this is where I think you should be putting your focus. If you have the budget for it the Sonos PLAYBAR is without a doubt the best soundbar on the market, period. Couple this with two PLAY:1’s for surround speakers and you have one heck of a surround sound system. That being said, if you don’t have the budget for it or you already have an awesome surround sound system simply buy a Connect and attach it to your existing system.

Using Sonos outside
This is probably one of the top questions I get. First it’s important to understand that no Sonos player was designed to be left outside all the time. That being said you can take a PLAY:5, PLAY:3, or PLAY:1 outside, plug it in and you’ll be off to the races. I do recommend either a PLAY:3 or a PLAY:5 if you’re going to bring a player outside since you’ll want something that can really rock. If you already have outdoor speakers then simply use the Connect to add Sonos to your existing system and then you can play anything you want on your outdoor speakers and control it from your phone.

Sonos Play Products

Deciding between the PLAY:1, PLAY:3 and PLAY:5
Last but not least, how can you decide between the three “PLAY” products? The PLAY:1 is ideal for small rooms or places where you don’t need massive room-filling sound. That being said a PLAY:1 can still fill a room with sound but it won’t have quite the same presence that the PLAY:3 and PLAY:5 create.

Now the PLAY:3 vs. PLAY:5 is a tough one but here’s how I look at it. The PLAY:5 is a beast, the sound quality rivals a pair of $1,000 high-end speakers in my opinion so use this anywhere that you really want to fill a room with sound. The PLAY:3 is great for medium-sized rooms where you want music but you don’t need to completely rock the house. Still running two PLAY:3’s in stereo pair sounds amazing and is a good compromise for rooms where you want room-filling sound but don’t have the space for a PLAY:5.

All that being said I think every single person needs at least one PLAY:5 in their house because it really does sound amazing and yes, you do have to hear it to believe it.

Sonos Sub

To SUB or not to SUB, that is the question
Lately I’ve found more and more of my friends asking me if they should add a sub to their Sonos setup. Like most things Sonos, the sub packs the punch of a subwoofer that would easily be 3x – 4x the price and has some very cool innovations under the hood. That being said I really only recommend in two cases:

  1. when you want to build a serious home theater system and then I recommend using the sub with a Playbar and two Play:1’s for surrounds which really does make an outstanding home theater system.
  2. if you are an audiophile and want a really sweet two channel system, then use the sub with two Play:3’s or Play:5’s in stereo pair for what really is the ultimate two channel system.

Do you need a CONNECT or CONNECT:AMP
Everyone always understand the PLAY products but the CONNECT or a CONNECT:AMP can be a bit more mercurial. Don’t fear, there’s nothing complicated here, these are two simple products that you may or may not need. The CONNECT attaches to any existing stereo if you want to add Sonos as a source (i.e. like a CD player but cooler). You’ll want a CONNECT if you have a home theater system already and you just want to add Sonos to it. You’ll also want a CONNECT if you have all your audio gear centralized in one closet or going to outdoor speakers.

The CONNECT:AMP is a way to breathe new life into your old speakers. If you have a regular pair of bookshelf speakers you can use the CONNECT:AMP to power them like those big honking amplifiers used to back when we were all young and spritely. While the CONNECT:AMP might be small in size it has a ton of power and can almost always power a pair of tall floorstanding speakers like champ.

Final thoughts
One of the best things about Sonos is that you can start with two and grow from there. Don’t let any salesperson try to convince you to buy eight at once, start small and I think you’ll find that over time you’ll end-up with more and more but don’t feel like you have to spend thousands of dollars to get started. What I can tell you is that the average Sonos user listens to twice the amount of music after they get Sonos than before so get ready to rock out a lot more than before. Enjoy!

Morgan Linton

Morgan Linton