Last week, Sonos unveiled the ZonePlayer S5, the first product in its streaming-audio family to boast built-in speakers. Monday, we got the opportunity to see (and hear) it in person for the first time when Sonos reps dropped by our New York office for a demo.
The setup was a two-zone system (two S5s) pulling music from an Apple Time Capsule. The one caveat of a Sonos setup is that at least one component needs a wired network connection. In this case, a ZoneBridge BR100 was connected to the Apple router via Ethernet, which in turn enabled both S5s to operate wirelessly.
Control duties were handled by an iPod Touch running the next version of the Sonos controller app. The new version isn't radically different from the current one, but the music selection screen seemed nicely streamlined.
Otherwise, it was the same old Sonos experience we've come to expect--which is to say a flawless, dropout-free digital music experience. We were intermixing local music (from the Time Capsule) with tunes pulled over the Net from Napster and Last.fm, and everything played without a hitch. We could also play one selection on one S5 while simultaneously playing a different one on the other S5 (in the same room for testing purposes only; in a home setup, of course, they'd be in different rooms), or link the zones to play one stream in unison.
The venue--one of our office conference rooms--wasn't ideal for a true listening test. But at first blush, the S5 sounded pretty sweet. We were able to crank the volume to levels that would shake apart your average iPod speaker, and the S5 held together without exhibiting distortion or harshness.
In the end, we only had a few minutes with the ZonePlayer S5, but it certainly made a positive first impression. We'll get a chance to do a detailed full review when the $400 product ships the first week of November.
In the meantime, let us know if you have any specific questions about the Sonos ZonePlayer S5, and we'll try to address them when we get our review sample.