Sonos, manufacturer of high-end wireless audio home systems, today announced a new addition to its lineup: the Play:3. At $299, it's an affordable way to get Sonos in your house, although if you do not have a Sonos set-up already, you'll also need the Sonos Bridge, which connects via Ethernet to your home network and enables the wireless stream of audio throughout the house.
The Bridge used to retail for just under $100, but Sonos is dropping the price to $49 with the release of the Play:3. Realistically, therefore, newcomers to Sonos can have full functionality for as little as $350. It's true that you can connect the Play:3 via Ethernet if your house is wired, but you obviously lose some of the portability in this scenario.
Free Sonos apps available for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch, as well as Android devices, allow users to control their music libraries wirelessly. Sonos does not stream anything from these mobile devices, however—it simply allows the devices to act as controllers. The audio stream that users hear comes directly from the Bridge's wireless stream—or directly via Ethernet, if the Play:3 is connected. The only drawback here is that songs on your iPad that are not in your home library cannot be played via Sonos—but the obvious solution is to make sure your mobile device's library mirrors your computer's.
A Sonos system can access far more than your iTunes library, however. Sonos devices receive streams from Spotify, Rhapsody, Last.fm, Pandora, Napster, Stitcher, TuneIn Radio, Rdio, SiriusXM, Mog, I Heart Radio, and Wolfgang's Vault. Of course, you have to pay for most of these services with separate accounts for each, but Sonos syncs up all of your accounts and organizes them in one easy-to-use menu on the free Sonos app. Those who have existing Sonos systems with the dedicated Sonos remote control can still use that controller, as well.
The Play:3, which measures 5.2 by 10.5 by 6.3 inches, has one tweeter, two 3-inch midrange drivers, and a "rear-firing bass radiator," which is not a subwoofer, but can reproduce respectable low-end. The low frequency response, however, did seem to increase dramatically with the addition of the second unit. Of course, we will test this out when we get a longer look at the Play:3 in our labs very soon. Stay tuned for the full review.
The Play:3 can be used in stereo or mono modes (or as the left or right speaker in a pair if you purchase two of them). When placed vertically, the speaker automatically adjusts its output to match the new trajectory of the audio. PCMag had a chance to hear a demo, and the system is truly powerful, if not super-heavy on bass response.
The Sonos Play:3 is available today in white and black.