When Sonos first appeared on the market in 2005, the focus was squarely on replaying music from networked computers but with the glut of streaming services its scope has increased dramatically. Sonos' biggest strength is simplifying the networking nightmares of installing most wireless music systems and sounding good in the process. The Sonos Connect brings these capabilities to users who want to add network music to an existing stereo, but is the asking price too high?
While most of the media streamers available today are no larger than a drink coaster in platform shoes, the Sonos Connect is one of the larger options. It measures 2.91 inches high and is roughly square at 5.35 inches wide and 5.51 inches deep.
The Sonos Connect resembles the larger Connect:Amp with the same squat shape, but instead of the two-tone color scheme the Connect opts for a simpler, and arguably more attractive, all-white design. The device sits on blue rubber feet, which offers some isolation from the outside world.
The front panel, like all Sonos players, features a mute button and volume up/down but sadly it lacks an on/off switch.
If you have an existing stereo or home theater system and you're looking to add streaming, then the Sonos Connect is your beast. It's essentially a Sonos:Connect amp without the 55W-per-channel amplifier and as a result comes at a $150 saving.
The Connect was formerly known as the ZonePlayer ZP90, and was renamed just after the Play:3 came along. The company offers free control apps for PC, Mac, Android, and iOS.
Unlike some of the competitive media streamers on the market, this is a music device only. While it may seem expensive for what it does at more than three times the price of the Apple TV and the Western Digital WDTV, the Sonos distinguishes itself by both a friendly interface and in the number of services it offers. Sonos' tagline is "Stream All The Music On Earth" and music subscription providers are added periodically. The most recent is Amazon Cloud Player and it joins a dozen other services such as Spotify, MOG and Pandora.
While Apple's iTunes Match isn't supported, the Sonos does support streaming from PCs and Macs running the iTunes software, so your home music collection is always accessible. It also supports many NAS servers, for those who don't want to keep their PCs powered on all the time. If you stream music locally, then the device's file format support is quite broad with all of the usual types including MP3, WAV, Apple Lossless, FLAC, and Ogg Vorbis. Though it will only concern a small subset of people at present (myself included), the Sonos system doesn't playback 24-bit files: it's CD quality only.