Sonos BU250 Wireless Digital Music System - Sonos BU250

By Riyad Emeran

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Editors choice
Sonos BU250 Wireless Digital Music System

Summary

Our Score:

10

I did mention to Sonos that it would be great if the CR200 had been a universal remote control as well, but of course it doesn't use infrared like most remotes. However, most CE manufacturers are adding wired or wireless network functionality to their products these days, so hopefully the next step would be control using IP rather than IR, and if that happens the CR200 could be the only controller you need.

Strange as it may seem, many potential buyers won't be comparing the CR200 to the outgoing CR100. Instead they will be comparing the new CR200 to an iPod touch or iPhone. At the end of last year Sonos launched an app that allowed iPhone and iPod touch users to control their Sonos system without the need for a dedicated remote. The Sonos iPhone app is generally brilliant, and gives you access to almost all the functionality on a device that you may already have, but I'm not convinced that this is a viable alternative to a dedicated controller.

The iPhone app gives you control of your Sonos system, but a dedicated controller still has the edge

The biggest problem with using an iPhone instead of the CR200 is the length of time it takes to get anything done. Remember that example I gave earlier about wanting to mute your music when the phone rings? Well, if I was using my iPhone I would have to turn it on, enter the lock code, swipe the screen to the page where the Sonos app lives, start the Sonos app, wait patiently while it loads, then hit mute! Using an iPhone 3G running firmware 3.0 I found that it took around 20 seconds to access my Sonos system, as opposed to, well no time at all using the CR200. And then consider the fact that it could be your iPhone that's ringing in the first place!

Another problem with relying solely on the iPhone app is that I take my iPhone with me wherever I go. So, if I go out for the day, that means that my wife has no way of controlling the Sonos system, rendering it pretty useless - unless she wants to fire up her notebook.

Oh, and let's not forget that your iPhone or iPod touch needs to use your standard Wi-Fi network to be able to control your Sonos system. So, if you happen to have a large house and your wireless router is at the opposite end of it, you'll have trouble connecting with your iPhone. The CR200 connects directly to the Sonos mesh network, which means that it just needs to be in range of a ZonePlayer, which will most likely be in the same room.

Don't get me wrong though, I'm not suggesting that the Sonos iPhone app isn't worth having, because it most definitely is. I use it regularly when I'm up in my bedroom and the CR200 is downstairs in my dining room. All I'm saying is that the iPhone app makes a great secondary controller rather than a primary one.

Jay4d0

September 2, 2009, 5:53 am

2 apple airport expresses, an ipod touch and the remote app. job done at a fraction of the price with pretty much zero chance you could tell the sound quality difference.

Bobby D

September 2, 2009, 12:01 pm

@Jay


Many people can tell the sound quality difference between an iPod and a system that can play a decent uncompressed file format.

Bobby D

September 2, 2009, 12:02 pm

Sorry I meant lossless, obviously....

PaulW

September 2, 2009, 1:00 pm

@BobbyD -I agree 100% - the audio quality of an iPod is seriously lacking. Don't get me wrong, I love mine for the portability etc but the sound quality sucks, even when compared to my "trusty" Creative Zen 20Gb.

WyWyWyWy

September 2, 2009, 1:13 pm

Still think it's a shame that it doesn't support Unicode.


A deal breaker for me.

Hamish Campbell

September 2, 2009, 4:10 pm

Hmmm I think that assessment is wrong. Jay is saying that the muzak is playing through the apple express routers, so the Ipod's dac is irrelevant.





The apple express has a digital (optical) out so you really the quality of music is really down to your file (so apple lossless or high bit rate lossy will be fine) and then the system you are pumping the bits and bytes into.





If you've already got that great hifi system, and an ipod touch or iphone, then this would be a pretty sweet setup.





You're library can of course be held on a NAS or laptop or usb off your router or whatever.

Chris Beach

September 2, 2009, 4:52 pm

The cheaper option would the Logitech Squeezebox's...the upcoming touch version looks to be a great edition to the lineup.

Chris

September 2, 2009, 8:55 pm

To the doubters, I think you're kinda missing the point of what the Sonos does, which is more that just play music. Its integration, usability and convenience are streets ahead of the Apple solution, which is really a hack by comparison. I imagine the sound quality on offer would be far better as well, although I've never heard music played from an Airport Express to properly compare.


These are difficult concepts to explain, but if you saw (and heard) one in action you'd know what I mean.


As cjb110 says, the closest competitor comes in the form of the Squeezebox, which can be had for much less although that system requires a PC or powerful NAS device to perform server duties.

Hamish Campbell

September 2, 2009, 11:48 pm

It's obviously a fantastic system, however 700 squids is a big whack of cash. Now I bet a fair few folk have a good hifi and an iphone, plus a computer with a large itunes library. Then 70 quid for an apple express router and the free iphone remote is a pretty good option, you're getting most of the functionality that you're looking for at a 10th of the price. It all depends on your situation, but I would guess quite a few iphone owners fall in this category.

OldTimer

September 4, 2009, 4:02 pm

'The best multi-room digital music system'





Given their position in the market you could argue that the Meridian Sooloos would take that crown. Audio quality is far superior to the Sonos.

Chris

September 4, 2009, 6:31 pm

@OldTimer: Seeing as the Meridian can cost up to $5000, I think we can forgive them.. :)

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