Sonos BU250 Wireless Digital Music System - Sonos BU250

By Riyad Emeran
Reviewed:

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Sonos BU250 Wireless Digital Music System

Summary

Our Score

10/10

Review Price free/subscription

Setting up a Sonos system is as simple as ever. You just place your ZonePlayers where you want them, hook one ZonePlayer or an optional ZoneBridge to your router and you're pretty much done. From then all the configuration can be done via your PC using the Sonos Desktop application, which makes configuring the zones and your own music library as easy as pie. Once you point the Sonos system at your music - in my case it resides on my NAS appliance - it will build your Sonos Music Library and separate it into the usual listings of Artist, Albums, Playlists etc.

You can also access music that you don't own via a few different methods. You can tune into any number of Internet radio stations if you wish, but having to sit through loads of mind numbing drivel from DJs and strings of adverts every few minutes isn't what I want from my multi-room digital music system. Luckily you can also access digital music services like Last.fm and Napster.

I'm not the biggest fan of Last.fm, since it doesn't actually allow you to choose what music you want to listen to. Instead you decide what type of music you'd like to hear, and Last.fm will stream you a selection that it thinks suits your genre. Even if you select a certain artist, what you'll get is a stream of tracks that Last.fm deems are "similar" to that artist. To be fair, Last.fm is a good way to discover new music from artists that you may never have heard of before, and if you're after a bit of background music that you've not heard a hundred times already it's great. It's also free, which in itself is pretty compelling.

Last.fm also highlights a new feature on CR200 - the Info button. This will give you information about the band or artist that you've selected in the form of background information and lists of upcoming events, such as concert dates.

For me though, Napster wins every time. Ok, so Napster will cost you £9.99 per month, but coupled with a Sonos install, it's worth every penny. Basically, that monthly subscription gives you access to Napster's huge library of music, and you can stream as many tracks as you like, as often as you like, using any method that you like. The other great thing about Napster is that you can create playlists that are accessible from anywhere that you can access the service. So if I create a playlist on my PC at work, I can listen to it on my Sonos system when I get home, or on my notebook when I'm working in a hotel room in San Francisco. Also, as with Last.fm, Napster gives you the opportunity to experience new music and if you really like something, you can then buy the CD and add it to your own music library - something that I do regularly.

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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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