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Sonos ZonePlayer S5 - Sonos ZonePlayer S5

By Riyad Emeran



  • Recommended by TR
Sonos ZonePlayer S5


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White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane (yes I know that it was originally performed by The Great Society) sounds suitably haunting through the ZP-S5, but it's the expansive soundstage that it produces that really impresses. Grace Slick's unmistakable vocals float above the music, as if the two were separate entities. This track is a difficult audition for any all-in-one music system, but the ZP-S5 turned in a glowing performance.

Heading off at a tangent I queued up He Got Game by Public Enemy, which samples Buffalo Springfield's classic, For What It's Worth. Once again the ZP-S5 acquitted itself well, reproducing the heavy background beats without detracting from the vocals. In fact it's fair to say that the ZP-S5 does a great job with hip hop and R&B fare, while handling most flavours of pop with similar aplomb. It doesn't sound quite so accomplished with rock music, but then few all-in-one systems do, B&W Zeppelin excepted.

Setting the ZonePlayer S5 up is simplicity itself, whether you're already a Sonos user or not. If you already have a Sonos install you just put the ZP-S5 into discoverable mode, and then search for a new zone using your Sonos controller, or PC client. A few seconds later the ZP-S5 will be added to your list of Zones and you're ready to go.

Even if you don't already have a Sonos system in your home, installation is a breeze. You either hook the ZP-S5 directly up to your router, or hook the optional BR100 ZoneBridge to your router and then place the ZP-S5 anywhere in your home. Once you've powered on the ZP-S5, you simply load up the Sonos Desktop client on your PC and search for a new Zone. Then you just download the Sonos app for your iPhone or iPod touch, and you're all setup and ready.

Usability is fantastic, as it always is with Sonos, although while setting up the ZP-S5 I was prompted to download an update for my CR200 controller, which provided subtle changes to the interface, making it even better than before. But whether you're using an iPhone or the CR200, using the ZP-S5 is a joy - whether you're streaming your own music from a PC or NAS appliance, or whether you're listening to Last.fm or Napster.

Now that the monthly fee for Napster has dropped to £5 per month, along with five free downloads each month, you'd be mad not to sign up. Napster gives you access to a music library of over eight million songs, and with Sonos, you don't need to use a computer to listen to them.


November 17, 2009, 12:32 pm

I am an existing Sonos user - fantastic kit.

I was always looking for something like this - this is in effect, a zone player with built in amplifier and speakers. Ideal for the smaller room where you don't want the hassle of having an extra amp and speakers.

This has just opened up a whole host of possibilities for me. I don't think buying one is going to be enough.

I want one in the kitchen, bedroom, conservatory ....


November 17, 2009, 5:44 pm

Sonos might be as good as it gets, but fortunately for the rest of us you can get pretty close for far less money. A Squeezebox for example, or an AirPort with audio out, even an FM radio relay works fine unless you feel you need audiophile sound quality in your kitchen. Or, you know, just have a pair of active speakers standing around and connect your PMP to that. Even better, get a nice kitchen radio with audio in for 40 bucks; you don't even need a remote control to change a song or the volume, how awesome is that?


November 17, 2009, 11:14 pm

Sorry morsch,

I was not going to get into a debate about sonons vs squeezebox, etc. There are lots of forums out there discussing this topic.

I was trying to comment on the S5 which I think is a brilliant idea, especially for an existing sonos user.

My stance is everyone has different tastes, budgets, requirements.

The sonos does it for me. That does not mean it will for everyone.


November 18, 2009, 12:57 am

It would be pretty handy if there were to be a review if the airport express as it is the cheapest option for multiroom audio streaming it has its downfalls (tied to itunes) but has its positives too (print server and a proper wireless router)


November 18, 2009, 3:09 am

Oh, that wasn't intended as a dig at you. Just something that went through my head as I read through the review... I wasn't even aware that there are long forum discussions about Sonos vs. Squeezebox.


November 18, 2009, 3:13 am

I don't know how many other apps can do it, but apparently you can stream to an Airport Express using Pulseaudio, so it's certainly not 100% tied to iTunes. Add a media player with good remote control features -- such as Rhythmbox+Remuco on Linux -- to the mix and you've got a fairly rich feature set with a very low investment; basically just the Airport Express and some speakers.


November 18, 2009, 8:15 pm

I use an Airport Express and have just been advising a friend to try one before he launches straight into the world of Sonos. With the iPhone Remote application and iTunes the functionality is practically the same as with the Sonos plus you get to maintain all those playlists you've created.

If you have an Airport Express and wish to stream other audio to it rather than use iTunes then some very good software to use is called Airfoil,



May 13, 2011, 1:56 am

basically, this would be really great if it had a built-in battery....wireless an' all that.....? not quite living to the promise of wireless. sounds good tho - but not really wireless yet, is it.

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