Got a Sonos multiroom speaker setup at home? You're going to want to know about the company's new Trueplay calibration technology. Here's the lowdown.
The recently announced new Play: 5 is now up for pre-order, providing another sleek way to pump music throughout our homes. The speaker was announced alongside a clever piece of software that could really shake things up in the home audio space.
It's called Trueplay and it's going to work with existing Sonos systems. But how does it work and what are the benefits? Let's take a look.
Related: Sonos Play:5 review
A very audible problem
You know those impossibly stylish, spacious show homes and fake, perfectly square rooms that high-end audio companies like to use to show off their latest gear? That's not how most people actually live, and Sonos knows it.
Trueplay, then, is intended as an answer to a real (first) world issue. Sonos knows that in most real rooms, speaker placement is far from ideal. Most of us with multi-room set-ups value practicality and discretion above audio quality, which is why those speakers get shoved into less than optimal positions.
Your Play: 3 speaker might be tucked under a desk or in a corner in your kitchen. Many will place their Play: 1 on a handy window sill, which sees it covered by a curtain at night, or simply shove it on the floor out of sight.
Trueplay lets you calibrate those speakers according to their position and the makeup of the room, so that the sound isn't compromised by being obstructed. The best thing is, the process is almost entirely automated.
The idea is that you don't even have to think about where your Sonos speaker is placed.
How does TruePlay work?
In order to make this work, Trueplay has to execute a special calibration process. It requires you to walk around the room in question, gently waving your iOS device up and down while tones from across the frequency range are played from the Sonos speaker.
Essentially, your iPhone or iPad's microphone picks up those tones, detecting how they sound having bounced around the room and off various materials.
In this way Sonos Trueplay gets a picture of your uniquely sub-optimal set-up, and how its compares to the true or optimal sound. It can then make the appropriate adjustments to your speaker's output so that the tones sound as they should.
The set-up process takes a few minutes to execute, at which point your Sonos speaker will have stored your room's profile for good. Unless you move it or radically change your room, you won't need to go through it again.
Does it work?
You'll notice the difference as soon as you flip the switch and enable TruePlay, especially if your speaker is stuck in the corner or bundled under a table. We've also noticed it makes things sound much better in a long kitchen.
The set-up process is simple. yet it's very fussy. The room has to be deadly quiet for it to work properly, any little sound – maybe from the road outside – will throw it off and you'll have to do it all over again. This might be a problem if you live in a busy area, or a flat. We found even the slightest noise from the flat upstairs stopped the calibration.
But, once it starts working you won't have to redo the set-up process again unless you move room.
Availability and compatibility
While Sonos announced Trueplay alongside the new Play: 5 speaker, as mentioned above, it is coming to its older all-in-one speakers some time this autumn too. That includes the previous Play: 5, the Play: 3, and the Play: 1.
Sonos is working on bringing the technology to the rest of the Sonos range, too.
At present it requires an iOS device to get working - there's no Android support around right now, thanks to the extreme variations in microphone hardware. It is in the works, though, and the new Play: 5 speaker apparently has its own built-in microphones that could potentially be used to calibrate an Android phone's mic. Watch this space.
Of course, you only need an iOS device for the set-up, so inviting an iPhone-owning friend around and using their device for a couple of minutes will do the job. Then you can go back to using your Android device as your Sonos controller.
Are you excited about the Trueplay? Let us know in the comments section below.