Plex Now Available in Beta on Sonos


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I’m pleased to announce that we’ve added Plex as a music service on Sonos, currently in beta.

Plex is free media server software that allows you to stream your media from your computer (or NAS drive) to any supported device. With the Plex server software running on your computer, your videos, pictures, and music become available for streaming either remotely or on a local network.

Plex server software works on many different operating systems and NAS drives, and you can find the full list of requirements here. Once added to Sonos, you’ll be able to access your Plex music files directly through the Sonos app, similar to the Music Library function.

Plex is available worldwide and is available at no charge. A premium service called Plex Pass is available which adds some additional perks and features, but it’s not required to use Plex on Sonos. You can find out more about what Plex Pass offers here.

To add Plex to Sonos, use any Sonos app to select Add Music Services from the Music Menu. On a Mac or PC, you’ll need to select Add Music Services > Sonos Labs in order to see the listing for Plex.

For more information, please check out our Plex FAQ.

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84 replies

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One thing to bear in mind is that apparently your music is being streamed out to the internet then back to Sonos, even when Plex & Sonos are running on the same internal network. This was confirmed by the Plex guys in the comments section on their blog post. This might change in the future but it's worth bearing in mind if you have very slow internet upload speeds.
I don't believe the music is being streamed to the internet and back... they might proxy the basic album/track data as you browse your library... but I'm pretty sure that unless your Plex server is being accessed by a Sonos system outside of your home, your internet connection isn't being used to play music. NOW... that doesn't mean that the data isn't going through your ROUTER. I believe that the way they're making it work is having Sonos connect to your router's WAN address, then using the router's port forward to get back in. This is because they have your router's WAN address in order to allow you to access your Plex server from outside of your network (i.e. an app on a cell phone from the cell network or a friend's house).

If you read my earlier post about a setting I had to make in my pfSense router, that setting has to do with how requests to the router's WAN address are handled by the pfSense software when the request is being made from the LAN network. In reality, two LAN devices should be able to communicate directly with each other. But in this case (and others), the ability to make a direct connection is outside of our control, since it's Plex that is handling the connection. As a result, my guess would be that Plex is trying to make a LAN device (Sonos) talk to another LAN device (device running Plex server) through the WAN address of the router. Those requests should get to the router, then be turned back around to the LAN based on the port forward without ever going out over the internet connection.

So if you have an older, slower router, this might have some effect on your internet performance... but for most newer routers, I would expect the impact to be minimal.

Again, some data might well be served up through Plex's servers rather than your own (as I had some limited connectivity before I changed this setting)... but I would expect that to be the exception and not the norm.
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To start backwards from most recent toward my previous post... :)

Plex in general is a media server, with clients available on just about every PC, mobile, and smart TV platform. The whole point of it is to allow you to access your media anywhere, on nearly any device. If the movie or song is in a format not supported by the device, Plex will transcode it in realtime to allow it to be played. Some NAS devices have the ability to run the Plex server software, though most of them can't do real-time transcoding of high-res video formats (the new WD Pro NAS drives are the current exception). The media server software is also available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, where there's obviously a bit more horsepower in a PC processor.

All of the media you make available through Plex is stored on your own devices. Nothing is stored in the cloud. They do have servers that act as a "directory" though, which allows you to access your home media server from anywhere, regardless of where you are, even if your ISP might change your IP address. You can also download media to your mobile devices, so you can watch/listen when you don't have internet access, or don't want to use your data plan (think ahead if you want to download a movie though, especially if it needs to be transcoded).

The big advantages of Plex support for Sonos are that you can have a music library that exceeds Sonos' 65,000 track limit, and you can have a single library that has media in a variety of formats, and if Sonos can't play it, Plex will transcode it so that it can be played (I believe it gets converted to 320Kbps MP3). So if you want to keep a High-Res library, you can do so and Plex will allow Sonos to play it seamlessly (though obviously with a bit of compression added). And if you're not home, you can access your own music library wherever you happen to be through the Plex app, but that's not directly related to Sonos. :)

The views through Sonos are certainly very basic at this time (only artist and album lists). I'm sure that Plex will add more through their test period, but I'm sure they'll be looking for comments and suggestions in their own forums. Plex Pass adds some nice features for both music and video content, though a large part of that comes if you're using their apps. I haven't checked to see how much of the artist/album stuff shows up in "Info and Options" through Sonos. I'll grab a couple of screenshots over the weekend if I remember. :)

And port forwarding is what I was talking about... most routers support something called Universal Plug and Play (UPnP), which will allow Plex to automatically create a port forward if your router supports it. If you've disabled UPnP or your router doesn't support it, you'll need to create a port forward manually. That post of mine was more about a specific issue with the pfSense router/firewall software, as by default it doesn't allow LAN devices to communicate with other LAN devices through the WAN address and port forward... something which is needed for Sonos and Plex to work properly together.

I doubt that Plex will ever be made to wirelessly push music to Sonos. That's not to say that it couldn't be done... if they were to add a capability to detect the presence of Sonos devices on the network (not impossible), then use UPnP to push music to them just as Windows does now (also not impossible). But I just don't see it happening. No one else has set up any UPnP "push" streaming to Sonos, aside from Microsoft, in all of the time that Sonos has been available.


Following on from MikeV's comments above, there is one other solution to push music to Sonos via uPnP. I'm going off-topic a bit here, but if people are considering this Plex solution purely as a workaround for 65K tracks and/or hi-res audio support then it's worth considering using Logitech Media Server and the uPnPBridge plug-in. I've been using it myself for a few months and it's been rock-solid. It involves a little more work to configure than Plex or normal Sonos, but I had the entire thing up-and-running in 10 minutes. Basically there's a user on the LMS forums who has created 3 plug-ins that act as bridges between LMS and any AirPlay, Chromecast or uPnP devices.

I'm using the uPnPBridge plug-in - LMS then sees my Sonos Play:1 as a software Squeezebox player and pushes music to it via uPnP. Even better is that the plug-in can be configured to truncate 24-bits to 16-bits on the fly, and LMS itself can be configured to downsample anything above 48kHz. LMS also handles libraries > 65K tracks, and the playback is gapless. So this solution has served all my needs so far and has worked flawlessly with my Play:1.

Due to this uPnPBridge plug-in being designed for a wide range of uPnP devices, the config can look daunting at first glance. There's a shedload of settings to play with but there's good documentation for people who want to tinker. Tthe good news is that the author has also provided one-click presets for popular devices, of which Sonos is one. So a couple of clicks and it just works without you having to guess what settings to use.

If you go down this route, you no longer need to use the Sonos controllers either for selection/playback/volume. For people who aren't familiar with LMS it has a web-based front-end (much like Plex) along with mobile clients (I used iPeng on iOS and OrangeSqueeze on Android). The front-end also provides additional things that Sonos users have been asking for such as 'Recently Added', Play Random album etc.

I've waffled a lot there... sorry! But basically just wanted to let people know there's another solution but using Push instead of Pull methodology! However, Plex would give you the added advantage of remote streaming etc plus all the video functionality. LMS is tailored mostly for music.
Userlevel 7
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THIS Is BIG on MANY levels!!! Forget about the 65k track limit. Forget about having duplicate copies of your library in high-res and "Sonos-compatible" formats - Plex will transcode it automatically. And Plex lets you access your library anywhere, whether you're at home or on the go!

LOTS of good comes with Plex! Very glad to see that Plex has allowed Sonos to access music libraries stored on Plex servers!

Edit to add: Though I can DEFINITELY see why it's still in Sonos Labs... I think there's still a bit of work to be done on it...
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Any bugs like this more likely need to be reported to Plex than to Sonos... it's Plex that handles all of that behind-the-scenes goodness... Sonos only handles playing the music that is provided to it.

Oh, and I figured out the issue that I was running into last night... my router (a mini-PC running pfSense) needed an advanced NAT setting enabled on my port forward for Plex. The setting allows devices that are on-network to still take advantage of connections to other hosts that are also on-network using the WAN IP address and port forward, rather than a direct LAN connection. Since Plex's "directory" keeps track of the WAN IP address of my internet connection, this setting needed to be enabled to allow Sonos and my Plex server to communicate with each other.

The setting is called "NAT Reflection", and it had to be enabled in a "NAT+Proxy" mode.

I would imagine that most consumer routers probably don't have an issue like this, but since pfSense is more advanced firewall/routing software, it's got a lot more settings than an average router does.

BTW, for the Sonos support folks... I had NO problems with using the mobile app on my phone and tablet before this setting had been changed, whether I was at home or on the go. So the ability to access Plex from another device may not be a good litmus test for whether or not Sonos-Plex communication is working. A more accurate test would be to use the Plex web app (http://app.plex.tv/web/app) from a computer on the same network as the Sonos devices. That will function in a way similar to how Sonos will be accessing Plex. Once I enabled the setting above in my router, both Sonos access and the Plex web app worked just fine.
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I'm happy to confirm that at a minimum, the actual music data does stay local, at least with my router. I watched the traffic graph for my router's WAN port while playing music through Plex... while it did spike up to ~100Kbps for a couple of seconds at the start of songs, it quickly returned to negligible levels, telling me that it's not actually moving the music data over the internet. Not sure on album art, though until I made the above change to my router, I also didn't see any of that, so I assume it's taking the same route.

Again, the logic to the flow is that yes, it's going out to the internet and back in... but most routers will see what's going on (that the request is for the same address as the WAN port) and keep the traffic internal to the router.
Does Plex improve upon the rather lame browsing experience available from vanilla Sonos.

ie. any visibility of date ripped, date released, user rating, date last played ... that kind of thing.


AFAICT there is no way to access Date ripped, date released, user rating.
Date last played - not the specific date as far as I can tell, but there is a list of recently played artists.

Here's some screen captures from my Android phone
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[quote=The_Bastard_Son]@southern gal is your library beyond 65k tracks? Some users will be interested to hear how it performs with libraries bigger than the Sonos 65k limit. ...../quote]

uh yes quite a bit more the 65k tracks. so i was thrilled to see Plex on SONOS.
I have not had much time to play with it between work and watching the train wreck called the republican convention.

hope to test it this weekend esp as it will be in the 90s.

i agree with other posters about the limited lists
due to the vagaries of mp3 tags and labeling for radio shows (think comedies and mysteries) and live music (opera, orchestral and other concerts, i tend to use the FOLDER view in plex much more than the others. ALBUM is the other one i really need. i tend to label the artist and the album field the same to simplify the grouping (as you can imagine with an opera who is the artist - the conductor, the lead singer (and which one) and what about the orchestera). i gave up and just keep it simple and put all the artists info in the comments field.

I will be adding my two cents on PLEX.

BTW mp3tag is a fabulous program to help tag HUNDREDS of files at the same time. i couldnt live with out it.
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Isn't it the case that Sonos today can, if directed, pull music files off the computer and play them, but the computer cannot wirelessly push files from its hard disc to Sonos? The latter is how Bluetooth is architected to work?
Sonos can definitely pull music from a computer/NAS. through the Sonos Music Library option Windows 7 and up, using UPnP, can "push" music files to a Sonos device without using the Sonos controller. This is not possible with Plex. The Plex implementation basically treats Sonos as a Plex client, though for music content only. It's almost like any other on-demand music service, it's just that it's coming from your own Plex server instead of an actual internet service.

Bluetooth audio doesn't push files... it just streams the audio output from a device (phone, tablet, or computer) to the Bluetooth receiver or speaker.

To the second part, does this mean that Plex, if they choose to do so in future, could have a solution to the wirelessly push music - streaming or locally held - problem? In that their solution has the necessary architecture today to build such functionality in future?

How does a possible Sonos cast feature fit into this?

I doubt that Plex will ever be made to wirelessly push music to Sonos. That's not to say that it couldn't be done... if they were to add a capability to detect the presence of Sonos devices on the network (not impossible), then use UPnP to push music to them just as Windows does now (also not impossible). But I just don't see it happening. No one else has set up any UPnP "push" streaming to Sonos, aside from Microsoft, in all of the time that Sonos has been available.

Plex supports Google Cast/Chromecast/whatever you want to call it... I believe all of their apps - computer and mobile - support it... so if Sonos were to add such an option, Plex would be able to take advantage of it without any problem, if you happen to prefer using the Plex app instead of the Sonos app.
MikeV: Thanks for sharing your research, and the clarity of your explanations.
The_Bastard_Son: thanks for posting images of the UI ... btw is that you, or Plex, who linked Taylor Swift's cover with Ryan Adam's album

It doesn't look like there is anything for me in Plex at this time.

The browsing experience is a major backwards step to even that offered by Sonos.

I guess that I am hard to please. I have designed my ideal solution with MediaMonkey. The bummer is that I can't queue from MediaMonkey, so I have to relocate the item using the Sonos controller. I know that sounds horrible, but the Sonos universal search facility makes it painless, especially as I queue whole albums.

I have a fairly large collection; 50% of Sonos capacity. I manage to listen to 60% of it each year.

Old favourites can get lost in large collection. I often like to browse amongst just albums unheard for over a year and a half. That brings my collection down to an auto-refreshing, more intimate 150 hours worth of music.

I also want the view to exclude albums unheard for 2 years, because if I didn't get around to playing then after 6 months worth of nagging, it is probably time to retire them.

This seems pretty much impossible in Plex as the last play date element seems poorly supported. Also it doesn't seem that they provide for importation of play events from other platforms.

And it looks like you can't easily import m3u playlists to become the basis of a Plex view.

They are very generalist. ... extreme cross platform reach ... Multi-media ... eg. their url is http://www.plex.tv/

In this light it seems less remarkable that they don't even have a composer index.
@BarryM lol the Ryan Adams cover, that is a little ongoing joke for my wife.
@pjn you can play to synced groups, ie sync your rooms in sonos and lms sees them as one
[quote=pjn]
Thanks for the confimation. Do you know if stereo pairs work the same way? A number of people had been discussing how to get sync working and the uPnP plug-in author was saying it woudn't be perfect... but now I realise they were probably talking about the generic sync mechanisms built into LMS rather than properly-grouped Sonos speakers. Sorry for any confusion - I should probably shut up in this thread now because I keep getting only half of my rambings correct! :D



I can confirm that everything works perfectly playing from LMS to 3 synced connectamps and a connect. I've read that paired speakers work in a few different places, but I don't own any to test myself.
Userlevel 7
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A couple of questions :

- After this initial library index, when I update the library next time, does it scan for changes, or restart from scratch and redo the whole index again !?
- What are the advantages of Plex over Subsonic, as I have checked the Subsonic solution, and that looks like a very nice solution.


Plex has a variety of settings regarding its library update/rescan. If you browse to your server with a web browser (i.e. http://desktoppc:32400/web, if the computer name of your Plex server is desktoppc), click the wrench/screwdriver icon towards the upper right, click Server, then on the left side click Library. Here is Plex's support article on the Library settings, but there are a variety of them to adjust whether it does a full rescan or partial, whether it does it automatically when changes are detected, and whether a periodic rescan is done after a certain period of time

Can't speak to Subsonic though... never used it..
I got it working shortly after it was announced, running the Plex server on a Synology NAS.

AFAICS, it's very much beta software. The version on the Sonos controller was slow, clunky and had very limited categories - it may have improved since.

The web version was much slicker and fuller featured - if that had been available from the Sonos controller I'd have been much happier, and may well have used it to get round the '65k' problem. Maybe it will be better when the proper version is available.

[Edit] Just tried it again - a bit quicker than when I first tried it, but still useless in terms of categories etc.
Userlevel 7
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Great news for those with large libraries
Transcoded to 320kbps MP3, but at least I can now have just one library :)

Any prospective NAS buyers...

Please do check out what transcoding is possible as quite a few NAS devices will not transcode video at all or very well and you may very well be interested in video once you se how great Plex is.

EDIT

Wow, the speed my artwork now loads via Plex, almost worth it alone.
Help please!

My hires files are not getting transcoded and of course will not play, am I missing some settings or configuration?

Just to confirm that my hires FLAC files do get converted and play on my Gen 4 Apple TV.
A bug :)

Playing individual tracks works, they are transcoded and play. Selecting "Complete Album" however does not tell the Plex Server to transcode and it sends the native audio files to Sonos which it cannot play as they are in the wrong format.

Wow, the speed my artwork now loads via Plex, almost worth it alone.


Interesting, so far using plex and sonos for about an hour I've noticed that Artwork, or actually browsing any categories on Sonos in plex is noticeably slow.
In the Plex App either web or Android it is very fast.
Ok I admit this is a glass half empty thing, but Plex mix, which is a great feature- is half baked in Sonos. In sonos it seems they want to put it in the radio category by calling it "Plex mix radio" - mixes aren't added to the queue as they do in plex, no ability to add, edit, expand the mixes- or even back up and listen to a track again, save the mix.

Anyone figure out how to browse by genres or use filters?
Plex forum for feedback on Plex with Sonos

https://forums.plex.tv/categories/sonos
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SO EXCITED about this. I have wanted SONOS for years but the lack of interaction between PLEX and the cost where the two big obstacles. i finally decided it was time to take the plunge whether Plex would be available or not.

So last week scored a PLAY3 on prime day prices. and now a week later here is PLEX. I feel like its Christmas!

thank you for working with them. my music library is huge and i am THRILLED. i have had no problems yet (but its not been 24 hours) i will report to them.

And now i can start saving up to have Sonos in every room! SO excited!
One thing to bear in mind is that apparently your music is being streamed out to the internet then back to Sonos, even when Plex & Sonos are running on the same internal network. This was confirmed by the Plex guys in the comments section on their blog post. This might change in the future but it's worth bearing in mind if you have very slow internet upload speeds.

But apart from that, this is good news as it alleviates some of the issues from the vocal minority (I include myself in that group!) regarding handling large libraries and 24/48+ transcoding. We've been asking for third-party server support for a while now so this Plex beta is a great start. I'm sticking with my Sonos+LMS+uPnPBridge solution at the moment for my own needs but will certainly be keeping an eye on the progress of the Plex solution 🆒
@southern gal is your library beyond 65k tracks? Some users will be interested to hear how it performs with libraries bigger than the Sonos 65k limit.

The discover section is starting to fill out as I play a plex mix- lots of potential, getting many "no selections available errors".

Is no tile view for artists a Sonos thing? Artist art is a nice addition that plex brings, but not much point when it is so tiny. Why can't we switch views?

IMO seems so limited in Sonos ui we need to cast audio to sonos from plex. Sonos can you make this happen?