Anyone else feeling Sonos is moving in a direction thats is not in sync with why you bought in the first place?


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I want to write this as positivly as possible. Think of it as constructive criticism rather than just a negative rant.

When I first bought some Sonos gear some time ago (website says it was registered in 2017 but I know I’ve had it longer). I was excited. It was a big purchase for me, it seemed geared a bit more for an audiophile than I actually am but I bought it because I wanted to have great sound throughout my house. Some of the tech set up was challenging - I had to get a NAS drive to store my music so it was always accessible. At the time that was another substantial cost I wasn't bargaining on. Eventaully I got my system working well and it served its purpose which was playing music, throughout the house on well made, good sounding spakers.

But then...they started changing. My I pod dock was no longer supported, I had to replace my Bridge with a Boost. Updates for the app telling me half my system was being bricked. You all know that story. 

For all the changes Sonos has made - none have really benefited me. I have a separate Dolby system for my TV and Movies, I am not interested in Alexa or Google Home listening devices. Despite my NAS drive dieing a year ago I still have access to lots of music because I pay for a monthly service but not all my rare or local music can be found there. I like podcasts but (as far as I know) the app doesn't allow me to subscribe to podcasts or save the ones I like - I can save an individual episode but thats not what I mean. I am currently trying to get Stitcher working again, Its been weeks I’ve had to use the very much less impressive “TuneIn” app to find stuff. Even very popular podcasts like WTF don't come up on that?!? The app has barely evolved over the years. Opportunities for it to become more intutitve,  to suggest music I might like based on my listening preferences, being able to make playlists easier or even having Sonos Radio come up in searches. These are things that line up with my reasons for buying Sonos.

So what am I getting with all these upgrades? dead before their time speakers that I can upgrade with a merger 15% credit for uses I don't even want. Yes, I can stay with the S1 controller - I know. but already its having bug issues (the Stitcher example) and I keep being prompted to upgrade to S2. If I do, some of my equipment become bricks, some just work the same but for how long? I've been faithful to Sonos for years ( I know I've had my system long before 2017). I’ve encouraged friends to buy it but now, I'm starting to look around for other systems that just play music really, really well. I'm 50, not a tech guy, not impressed by technology simply because it's there (I can turn my own lights on and off thank you very much) I know there are lots of people on these forums who are not so different than I am. What are you people thinking? Am I in the wrong snack bracket and should just dust off my old component stereo and wired speakers?

 

I’d love to hear peoples thoughts.

 

Jason


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No more so than Apple or Google moving ‘away’ from why I purchased a phone. The various software updates that bring new functionality to a network, programmable device is, to me, expected. If I’d wanted a sound system that never changed, I would not have purchased Sonos, a software driven solution. Some sort of wired system, and probably older tech would have been my choice. Anything that didn’t have a processor that was run by software. 

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I don't think I said I never wanted it to change and I'm not so naive that I don't understand the need for updates. I guess I'd like to see the benefits of the upgrade which, as someone who uses their system to play music, I'm not seeing. The app could be vastly improved (it sounds like the jury is out as to whether the S2 app is actually better or not) and the processing power in the speakers is plenty sufficient for playing music. Sonos has decided to head down a certain path, I'm not sure what it is but most likely involves home automation/voice activation and I'm not interested in that. So maybe you're right, I should have stuck with old tech. For what it's worth, I’d prefer a phone that worked really well as a phone and had little else in it.

 

This thread would suggest I'm not entirely off base:

https://www.reddit.com/r/sonos/comments/kaeefj/sonos_s1_s2_what_have_we_really_gained/

Unfortunately, no modern company wants to be using the buy once, use forever business model. Companies want us to buy more or commit to monthly fees (often referred to as ‘RMR’ [Recurring Monthly Revenue]). RMR is not popular with the public, although we seem to tolerate that for music and video services. In fairness to the companies, a buy once with free support forever business model eventually crashes. With respect to SONOS they originally had dedicated controllers, but eventually 3rd party phones and tablets rendered the SONOS controllers obsolete. There were many complaints accusing SONOS of forcing customers to purchase single purpose controllers at approximately the cost of a phone/tablet that could do much more. Processor power, wireless capability, and parts availability eventually became constraints that made the SONOS controllers obsolete and with the expected customer adoption volume being relatively low, compared to phone/pad, it was no longer practical to invest in developing and producing a follow-on dedicated controller. 

It’s not just SONOS, I had to replace a perfectly usable cell phone because more and more of the Apps that I need to run would not run on my ‘old’ phone because the phone could not be updated to run current versions of the operating system. Finally, my carrier announced that it will soon drop the phone from the cell network because of the wireless technology used by the old phone. The new phone supports most of the latest bells and whistles, but I don’t enjoy its user interface and the fact that it is constantly pushing me to buy additional features and store more and more of my personal data in the cloud. The claim is that the company will use my personal data to enhance my experience.

Yes, I’m broadly with you…

When I first bought Sonos it was to stream my own music from my NAS. I wasn’t remotely interested in streaming services, and none of the ones that I’ve tried since have persuaded me to continue paying  for them.

I bought a system to do a job which, at that time (2011) it did quite well. But, as far as I’m concerned, none of the upgrades gave me any huge benefit, and most of them were detrimental in one way or another - usually interface-wise. I also dislike the way that they now tie even simple changes (e.g. max volume on a device) into account access via the internet. I don’t use mobile phones much, so also didn’t appreciate them downgrading the PC software. 

However, as the amount of music that I owned expanded, the system just didn’t improve to keep pace. Even things like Sonos not displaying the Composer tag make the system rather poor, IMHO.

I was quite happy to buy into a system that was upgradable, but I’m still waiting to see any real benefits in the upgrades. The only one that I thought was worthwhile was Trueplay, but that only works with iDevices. I did buy an iDevice to use specifically with Sonos, but it wasn’t long before Sonos stopped supporting it, so have no intention of buying another one.

I still use my system for approx 10 hours every day, and will continue to use it until it breaks irretrievably, but don’t think of it as powerful or enabling any more. It’s just a legacy system that sort of works, but with limitations.

Having said that, I have to accept that using a NAS puts me into a small minority of users, so I no longer form part of their target market. Even if Sonos upgraded the S2 kit to fix the SMB1 issue, got rid of the 65k track + limited store issues and also fixed things like Composer display, I wouldn’t buy a whole new set of their hardware - I now look to more flexible systems (e.g. Chromecast), which are also much cheaper. Others here are also pursuing more modern approaches, including voice based systems. Personally, voice control leaves me cold - we have a couple of Echo Dots around, but they’re just used as kitchen timers.

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I’ve a lot of sympathy with the OP’s view as well.

I started using Sonos equipment only very recently, and I started by buying secondhand S1 equipment to find out how it works (because Sonos doesn’t seem very good at explaining to the customer ~exactly~ how their system works).

Having got a system up and running late in 2020, I then made the commitment and bought all-new S2 equipment - giving the old S1 setup to my sister to use. And… to be honest, I see very little benefit in paying £399 for a Port when the old ZP90 does almost exactly the same thing, and has controls on the front which the Port does not, and which you can get in working condition for an eighth the cost. So… I’ve ended up paying around £1500 to “upgrade” to a system that doesn’t do a lot more than my £200 “starter system”.

I’m also not greatly interested in paid-for streaming services - so it seems I’m not their target market either. I want to listen to my own music, on my own server, and Sonos doesn’t see any recurring subscription from that, so development (for example of something slightly less antiquated than SMB1) in that area just doesn’t seem to be happening.

And the frankly baffling decision to abandon Sonosnet for the Move is not a good sign for the future - that apparently bizarre development decision has made life annoyingly awkward for me.

And... I have to agree that voice control seems like just a gimmick that most people will probably play with for a while, but I don’t have any long-term interest in that either.

Most that bought Sonos from about a decade ago are no longer the Sonos target market, so as we become outliers, the thread title is inevitable….but it need not be a big deal.

 In my case, I don’t see Sonos as a computer that does audio as some fans here do; just like I don't see my house appliances with embedded chips as computers. To me Sonos are what they claim to be - home audio appliances. So the logic of staying on the Sonos upgrade treadmill made zero sense to me, even if I could have afforded the cost of moving a dozen unit Sonos system to S2 and also committing the crime of junking perfectly good hardware.

But the great Sonos feature that redeems the system in my book are the line in jacks. Unfortunately my four play 1 units do not have these, but with a spare Connect lying around, I can use the jacks on it to autoplay via the 1 units.

I use Echo not just for voice control - but which is very useful when vacuuming or cooking, I have to say - with the Show 5 I also get the very useful addition of album art for all my music. And the Echo units are not just for voice control, they can also be used as cheap smart front ends wired to either Sonos or other quality audio kit that lacks smarts. In this mode, they can also be used without using voice.

So being an outlier is no inconvenience; indeed about the only time I now use the Sonos app is when I want to group/ungroup zones. And on S1, being untroubled by the many nuisance upgrades is a nice place to be as well.

The only thing that has changed in my case is that I no longer recommend Sonos to folks I know as I did in the past - others have caught up and even passed Sonos, and if one does not want the multi room in sync feature, there now are better options, some for a much lower price. The S1/S2 thing has taught me to not spend large sums for kit that has bundled smarts because when one needs or can get smarter smarts, one then has to junk the rest of the unit as well.

The journey of my Connect tells a tale of how the world has moved on - I bought it in 2011 as the first zone, to interface with my then audiophile price point set up, and the price in comparison did not seem unreasonable. In 2014, when the play 1 units were available, I bought one and then set up a stereo pair + Sub that sounded good enough to sell my amps and DACs, but that made the Connect redundant. That did not matter because I was significantly in the plus in my bank with this change.

After a couple of idle years, the unit found its way to my daughter’s home to interface with her legacy stereo set up, but once the Echo Dot was available, it became a preferred interface and the Connect became redundant once again. Perhaps more than voice, music is cast to the Dot from either Amazon Music or Spotify apps on her phone and the USD 25 Dot is a perfect replacement in her use case for a USD 350 Connect. With occasional use of voice as just a bonus. She later replaced it with a USD 60 Show 5, to get album art for the music playing.

After it again lay idle for many months, I use it now as an intermediary device to connect Echo Show 5 to a play 1 pair. I can do that because it has those line in jacks, needed because Sonos sees me in India as an outlier for another reason - the reason why they can’t be bothered to offer the Alexa integration here even four years after Amazon India brought Alexa/Echo to India.

The fact that Sonos makes hardware of very good build quality that last many years makes it unjustifiable to junk it just because it can no longer accommodate their latest bloated software that is largely bloated for trivial features and app cosmetics. And with line in jacks, old Sonos kit can serve for years as home audio kit; even the Sonos app itself is no longer needed to use it. Hence, my opinion that being an outlier in the Sonos world is no big deal.

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My idea is to stay on S1, I have bought a ZP90 so when the time comes and the S1 App can no longer connect with Mixcloud etc I still have the option of wiring up an Echo etc to share across the house.

If my Playbar eventually bites the bullet it will be a soundbar that accepts all audio formats that will take its place.

The lack of S1 updates is a bonus imho. Just crack on and use it rather than the constant updates.

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Lots of thoughtful discussion here. Thank you. I must admit my tendency towards the negative clouds the positives some have pointed out. As someone who doesn't want to keep up with technology just for the sake of it the options offered here are a silver lining.

My idea is to stay on S1

I doubt that there will ever be anything significant for home audio use from Sonos over what S1 offers, in S2 and beyond. TV sound is a different game, where, since I don't use Sonos AV products, I am not qualified to comment - on the Atmos and similar stuff.

As someone who doesn't want to keep up with technology just for the sake of it the options offered here are a silver lining.

There are plenty of options if you take time out from the Sonos attempts to railroad you into what they want you to do, and use that time to research options.

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I think the greatest mistake is that they have never allowed roll back or remaining on older firmware. S1 is the only exception. With 99% of my listening from my own music library I would love to roll right back to some really old but much more reliable firmware. I am underwhelmed with the latest S2 software and firmware. I find the software unintuitive and the firmware slow and unreliable.

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