Best dedicated remote control for Sonos?

  • 27 September 2018
  • 13 replies
  • 14881 views

Hi there.

My wife and I are debating whether to buy into the Sonos eco system or not. So far, we have decided that we really need a dedicated remote control with easy button-based access to presets/favorites (since the devices themselves don't have such buttons for some reason). Physical buttons are just easier when you want to play certain radio stations or playlists! We have all sorts of devices - iPads, iPhones - even some to spare - but they just can't compete with real buttons, that you just click... and boom, music plays. Right now, we have borrowed a Play:5 from a family member, and the sound is decent... but... no preset buttons.

I've tried to read about iPort Xpress, Creston, Insteon, Control4... but I really want to hear from some of you who have first hand experience with devices such as those? Do they work? Are there show stopping issues?...

Best,
Thomas

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13 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +21
I don't have any Logitech harmony remotes myself, but from what I've read on it, you can specifically program it to play sonos audio, a particular song/playlist/station at a set volume, with the press of a button. I've personally used Lutron for control, which allows me to set a routine to occur at a specific time (audio and lights) and on demand. That would not really be physical buttons though, buttons you can place on your phone/tablet.

Alternatively, Sonos works with Amazon Alexa, and you can therefore control Sonos by voice.
@melvimbe, thanks for your answer. Will a Harmony remote work better than a dedicated Android/iOS device (as to how few navigational clicks one has to make in order to play a preset)? We're looking for the easiest possible (and most reliable) way to interact with specific presets. Hardware buttons on the device would be preferable, but they obviously don't exist in the Sonos world - and neither does a native Sonos remote (anymore). The app seems somewhat slow at times and seems to always use a few seconds to sync the "My Sonos" section.
Userlevel 7
Badge +21
Yes, for some of the versions of the remote a least, there are hard buttons reserved for a user to program with presets as they wish. I've seen it when I did research on it a while back. There are folks around here who have Logitech who can probably give a better answer than me.
Userlevel 3
Badge +3
A Harmony Companion remote will work. You need to set up your presets as Sonos favourites. Then assign Harmony activities that use those favourites. It will take a bit of messing around to get it set up, but it's definitely doable.

The Companion does not have a screen, so you will have to remember which activity will use which favourite. The Harmony Elite has a screen so you can customize it more, but it's also a lot more expensive than the Companion.
Does that mean that we, for instance, could assign favourites to the physical numeric buttons? Like button "1" = "Favourite 1", button "2" = "Favourite 2"? Or does it have to be the activity buttons? It would seem a little awkward to press the "Watch TV" button to listen to Adele or Jeff Buckley 🙂
Userlevel 7
Badge +19
I'll add that I have the Senic Nuimo. I also have Alexa and use a Windows Surface PC or iPhone to control Sonos

The Senic Nuimo as a Sonos controller is my go to device. I normally set up my listening queue on my Iphone or Surface and then use the Nuimo to skip tracks, change volume etc. It does have three long press buttons which I have assigned to Radio stations, but they can activate playlists too. I find it to be perfect for my use. I do sometimes ask Alexa to Play an Album by Artists too but then return to using the Nuimo once this is playing.

The Nuimo can Control Hue Lights too
the build quality is amazing and the Volume dial is very nice
There is also Click Solution just announced by Senic

Downside:-
Expensive
Needs its own hub
Userlevel 3
Badge +3
Does that mean that we, for instance, could assign favourites to the physical numeric buttons? Like button "1" = "Favourite 1", button "2" = "Favourite 2"? Or does it have to be the activity buttons? It would seem a little awkward to press the "Watch TV" button to listen to Adele or Jeff Buckley :-)

No, I just checked and unfortunately you can not assign a favourite to specific buttons. Each activity starts a favourite, so just like you said, you'd have to use the "Watch TV" button to trigger a specific favourite. I think that's a big hole in Harmony's control of Sonos. I'm actually going to request they add that function, but who knows if they'll listen.
The Senic Nuimo as a Sonos controller is my go to device. I normally set up my listening queue on my Iphone or Surface and then use the Nuimo to skip tracks, change volume etc. It does have three long press buttons which I have assigned to Radio stations, but they can activate playlists too. I find it to be perfect for my use. I do sometimes ask Alexa to Play an Album by Artists too but then return to using the Nuimo once this is playing.

Thanks for the info. The Senic Nuimo surely looks interesting! It does, however, seem rather expensive too. Not least considering a scenario where we want to control 3-4 different speakers around the house = we need to purchase 3-4 Nuimos... But let's imagine that's no problem. How well do they work/how reliable are the Nuimo? How quickly do you go from "no sound" to "playing a certain preset"? And they only produce limited amounts of devices each year, and you need to purchase through their website?

Best,
Thomas
The Senic Nuimo is great once the music is playing. The haptic and smooth rotation of the dial makes up for the split second of a delay. The delay seems to be due to the bluetooth connection with a smart phone or tablet, which acts like a hub and forwards the command to the Sonos system. Their new Click looks very promising
The Logitech Harmony is a very powerful system that can do so much more then trigger Sonos commands. If you are looking into automating your entertainment setup incl. the TV etc. this is the way to go. As a bonus it integrates very well with smart home setups.
Using an Echo, as mentioned before, is another way forward. It’s usefulness depends a bit on your choice of music source. For example Spotify and Amazon Music are very well supported.
Logitech offers a very simple solution to control Sonos with their Pop remote system. The starter kit gives you one hub and two buttons. The buttons are available in many different colours and have three different controls options all with one button. Check out all the options online. I paired it with the harmony and can shut everything down with a long press on the button when I leave the house.
Yonomi is a great app for smart home controles and supports Sonos. It has the option to be integrated into Siri shortcuts or a very straightforward way of selecting easily accessible favourite routines (eg. a pre selected playlist/station to be played on a specific speaker or group of speakers).
Sonos itself offers a remote called iPort xPress Music Keypad on their website. It does not look as refined in its design compared to the previous suggestions but seems to have all the necessary functions on board.

Hope this helps, I know myself how difficult it is to make these kind of decisions. Good luck with your project.
Userlevel 7
Badge +19
I bought the Senic hub that they now sell with the Nuimo. This maintains the BT connection without the need for a phone and should make the Nuimo more usable for all the family. However I find the hub connection to be laggy and Nuimo support and development to be minimal. The device has been out over two years and yet the software and usability is going backwards.

Shame as it is a well made useful device yo use for Volume and track control.
Senic pushes software updates to the hub which happen in the background. The connection is quite stable and responsive now. They also released their new product Nuimo Click together with light switch maker GIRA which is sold at a lower price point and uses energy harvesting so no charging is required. It's also sold in the Sonos accessories shop.
I have an iPort Xpress, magnetically attached to the refrigerator. TBH, I never use it. Voice control via Alexa is simply far more natural. When Google Assistant finally arrives, it will be even better, as its recognition is better.
Senic pushes software updates to the hub which happen in the background. The connection is quite stable and responsive now. They also released their new product Nuimo Click together with light switch maker GIRA which is sold at a lower price point and uses energy harvesting so no charging is required. It's also sold in the Sonos accessories shop.

Has anyone tried the Nuimo Click yet? Thanks to everyone for all the suggestions, btw!