Request for a hardware remote control with physical buttons to control Sonos Speakers


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Hi, I am posting this in the forum because I have the large hope that somebody from Sonos will read this and perhaps forward it to the development department or to a manager who has some influence in future sonos developments. I spent quite some time and put lots of energy into this topic, so I hope my message will somehow find its way to sonos management.

The reason for this post is that I really wish there would be a hardware RF remote control with physical buttons to control Sonos Speakers. It is so so very annoying to have to

1. Clean not only one but all of your finger/hands if they are dirty - for example when working in the kitchen
2. Pick up your mobile phone or tablet from the table
3. Unlock your phone (very annoying and cannot disable if using my mobile with an exchange account from work, which automatically enables locking)
4. Search for and then Open the Sonos App
5. Control the App with your fingers

every single time .. for such a simple task as changing the volume or skipping a song. Also when changing the volume at low volume levels I have to fiddle around a couple of times until I get the volume right...

I would very much prefer a small hardware RF remote control with a couple of hardware buttons to change the volume up or down and skip a song. Maybe also have 3 preset buttons which I could program with a playlist, so that this playlist starts when pressing that preset button. Similar as the bose soundtouch hardware preset buttons, these are really really great. I use the bose soundtouch now in the kitchen and wish I could replace it with a Sonos solution, because the Sonos-Spotify Integration works much better than Bose-Spotify.

I am looking for a easy, simple and quick way to change the volume and to skip a song. Only a solution as easy as a TV remote will be accepted by my girlfriend or my mother or my grandparents who do not want to fiddle around. They just want to listen to music and not play around with their mobile phones to be able to change the volume or skip a song. They don't like graphical user interfaces with screens, they like a piece of hardware with big accessable buttons and then they want to push one of those physical buttons to control the music. The problem with the graphical user interface is that you have to tap the screen really often and know exactly where to tap in order to get what you want, and also you have much too many options to choose from... (especially for eldery people and some women/men I know). It even gets complicated for me from time to time. You have to be concentrated when using the app. Sometimes when I come home exhausted from work I just want some relaxing music, and I don't want to search for it on the sonos app. I also don't want to choose from so many options. I just want to press a physical (preset) button and have (the predefined) relax music play. I think these are valid usability issues.

Also for example when I am in the bathroom in the tub I do not want to fiddle around with my mobile phone. I also don't walk around with my large smartphone on me when I'm home, but a small hardware remote control I would.

Ideally the RF hardware remote control would work indepentantly of the WLAN network, so that it works 100% reliable. Or because the Sonos speakers don't have an RF receiver - and therefore it has to work with WLAN then at least make I would make it work with the sonos boost, so that it works as realiably as possible.

Also I don't have to worry about battery issues on a hardware RF remote control for a couple of months... It is just there and it works, and I always have music when I want it. When I have time and patience I can search for interesting new songs and playlists but when I just want to listen to music I could have it by using the remote control. Also for example when giving yoga, dance or other workout classes it is somewhat embarrassing to "play" around your mobile phone, instead of just pressing a button on a remote control.


I am aware that there are alternatives, but none of them are as easy to use and as simple as a small hardware RF remote control with say 6 preset buttons.


These are the alternatives I have looked into so far:


Option 1: Use your volume buttons and lock screen on your mobile phone
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-> In the very recently updated IOS Sonos App Update they added this feature which is really great (Android hat this already for a longer time)

BUT even though this really is a great new feature, here are the problems I have with it:

=> Problem 1: The Sonos App always needs to running in background
=> Problem 2: As soon as any other music app plays or pauses the hardware volume buttons don't work anymore AND the lock screen is not able to control the sonos app anymore, since I use my mobile for a lot of things it would be very very annoying to always be aware of the 2 points above, because only then the hardware volume buttons and the lock screen works

... I frequently close all of my background programs, just because I have dozens open and some of them drain my battery. I just want to be able to close all apps and not be careful not to close the sonos app. Also sometimes I have to restart my mobile phone because the battery got empty or because the mobile phone is having problems, then I would again have to remember to start the sonos app... And I also would have to be very careful not to open the podcast app, music app, youtube etc etc because then the sonos lock screen control are not working anymore....


Option 2: Use the controls on the Speaker
============================================
This works great yes, however, this has very big disadvantages:
-> you always have to go to the speaker to control it
-> you always have to have a speaker directly accessable, I have my speakers on the top of a shelf, so I have no access to the controls


Option 3: Logitech Harmony Remote
======================================================
I tried this solution but never got it to work properly. I had the feeling I was a free beta tester for Logitech. After quite some time trying, I was able to control the PLAY:1 but not my the paired PLAY:5 2nd gen. speakers. Also when I put the PLAY:1 in a group with the PLAY:5's it only controlled the PLAY:1.
Also when connected with the PLAY:1, during the day the PLAY:1 would sometimes start playing on its own, without my intervention. ?!
I really tried very hard to get this to work (I work in the IT Business) and I had a Logitech Support Engineer on the phone for about 2 hours and he also ran out of ideas to get this to work.


Option 4: Small 5 inch dedicated Android Tablet "Controller"
============================================================
This has the following advantages:
+ I don't have to search for my mobile phone, since this dedicated tablet is for controlling sonos only
+ I can deactivate the screen unlocking procedure
+ I can use the hardware volume buttons to adjust the volume, but here again are the same problems as in Option 1, but not so bad since this table would be dedicated to Sonos controlling only

Disadvantages
- If I want to skip a song, I still have to press a button and wait for the screen to wake up.. (I know its only half a second, but with a hardware remote control you do not have to wait at all)
- I still have to use my fingers on a screen with no haptic feedback (like on a hardware remote control). When touching the screen this has to happen in a very special way
I cannot just hit a button, but I have to tap the screen with my fingers. I cannot just use my big thumb on a small hardware remote control but I have use my index finger and quickly "tap" very precisely, being careful not to move the finger on the screen while tapping it.
This can be awfully difficult in the mornings or during the night ;-)
- I still have to manage the tablet with updates, maybe android errors and have to charge it frequently, maybe something does not work anymore when I install an update.... => all this would not happen with a hardware remote control


I am aware that one could use the Wake Up Screen App https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.wildroid.wake.up.screen&hl=en so that the Tablet turns itself on when being picked up and the Target Home Launcher https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bh.android.TargetHomeLauncher&hl=en in order to lock the sonos app to the lock screen. This indeed is a big advantage, but nevertheless the above mentioned disadvanges still apply (I still have to press a button to wake up the screen if the tablet is lying on the kitchen table and I don't want to pick up the whole tablet to just skip a song) The user experience on a small hardware remote button with instant access is just unmatched in my opinion.


Option 5: Senic Nuimo or Insteon / Lutron
=========================================
Preorder a nuimo from this startup: https://www.senic.com/ (the 2nd batch is not available yet)
This is an option I am looking into and will report on how it goes, however I have my doubts because it is a very new product. I guess I will just be another beta tester ...
One disadvantage is that the scenic connects to your phone via bluetooth, which means you always need to have your phone in bluetooth range with the scenic. What if I leave the house and my girlfriend wants to use the scenic...

There is another product which claims it can control sonos: http://www.insteon.com/sonos/
They have a wall keypad and also (!) a "Mini Remote" which you can take with you anywhere in your home (as long as wifi is in range)

This might be an (expensive?) home automation option and I might look into it. The technology is relatively new and I am not sure if it would work reliably. I don't want to be the beta tester for the product, only to find out that it is not without its bugs and problems. There are lots of user comments who state that this product does not (yet?) work properly. Also it is not connected with the sonos boost but with the normal wifi network, which has its limitations in terms of reliability and range ...
RF technology would be more reliable in my opinion



Option 6: Use a goold old sonos remote control, for example CR100/CR200
========================================================================
This is a possibility, but since sonos is not producing it anymore I guess its just a matter of time when it will not work or will not be supported anymore. Also it has to be recharged (put into its craddle regurarly), but other than that it would be an good solution. I however would prefer a quick and simple small and handy hardware RF remote control unit which I can have lying around whereever I want and which battery lasts for a couple of months or more.

Also one of the sonos speakers has to be hard-wired (wired-connection not wifi) for the CR100/CR200 to work.


Option 7: Wait for Sonos to bring voice control?
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This too would be great, but will it understand my grandmothers voice? Will it understand my girlfriends deep foreign language dialect?
How loud will I need to say the commands. How reliably will it work. What about Data Privacy? I, nor my parents/family etc don't want any device listening all day long. No company can guarantee that it will never be hacked and misused for spying purposes...


I guess I'll just buy myself a CR100 for the time being and hope that sonos will care about their user's experiences with their sonos devices and release a hardware based RF remote control with physical buttons. I want a sonos not only in my home office but also in the living room where my girlfriend resides 🙂 and also in the home of my parents and grandparents 🙂

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91 replies

Here is an upcoming product that may prove promising..

https://www.senic.com


$159 pre order. Echo is $179, available today, has equal ability to control Sonos (with free helper app), and FAR more capable. Echo Dot even cheaper. Doubt this thing will get any traction.
Userlevel 7
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Amazon Echo is a voice controlled device. The whole point of this thread is a call for a device with physical buttons to control Sonos, only in this case it's a dial.
Amazon Echo is a voice controlled device. The whole point of this thread is a call for a device with physical buttons to control Sonos, only in this case it's a dial.

You must have missed this in the OP:

Option 7: Wait for Sonos to bring voice control?
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Userlevel 7
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i didn't miss that, but this is what it says:

I am aware that there are alternatives, but none of them are as easy to use and as simple as a small hardware RF remote control with say 6 preset buttons.

These are the alternatives I have looked into so far:

Option 7: Wait for Sonos to bring voice control?
While I like hardware controllers with hard buttons, I don't think that the mass market appreciates this sort of thing because it is not as "cool".

There were numerous complaints about the original CR100 not being "touch". Complainers would point to their phone that did allow touch. While the CR200 was touch, the big complaint was its cost relative to a phone or pad. The claim was that the customer already had a phone, therefore the controller was "free". Regardless of cost or utility, it is hard to compete with "free".

As I watch pad/phone users, particularly the young ones, they seem to look for excuses to touch and drag. Buttons are for grandparents who are not "cool".

By the way, the CR100 is water resistant. I still see disgustingly polluted CR100 in kitchens -- and they are working just fine. (albeit with limited battery run time because the battery was designed to last five years) Only the latest versions of phone/pads are touting "water resistant".

---

If you are the D.I.Y. type, here is a hard button project.
Completely agree with the OP.

I've lived with, and expanded, my Sonos set up for the past year now, and the absence of a simple 2-3 button remote as might come with a Firestick, Roku etc is utterly infuriating. The fact is many users do not carry their phone/device everywhere, and the app will never have the immediacy of interface that a simple remote does.

Of course, in investing in Sonos, you are buying into the app controller etc, and that is great, but there is no escaping the fact that a wifi-enabled device is horribly clunky for the most basic function - on/off and volume control.

From a pure marketing point of view, it makes even less sense.

For example - I recently decided to part with by Ruark/Vita R4 which I have had in my kitchen for 6 years. I'm not sure if these are available in the US, but they are a wonderful british hi-fi/CD/DAB unit with two speakers and a sub built-into a stunning wooden cabinent.. The remote with it controls everything, and takes some getting use to, but at its centre is a large on/off-volume control knob. Having invested in Play1s for almost every other room, I went for a Play 5 to replace the Ruark and there isn't a day that goes by when I don't regret the absence of a simple remote. There are only two locations in my kitchen/diner which are suitable locations for the Play5 - on top of the fridge (it's a pretty weird kitchen) and the other side of the room, so, if you have no device there, it is a massive pain in the ass to turn it up/down or off/on.

More's the point, the Play5 - in the UK at least - is in direct competition with something like the Ruark, and to not have a remote, at least included with the Play5, is just ridiculous.
There are several third party remotes available. Logitech Harmony, Lutron, and this one, among others http://iportproducts.com/xpress/#xpress-intro
Userlevel 7
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I have a Nuimo, and have had one from the earliest release last year. There is a thread on this forum about it.
To summarise my views, I love it. It was a romance slow to blossom but the latest firmware updates have made it a must have for me.
The issues:-
1. It’s quite expensive,
a. but is very well built
b. support is now good
c. it does more than just Sonos
2. It needs to be paired with a BT iPhone or Android device
a. Can be paired with Amazon Fire TV or Android TVs
b. I bought am Amazon Fire Tablet HD6 for £28 on Amazon warehouse which stays in the room for the Sonos to connect and be use a sa desiccated Sonos controller when making playlists or playing with settings etc
c. Any old android device running Kitkat or above will work as a link for it

The plus points

The rotating ring is superb for volume adjustment, far better than button.
Skipping tracks is good and easy with simple gestures in either direction.
You can assign 3 Sonos Favourites to it.
I have it set to control my Hue Bulbs in the same room and switching between functions could not be easier.

As I said it has been a slow burn romance, initially quite frustrating but the acid test is if it were stolen or was damaged, would I buy another? Hell yes.

Note I also have Alexa ann awaiting integration, but still think the Nuimo will be invaluable… and faster.

John
Xpress looks the right sort of thing as does the Lutron. Nuimo looks an even nicer solution, but all are ludicrously expensive for what they are. Xpress will not be available for another month or so, but I resent having to pay £100+ for a simple remote which Sonos should have supplied in the first place, although I'd pay that for the Numio at a push, but not €200...Logitech is both expensive and horrible.
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A few nuimos on fleabay for £100 As for Sonos providing one I don't see why that should be expected, given that the system uses wifi it would be uite complex to develop and produce as well as requiring software to connect to LANs etc. Given that you can get a cheap android device for £50 it would be a tough business case to prove a remote build. Plus it would be Sonos only.
I found this thread because like the author i soemtimes want something easier than my mobile to control my Sonos system. Has anyone tried the Logitech Pop Home Switch to start /stop music?

Also i see https://www.brilliant.tech/ will be offering a home solution soon (but wont work for me in the UK atm)
I may have gone overboard when I made a Sonos Play 5 my PC speaker, but it does a couple of things for me. 1. it gives me great sound from my PC and 2. it allows me to play anything from my computer to my Sonos sound system. ONE major drawback is volume control within Windows is awkward. I've been using the Windows app to control the volume, but I'm about to ditch Windows (because Windows 8 is stupid and 10 is not much better). Sonos doesn't make a Linux Sonos controller app (that I know of) so what am I to do when I install Linux Mint on my PC? I saw a couple of links in this thread that looked interesting. Nuimos looked cool until I saw that you have to go through an iPhone or iPad to control the Sonos speaker? If I need an iPhone by my PC at all times to control the volume on my PC speaker via hardware then why not just do so in the Sonos iPhone app? So the iPort xPRESS thing looks like it might work, but I'm not getting a lot of details from their site. Can anyone tell me more? I'm assuming that you configure with an iPhone but then I hope the iPhone no longer needs to be in the loop to control the volume of one Sonos Play 5.
I would love just a physical volume control that you could mount somewhere. If you want to change the volume quickly it can be difficult sometimes if you’re phone isn’t on you or takes time getting to the app. The wireless control is very convenient, but I would pay a lot just for a physical knob on my patio.
Beauchamp84, do you mean somewhere other than on top of the speaker?
Yes more specifically for the Connect Amp. My amp drives two outdoor speakers which can only be controlled by the app or going inside the cabinet to access the controls on the amp. A physical control would be really ideal outside.
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A Nuimo would offer this.
A Nuimo would offer this.
That is exactly what I’m looking for but after reading the reviews, it says it only connects thru Bluetooth on your phone and would have to have the app open for it to work. Have you used one by chance?
Could I use an old Sonos cr200 remote?
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Yes, I use my Nuimo all the time. It is linked to my iphone and ipad. I leave the app open all the time. I also have a £29 Amazon Fire tablet that I use just for Sonos, which is velcroed to the wall. Th Nuimo can also be paired to this.
Yes, I use my Nuimo all the time. It is linked to my iphone and ipad. I leave the app open all the time. I also have a £29 Amazon Fire tablet that I use just for Sonos, which is velcroed to the wall. Th Nuimo can also be paired to this.

So I could get a cheap tablet that’s connected to WiFi, then pair the Nuimo to that only?
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Yep. Any cheap android tablet. ( Scenic are also producing a nuimo hub), Must be capable of running recent android os though
This hardware remote is available...

https://iportproducts.com/xpress/#xpress-intro
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That does look interesting. From what I can gather you only need the iPhone/Pad to set it up and link it to your wifi then it no longer needs to be linked with the device.
That does look interesting. From what I can gather you only need the iPhone/Pad to set it up and link it to your wifi then it no longer needs to be linked with the device.

Correct, it uses wifi. Its the only remote in my opinion that's suitable. I have been meaning to order one but its 6 week shipping to the UK.
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This hardware remote is available...

https://iportproducts.com/xpress/#xpress-intro


Wouldn't it be easy to just use the buttons on the device, does that offer anything on top?

Another option here
https://www.brilliant.tech

I totally agree with the OP, I still use my CR200 although I am finding that it is not keeping up with the Android app anymore in terms of features. Surely Sonos could mass produce a chunky/durable Android based controller in the same casing as the CR200, maybe even wall-moutable. I'm sure most Sonos owners would pay £100 for such a device, i'd buy several. Thinking out loud... a wall-mountable controller could be PoE and also act as a Bridge/Boost

Voice control is not a replacement for a remote. How would you search for new music/playlists etc...