Sonos Radio HD: Is It As Good or Better Than Stingray Music?

  • 11 June 2021
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I wasn’t aware of Sonos Radio HD until this last week. Noticing that they offered a free 30 day trial, I was going to activate it and try it out but decided against it after I read the minimal feature list and couldn’t determine if it had the features I wanted or not. 

In my opinion, if you want to launch a premium “radio” music service today, the service you have to beat is Stingray Music. Thus you need your features to at least match and hopefully even exceed theirs. In a nutshell, Stingray Music is optimized for discovery. Thus the whole user experience is centered around making this process as simple and effective in determining what you like and dislike, so as to offer a better music listening experience overall.

What this means is going way beyond just the ability to skip a song. It’s means the ability to dislike / block a song or an artist, so you don’t hear them again and thus have to continue to manually skip it. Having both is essential, as I may love an artist but hate one of their songs. In addition, you need the ability to like / love a song or artist which hopefully helps the system know you want to hear more of that in kind.

Human curated music for these radio stations is also essential…well unless you’ve got an algorithm that somehow surpasses how horrible most other algorithms are on other music services. What this means is that I can listen to the station all day and hear my liked songs more then once but also be introduced to newer songs repeatedly throughout the day as well.

You should also be able to search and see what artists are featured on which stations. This is the number way that I’ve discovered newer stations and newer music on Stingray Music, as it lets you branch off and discover music you normally might have missed.

And finally, as someone else noted in the forums, you really need to name your radio stations properly and ensure the music curated for it actually matches it. There’s nothing more horrible than starting to listen to a new radio station you’ve never listened to be before and the first few songs offered don’t even remotely match the category of the name. If you experience this with more then a few radio stations you try, it’s pretty much a sure sign that the radio music service doesn’t understand you and thus its customers as a whole.

All said and done, once Sonos Radio HD offers all of these features, I will then try out the 30 day free trial. Until then, I don’t think it’s worth trying with its premium price point until all of these features become standard within it. That said, I’d love to try it when it does offer all of these features (and perhaps its own specialized voice assistant for music, as it’s been rumoured to be working on). 


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Hi @Nollind,

 

Thanks for your feedback and detailed information as to what you look for in a premium radio service. I’ve passed all of your comments on to our Sonos Radio Team for consideration. Please do let us know if you have any other feedback/suggestions :slight_smile:

FYI, there is a free version, ad supported version of Sonos radio.   While I agree with much of what you stated, I think there is still a place in ‘modern music playback’, for lack of a better turn for radio with limited flexibility.  There are a few problems with music services that allow you to like/dislike and and cater to your specific tastes.

One is that it requires work to maintain.  I don’t always have my phone and hands very to like/dislike a track and get things dialed in.  Besides that, the setup doesn’t know why I like/dislike a particular track, and has to guess why so that it apply logic to other tracks.

This also inevitably leads to overplaying certain tracks, and I start disliking my favorites.  Can’t tell the service that though as I don’t want it gone, just played less.

And of course, I don’t always want to play what I like if I’m not the only one listening.  I’d rather play a list of songs that I generally like that I don’t hate at that point.  Lastly, some tracks grow on me, and I learn to love them after I’ve been ‘forced’ to listen for awhile.   I can’t get that experience if my first gut reaction to like/dislike is always used.

Anyway, I find myself liking Sonos radio more so than other services just because I have less control over it.   I still want a service where I have more control to, and I’d be fine if Sonos incorporated new features into it, but I hope radio stations stay unchanged.  Personally, I’d rather see Sonos radio available outside my Sonos system be the next change to Sonos radio.  Other services can handle other features.  But that’s just my opinion.

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