My Sonos life began with a Gen 1 Play:1. I was amazed by the clarity of sound from something so small and was happy for a while. But … the sound was mono and I wanted more. This wasn’t because the Play:1 was in any way deficient in design or execution, it just didn’t have enough speakers in it.
So I went out and bought a second Play:1, and was amazed by the clarify of sound from something so small and was happy for a while. But … I couldn’t plug it into my TV to listen to music or movies. This wasn’t because the Play:1 was in any way deficient in design or execution, it just didn’t have the right connectivity, or the CPU power to deal with Dolby 5.1 audio.
So I went out and bought a Beam, and was amazed by the clarity of sound from something so small. I was even more amazed that I could re-purpose my Gen 1 Play:1s as surround speakers: even though there weren’t capable in their own right of connecting to my TV, the Sonos system design allowed them to be used alongside a newer box that didn’t exist when they were brought into being, and to augment that experience. Big kudos to Sonos for that foresightedness.
Recently I’ve acquired a Gen 1 Play:5, and I’m amazed by the clarity and depth of sound from something so small. It knocks the socks off my Play:1s. However, as I understand it, I can’t use Gen 1 Play:5s as surround speakers because they lack the 5GHz wifi hardware necessary to perform that feat. Am I dissatisfied with Sonos’s lack of foresight here? No, because I understand that 10-year-old hardware can’t do everything that today’s hardware can. I also can’t stream Airplay2 audio from my iPhone to the Play:5, again because it lacks appropriate hardware, and maybe doesn’t have the CPU gumption for the job either. However, if I stream Airplay2 to the Beam then Sonos’ Multiroom feature can get the audio to the Play:5 and keep it in sync. More kudos to Sonos.
So now we come to the May 2020 End Of Life announcement, and the suggestion that my Gen 1 Play:5 is now only good as a doorstop. I don’t get it. I’m already aware that my Play:5 can’t do many thing that newer devices can do, but it’s still a banging good speaker that should be able to act as a Multiroom slave to any future device that supports some yet-to-be-invented streaming service - how about quantum-encoded octophonic immersive audio? It would be nice to think that Sonos could work out how to slave 8 Gen 1 Play:5s to a Shiny New Box to create an audio experience that makes you think you’re sitting in the middle of the orchestra pit at the Last Night of the Proms. And why not?
So come on, Sonos, allow us the good sense to understand what it and isn’t possible with your hardware. We aren’t upset when our old kit doesn’t do what the new kit can do, instead we’re amazed how you get the old stuff to work so well with the new, within the limits of its capability. So don’t give up on the Gen 1 Play:5 and tell us to brick it, commit to keeping it as compatible as possible with the new stuff. That’s how you keep your customers loyal and continue to stand out from the crowd.