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Sonos Digital Music System

Gordon Mott
From the Print Edition:
Kurt Russell, May/June 2006

You have a thousand CDs. You may even have a 500-disc CD player, a big home jukebox-style techno inferno that lets you select your favorite music with a remote from your favorite chair. But you just can't bring yourself to rip up your walls, install the necessary wiring and transport that music to every room in your house. For that matter, you think, how many times a year do you want Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze" blaring in every room? But life in the twenty-first century is meant to be an audacious journey with technological marvels that can make your dreams come true.

Sonos is one of these marvels. The idea is simple. You digitize your CD collection onto a hard drive, connect a Sonos player to it, and add zones throughout your house, wirelessly. From a handheld controller, you can access the music and pipe it into any zone that's linked to the system. You want "Purple Haze." No problem. Your wife wants Bach in the kitchen. She can hear that in her zone. Your teenager wants Kanye West in her bedroom. Not only can she play it, but you can turn down the volume from your own controller. Or you can just pipe "Purple Haze" throughout the house in the all-zone party mode. You can create custom playlists, which jump around the collection, picking and choosing one song at a time.

Does that sound too good to be true? It's real and the system is about as easy to install as it is to use. The biggest problem is loading up the hard drive, but companies are springing up all over that will digitize your CDs for around $1 to $1.20 a disc (even less in bulk). Your home computer can store your music, but adding a Terabyte hard drive—that's 1,000 gigabytes for the uninitiated—is not a huge extra expense. It will also back up your PC.

Cost? It's relatively inexpensive. The start-up Sonos, a two-room system, runs about $1,200. Each additional zone player is $500, and each additional controller is approximately $400. Speakers are extra. A recent purchase totaled just under $6,000, including installation for a four-room system with a separate controller for each room plus two new sets of speakers.

Visit www.sonos.com.

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