Starting today Sonos users will no longer need a separate
£40 Bridge to
stream music to the brand’s multiroom speaker
systems. It will now be able to operate in “Station Mode” using
your existing home router.
A firmware update, expected since April after selected users
were allowed to test a beta version of the software, will finally
render the home streaming system completely wireless.
Currently, all Sonos speakers communicate via the SonosNet
peer-to-peer mesh network, which must be connected directly to a
router via the Bridge device.
The firmware update will work with all existing Sonos products,
but there are a few limitations to the new “wire free” Sonos setup.
If you use a Playbar and Sonos speakers to create a surround sound system
for watching TV and films, then this will not work properly in
Station Mode, apparently due to latency issues.
Similarly, in Station Mode, Sonos speakers themselves will not
be able to act as repeaters, as they do currently using SonosNet
through a Bridge. This means that if any speaker in your house is
out of range of your router then it will not connect to the
network, even if it is range of another Sonos speaker that is
connected to the router.
So, don’t throw out that Bridge if you have one. In fact,
according to Andrew Schulert, vice president Quality at Sonos, the
best option in fact is to have both as the system will
automatically switch between the two networks depending on what it
deems will give the best performance for each individual
With the usefulness of the separate SonosNet in mind, and
possibly thinking about users in flats suffering from multiple
clashing wireless networks, Sonos is also launching in October a
new, pimped Bridge called the Boost.
The Boost will retail at $100 (£60), and is described as an
“industrial version” of the Bridge, with better, commercial-class
tech under the hood including three antennas supposedly expanding
the unit’s range by 50 percent.
Explaining the firmware update coming so long after Sonos’s
initial launch, Schulert told Wired.co.uk: “We wanted to have
complete control over the wireless networking initially. But three
years ago we thought it was time to see if this change could be
made. Two years ago we started in earnest on the project. The goal
was to make Station Mode as reliable as SonosNet.”
However, those having recently purchased a Sonos system complete
with Bridge may not be delighted to find out they have just bought
technology that is no longer entirely necessary. Sonos points out
that if users have bought product through the Sonos site then there
is a 30-day window to return the kit. It will be up to individual
retailers to decide if they wish to offer similar solutions.