What You Need to Know About Sonos’s Big Hi-Fi Upgrade
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In the past three-odd years Sonos has undergone some pretty significant changes. A new CEO in Patrick Spence has come in. The company has announced its first smart speakers in the One ($199) and Beam ($399). It released its first portable speaker in the Move ($399). And, with Ikea, it released its first collaborative speakers in the Symfonisk ($99+) line. But Sonos is about to roll out what is arguably its most significant change this June. It’s calling it “Sonos S2.”
According to the press release that Sonos issued at the end of March, Sonos S2 will be an entirely new app and operating system (OS) that will power the next generation of products and experiences.” The ultimate goal of Sonos S2 is to enable Sonos’s products, both old and new, to be able to play higher-quality audio. And S2 will help some of Sonos’s newest products, like the brand-new Arc soundbar, support more advanced technologies (such as Dolby Atmos). That said, Sonos S2 could have a big impact on people who use Sonos speakers and audio components every day.
Here’s what you need to know.
Folks with older Sonos speakers are the most affected
Not every Sonos product will support the new Sonos S2 app and operating system. If you’ve been a Sonos user for ten years or more and you still use some of those original speakers or components, there’s a good chance that they won’t support Sonos S2. These speakers will not support S2:
To update your newer Sonos speakers and components, you’ll have to cut the old ones out of the group.
Most Sonos speakers and components will support the S2 update. When it becomes available this June, the Sonos app will tell you via push notification or within the app. This will be a fairly simple thing for most Sonos users, but it gets a bit complicated if you have an older Sonos product that doesn’t support S2 integrated into your system.
If you have a Sonos speaker or component that doesn’t support the S2 update, then the rest of the Sonos products its grouped with won’t be able to get the update either. You’ll have to degroup the component or speaker that doesn’t support the S2 update in order to upgrade the rest of the system. For instance, if you have two Play:5 (Gen 2) speakers and one Play:5 (Gen 1) speaker, you’ll have to de-group the older speaker to update your two newer Play:5 speakers.
You don’t have to get the new app
Your current Sonos app will prompt you to download the new Sonos S2 app when it becomes available, but you won’t be required to download it. In case you don’t download it, you should know that your current Sonos app will be renamed “Sonos S1 Controller.” This name change could be a little confusing if you didn’t know the update if coming.
There are two main reasons why you should want to download the new app, however. First, the Sonos speakers and components will have to be updated with the new software and use the new app in order to support future, higher-resolution audio technologies. And two, all Sonos speakers that are released after May 2020 will come with the S2 update preinstalled and will not be able to be controlled with the Sonos S1 Controller app.
In a nutshell: if you want to add new speakers to your current Sonos system, you’ll have to have them updated.
Sonos will continue to support its older products, in a limited capacity
If you’re worried about your old Sonos speakers getting totally left in the dust — fear not. Sonos will continue to support its older speakers and components; you’ll be able to control them will the S1 Controller app; the S1 Controller app will still receive software updates of its own to fix bugs and security issues.
Sonos is, of course, heavily encouraging people with older products to upgrade them to new ones. It’s offering a trade-in program, called Trade Up, where you can save 30% on new products by trading your older non-compatible products in.
The update gets you HD streaming (and Dolby Atmos for Arc)
As Sonos explained in its press release, the main reason for the S2 update is so that its current and future speakers and components can play better audio. To date, Sonos has been able to support lossless audio that’s about CD quality. It’s good, but more and more streaming services are actually able to super even higher resolution audio — services like Tidal and Amazon Music HD — and Sonos wants their system to support those, too.
The other big thing is support for Dolby Atmos. Sonos just announced its first soundbar that works with Dolby Atmos, named Arc. (No other Sonos soundbar other than Arc will support Dolby Atmos, even after the S2 update.) Sonos has been making a big splash in the home theater realm for several years, with three soundbars and several bundle deals, and increasing the bandwidth so that it can support more immersive sound technologies makes sense. Plus, it gives movie buffs even more reason to buy Sonos.
And big improvements to speaker grouping
The S2 update is expected to be a big improvement for people who have several different groups of Sonos speakers placed around their homes. It’s expected to come with a new feature called ‘Room Groups,’ which will effectively allow users to create more longer-lasting groups of speakers, and then control them all more easily, within their home.
For instance, if you have two Sonos speakers in your kitchen and three Sonos speakers in your living room, and another two in your bedroom, the S2 app will allow you to control them without you having to constantly “regroup” them individually.
Interested in Sonos? We break down its relatively short history and some terms to know, as well as every product that Sonos currently makes. Read the Story