Sonos has always been Switzerland, neutral to a fault. Until recently, the company's decision not to create its own audio content has left it relying on companies like Spotify, iHeartRadio, TuneIn and others to provide music, podcasts, and talk radio for its millions of customers, most of which get that same content through other apps and connected speakers.
The value of Sonos speakers has always been about pairing wireless speakers that sound great, and can create incredible whole-home listening experiences, with practically any audio service someone feels like listening to. But that leaves Sonos selling its users hardware alone, which these days isn't enough in a world where Google, Apple, Amazon, and others all make connected speakers that natively integrate their own streaming music services. Value-add is where it's at.
So today Sonos is launching Sonos Radio, a set of features, including ad-supported radio stations from partners like iHeartRadio and TuneIn, as well as NPR, SomaFM, Global, and Radio.com. There's also an ad-free product called Sonos Sound System, which Sonos itself is building from a new studio in the basement of its flagship store in New York City. This is where things get interesting, since Sound System, like Apple Music's Beats 1, will have exclusive shows from popular musicians, including Radiohead's Thom Yorke and, in the future, Brittany Howard, Angel Olsen, Phoebe Bridgers, Jeff Parker (Tortoise), Vagabon, and others.
You'll also be able to listen to radio based on genres from hip-hop to country to kids.
Sonos Radio is coming to the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, and Australia today, followed by other countries soon.
The portable Sonos
The versatility king
The Sonos Move is a bigger, better-sounding Sonos One that you can abuse — and leave the house with. That means it sounds fantastic and is incredibly versatile, but at $399 it's also very expensive.
Daniel Bader was a former Android Central Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor for iMore and Windows Central.
This could be very bad. Or very good. Or, most likely, completely neutral.
Right now, it is 99% ad supported, so I listened to it for about 3 songs, heard a commercial and switched back to my paid subscription service to avoid commercials. SONOS Sound System is the only intriguing part thus far, so I won't completely discount it.
Hmm... Ad supported is great for platforms like Spotify or YouTube that you can play on any device, but if you're heavily invested in expensive wireless speakers, you probably don't want to hear ads on them, and have the disposable income to invest in a better ad free service, as you did.
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