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The Next Big Thing From Sonos: What Could it Be?

Sonos is inviting select integrators to preview a hot new product, and Sonos forums are abuzz. What could it be? Wireless surround? Home automation? Wireless video?


What’s next for Sonos and its “smart speakers?”

Sonos has been teasing dealers under NDA about a new product to be introduced soon. And the Sonos forums are buzzing about the next big thing from the beloved provider of wireless audio.

What can it be?

Two years ago, we found a Sonos job posting for a senior product manager, home theater sound, and speculated the company would release a wireless surround sound system.

The current job board doesn’t provide much of a clue, except for a posting for an engineering project manager, smart speaker products.

This Engineering Project Manager position at Sonos will be a high-visibility role directing the efforts of all our functional engineering managers and engineers (i.e. wireless, acoustic, software) from concept through production for our next-to-be-conceived smart speaker product.

What, pray tell, is a smart speaker?

I’m going with my original guess that the new product will be wireless surround, but here are some other suggestions:
  • Wireless video
  • Home automation features, possibly integration with a smart thermostat or lighting control
  • Universal remote control feature set
  • Wireless subwoofer (whoop-di-woo)
  • Wireless tower speakers
  • Wireless in-wall speakers
  • Crazy big margins for CE pros
The last big news from Sonos was that the company discontinued its CR200 Wireless Controller.

What will be the next big thing? What would you as a CE Pro like to see from Sonos? What do you think you’ll see?

Cool California electronics company, SONOS, is opening a gallery with a unique focus: music listening. The new 4,000 square-foot space in L.A.'s La Brea Art & Design District has been designed to host everything from listening parties to film screenings to mini-concerts. For their inaugural exhibit, there's a sound installation called "Center of Attention" by Luke Fischbeck that opens this Sunday, May 13, noon to 6 p.m. There's also a private opening-night party this Saturday with local band, Bleached, and a DJ set by ?uestlove.

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Article Topics

News · Product News · Audio · Distributed Audio · Wireless A/V · Sonos · Wireless Audio · All topics

About the Author

Julie Jacobson, Co-Founder, EH Publishing / Editor-at-large, CE Pro
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson. [More by Julie Jacobson]

46 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by Bulldog  on  05/10  at  07:29 PM

The CI community is hoping for more integrator friendly products.  I doubt we will see that.  I talked to a local retail rep a few months back that hinted their planning wireless surround as you mentioned.  He also said they get a lot of requested for a similar video product but they could easily jump the shark with that. 

My vote is wireless surround.  Unless there is an NDA, I can tell you next week.  I will be at the preview.  Happy to be an informant if you need the info Julie. Though somehow I assume you will have it before then.

Posted by Jay  on  05/11  at  02:08 AM

We all know it, we’ve seen it in february, but we all signed an NDA, right?

Posted by OhMyGod  on  05/11  at  09:20 AM

I was hoping for an outdoor wireless sound system.  I think there’s much more value in that type of solution versus a wireless surround sound system.

After all, don’t they already have a surround sound system, albeit overkill, with their Play:3?

Posted by WhyReboot  on  05/11  at  10:17 AM

Maybe it will be some sort of API or some other way to more easily integrate all of the features, metadata and feedback into custom control systems.  I know there’s a module for AMX that is pretty well featured but there are others out there that have only the most basic modules.  I look forward to the day when one can access everything on Sonos from your Crestron system or whatever control system you happen to use.

Posted by Lenski  on  05/11  at  12:25 PM

What I’d love to see #1:  A multizone version of the Connect and Connect:amp.
One power cord, one ethernet connection,
a couple line-in connections, and line out for each zone, all in one box. (In our CI dreams!)
What I’d like to see #2: Sonos makes control codes available for use with custom remotes like URC, RTi, ProControl.
Now that I think about it, I’d reverse the priority of these wishes!

Posted by Mediaman  on  05/11  at  12:27 PM

Signed an NDA. Saw it. It’s cool.

Posted by Bay Area John  on  05/11  at  12:40 PM

2.5 years ago at CEDIA, SONOS product managers told us that they were releasing all the control protocol information immediately following the show. Two weeks later when we called to follow up, they denied any such offer was contemplated. At one point they even said that if their control protocols were successfully sniffed and backward engineered, the would change their protocol to break it.

They gave little reason for any of this. We presume they intend to be the star of Yet Another Control System of their own… and don’t want to share.

We certainly need more new control systems. So very glad to see KDS and ATT and ReQuest and ... oh well.

Posted by Drew  on  05/11  at  12:41 PM

Although I agree with all your suggestions I think your dreaming.  Sonos is a great product but a pain to deal with.  Hell Id just like to see them offer us the dealers that are out there day in and day out developing the brand free shipping like they do to the general public that buy right off the website.  Margins on sonos are crazy thin as is and then to charge us shipping on top of it is just plain wrong.  Everytime we place a huge po and I have to pay freight it pisses me off to no end.

Posted by Mike  on  05/11  at  12:44 PM

I hope it’s better margins and better sound quality.  Currently quality of sound is a 3.

Posted by jbrown  on  05/11  at  12:55 PM

Didn’t sign an NDA, heard it was a subwoofer ... not sure if that’s righ or not. If so, consider me seriously disappointed.

How about a 2RU box with four ZP-90s in it?

Or better yet, a dang control protocol that at least allows reliable access to basic features like a few favorite stations, volume, play/pause, track skip, thumbs up/down and (heaven forbid) text feedback of what’s playing.

Jason Brown

Posted by Norman  on  05/11  at  12:58 PM

Video source aggregation and distribution control….. PLEASE.  Someone please.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  05/11  at  01:08 PM

jbrown ... It’s gotta be more than that if mediaman says, “It’s cool.”

Posted by AV Interiors  on  05/11  at  01:20 PM

It would be even better if they engineered something that sounded as good as it worked and gave dealers more margin.

Posted by jbrown  on  05/11  at  01:36 PM

I actually think the Sonos margin is decent. It’s not great, but at least it’s consistently attainable. I’d rather have a product with a thin margin that I can always get instead of a product with an artificially fat margin that is whored out all over the place. I do agree with Drew though, making us pay for shipping on a big order is bogus.

Jason Brown

Posted by Rob G  on  05/11  at  02:02 PM

Thanks to the great folks at Extra Vegetables, Sonos can be easily—and completely—integrated into a Control4 system.  If you haven’t seen this in action yet, you owe it to yourself—and to your clients—to check it out.

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