New Sonos Trueplay Software is EQ for Dummies; A Crestron Driver for CEDIA?
VIDEO: That’s no exorcism, that’s a Sonos Trueplay calibration! Sonos shows new Play:5 speaker with poor man’s room EQ, but rumored Playbase and Crestron home automation driver are no-shows for now.
Julie Jacobson · September 30, 2015
We knew something was coming from Sonos for CEDIA Expo 2015, but the money seemed to be on either outdoor speakers or “Playbase,” a trademark filed by Sonos in 2013 and believed to refer to a sound base like Zvox’s.
I had also heard that Sonos might finally reveal an open API for home automation integration. While most of the major home-control systems have developed their own unsanctioned two-way drivers for Sonos, they could sure use support from the source.
The most recent chatter involves Crestron and a Sonos driver developed by both parties. Now that would be something to behold. I believe the buzz I'm hearing on this, so I’m giving it a 50% chance of showing up at CEDIA.
But on to the things that Sonos is announcing: the new Sonos Play:5 speaker and a software tool called Trueplay that we might call Room EQ for Dummies.
Play:5, Second Gen
The new Play:5 ($499) will eventually replace the old Play:5 and will cost $100 more than the original. Why they didn’t call the new product Play:6 is beyond me. After all, the new product features six drivers (three mid-woofers, three tweeters), compared to five drivers in the original.
The build quality and power of the new Play:5 smokes the original, which was launched in 2009. New :5 has the extra driver and “twice the power,” says Kristen Johansen, group product manager, Player Experience.
It has six antennas inside for wireless streaming and, on the outside, polycarbonate grilles with 60,000 perforations resembling tiny pin pricks for the utmost in acoustic transparency. Look closely – even the Sonos logo on the face of the speaker is dotted with holes. The grilles are individually punched – not cut out of perforated sheets – so there is a clean line around the trim. No hanging chads.
There are some nice touches like smooth, unmarked gesture-controls for volume up/down on the top of the speaker. An accelerometer in the device knows which way the speakers are oriented (wide, vertical with logo to left, vertical with logo to right), ensuring the volume-up button is always in the right place.
Swipe right (or down) across the buttons to advance to the next track; swipe left (up) to go back.
And the thing just sounds good. I’m no Sonos (or audio or music) expert by any means, but yeah, I got one of those feelings that made me want to rush out and buy whatever song was playing, especially the Johnny Cash version of “Solitary Man.” I could hear every little nuance.
As Sonos PR specialist Jenisse Curry says, “It has the deepest bass, the greatest clarity and the best all-around acoustic performance.”
Johansen says the first time she heard the Play:5, she looked around the room and then asked the engineers, “Where’s the sub?”
So, yeah, the Play:5 is far and away the best Sonos speaker and could certainly rival some of the specialty brands.
Trueplay: The Poor Man’s EQ
Shipping in time for the holidays, Sonos Play:5 is not just another pretty (black or white) face. It has some special calibration intelligence called Trueplay.
The iOS-enabled app, which works with existing Play:1, Play:3 and Play:5 speakers is the Sonos version of room EQ for people like me who know little about audio. You don’t need fancy mics or acoustical gear, you just need a couple of hands and a little bit of mobility to wave your iPhone or iPad up and down, around the room, wherever a guest might be listening (watch the CE Pro video below). [VIDEO] How it works: Setting up Sonos Trueplay
Sonos pooh poohs the “sweet spot.” Chances are, you’re not going to be in the sweet spot most of the time when you’re listening to Sonos speakers. You and your family and guests will be running around the room, and the speakers will be hidden beneath a chair or perched on the only shelf in the room that happens to have an outlet nearby.
“We want Sonos speakers to sound good wherever they are,” says Johansen, who demonstrated a Play:1 speaker tucked beneath a soft chair, belting tunes with and without Trueplay. Without Trueplay, the sound was muffled, but it brightened right up when Trueplay was activated.
Even I could hear the difference.
The audio settings are stored within the speakers themselves, and you can’t have multiple settings per speaker.
Johansen says the reason it took Sonos so long to launch an app like Trueplay is that the company spent eons “getting the experience right,” so that people like me could do it without crying.
Meanwhile, the timing makes sense for Trueplay since mobile devices now have high-quality microphones and large processors to enable audio calibrations.
Now, if we could just use that same intelligence for voice control. Sonos Play:5 gesture controls - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - JULIE JACOBSON
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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. Email Julie at email@example.com
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