Sonos ZP80 wireless streaming media system review

Before we go any further we have to tell you that we love the original Sonos system, the ZP100.

Awarded as Best Home Entertainment Gadget of 2005 by us last year, there is little to fault with the system that allows you to wirelessly stream music to any one of the supported 32 players that you can ultimately connect to this device.

Thirty two zones seems a lot in our poxy little house but according to Sonos one of its customers - who wanted to remain anonymous - has 24 ... on his boat.

However the one thing that wasn't perfect with the ZP100 system was that you had to go out and buy a new set of speakers rather than merely connecting the system to your home cinema system in the lounge.

In steps the Sonos ZP80 the little brother to the ZP100 and minus the amp to run speakers off it. Instead you can simply connect the box of magic tricks to your current system be it a whopping home entertainment offering or to your iPod or even a standard DAB radio with line out.

Once connected you can then stream the music around your house via the system's built-in mesh network.

At the same time the mesh network, as well as allowing the players to talk to each other, also allow you to control the accompanying remote, which is heavily styled on the iPod, click wheel and all.

What this means in practice is that you can control any zone with any music whenever and wherever you like as long as you are in range of the one of the units.

Unlike the Philips offering, the system runs off a central hard drive which can either be a separate NAS drive, your laptop or desktop PC or Mac meaning that you DRM issues aren't an issue. This is even the case when you connect your iPod because there is never a digital connection you are merely playing back your songs as if it were a simple ipod speaker dock system.

In practice, the whole system is as easy as it sounds and within minutes rather than hours we were able to set up the system and start sharing our iTunes tracks around the house.

Verdict

Where the system differs from something like the AirPort Express with AirTunes is the inclusion of the remote control and the fact that if you opt for a NAS drive connected to your network you don't even have to worry about having your noisy computer on.

The remote, with its large colour screen and click wheel will be easy to use for any iPod or MP3 player owner as even the menu systems are virtually identical.

Grumbles? Well it's still fairly pricey at £779 for two ZP80s and a remote control. Further modules will set you back another £269 each in the UK.

If you can afford it and want your music in every room of your house, or your boat for that matter, then this is one of the best ways currently available to do it.