Sonos Bundle 130 Digital Music System review

The Sonos Bundle 130 Digital Music System is a bundle of connected music devices that allows you to enjoy music in up to 32 rooms all controlled via a wireless remote. But does it work? We get connected to find out.

There is no doubt about it, the Sonos Digital Music System is impressive. Even more impressive is this half-price bundle. Although originally announced and launched in May 2007, the Bundle 130 package has since had a software update making it even more compelling than before.

Before we start with the Bundle 130, here's a quick recap of the Sonos system.

Basically, the system is a series of boxes that all connect to one and another and through a single wireless remote allow you to control music around your house. The boxes individually called ZonePlayers are broken down into zones that mean you can access different songs in different zones all from the same music library wherever you are in the house. With the possibility of up to 32 of these zones its pretty impressive and the main system has already received a 9/10 from Pocket-lint.

This bundle includes three of Sonos’ key products — one Sonos ZonePlayer 80, one Sonos ZonePlayer 100 and one Sonos Controller 100 to get you started.

The ZonePlayer 80 is the smaller of the two types of ZonePlayer and can be connected to an existing stereo or home theatre receiver to instantly make it part of a digital music system, the ZonePlayer 100 which comes with a built in amp can be simple connected to a set of loudspeakers and placed in any room. The controller will provide wireless multi-room control for all your music from any room in the house.

So what's new? The main addition is the new software. Its main selling point is the addition of Napster's music subscription service that allows you to access the millions of songs that the online music download store has and then stream them directly to your Sonos Music System, like a massive jukebox.

Everything is done via the Sonos Controller making it incredibly easy, although it's worth bearing in mind that its only available to music fans in the UK and Germany however.

Beyond giving you a choice New Releases, Top 100s and other Playlists from the service, you can stream different track selections to different zones as before even if you are choosing to stream them all from Napster. The automix discovery feature finds and plays tracks like the one you're listening to, which is great if you can't make up your mind what to listen to.

Each Sonos customer in the UK and Germany gets a free 30-day Napster Trial with no signup or credit card required. The trial took about 10 seconds to instigate and then after that you can you opt to sign up to Napster for a further £9.95 per month if you wish.

Other features via the software update include music search, better zone management, more ways to queue up music, improved compatibility with Windows Home Server as well as enhanced support for Apple's Airport Extreme.

So what of performance? Connecting all the devices together is very easy although they do have to be fairly close together to stop dropping out.

As for sound, the quality is very good and to the untrained ear as good as listening to a CD via the unit itself. Of course a lot of this is down to the system you plug it into, in the case of the ZP80, or the speakers you use for the ZP100, but overall we were impressed.

Verdict

Earlier in the year the price reduction of the Bundle 130 was compelling enough with its internet radio options, easy of use and improved alarm clock features so you could use the system to wake you up in the morning.

With the addition of Napster, it makes not only the Napster Service compelling, but the Sonos system as a whole, giving you access to over 5 million tracks and the chance to try songs that you might never have heard of.

What's the catch? Well you can't access iTunes DRM tracks on it at present, but you could get around this by simply plugging in an iPod. Additionally, unlike a similar offering from a Windows Media Extender device, the system can't do video.

If you've got a big house and are forever having to transfer your music around each room you go to, this is the answer.

A must have for music lovers whose budget isn't restricted.