A nice bundle of premium items that happen to be missing an essential part to make it whole.
A few years back, we invested a lot of time and energy in sprucing up our back patio area. We added a pergola, some inviting furniture, and a shiny new grill. Over the summer months, we usually have at least one get together with family and friends and we wanted a comfortable place for everyone to enjoy. As nice as our patio has become, we have been missing one valuable piece of technology — a speaker system. In the past, we would take single Bluetooth speakers outdoors for entertainment, but as our gatherings have grown, those just aren’t a viable option because the crowd overpowers the single speaker. So, we decided to add in a streaming system from Sonos and Sonance.
WHAT’S IN THE BOX
This was my first experience with being a Sonos system owner and prior to this system, I had not been aware of Sonance as a brand. But, as I researched them and discovered that the entire system is part of the premium Magnolia brand family from Best Buy, I knew I was going to be happy with the quality that the system added to our home.
The first overall impression of the system was good. The Sonos/Sonance Outdoor System comes well packaged in a single box with each part individually boxed inside. The system consists of the Sonos Connect: Amp, Two (2) Sonance Mag O6 Outdoor Speakers, xPress Audio Keypad, mounting equipment for the speakers, a power cord for amp, and a flat ethernet cable should you want to directly connect your Connect:Amp to your internet modem, router, or switch. If you read carefully through that list, one thing you will notice is the absence of speaker wire, which is required to connect the speakers to the Sonos amp. You will have to provide that outside of this packaged kit.
- 55 watts per channel RMS
- One (1) audio zone
- Two (2) audio channels
- Surround sound not supported
- 0.02% total harmonic distortion
- Minimum impedance: 8 ohms
- Supported file formats: WAV, WMA, AAC, AIFF, Ogg Vorbis, MP3, FLAC, Apple Lossless
- Speaker connection type: RCA
- Ethernet ports: IEEE 802.3 (Ethernet), IEEE 802.3u (Fast Ethernet)
- One (1) analog audio input
- One (1) auxiliary input
- One (1) subwoofer pre-out
- Remote control included
- Dimension: 3.5″ x 7.3″ x 8.1″
- Weight: 14 pounds (total between all parts of the system)
Overall, the system is not difficult to set-up. Getting started, you will want to select the places you want to mount the speakers paying close attention to their proximity to the amp and your selected length of speaker wire. You want to keep in mind that while the speakers are weather resistant, the Sonos Connect:Amp is not. It will need to be placed somewhere out of harm’s way. Once you’ve selected the proper location for your speakers and amp, you can mount the brackets provided with the speakers. For me, I mounted them into our wooden siding with little problems.
After they are secured, you can snap the speakers into place, but you will want to make sure to run the speaker wire through the speaker first. The speakers have a spring clamp located on the front of the speaker. You attached the wire to the clamps and then run it through a channel at the bottom of the speaker and out the back through a rubber grommet. This seal keeps the speakers weather resistant. Hanging the speakers isn’t difficult, but they aren’t particularly light so it can be a bit awkward. I was able to use my shoulder to brace the speaker while I slid it into the bracket. When I heard the ‘click’, I knew they were locked in. At this point, you will run the speaker wire to your amp. You may choose to tack the wire up against your house (this was my choice) or run it through a wall. Again, this step isn’t ‘hard’ per se, but it’s time-consuming.
The Sonos Connect:Amp is the ‘brain’ of the entire system. To get started, you will connect the speaker wire to the back of the unit and plug it into power. You need to download the Sonos app and follow the in-app set-up steps provided. The amp should automatically connect to WiFi (if available) during the app set-up. Sonos includes a connection to a variety of streaming services (Pandora, Slacker, Rhapsody, Spotify, SiriusXM, etc.) so that you don’t have to connect your mobile phone or computer in order to have those services. The final step in the set-up is connecting to the remote. The xPlay Audio Keypad is connected to the system through WiFi and will allow you to pause, play, and skip songs as well as adjust the volume remotely. The xPlay app for the keypad is separate from the Sonos app. So, you will be downloading two apps for one system. One thing to note here – the keypad that accompanies the system can only be controlled with an app that is only available for iOS devices. Since Apple is the main brand I use for mobile devices, this wasn’t a big problem for me. Both Android and iOS users can enjoy the Sonos app and control your music, but only iOS users can use the remote.
I’ve been incredibly impressed with the quality of the sound this system produces. It has a wonderful even tone for music that is rich with highs and lows and even those who are hard of hearing through all the audio was crisp and clear coming from the speakers. Even though I don’t consider myself an ‘audiophile’, I do appreciate the good quality sound and the Sonance speakers push it out well. While the bass was nice and smooth, the addition of a subwoofer to this set-up might provide extra depth, but if you are using them outside, that might be difficult to add in. I didn’t notice any distortion even when we cranked up the volume quite high. While we didn’t receive any complaints from the neighbors, the speakers are LOUD. Our backyard is about 25 yards deep and someone at the back of the yard had no problems hearing the music played on the patio.
NOT A WIRELESS SYSTEM
As I mentioned above, the kit is devoid of speaker wire. This is an essential part of this system as it’s NOT a wireless system. Even though the description of the product does not spell out ‘Bluetooth’ or ‘Wireless’ system, it does describe the set as “Sonos & Sonance – Outdoor Speaker Streaming Audio Bundle with xPress Audio Keypad”. The ‘streaming’ part is misleading somewhat to anyone who doesn’t pay close enough attention to the rest of the specs of the system. Even though I had done my research, I was surprised to find that speaker wire was required and not included. When you look over the description of the product, it does not state that speaker wire is included with the bundle and the word ‘wired’ is nowhere to be found. So, at first glance with the product name indicating a streaming system, I could see how someone might think it’s a wireless system. The only wireless part to this system is the WiFi connection from the Sonos Connect: Amp, but even then you could hard wire it to your internet using the provided ethernet cable. Honestly, I was disappointed to find that so much wiring was involved in a system like this.
Another thing I didn’t like about this system is that speaker wire isn’t included. I feel that with any product if a part is essential to its operation, it should be included with the product. Without the speaker wire, this system doesn’t work. In addition to that, it’s an annoyance to bring home this system to find you have to go back to the store for a lot of wiring to run from outside to inside where the amp will be located. You do have the option of setting these up indoors, but since we specifically wanted them for our patio, it was a disappointment to find a part missing from the installation kit.
The quality of the pieces of this system is undeniable, I just question the missing speaker wire and product description. We are very happy with the ease of set-up (once we had all the essential parts) and how the system sounds. If you go into this system with the knowledge that you will have time and additional money invested, then you will be happy with it. Audiophiles won’t be disappointed with the quality of sound produced and it’s definitely an upgrade for home entertaining.