Review: Sonos ZP80 Sound Integrator - InformationWeek

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Review: Sonos ZP80 Sound Integrator

The company's newest offering is a more affordable, entry-level system than its original product, but you'll have to spend considerably more than the initial $1,000 by the time you put music in every room.

What's New?

The original Sonos starter kit includes one remote unit and two ZP100 ZonePlayers for $1,200. The new ZonePlayer 80 bundle includes one remote and two ZP80 units. What you give up for the $200 is the amplifier section of the ZP100. ZP80s rely on your existing amplified audio components, which most of us already have. That means you can attach a ZP80 to your home theater, Bose Wave radio, or even a simple set of powered computer speakers.

I attached one ZP80 to my computer speakers, and one to my home theater. Then I used the remote unit to select one of the ZP80s, select a music source, and select the music I wanted to hear. I selected the other ZP80, picked an Internet radio station and set the volume. As I walked between the rooms I was able to change sound sources, adjust volumes, and even mute the entire system using the remote. Back at the PC, I was able to perform the same functions using the on-screen version of the remote.

Worth The Money?

Sonos products are made for audio enthusiasts that want to hear what they want to hear when and where they want to hear it. If you're just looking for extension speakers on your patio or in your den, run the wires. But if you want convenience, great sound, and access to and control of your entire music collection everywhere in your domain nothing comes close to a full Sonos installation.

The good news is that it is simple to set up, highly expandable, and delivers great stereo sound. If spending somewhere between $2,000 and $5,000 seems reasonable to achieve this vision, then you've found the right product. The new ZonePlayer 80 bundle at $999 is just enough to get started. I would recommend buying a ZonePlayer 100 bundle at the same time in order to get the discount offered by buying the package at $1,199. The combination of the packages will let you set up four locations with two handheld controllers (because one of them will always be somewhere else). You will quickly get used to having your music your way.

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