Sonos speakers have been providing high-fidelity wireless audio streaming hardware for several years now, but in recent times its tech has been evolving fast: We’ve seen portable versions of its speakers, the addition of on-board digital assistants, new support for audio protocols, and more besides. Here are ten tips to help you get the most out of your Sonos speaker in 2019.
1) Play straight from Spotify
Thanks to the magic of Spotify Connect, you can send tunes straight from a Spotify app on mobile, on the desktop, or on the web to your Sonos speakers, without opening up the Sonos app. If you spend all your time in Spotify you might find it easier than going through the software Sonos provides.
As long as the device you’re running Spotify on, and your Sonos speakers are on the same wifi network, just tap or click the devices icon in any Spotify app to see your Sonos speakers — in the Windows client, for example, it’s down in the bottom right corner next to the volume slider; on iOS, it’s down in the bottom left corner of the now playing screen.
You’ll see all the devices Spotify Connect works with, including other devices where the Spotify app is open, any Chromecasts you’ve got installed at home, and so on. Select your Sonos speaker to switch playback to it.
2) Hear speech more easily, and respect the neighbours
Here are two tips specific to the Sonos range of soundbars. Night Sound, which dampens down loud sounds and reduces noise leakage to neighbouring rooms, and Speech Enhancement, which makes dialog easier to hear in the midst of other audio.
Both these features are accessed from the now playing screen in the Sonos app when a soundbar is connected. Tap the crescent moon icon to enable Night Sound, or the speech bubble icon to enable Speech Enhancement.
3) Use alarms and sleep timers to automate your music
Your Sonos speakers can double as alarm clocks: From inside the Android or iOS app, tap Settings, System, Alarms and Add Alarm to get started. Alarms sounds can come from any Sonos speaker in your setup, or all of them at once, and you can pick any music from any of your connected services (or just a chiming alarm sound).
At the other end of the day, you can use Sonos speakers to fall asleep to music, or white noise, or podcasts, or anything else that can be played through the platform. From the now playing screen on Android or iOS, tap the Menu button (the three dots on the right), then choose Sleep Timer.
4) Do more with the physical buttons
Did you think the play/pause button on top of your Sonos speaker just stopped and started your music? Far from it — while one tap on the button does indeed pause (or play) the current queue, you can also tap it twice to skip to the next track, tap it three times to skip back to the previous track, and tap and hold on it to group it with the last active room.
On the touch controls on the newer speakers (Sonos One, Sonos SL, Play:5, Playbase, Beam and Amp), it gets even more interesting. Again, tap once to play or pause, or tap and hold to add music that’s playing in another room. Swipe right or left across the button to jump to the next or previous track.
5) Fine-tune your music with the integrated equaliser
Not quite happy with the way your tunes are sounding when pumped through your Sonos speakers? The mobile and desktop apps come with simple equalisers that let you tweak the audio output as desired.
In the Sonos apps for Android and iOS, tap Settings, then System, then pick a speaker and select EQ. In the desktop equivalents for Windows and macOS, click the little EQ button just to the right of the playback controls at the top (it looks like a series of sliders).
6) Link two Sonos speakers together
If you’ve splashed out on not one but two (or three or four) Sonos speakers, then you could use each one in a different room, or you could link a couple of them together and use them as a stereo pair.
It’s easily done — open up the Sonos app for Android or iOS, tap Settings then System, then choose the speaker you want to pair up with another and select Create Stereo Pair. Sonos says a gap of between 2.4 – 3.7 metres is best for stereo listening.
7) Play local music files
Maybe the music streaming services you’ve signed up for don’t have all the tracks you want to play — those 18 minidiscs full of Radiohead music, say — or maybe you just don’t like subscription services at all and prefer to buy your music. You can get these tunes playing on your Sonos speakers too.
If the tracks are on your Android phone, in the Sonos app, go to Browse then On this Mobile Device. That option doesn’t appear in the Sonos app for iOS, but you can use AirPlay to send tracks from the iPhone Music app straight to compatible Sonos speakers, or sync your tracks to Apple Music, or use a desktop app instead. In the Sonos app for Windows and macOS, head to Manage then Music Library Settings to point Sonos towards your local files.
8) Queue up tracks with friends
If your friends and family want to contribute to the queue of music coming up on your Sonos speakers, all they need is to be connected to the same wifi network as the speakers, and the Sonos app on their smartphones.
They can then add music to the queue just as you can — via the Play Next or Add to End of Queue options you’ll find inside the apps. It’s very easy to do. So easy, in fact, that you need to be wary of your so-called friends sabotaging your Sonos playlists while you’re not looking.
9) Use your Sonos as a smart speaker
Alexa and Google Assistant have arrived on certain Sonos speakers (the Sonos One, Sonos Move, and Sonos Beam) in certain regions (including Australia), which means you can use them just like a smart speaker. You don’t have to go into the room as your Amazon Echo just to get the weather forecast or to find out what the capital of a certain country is.
Once you’ve set up one of the aforementioned speakers, you’ll see a Control Sonos with voice link at the top of the Browse tab — just tap Add a voice service to get started. If you can’t see the option, tap Settings, then Services, then Add a Service under Voice. Choose either Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa to get connected.
You can then use voice commands like play, pause, mute, skip and so on with your Sonos speakers, as well as all the thousands of other commands Alexa and Google Assistant can respond to. Note that you can follow the steps above for any Sonos speaker — but unless you have a Sonos One, Sonos Move, or Sonos Beam (which recognise smart assistant commands directly), you’ll need a separate Amazon Echo or Google Home device to talk to, which will then pass on your commands to your Sonos system.
10) Curate custom Sonos playlists
The various Sonos apps for desktop and mobile do a good job of pulling in albums, tunes, and playlists from all your favourite streaming services, but sometimes you get together a good mix of tracks that you don’t want to lose, and that’s particular to your Sonos system.
Use Sonos playlists for lists of tracks you want to be able to get back to, perhaps imported from multiple sources, without cluttering up your playlists on Spotify, Apple Music, or whatever you’re using.
From the Sonos Android or iOS app, tap the Queue button (top right of the now playing screen), then Save. You can also save the current queue as a playlist in the desktop apps: Click Save Queue under the Queue column.