Thursday, 9 August 2012

Sonos And Me

I've always been massively into music.

When I was about 14, I was given a precious C90 mixtape of (what was then considered) indie songs by an older, wiser boy in my class. It contained a few bands I knew of (Stone Roses, Charlatans, Inspiral Carpets), some I'd heard of but didn't really know much about (The Smiths, The Cure, James), and some I didn't recognise at all (The Durutti Column anyone?). The baggy rhythms of Fools Gold and Indian Rope did something special to my still-developing brain, and made the journeys to and from school considerably more interesting than they would otherwise have been.

At the same sort of time I was developing an appreciation for US hip hop - I played NWA's Straight Outta Compton and Ice-T's Iceberg albums almost constantly on my Walkman (never on the stereo in case the parents would hear it). It's fair to say I'd never heard music or lyrics like this before - the introduction to Fuck The Police was worn away with all the rewinds (Note: it's way less cool doing rewinds on a Walkman rather than a Technics 1210).

This clash of musical influences probably seems odd now, but it felt entirely natural at the time. Remember, this was back in the days that inspired the Balearic music scene - Shoom in London and Nude at the Hacienda were just starting up, playing disparate musical styles in clubs for the first time.


Skip forward 24 years or so (retracing my musical history cannot be done in a single blog post, but I will be sure to fill in the blanks over the course of the next few months), and I'm endowed with an enormous (steady...) and varied audio collection (I was going to put "record collection" but I guess that isn't especially accurate any more).

All of this audio is now digitized into mp3 form, and sits on NAS (Network Attached Storage) drive on my network. This means I can access the files from a shared drive from any other device attached to the network even when my PC is off.

I've tested various audio systems (and even written my own) for streaming audio around the various rooms of my house. The problem I had with most systems I tried (including Apple Airport) was that you couldn't have different music playing in different rooms at the same time. This was a bit of a killer for me, as my wife and I have somewhat different musical tastes.

We had a period of about 9 months between selling our old house and finally moving into our new one, during which time we rented a small one bed flat. I spent an unnaturally large amount of this 9 months pouring over T3, Stuff and Home Cinema magazines, gathering a wishlist of dream tech that I might eventually be able to fill my house with. Top of that list was a Sonos system.

They are many things that make Sonos so appealing to me:

  • You can play different music in different rooms at once
  • You can play any digital radio stations through it, straight out of the box
  • You can link Sonos boxes together to play the same music in sync (party mode)
  • They are completely wireless
  • Set up is trivial
  • You can continue adding new zones to it whenever you want
  • There are free (awesome) controller apps available for iPhone and iPad
  • If you have a Spotify account, this also links in seemlessly
The only downside is that they are pretty expensive. But you get what pay for don't you?

So I bought my first couple of Sonos S5s (now called Play:5s) when we moved in, and I'm now up to 4 Zones.

The next dream is to have a Sonos Connect attached to some ceiling speakers in the bathroom, but that might be pushing it a bit.....

Monday, 19 December 2011

Traditional Opening Gambit

I've been working in IT for 15 years and I realise what the internet is for.

So here's my opening blog post of significance - a picture of a cute puppy.

This is Harry, my aunt's new Westie, that I met for the first time yesterday. Although only 10 weeks old, and contrary to perceived wisdom, his bite is somewhat worse than his bark....