Tag Archives: Audio


SONOS: Should we still be building music libraries?

In keeping with my recent run of posts relating to the Sonos multiroom audio system I thought I would tackle the decisions made by many digital music enthusiasts. Namely, should I build a music library and if so, how and where should I store it?

In today’s world of digital content, deciding what to do with it all can become a bit of a nightmare, especially when the digital content is media. Collections of both music and video can very quickly become very large and difficult to manage, to top it off, access to the data must be easy and fast.

Options if you decide to build and store a music library.
Local network storage

With this option you could store the data on a computer which is connected to the local network, we don’t recommend this option as it is very much reliant upon your computer being switched on and available over the network. A much more reliable option would be to purchase a simple NAS (network attached storage) drive which connects directly to your network (via an ethernet port on your router). These are available fairly inexpensively from PC accessories stores with sizes ranging from about 1 to 4 terra bytes.

Google Play Music

Google provide free online storage of up to (at the time of writing) 20,000 songs. The music is available via the internet 24/7 without any storage device required in your home. Sonos has full support for Google Play Music and browsing your online library is quick, simple and intuitive.

When creating your own music library a point to note is that Sonos does not support every file format available. For example it will play MP3 and M4A files without any issue, however a format quite often used by iTunes, M4P, is not supported. We have had recent experience where a customer with their own iTunes library was missing about 1/3 of the tracks. After investigation, it turned out that these tracks were in M4P format and hence would not play.

Options for not building a music library
Subscription services

Assuming you have a reliable and fast broadband connection, there are a number of streaming services available. For a small monthly charge, these services allow immediate playing of a huge collection of music. Examples of these services are Napster and Spotify.

Subscription radio services

These services can be thought of as personal radio stations. For a small monthly fee you can start a radio station playing based on an artist or genre. The radio station will play track after track of music and provides you with the option of rating a song up or down. Over time, such a service will begin to ‘learn’ your listening tastes and tailor future radio stations to your preferences. Examples of these services are Last FM and Rdio.

The conclusion

In our experience, personal music libraries can become quite messy and therefore a managed streaming service is often the best route to take. The latest addition to Sonos is Google Play Music and we believe that this is a good combination of both a Subscription service and a Subscription Radio Service. I have written a post on our experiences which can be found by clicking here.

Of course with Sonos there is inbuilt support for a wide variety of different services leaving you to decide which will best suit your needs.



SONOS: Now with Google Play Music

In our last post we talked about the latest offerings from the Sonos Multiroom Audio System. Since then Sonos have announced their latest addition to the already fantastic music services lineup. The new arrival is Google Play Music.

Google Play Music was launched in late 2011 and it allows users to upload their own music for streaming anywhere along with a subscription service named ‘All Access’ which allows any of their 18 million songs to be streamed.

  • I’m feeling lucky radio: Your own personal radio station – tailored based on your listening history.
  • I’m feeling lucky mix: Your music collection mixed based on your listening history.
  • My Library: Upload up to 20,000 of your own tracks for streaming.
  • Playlist: Access your playlists directly through the Sonos app.
  • Radio: Create a new station based on any artist, album or song. Customize the station and skip ahead if you don’t like a particular song.
  • Explore: Browse by Genres, Featured and Recommended content.
  • Instant Mixes: Make endless mixes based on your favourite artists or songs in your Google Play Music library.

Possibly the best feature is ‘smart’ suggestions. Sometimes, despite Sonos’s ease of use, you just want to have something to listen to without having to find an album and queue it up. Well, with Google Play Music All Access you can do just that… It’s called I’m feeling lucky radio and will setup a queue of tracks based on your listening history.

Another great feature is the free storage of 20,000 tracks of your own music collection. Perfect if you have any music that you want to stream to Sonos without the expense of network storage.

‘I have just installed our first Google Play Music linked Sonos system and was really impressed with it’s features and ease of use. The customer seemed very keen on the idea of not having to manage and maintain a music library!’ Chris – Automation Engineer

If you already have Sonos then upgrade to version 4.3 or above to enjoy Google Play Music.

If you are considering a Sonos installation of any size then please contact us and we will be more than happy to advise.


Multiroom Audio: SONOS

Household Automation has been specifying and installing the Sonos multi-room audio range since it was introduced to the UK.

Why multiroom audio?
  • Choose from many different audio sources.
  • Play something different in every room or link rooms together.
  • Ease of control – using smartphones, tablets or PC’s

As a multi-room audio system Sonos has achieved amazing market penetration. The product provides complete flexibility and is competatively priced. The reliability of Sonos is exceptional due to its use of ‘mesh’ networking technologies. Expanding the system is a very easy process with a step-by-step guide.

One of the biggest features is the free Sonos app, which is available on an impressive range of devices such as iPhone/iPad, Android, Mac and Windows. It gives total control of the system via a user friendly, graphical display.

What can I play?
  • Internet Radio – Whether you want your favourite local station or one of 1000’s of radio stations from all over the world, Sonos has teamed up with tunein radio to offer an exceptional choice of radio stations.
  • Network Music – We can install a networked hard drive and link it to your Sonos system, for you to store your personal music collection. Upload your music and browse through and play it straight from the Sonos app.
  • Napster – With a catalogue of over 8 million songs – pop, hip-hop, rock, country, jazz, classical, and more – you’ll have unlimited music on demand. Ideal if you don’t want to upload all of your music or simply don’t have much (if anything) of a music collection!
  • Spotify – Instantly access a world of music – starting with an ever-expanding library, incredible playlists and unlimited music at your fingertips. Because Sonos connects directly to Spotify via the Internet, you can play it all without docking or turning on your computer.
  • Last.FM – Last.fm is a global music service that lets you play, share and discover new music. You can also create personal radio stations based on your musical tastes. Just pick up your Sonos Controller and enter the name of your favourite artist or genre and Last.fm will play radio customised just for you. The more you listen, the more Last.fm learns what you like so it can continually recommend new tracks and stations.

Household Automation has many Sonos installations completed and in progress and would welcome the chance to provide more information on Sonos equipment. We design and install Sonos on many scales – from systems containing just a couple of zones through to whole house solutions incorporating home cinema.