Sonos S2 won’t be compatible with all hardware, mind
Sonos is rolling out a new app and operating system for its hardware that promises perks like increased personalisation, higher resolution audio formats and usability enhancements to make it “easier to get the music and content you love.” All new Sonos hardware will come with this as standard from May onwards.
While increased personalisation and usability enhancements are all a bit vague, higher resolution audio is easier to pin down. At the moment, Sonos speakers are only capable of playing CD-quality lossless audio, but S2 opens the door to big improvements on this score. It could even mean Dolby Atmos in the next Sonos Playbar and Beam.
Although “most” Sonos products will be compatible with the new OS, there is a ‘but’ here: some of the company’s oldest speakers don’t have enough memory or processing grunt to support the S2 experience. That means that older hardware won’t be able to communicate to speakers that have upgraded to the S2 platform, which essentially gives customers who have old and new hardware in the same network three options.
The first is to remove the S1-only product from the network, and let it be its own speaker, with the other S2-compatible hardware getting the upgrade. The second is to keep the whole network on the S1 software so it continues to play nice – though this has the cost of missing out on those lovely new features as and when they appear.
The third, you imagine, is Sonos’ preferred option. Trade in the legacy hardware for a discount towards the company’s S2-enabled equivalent. Sonos’ trade-up programme gives interested customers a 30% discount if they choose to take this approach.
For the avoidance of doubt, Sonos has previously highlighted a number of products manufacturers between 2011 and 2015 as incapable of making the upgrade. The original Sonos Play:5, the Zone Plays and Connect/Connect:Amp devices in this era are considered legacy at this point.
Whatever happens, Sonos is clear that S1-only legacy products will continue to receive security patches and bug fixes, and the company says it will work with partners “to keep your music and voice services working for as long as we can.” That last point sounds like a clock ticking to us, but we shall see…