Rocking AirPlay music on Sonos

Posted on June 23rd, 2011 by Jasmine France in Music On Sonos, Tips & Tricks

There’s no end to the number of feature requests we receive from customers, and we always appreciate the input – after all, it helps us continually improve our products. Although we haven’t fulfilled every craving (yet), one new feature is taking us a step closer: AirPlay.

To enjoy AirPlay on Sonos, you’ll need to use an AirPort Express as an AirPlay receiver and be running Sonos System Software v3.4. Get the full technical details, including step-by-step instructions on setting up AirPlay, in our FAQ.

Adding support for Apple’s AirPlay gets us even closer to our goal to offer easy access to all the music on the planet. If you have a subscription with one of our on-demand music partners, you’re already pretty well covered in this arena, but as Sound and Vision puts it, “AirPlay’s a very useful protocol, and it certainly extends the Sonos system’s usefulness.”

For one, the new feature means that any friend that walks into your home with an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch can quickly and easily share any track from his or her device on your Sonos music system – no docking required.

Another great AirPlay function? You can play music from any AirPlay-enabled iOS app. That means that you can now play any of your favorite iPhone music apps – say, Slacker – through your Sonos setup, even if we don’t yet natively support it.

But perhaps our favorite way to use AirPlay on Sonos goes beyond the traditional music streaming app. There’s nothing quite like kicking back on the couch with an iPad running SPIN Play, which lets you stream songs while browsing graphically-appealing articles from the eponymous magazine. And we just can’t put down Discovr, an innovative discovery app with a variety of music-related content, including an interactive family tree that shows the musical connections between various artists.

Finally, let’s not forget one of the main benefits of AirPlay on Sonos: it’s the only way you can enjoy AirPlay in true, multi-room Party Mode. No other system lets you send a song from an iOS device and stream it in multiple rooms simultaneously. And as always, Sonos lets you play different tracks throughout the home. You can listen to an iPhone playlist in the living room, an album from iTunes in the kitchen, and a Pandora station in the bedroom – all at the same time.

What are your favorite apps that use AirPlay audio?

Posted on June 23rd, 2011 by Jasmine France in Music On Sonos, Tips & Tricks

23 Responses to “Rocking AirPlay music on Sonos”

DanJune 23rd, 2011 at 10:12 pm

doesnt an airport espress plugged into an 8 channel amp provide the same simultaneous distribution for party mode?

DanJune 23rd, 2011 at 10:14 pm

i have sonos btw, and LOVE it :) just not a fan of this airplay approach… however the comment “even if we dont YET natively support it” gives me hope

AnonymousJune 23rd, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Hi Dan,

Airport Express can’t do all the music services. Plus, the 8 channel amp can only be controlled from the 8 channel amp remote OR the device itself, whereas the sonos multi-zone system can be controlled from any iOS / Android / Mac / PC. We hope this helps answer your question!

TomJune 24th, 2011 at 5:52 am

The way it’s done today is just airplay from an apple device into aux input.
Get the airplay built into the sonos software and it will be good :).

Duncan CourageNovember 18th, 2011 at 7:53 am

I currently have a multi room system. In attempt to keep things simple I decided to load my music onto my Apple Time Machine from my iMac using Deja Vu software. This works OK but it is a bit clunky as I have to manually kick off the deja vu software to covert the music for my Time Machine before then uploading to my Sonos. If I use Airplay can I dump the need to use my Time Machine?

SonosNovember 18th, 2011 at 10:57 am

Hi Duncan – Technically, yes – but the solution would be no less
clunky as you would lose the ability to control from your Sonos Controller.

SonosNovember 21st, 2011 at 9:29 am

Where AirPlay comes in handy is if you want to stream music from an iPhone or iPad app that is not natively supported on Sonos, as in the examples above.

Scott HershkowitzJanuary 1st, 2012 at 9:51 am

I have a large music library, most of which I cannot add to Sonos do to the track limitations.  I have tried the Airplay approach so I can play my iTunes library through my Sonos devices.  Unfortunately there is a disorienting lag between Airplay devices (e.g. playing through the Apple TV on my main stereo) and the Sonos.  Any idea how to sync the playback?

Westnorfolk2007January 1st, 2012 at 11:32 am

Sorry but I find use of Airport Express and Airplay confusing. For now, I just want to use either my Iphone/Ipad/Macbook pro to a single speaker unit which can be portable and, ideally, to save plugging in would have its own internal power source. Can any of your products offer this perhaps Play5? Also, would any other bits of kit be needed?

Finally, there is talk of IPhone 4S drop out issues with Airplay. I have an IPhone 4 and would appreciate assurances of no drop-outs as this would be totally unacceptable.

Thanks & Happy New Year 😉

SonosJanuary 3rd, 2012 at 11:19 am

Hi there – The PLAY:5 needs to be plugged in to power, but it has a handle on the back which makes it easy to move around to any room with a power source. Sonos connects directly to various music services or it can stream music from your computer (more info on music here: There are free apps for your iPhone and iPad that let you control the music from the palm of your hand. And it’s super simple to set up and use!

TorpenFebruary 11th, 2012 at 6:12 am

Has sonos considered to build in AirPlay In the software they use on play 5 ? Will this be possible ? I am wondering buying AirPort express but have 5rooms with play 5 and cant buy express for all them!

Sonos Support TeamFebruary 13th, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Hi Torpen – I’m not sure why you’d need five different Airport’s as you can use a single Airport and link it between Rooms (it acts just like a Line-In source).  As far as future product announcements, the best we can do is make sure your opinion is heard by filing a feature request for you (which I’ve done!)

TackweedFebruary 26th, 2012 at 3:16 pm

I would like a couple more play 5 but will wait till they have airport built in. That should be the most persuasive reason to do it.

shoookApril 13th, 2012 at 6:37 pm

When can we expect a direct AirPlay to Sonos output option? Perhaps using the Shairplay code:

ScaryfastApril 27th, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Please give us Airplay native for the Connect like was referenced for the stand alone units.

ScaryfastMay 3rd, 2012 at 9:22 am

Alternative.  I had a second generation iPod touch laying around that i wasn’t using so here is what I did.

I have a sonos connect:amp in my media closet that runs music out by my pool.  I have an iPod touch with the screen “locked” and airserver as the airplay receiver.  I had laying around a dock connector cable that had USB and audio/video coming out the other end so i used that to connect to the sons inputs but you could have just used a regular cable keeping power to the iPod and a cable going from the headphone connector.  I never touch this iPod, its sitting on top of my sonos in the closet and has been working flawlessly for a week or so now.  For me the important part was disabling the screen in case it got bumped moving stuff around as I didn’t want to go into this closet and have to frequently “mess” with the iPod.  Just make sure “air server” is running when you lock the screen and it will show up under iTunes or on your iPhone to stream music to your sonos.  
1.  Jailbreak the iPhone and install this repo –  In that repo is a program called “touch lock”.  Also install “air server” from one of the standard repo’s.  If you want you can also install a cydia tweak called “backgrounder” which will run “air server” in the background but its not necessary.2.  after touch lock is installed, go to “activator” which is installed by cydia and enable touch lock by configuring it to a button press.  Mine is hold the press volume button down for 3 seconds.  This locks the screen so if you bump it it doesn’t activate some app on the screen.3.  go into your iPod touch settings and disable screen lock and set brightness all the way down.4.  In Airserver configure the airplay name to be “Sonos” and leave it running.5.  disable your touch screen with the buttons you setup in activator earlier in step 2.  If you “lock” the screen where it turns off airplay will no longer work.  This is why you leave the screen on and just lock it so it if it gets bumped it doesn’t change the app.

I have noticed that when i use the dock connect for my audio its line out and not variable so only the sonos audio controls the speaker volume, not the airplay volume slider so if thats an issue make sure you use the headphone out, not a dock connector cable with audio out.


Shane HartmanSeptember 7th, 2014 at 4:10 pm

I know it was three years ago but if you just want to play itunes (or in my case mediamonkey) to Sonos from a PC, get jamcast ( for 14.99. It creates a virtual sound card which sends your PC audio to one Sonos device. You can use the SONOS app on your iphone to group with that device so you can play it in multiple zones. Want airplay? Add airserver to the PC ( for 14.99. This makes your PC an airplay target. Direct the output of airserver to the virtual sound card and shazam, you have airplay to Sonos for less than 30 bucks.

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