Software is driving the next wave of audio innovation and it’s making music sound better than ever imaginable. Sonos Chief Product Officer Marc Whitten shares his perspective on the changing landscape of home audio with the introduction of our newest inventions.
When file sharing exploded onto the Internet in the 90s, more than a century of recorded music was turned on its head. Our relationship with music has changed dramatically in the twenty plus years of innovation since.
In the blink of an eye, the mixtape was replaced by the super-curated playlist, and social media superstars ushered in a new golden age of the live performance. The only constant has been change, and only one thing is sure – we are just getting started!
Innovators like Spotify, Pandora, SoundCloud and now Apple have embraced the streaming revolution, offering everyone from the 12-year-old down the street to the deepest vinyl connoisseur access to the entire history of recorded music, powered by software. Digital music is, simply music.
These innovators are breaking new ground every day. The new garage is a laptop in your bedroom. Social media allows artists to share their work easily and engage with their audiences directly. Problems do persist for artists – for all those who are enjoying success, many more artists simply aren’t seeing revenue coming from streaming, payment models lack transparency, and free streaming offerings are still under question. But, streaming music has won, and while we are a long way from the dust settling, innovative artists and creators hold the keys to the future.
Something happened along the way in this endless march of progress. Our houses grew quiet – surely an unintended consequence! As music moved off turntables and boomboxes and onto computers, devices and the cloud, the era of listening out loud at home faded away. Convenience won and sound quality lost as we invested in docking stations to simplify life and bought Bluetooth accessories or earbuds for our phones.
While our homes have become quiet, our love of music has only grown. We listen to more music than ever before. More music, more artists, more genres, more remixes, more playlists. The listening revolution has made it easier than ever before to discover and listen to all the music on earth.
Breaking Sound Barriers
Our mission at Sonos is to fill homes with music, to bring back the shared pleasure of listening together. To exceed the golden age of hi-fi with great sound in a truly modern context – without the compromises you were forced to make in the past. Convenience versus quality? We say both!
For a truly exceptional result, hardware and software must work in harmony. Our new PLAY:5 brings together all of our learning from many years of hardware and software design and iteration. Smart to its core, its dipole array delivers an incredibly wide soundstage. An accelerometer recognizes which of its three orientations it’s in and adjusts the tuning to suit your listening style.
Sonos’ ultimate goal for sound is to reproduce in your living room what the artists created in the studio, in the purest way possible. That’s why we work with artists like Rick Rubin, Giles Martin, Q-Tip, and many others. Giles is Sonos’ sound experience leader and has been working with us together with a network of artists, producers and engineers who have shared their knowledge and expertise in helping us to reduce the distance between the studio and your living room.
Your music experience should fit your life, not get in the way of it. It should grow with you and stay fresh and current. We believe in hardware built to last and software that updates the experience, tuning for better music, improving with more innovation.
As we move toward a more open platform, this potential continues to grow. We are passionate about the music experience and we know many creators – from the deepest music services to the newest mash-up innovators – are as well.
We also use software to help you get to your music easily – our simple and intuitive app brings together all of your streaming music services and helps you to navigate seamlessly between them and discover new ones. There are more than 60 music services available on Sonos today. With them, everyone can build a queue of songs from different services, different devices, in one or many rooms – a truly shared and out loud listening experience.
We believe software is the ultimate craftsman’s tool for our speaker’s sound as well. From the early days of recording, speaker makers have been trying to reproduce the exact sound of the original musical performance in your home. The last 100 years of innovation in the loud speaker were driven by design, materials and manufacturing techniques—primarily hardware innovations and improvements.
At Sonos we realized with our first speakers that by controlling the custom-designed drivers, we could ensure that no matter how high you turn up the volume, the music will never distort. We realized that by using software, we could improve how our speakers sounded in just minutes, not months. We learned how to control multiple drivers into an array that delivers a previously unfeasibly wide soundstage for home theatre, and how to create deep bass with just a tiny unit. But that really was just the beginning.
We are convinced that software can drive many more years of innovation in sound, making speakers sound better in any environment – smarter, more aware, and reactive to their environment. Which is why we’re so excited to be launching the first chapter of this innovation with Trueplay. It’s a major step in making sound itself smart.
Nobody’s home has perfect acoustics, and we don’t want to adapt our lives around our speakers. Your speakers should sound great, wherever you choose to put them. So, we decided to make them adapt to the environment around you. We call this Trueplay. Sonos speakers already sound fantastic, but Trueplay brings you even closer to how music should sound. With Trueplay tuning, your speaker can analyze the acoustic profile of any room and fine-tune itself. Most importantly, tuning with Trueplay is incredibly easy to do.
With a free software update, millions of listeners will enjoy the best possible sound from their existing Sonos speakers. And Trueplay is just the beginning: we’re already hard at work finding even more ways to make your Sonos experience better and better.
Music is an incredible ride and we are glad to be on it with passionate artists and creators, and with music lovers around the world.