What Sound Means “Sonos”? Philip Glass Had the Answer.
Whilst sound is integral to everything we do at Sonos, there has never been a specific sound associated with our brand. Until today. Coinciding with the launch of Sonos Radio, we are thrilled to reveal our new sonic branding. Composed by Philip Glass, iconic master of contemporary classical music, listeners can hear his original composition when tuning in to Sonos Radio. Here’s the story behind the sound.
In the months leading up to the launch of Sonos Radio, Dmitri Siegel, Sonos VP of Global Brand, discovered that a major piece of the listening experience was missing. “We realised that Sonos didn’t really have a sonic brand identity,” said Siegel. “We’re obsessed with sound—it’s what we think about all day—and yet we didn’t have a sound that meant Sonos. When we made a dream list of who might compose that sound for us, Philip Glass was always at the top.”
Glass’s decades-long exploration of repetition and modularity made him a natural choice to build upon the Sonos name and visual identity, which are rooted in symmetry and simplicity. Luckily, he was known to have Sonos in his home and even use it in his work, thanks to a long-standing relationship with Sonos’s Global Head of Music, Brian Beck. Siegel added, “Philip Glass is the perfect fit for Sonos because of the combination of formal structure and exuberance, humanity and technical rigor in his music.”
Photo Credit: Danny Clinch, @dannybones64
Once Glass agreed to the project, Siegel’s brief to him was simple:
Dear Philip Glass:
Sonos is a made-up word that means sound.
Now we need to make up a sound that means Sonos.
And, as one of the most influential American composers of the last century, he delivered. Describing the result, Glass noted, “The composition reflects two opposing ends of a spectrum: the organic and the electronic. The organic, represented by the acoustic instrumentation, speaks to the act of listening as both communal and personal. The electronic, which can be heard in the synthesised elements, is a nod to Sonos products as breakthrough technology, both-in sound reproduction, and connectivity.”
To learn about the sound profile of Sonos speakers, Glass worked with Giles Martin, award-winning composer, producer, and Sound Experience Leader at Sonos. “We wanted to be sure that the tone and range of the composition demonstrated the capabilities of the speakers and that the composition addressed those moments in the user experience where sound is used explicitly,” said Martin.
To bring the composition to life, it was recorded with 21 musicians at the DiMenna Centre for Classical Music in New York City. The recording includes a 17-piece string section, flute, trumpet, French horn, piano, and electronic synths.
Once recorded, Martin mixed and mastered the sonic branding in collaboration with Grammy- and Emmy-winning recording engineer Sam Okell. When they were finished, Siegel finally had the sound that means Sonos.
The Final Product
In all, Glass created a complete set of branding elements, ranging in length and purpose, which will serve as a “sonic toolkit” for the Sonos sound experience. Martin and the Sound Experience Team will draw from this toolkit as they chart and define the brand’s sonic identity going forward.
We’re now proud to share the final product, brought to life in the animation below. It’s best experienced on your Sonos system because, as Glass notes, it was composed “using the full frequency spectrum in order to demonstrate the range and depth of Sonos speakers.”