We recently bought a Sonos system for our home. It’s a simple starter set (Bridge + 2 Play:1 speakers). I was looking for an audio system for our home to pipe music simultaneously to two or more rooms without getting too technical and by not breaking the bank. We’re a Mac-only family so AirPlay was our first option but unless you rig things up right, you can’t pipe music in two rooms simultaneously. Anyway, we heeded Wirecutter’s recommendation and took the leap for Sonos. It cost us ~$400 for the three items; add $200 for an additional Play:1 speaker.
Setup with Sonos is one of the easiest I’ve experienced for something non-Apple. You set up the Bridge by plugging it in the router and then plug in the two speakers to electic outlets wherever you want and then go through the steps via the app to detect them and create a network. No passwords, no granting of access, etc. You can do the ‘Trueplay Tuning’ if you want to ensure music sounds good in all parts of your room. If you subscribe to a streaming music service like Pandora, Spotify (paid), and Apple Music (Dec.15 onward), you can log in and start listening to music instantly.
The only hitch was getting iTunes to work just as seamlessly. The steps were not as obvious although quite simple in the end so I’m listing them here if you’re looking to Sonos for your audio needs via Mac.
If you’re using the iCloud Music Library to sync your iTunes music, Sonos will not let you stream it directly from your phone. So if you click on the ‘Music Library’ section or ‘This iPhone’ of your Sonos app, it will be empty unless you have music files on your phone. To get around that without having to copy music files on your phone, you’ve to first install the desktop app on your Mac and let it detect your music (I hope it is also stored on your Mac or a connected physical drive in your home). Once you do that, voila! Your ‘Music Library’ on the Sonos app on your phone will show your iTunes music.
But if you look carefully, your ‘Imported Playlist’ folder may still be empty especially if you’re using the latest version of iTunes. That’s because iTunes no longer produces or updates an iTunes Music Library.xml file. You have to select the option to ‘Share iTunes Library XML with other applications’ in Preferences in iTunes to generate and update the file.
Once you do that, go to your Sonos app on your desktop > Manage Music Library > Update Music Index Now and now your ‘Imported Playlist’ list will be populated with your iTunes playlists and songs. You may want to schedule future music index updates everyday in the middle of the night so all your playlist changes are reflected in Sonos.
The only minor quibble I have is that if you play your songs via Sonos now, your iTunes play count doesn’t update. Well, that’s because you’re no longer using iTunes as your music player and that can be, from what I’ve heard, a good thing or a bad thing.