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Whole Firehouse Audio

Tara W. has worked for Crutchfield since 2004. She writes about whole-house music and video gear, and works on Crutchfield's video team.

More from Tara W.

Sonos® lets you enjoy a multitude of music content — Pandora® Internet radio, Rhapsody, MOG, Spotify®,, 100,000 free Internet radio stations, and more — in any room of your house. The system is wireless and setup is incredibly easy. Our local firefighters give much of their time helping our community, so we helped them set up a complete wireless system that Sonos donated for their firehouse. It took us less than an hour to get music playing in their weight room, training room, kitchen, and engine bay.

How does a firehouse install relate to an in-home install? The firehouse we were working in was probably a good deal bigger than most people's homes are, so an in-home install will likely take a little less time. And if you're worried about the wireless signal reaching all the way out to your pool, your deck, or your garage, don't be. We have a zone in the firehouse's engine bay which is down a floor and quite a distance from the rest of our zones. One great thing about Sonos is that the players use their own proprietary mesh network to communicate. That means the more players you add, the more powerful your network becomes. You'll get great sound throughout your home with no signal dropouts.

Sonos donated one of each player that they make, so we were able to bring music to four rooms of the firehouse.


Sonos Play:3


Sonos Connect


Sonos Play:5


Sonos Connect:Amp

One of the coolest things about a Sonos system is how you control it — with a smartphone, a tablet, or a computer. Most of the firefighters have an iPhone® or an Android™ phone, so they downloaded the free Sonos app and started controlling the system right away. They picked out songs, queued up playlists, and selected the rooms where they wanted to play music, all with the phones they carry around in their pockets.

Both iPhones and Android phones work as controllers, above left. Robert checks out the Sonos Controller on a Samsung Galaxy Tab™, above right.

Outfitting the firehouse

We picked an afternoon and headed over to the firehouse to set up their new system. It was easy — we had music playing in their weight room, training room, kitchen, and engine bay in less than an hour.

Weight room

Sonos Play:3

We chose the Play:3 for the weight room, which is a small room with a high ceiling. This compact all-in-one player has built-in speakers and an amplifier, so no addition gear was necessary to fill the room with sound. Firehouse workouts will never be the same.

Training room

Sonos Connect and Audioengine 5+ speakers

For the training room, we chose to use the Sonos Connect and a pair of Audioengine A5+ powered speakers. The Connect is a small player that connects to a home theater or audio system, or powered speakers (like those we used here).


Sonos Play:5

In the firehouse, the kitchen and the dining room are attached to create one large space. We chose the Play:5 here so that we could fill both of these rooms with music. The Play:5 is an all-in-one player with five drivers and five amplifiers so it can really pump out the tunes.

Engine bay

Sonos Connect:Amp and indoor/outdoor speakers

Firefighters spend a lot of their time in the firehouse engine bay. This garage-type area is covered, but exposed to the elements more than the rest of the rooms. For this space, we chose to use the Sonos Connect:Amp and Polk Audio Atrium7 outdoor speakers. The Connect:Amp has a built-in 55-watt-per-channel amplifier that easily powers bookshelf or outdoor speakers.

Polk donated their rugged, high-performance Atrium7 outdoor speakers and they work perfectly. They’re powerful enough for the large space with 1” tweeters, 6-1/2” woofers and bass venting for full, rich sound.

Station member testimonials

We had the firefighters download the Sonos app on their smartphones and let them figure out the system on their own. They quickly learned to select rooms, pick and play songs, and adjust volume.

Controller wars

They also quickly learned to override each other's song decisions. For example, Firefighter A would be rocking out to a specific Pandora® station in the training room and Firefighter B (from another room) would quietly switch the station to Firefighter A's least favorite music genre. The system was so easy to use that they were very fast to learn how to play pranks on each other with it.

“I downloaded the app on my phone and within a few minutes we were up and running, playing music and controlling the system – it was pretty easy.”

“I was using an iPad® and listened to Pandora®, and I was surprised by how easy it was to use. It will be a lot of fun at the firehouse. We’ll use it a lot – working out, having some downtime, cleaning, or doing chores.”

“It’s nice because we can control it from different sources and play different types of music in each room depending on what’s going on. So, in the workout room we can listen to a little more rock to go with a good workout, and if we’re just listening to music while we prep dinner we can do something completely different at the same time.”

“I used the Samsung tablet which was really easy to do. We changed different zones and went through a bunch of different music on Pandora®. It was a lot easier than I anticipated. I’m in the process of building a house and it’s looking to me like I’m going to go with this when we put a sound system in it. The advantage of Sonos is we won’t have to run any wires through the walls of the house – Sonos is all wireless – and it's really easy to set up.”

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