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Crutchfield: The Podcast Ep. 6

Chris from Sonos and his multi-room home audio system

In this episode:

Chris, regional trainer for Sonos, pays a visit to Crutchfield and discusses his 7-zone multi-room audio system with J.R. Plus, he explains the latest updates from Sonos, including their decision to create a separate app for use with legacy Sonos products.

Some of the gear discussed includes:

Also, J.R. explores how the latest news from Sonos will affect co-host Eric's elaborate home audio system. For more on multi-room audio solutions, check out our Sonos buying guide.

Explore more episodes

Read episode transcript

Hey, this is J. R. Just a quick note before we start the show. When you listen to Crutchfield, the podcast, you're going to notice me in a room with other people pretty close together. You should know that these were all recorded before. Social distancing became the norm due to the spread of the covid 19 coronavirus. We take this virus very seriously here at Crutchfield and are doing everything possible to keep our employees safe and germ free. Thanks so much for listening now on with the show. Hello and welcome to Crutchfield the podcast. I'm your host, JR and the training manager here at Crutchfield joined in studio with with eric great to be here. I love these days. I love it. Day when I'm coming to work and I know that we're going to sit and talk about cool stuff. Yes. And you've got an exciting podcast. We have an exciting podcast today right now. We're just gonna call you the official co host. Originally. We weren't sure we were going to let you in the studio every single time. But somehow you muscled your way in. Well, I had a lot of comments. Right? Yeah. We've got followers. Yes. That are here for you and you alone. That's right. That's right. Yeah. Today's episode is going to be a slight variation from what we normally do. The whole point was to take advantage of the cool people we have working here to have great conversations with them about the stuff they bought. And why did they choose those things? We wanna hear all about it. Today's episode. We're not talking to an employee. We're taking that same concept though and applying it to a vendor, a company that comes in here. So we have trainings on a regular basis at Crutchfield and our vendors, kenwood's Sony Pioneer, Samsung LG. All these companies come in here once or twice a year and they bring in their new goods, the new stuff they're excited about and we thought There's a pretty cool vendor training happening this week and we thought maybe we could get this vendor trainer to sit down with me and let me ask him about the system he's got at his home. So the vendor we've chosen to do this is so knows who they have a lot to talk about. So, so knows they actually come here twice a year to do training. And we sat down with him back in October of 2019 and talk to Chris our vendor trainer from, so knows about the so no system he has in his house. Right. And there's some new products at that time, which we're really excited about. Yeah. At the time he was here to introduce to us, the so no support and the Sonos move, which was kind of advanced notice at the time had already come out. So let's break those down real quick. So the Sonos amp is a pretty sweet little two channel amplifier that is also a so knows zone. So it would you would use it to power one or two pairs of speakers if you have, so knows architectural speakers. You can do up to three pairs of speakers on their speakers. Exactly. And it's a zone all by itself. Uh, that was brand new. They had replaced the older sonos connect amp, which was the same idea with less power and less awesome. The new one more awesome. Uh, so that was already out and then back in october, he talked about the, so no support, which is the new model replacing the sonos connect and it's like pre amp and has inputs to bring external sources into your, so no system. So that's a really cool product and has 12 volt switching out. So there's some neat things about that particular product as well. But since all of that and the move well, yeah, it was the most exciting part was great. I even got to take one home before it was officially released to the public. I put it, I got it home, I got part of their beta test with the app and I had it all hooked up, I was able to take it out, use it listen to music in my garage while I worked on my motorcycle. It was awesome. I mean the sooners move is really great. So it's so knows his first foray in into something portable with a battery. Uh, and bluetooth, they're not known for embracing the concept of bluetooth at all. They're all about, you know, wifi. So that was the hardware from them but that's not why they've been in the news recently. Yeah let's so here's chris and me in our new vendor training room talking about his house and all things. So knows that he's allowed to talk about. I am I'm curious about your home system because it's kind of unique. Uh So there are more speakers in my house that I'm actually using which is I guess typical for somebody that works at a company where you just get speakers from time to time. I actually went as far as to I have an entire wall that's behind me. One of my conference calls that is just the different variations of colors for the ones that we've done which is really cool but the ones that we're using I use it like you typically would so I have a 51 set up in my living room which is play bar sub. And then to play ones I have at times had to play five set up with the sub as well in that same room with a regular player next to the T. V. Two separate systems in the same room that are two separate zones in your so no system that you sometimes will group together and play one. You typically playing music for that are you doing it with movie theater? But we'll both like music, other people over. But like I I thought the whole thing through because of scary movies. So I'm a massive horror movie fan. Uh and to have all of that like, you know, intense dramatic music that happens that really gets you like really clammed up having to play five, just really amplify that in the front. Just add so much to the experience. That's awesome. Yeah, so it's not a true 7.1, but certainly more speakers and bigger speakers can't hurt. Not at all. And also helps uh really separate the rears, which in scary movie format means that you hear, you know like random footsteps or like clicks and bangs. Yeah and that freaks you out when you realize you're the only one in the house and just heard a noise behind your shoulder. And when you turn around really fast for me, it opens up into the kitchen, it's actually on a table that's a little bit more center behind me than it is to my left. As a normal 51 configuration would be because the way the layout is, which actually leads me into the next room, which is the kitchen. And I actually have a play three in there that sits on our island, I would like to have one further away. But because it is an older house, it just dampens wifi like crazy. And even though I put in an access point system, there are points, I get to where the wifi just isn't strong enough. So Island was the best choice for me in that room. And then if you keep it on the same floor, there's another play three in the office. And then from there, if you go downstairs, I have a, I actually have a tower system right next to a pool table with my, you know, pioneer receiver from back in the day and a pork connected to that so I can utilize that as well and have a play five that's set up facing a treadmill. So on those really rare occasions where I think I should work out, you know, when you start eating too much, you know, like all right, I'll make that decision today. At least I have something I can listen to. Usually I actually just airplay from my ipad to the play five so I can watch something, have it playing around me instead of headphones because I hate running with headphones. So I utilize that there. And then if you go upstairs, that's where my array of unused some of those ones are. And then I or play ones too. And then I have a 5.1 in my bedroom which is actually play bass with two sons ones and a sub. And then I have a sub and a play five on my desk in my office. I've lost track of how many zones this is, I feel like it's around seven or 87. Yeah, seven air counting everybody. Yeah, sorry, 1237 zones total number of total pieces of so knows though it's probably 15, 20 so I think it's 17 on any given day. So I actually have a uh, connect amp because it's the older one, I haven't replaced with a new amp yet that is literally connected to a turntable in my room and my bedroom. Actually, then I have another one of those set up for downstairs as well. But actually that run into the ports, the ports utilizing both the receiver as a source and using the turntable as provided sources necessary. And then I have another connect amp that is going to set up a third turntable. I just haven't figured out where to put that yet. I'm so glad you brought up the connect amp because since you were here in october, I've received several emails from, so knows. Yeah, the fun. So, uh, the last emails, they were better than the first emails. All right. So before we let chris sort of give you the, so knows perspective on this. Let's, we thought we'd try to break in here and maybe give you our perspective on the last few months, especially if you are a so knows owner, you might already be very aware of what we're about to talk about. Uh, and you may have gone through some ups and downs emotion wise, especially if you've been with us for a really long time because that's kind of the crux of the issue. They sent out an email that sort of coincided with their trade up program. Sounds like a good idea, right? 30% off new. So nose gear recycle your old stuff. The recycling mode basically bricked old equipment. Right? So you couldn't pass it on to a friend, you couldn't use it really anymore even though it was playing music perfectly for you that morning. All of a sudden it's, people didn't really like that. Uh, and I think so knows heard about it. We certainly heard about it. We had, I had advisors come to me and go, what's going on. We, we certainly talked about it here at Crutchfield. We are, we also passed along our feedback too. So knows that we were hearing that people weren't really thrilled about that. So that was the first one. The second one. Can you talk about maybe the second email? I'll talk to you about my experience with that. Yeah, because because people should know eric is a dedicated one of those guys. So nose user give it, I don't have to, you don't have to hear a whole breakdown of how many zones and how many speakers you have in your shed, but how like, give us an idea, quick idea of your, so no system. Yeah. Let's not talk about my shed. Um, nine ish. We'll go with nine ish. It's a developing situation and there's room for more zone. There's always room for more zones. So you can have music playing anywhere in your house at any time. That's the goal. You know, I can still find some crevices that you're doing cool things like you've got your record player pipe. Yeah. Play vinyl all throughout the house. I can play vinyl out on my patio and my turntable is in my living room. Can your kids play stuff on your so knows. Do they know how to control your system yet? Thank goodness. No. So that's why there could potentially be more zones I have, so knows too, but I don't really have a whole lot of, so knows I don't have a huge of a house. I don't have, uh, my house isn't huge. I'm just ridiculous to be clear. I'm not ridiculous is what I'm trying to say. I have just what I need. But so eric as a Diehard so knows fan went through these emotions, talk to us about that second. So when you get so knows you of course have to give them your some digital information. Right? So they have my email address actually in my case they have my wife's email address. She's the one that helped me set it up. Um, so she, she received an email from them and quickly forwarded it to me and that's how I received the news and she was basically one line. What does this mean? And uh, I could tell she was concerned because she doesn't typically do things like that during the day. Um, but she knows the investment we have in the Sonos products and, and how much we enjoy it. And it basically read in a way that if you've got something old, it's not gonna work very much longer. It's kind of how it came across. And uh, well, we've been doing this for a while. We've added pieces over many years. So there was a real concern that, uh, you know, we might have to start looking for another solution. They were, they didn't stop at that second email. Yeah. I think the overwhelming response was not what they were looking. Absolutely that we heard about it from our customers. They heard about it directly from their customs. They heard about it from us frank. And that's one a kudos to so nose for listening because the end result is they really heard us and that brings us to the 30, the 30 male. I think it started off by saying simply we listened. And uh, and, and the end result of that is a solution that I think makes sense. Um, and yeah, we can talk about that here in a little while after. Yeah, exactly how they're solving this issue of these older pieces of so no, still working. How can we keep them working and have new gear all the same time. That's the gear. We're not at this point today as we record this. We, uh, we have to be in a closed off room and nobody can hear what we're saying. But by the time you hear this, this news will be out there in the public and you will hopefully we can have an even better explanation of exactly what's going on. But we're gonna let chris talk about it first and then we'll jump back in and give you our two cents. So alright, back to chris and me. What does so nose have to say about that whole thing. So back in october when we were first talking, I was just announcing that we had a trade up program installed where we're gonna allow you to take some older products and upgrade them for 30% off on the newest one, which is one of the best discounts we've ever given on anything. Uh the products and that's list where the original play five, any connecting it before 2015 and connect before 2015 and the bridge. Now before you ask like how do I know if my products pre 15 2001, we emailed you to let you know, we messaged you in the app. You can also go on Sundays dot com and actually find a way if you put in the serial number that's on the product, it will tell you if it is or not if you didn't get any of those. So the oldest stuff stuff that's still out there. Yes. The reason we started initiating that is because of the fun email that we sent and january february period saying that we are going to have to go through a process with these guys where we've now actually hit a point where just to give context here, when we designed the connecting up, that was in 2000, So the first original one was 2005, which is actually part of the list and I think we redid it into 2009, I'm not 100 ZP 1 20 then they changed it to 120 100. Yes. And then we did the same thing. We connect and connect is also like oh 9 12 version to, to think of like how far we've come if I asked you, do you have a cell phone that you still use today from 2007? You're looking like I'm the craziest person you ever met. So you're saying the processing power of the older ones doesn't quite processing power through the RAM. The fact is that all of our speakers are computers meaning that everything gets updated and then save to a speaker itself. We hit a point where we can't process the new voice updates as as quickly as we'd like to run the older stuff and quite frankly we just literally run out of room to save anything to it. Uh and without being able to, it means we can't do anything anymore and we have one guy working on it that just was like pulling his hair out and we just had to make a decision like at what point is this enough? And we kind of saw it coming, which is why we have that 2015 cut off for the connect connect because we redid it with more RAM and more uh on board memory without actually telling anyone because we're like we're just gonna solve this problem and then address it when it really hits. It's now at that point where it hits. So the email that went out with saying that you're not gonna have a two separate system solution here. So you're gonna have one that's called S one and S. Two. And what it's gonna do is anything that is legacy, which is deemed that 3015 or in that small list will be controlled by one and then the other one is gonna control all your new stuff. The reason being is we are still vowing to support all of our products. It doesn't matter what it is if it's legacy or new, we want to support everything. We're only saying that the new updates, any updates that happen from this point forward when this all goes live will happen only on the new stuff. So I can have new stuff and old stuff together. Yes, but that will be deemed legacy because now you are recognizing your system by its weakest oldest link, which means if it's new and legacy still considered legacy, no matter what. If I want to be able to do the new updates, I'll have to separate the two or upgrade those legacy products and the new one. Now the good news for those who are listening that isn't a lot of you. So, and it's not most of your products like you'll find play threes, play five play ones, even though we don't even make the play three anymore to play one, those are still fully supported under new stuff that is not legacy. They have enough RAM enough processing power to be okay. Yes. Because when we started looking at that, we realized that early on that like this is going to be something. We just, there was enough out in the field that we said, okay, we're gonna have to address it in our newer stuff. We can't just recall things and put it back out because well science technology moved too fast. So even if I have newer gear in a system where I also have some of the oldest legacy gear, the capabilities of my whole system will be limited to that of the older legacy gear. Yes. So I have a brand new Sonos amp. What, what might I not be able to do on that if I have it grouped or in the same system as an old ZP 100 or so. There could be like a really great massive update to voice allows you to do. Like almost organic conversation with stuff that, that just you wouldn't be able to have that conversation with our legacy stuff anymore or anything that is deemed legacy by legacy app or say like one of our streaming services for example, like Spotify or something decides to revamp their entire infrastructure. So like how they utilize their app, even the content now is coming out and say flak files versus Mp three. So it's just a larger file format, which are old stuff can play anything that is current because we're saying the way the experience is now is how it's gonna stay. But if you know, Spotify does that update and says, the only way you can use our stuff now is if you update the app and obviously you can't update it on legs and stuff, you'll lose the ability to stream from that source. That being said, we are vowing to partner with all of these guys to say like this is the predicament we're in or just, it's just the situation is what it is. And so we're gonna work with you to make sure that we can keep this running as long as possible. So the end of the day when a legacy product goes out, it isn't because they stopped getting updates, it should go out because it just ran itself into the ground Which by that point if I said you had a piece of technology that lasted 20 years, you're gonna go not bad. This is the it's the best bad news that you've had to sort of deal with and put out there. And the end result, was that what you found out, correct me if I'm wrong, was that you've got a ton of really dedicated customers that really just want more than anything to keep using your products that they love so much. Yeah. It just took you guys a a few emails to realize that yes, I could not have said that better myself. Okay, we are back and that may have been a lot to learn about. And so we're going to talk about it, we're gonna sort of apply so knows solution to this whole issue as it might apply to Eric's home system and try to make it a real world example. So there's there's gonna be two apps. There's a Sonos app now and that basically you can think of that as s one, the original, the legacy, the app that you've come to know and love over all these past many years. Uh and there will be a new app, the s to the second version, Right? Uh So let me explain this and then we'll see how you're going to use it at your house. The s the S one app can currently continue to do exactly what it's doing today. That's what Sonos pledge, is, is that what you can do today? You will continue to be able to do on old and new products using the original app that they're now going to start calling the S one app and you can have just old products, you can have a mix of older and newer products, you could even just have newer products right on the S one app, uh, however, new updates, new functionalities, new developments, all of those things are really not going to apply to S one, all the new stuff, all the fun stuff that this Ono's engineers are working on is only really going to happen in the S two app. And to be fair, we don't at this point when we're recording this, we don't have a clear list of what those new fun things are. No, we just know how fun it has been, we just know the future of, so knows probably hardware and software driven solutions from, so knows that's all gonna be S two and if you want to take advantage of that, you can't really have any older. So no, skier in the S two app, it is only for non legacy gear, so not the oldest oldest stuff still most so knows products are gonna be just fine using the S. Two app, can, will continue to be updated and have all the newest stuff. But if you're just dying to continue using your legacy gear in one big system, you're gonna use the S one app, you can have old and new stuff on it, you can do everything you can do on it today. And if you want to, the uh, the other thing you can do is have both apps. You can have an S one app simply controlling your legacy, your older gear separate from your S two app, controlling your newer gear. So you can take advantage of all of the new cool things that so nose will be doing and you can keep your older stuff working there, just two separate systems and so that being said, mr nine zones of so knows how do you see this affecting you directly? Uh in the short term? Not at all. Okay. Not at all. Are you going to continue being the S one app guy? Yeah, I think, I think for now until, so nose comes out with something I just have to have and, and I trust that they will at some point, but in the meantime, the sonus that I've come to love and enjoy and use and you know, members of my family use, um, there's no real reason for me to run out and have to replace those items today. I'm not saying that it won't happen. There might be a feature or a new hardware piece down the road that I just have to get and maybe that forces me or makes me want, I don't think the words force anymore. That's what I like. It's that I have and if they give me a compelling Reason to get to the S. two, then I'll have, you know, a handful of products or one or two pieces that I, that I'll have to potentially upgrade or not even upgrade. I think what I would do is actually split that system at that point as to stuff inside and maybe create an outdoor area with the old connect amp, that's the piece that I have that's a little bit older, but that's playing outdoor speakers Anyway, it would be really easy for me to kind of segment off my outside stuff and run with us one versus my inside stuff and run with us to down the road if it's necessary to do so. But in the meantime I'm gonna, I'm gonna love the heck out of the S one, uh, software and all my legacy, so knows products and some of my newer Sonos products as well. It's gonna be great. And so down the road a year from now, there'll be something cool new from, so knows that you're gonna have to have it because that's you, I'm running out of zone potentials for the record. I'm so you maybe could clean out a couple of those older legacy zones into their own separate system and have the S two system being all newer, more compatible gear. I'll have to work on my pitch to my wife and see if I can sell her on the idea of that new feature, I think you can do it. So, uh, so you're here today doing training in our brand new vendor training room. I love this room, how do you like it? And honestly, I love the natural light that comes in here. These uh uh soundproofing panels, they have all over the walls. Not only they are artistic, they are really functional. Yeah, so the room itself is built to be a soundproof as possible because it's literally right next to the context, which means we can finally have a concert in here. Yes, so we can totally crank it in here and they can tell something's going on in this room, but it doesn't interrupt phone calls unless somebody opens the door and then it's a problem. And but you're actually the first in here to do any kind of sound demos or training since we've installed the sound panels on the walls, which is a recent addition, mainly because this room is kind of a big echo chamber until we put these sound panels, sound absorption panels on the walls. And yeah, man, they look cool, right? Looks like looks like E Q. S going up. That was the whole thinking with that. I love that actually. And uh let me just tell you the room before and after is night and day, day difference. I mean, there's just no, there's very few echoes in here. It's b it's dead in the room quite a bit. I mean, it's it's never going to be an echo chamber or anything like that, but it's a much better room for sound demos than we've ever had. I do miss the old days though, where you have someone poked their head and, like, what was that? That sounded great, and you're like, oh, what part of the building you're in, way over on that side, You can hear that up three floors, and I can tell you're doing your demos. Uh So I haven't actually sat through today's training, uh is there any new hardware to talk about today? I'm gonna save all the good stuff from May june period. That's when you're bringing the headphones, I'm gonna go, no comment. We hear a question I've been asking for Sony's headphones for a while and someday we're gonna get what we're looking for. I do want to ask if we were to ever do something like that, what would you really want them to do? Like what's the point of having it with our brand on it other than sound quality? That's, you know, I think they become a zone right in my app. And so I'm, if I'm a dedicated so nose user, that's the app I use at home for listening to music, right? I don't use the Spotify app because with so knows I don't have to or whatever else my music services, I'm doing it in, so nose and so when I'm at home and I'm vacuuming the house, I'm all over the house cleaning or whatever, and of course I can play music in all the different zones. Uh but maybe the kids are sleeping, maybe it's in the evening time and so I just want to go on to the headphones and I would think that headphones, I don't know would would they be dedicated headphones I leave at the house or would they also need to double up as bluetooth headphones when I take them out? I don't know. Maybe what you found with the move would be true with the headphones is that they would just be house headphones. Uh that are just another zone of so knows that to me feels so nosy. I would agree with that in terms of like I could see how that could be useful. So the headphones will probably have Bluetooth got it. Uh First off no comment yet again, chris is not divulging anything Guys, despite our best efforts, he is really good at what he does. He knows what he's allowed to say and what he's not allowed to say. So uh Dude, thank you so much for indulging me. Uh we didn't talk as much about your home but that's because there was plenty of other fun stuff to talk about. So yes, there was and this was awesome. Thank you so much for inviting me back. So that was me and chris talking about all things, so knows that he's allowed to talk about right now. We don't you wonder about what he's not allowed to talk about? I tried so hard to get him to divulge secrets. He would not do it. I even let him in with the headphone suggestion and he saw him just he just looked at me, he didn't smile, he didn't give any emotion, he didn't give any facial expressions that would betray him or so, nose in any way, shape or form. In fact, he was so good. He threw it back at me with a question on what I thought. So knows headphones would be and funny enough, I'm not the I really want so knows headphones guy. That's you you've been talking about so knows headphones. It doesn't to me it makes sense. It's a logical move again. He, you know, he didn't say yes or no about any of the crazy ideas. We were kind of, you know, throwing his way, but I think we probably could connect some dots on our own and maybe uh dream a little now this is no way is this we have no information from. So, no, this is just you and me thinking about make up, some stuff we've seen, so knows products for years. If we if we just start looking at the cosmetics, right? Cosmetics and the smart feature. So the so knows the beam that sort of looks like other newer Sonos products like this one, a very similar aesthetic has Alexa built in like the Sonos one, Things like that. Even the sonos play bass sort of looks like newer. So no skier. Right? The so nos five very, that's pretty new and amazing sounding. That's, that's one of the best products if you ask me. But that certainly has the new look to it. And their, their latest products like the move, that's absolutely that new aesthetic. There's something we haven't mentioned yet, that's a pretty popular what doesn't look like everything else. One of these things is not like the other and that thing is, and on a related note when the so knows play bar came, that thing was amazing. It was a groundbreaking product. I have a feeling within the next calendar year there'll be a new play bar. And also if again, these are just our opinions but knowing so knows they're not just going to update cosmetics and throw Alexa in. They're probably gonna do some really cool stuff that we will not have seen before in another sound bar because that's just so knows his style. We don't have any idea what they'll probably surprise us with some pretty cool new stuff. All I know is I want one. Yeah, and well, to take advantage of whatever it's gonna have based on the logic we have learned in the last two days you're gonna need to go s to, you know what, I'll rock the S. Two when we get to it. There you go, man, this has been a really fun episode. Uh so we would love it if you have any questions about so knows feel free to reach out to us. We would love to hear from you. You you can do that on the crutchfield dot com slash podcast. You can send us an email at Crutchfield, you can heck, you can just call in and talk to an advisor. They have all been through these trainings that we have talked about. Uh also, uh, make sure you subscribe, tell your friends about the podcast. As of now. We are not only available on Soundcloud, but we're out there wherever you listen to podcasts. So hopefully you've got us playing on your apple carplay, in your car stereo, your android auto, and maybe on your so nose, because the nose is all about playing some podcasts as well. Uh and so big thanks to chris from so knows for sitting down and talking with me eric, thank you so much for joining me here in studio today. Thank you so much. I'm jr signing off.

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