IKEA Set to Launch SONOS Speaker in August 2019

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IKEA Set to Launch SONOS Speaker in August 2019

SONOS Speaker Available in Thailand from IKEA

SONOS Speaker Available in Thailand from IKEA

It’s well known that SONOS and IKEA have been working together on a collaberation project whcih has been named the Symfonisk as part of their future home sound project, it’s now been given a launch date of August 2019. I’m not sure if the Sonos speaker will be available here in Thailands IKEA by that month but the Thailand stores do stock the IKEA range of Smart Home bulbs.

The IKEA speakers will work much the same as any other speaker from SONOS we are told although it has not been announced if there is a microphone (and therefore Alexa and possible Google Home Integration). In terms of sound quality from what we understand it will be priced below and aimed at being SONOS most affordable speaker, no news on the amplifiers power in terms of RMS Watts yet.

SONOS are saying that the Symfonisk will work in the SONOS ecosystem exactly as you would think, that means that you can control it with your phone, PC, MAc, or voice (through your Alexa Smart Home) It will be able to join an existing setup of wireless, multi-room Sonos speakers or the SOnos Connect:amps and will be treated as a Sonos speaker in your SONOS ecosystem.

SONOS and IKEA Smyfonisk Smart Home Speaker

SONOS and IKEA Smyfonisk Smart Home Speaker

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Cortana from Microsoft moving into Smart Home territory

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Cortana from Microsoft moving into Smart Home territory

Microsoft isn’t really the name you would first associate with the Smart Home industry but they have their own connected home technology embedded into Cortana, the voice assistant you might not even know you have.

If you run Microsoft Windows10 then you already have Microsoft’s voice assistant built into your computer and therefore in your Smart Home, accessible via your PC’s and smart phones.

Microsoft's Cortana SmartHome

Microsoft's Cortana SmartHome

It’s a crowded space at the moment with Alexa from Amazon, Google Assistant and Siri currently jostling it out for control (literally) of our smart homes. All of these voice assistants can control and automate things like your lights, audio an home automation systems. The ace up Microsoft’s sleeve is that Cortana is built into every MS Windows 10 install in the world. MS reckon that over 145 million users currently use Cortana.

Cortana and the smart home:

So what exactly can Cortana do for your smart home?

MS Smart Home Speaker

MS Smart Home Speaker

You can control your;

Music System
Home Cinema
Smart Lights
Smart Thermostat
Skype Calls

In addition you can ask questions from the web, check news, weather etc… and manage your calenders. Cortana can even sort through your emails and interface with your business documents.

In the same format as Amazons Alex, Microsoft’s Cortana has Skills, you can expand control of your Smart Home through enables skills. Microsoft is working towards making it easy to port Amazon Skills directly over to Cortana.

MS Smart Home Glass

MS Smart Home Glass

Some of the Smart Home gadgets that will work with Cortana in Thailand include ; Wink, SmartThings, Philips Hue and LIFX.

Music wise there is Spotify integration for your home.

HK step into your Smart Home

HK step into your Smart Home

Microsoft now offer Cortana built into devices, Harmon Kardon recently released a speaker with Cortana built-in. There are rumours that Microsoft is working on its own Cortana speaker.

Another great for SmartHome integration, especially here in Thailand is the IFTTT integration (If This Then That) which enables you to string together quite complex Home Automation routines.

It’s a tough market though and Google, Apple and Amazon are all BIG players in the smart home speaker and assistant territory, can Microsoft leverage their massive install base and become the basis for consumers smart home, something they’ve been angling for since their launch of the Microsoft Xbox.

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Yangon Smart Home Install

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Yangon Smart Home Install

Smart Home installs in Myanmar

Smart Home installs in Myanmar

We don’t just install Smart Homes in Thailand, we are involved in a number of high end installs in Yangon, Myanmar as well. Our Installation Manager Wirut is currently over there with our lighting system engineers to install a Smart Home lighting system, at the same home we’ve got a multi room audio system from Nuvo and Smart Home wifi from Ubiquiti.

Smart Home project in Yangon

Smart Home project in Yangon

Smart Home install in Myanmar

Smart Home install in Myanmar

Nuvo multi room audio

For the Nuvo Multi Room audio we will be using the latest wireless series of Nuvo amplifiers. These can be controlled via iPhone or Andoird app to set volume levels, join zones or party mode. The audio system consists of 11 zones of audio covering all the major common areas, living room, dining room, outdoor areas, poolside, bedrooms and roof terrace. There will be 15 pairs of speakers spread out across the home that will really help bring the home to life when the owner has guests or just wants to relax with his favourite music playing all over their home.

Nuvo P200 multi room audio amplifier

Nuvo P200 multi room audio amplifier

Nuvo P200 Series music amplifier

Nuvo P200 Series music amplifier

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Control4 Shows Smart Home KNX Connectivity at ISE 2019

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Control4 Shows Smart Home KNX Connectivity at ISE 2019

Whilst CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2019 is currently on in Las Vegas and has been abuzz with Smart Home new, it is predominantly a show for the USA - Europe’s closest equivalent is the ISE (Integrated Systems Europe) show held every year in Amsterdam. Smart Home supplier Control4 will be using the European show to debut their latest line for Smart Home integration with the KNX (formerly know as Instabus) home control protocol.

Personally I would recommend against using two (or more) home control systems within a residence for a number of reasons but primarily for simplicity, ease of use and long term reliability - this could prove useful for Smart Home owners who already have a KNX system and would like to use Control4’'s more user friendly Smart Home user interface.

Control4 and KNX Smart Home integration

Control4 and KNX Smart Home integration

The Control4 KNX solutions line for integrating KNX building and light control with Control4 smart home automation is making its international debut at ISE 2019 in Hall 10, having previously been seen at CEDIA in 2018.

Control4 delivers a complete offering of over 100 products enabled with KNX support, simplifying the integration of KNX lighting and comfort, with audio and video entertainment for homes around the world. The KNX line is also Amazon Alexa voice control-enabled for an even more complete connected home experience.

Primarily a software interface between the Control4 eco system and KNX the network driver introduces over 100 new products including lighting, HVAC, blinds and rollers, keypads, frames, and bus management products using the KNX standard.

Control4 Smart Home Touchscreen

Control4 Smart Home Touchscreen

The line integrates with over 12,500 third party devices within the Control4 ecosystem for control using keypads, remotes, the smartphone app, touchscreen and voice command. Homeowners also now have the ability to fine-tune their home automation using ‘When >> Then’ personalisation, a feature Control4 says is unavailable in most KNX systems.

Control4’s KNX line can be installed and programmed using existing ETS tools and also includes an automatic import into Control4 projects. This integration lets users tie programming, for example streaming audio into a single button keypress on the Control4 keypad.

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Smart Home Technology at CES 2019

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Smart Home Technology at CES 2019

Homes are getting smarter and more efficient, accelerated by smartphones and tablets interacting with the myriad of connected objects and devices.
From basic security monitoring to smart appliances, lighting, window coverings, irrigation, entertainment systems and more, see the latest innovations in smart home tech
— CES Smart Homes

SMART HOME Technology is at the forefront at the 2019 Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas. It’s a long way from Thailand but CES is where all of the major (and minor) electronics companies showcase their new technologies, and whilst it may take some time for this technology to filter out to Thailand much of the technology will become ubiquitous in the near future.

Here we take a look at some of the new technologies that we are seeing in the Smart Home industry.

Wellcam

From Alarm.com the Wellcam smart video camera connects to your home WiFi, allowing subscribers to extend their security service into their homes. It has a 180-degree field of view, 1080p resolution and the ability to make two-way audio calls. There's a call-out button on the Wellcam too for users to reach out for help. 

Smart Home Beer

LG introduced a slew of Smart Home kitchen products (Smart Kitchen) included an automated craft beer maker that works like a Nespresso machine for beer.

It handles everything, from fermentation to carbonation and aging, even cleaning itself. In as little as two weeks, you can get a batch of five liters of beer. The mobile app lets you monitor the home brewing process from anywhere.

Smart Home Fridge from LG

Also from LG is the Smart Home Fridge which brings distinctive styling and innovation to your kitchen with a tinted glass panel that allows you to see inside the easy-access door without letting the cold air out. Simply knock twice on the glass to illuminate the contents within.

Promising to give you the ability to “control your digital shower your way” Smart Homes can now feature voice controlled showers.

U by Moen creates a personalized showering experience. Now with three ways to control your smart shower: voice, phone, and controller. Start, Stop and Pause your shower with your voice, Create a preset within the U by Moen app and start it with Alexa and start your shower to a very specific temperature.

Smart Home shower
Smart Home toilet

This one even surprised us and we are in the Smart Home industry, it’s a Smart Toilet by Kohler.

This is the 2nd generation of smart toilet by Kohler and the Numi Intelligent toilet has Amazon Alexa built in - So yes you can actually speak to your toilet.

The seat automatically opens and closes and comes fully fitted with advanced LED Lighting and even a built in speaker system for what they claim is a "fully immersive experience", of going to the toilet.

Whilst talking LED lit toilets might sound a bit silly at this time, Kohler aren’t a small upstart company, that they are investing in Smart Home technology such as this for their toilet systems gives us a glimpse into what sort of connected world we may live inside in the future. There is a figurative explosion of electronics and electrical goods featuring smart home and home automation technology from all the big players as can be seen from the CES Trade show.

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LG's 8k OLED TV shown at CES 2019

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LG's 8k OLED TV shown at CES 2019

The Consumer Electronics Show 2019 is currently on in Las Vegas in the United States and LG are showing some of their new Tv’s.

Stunning Picture Quality on the OLED Panel

Stunning Picture Quality on the OLED Panel

First up is the new Flagship Television, it’s an 88” OLED TV featuring 8K resolution (7,680 pixels width so a full resolution of 7680×4320), Dolby Atmos (3.2.2) and their OLED (Organic LED) Technology. The OLED Panels look great and the new 8K flagship is stunning, currently these panels are very expensive to manufacture so some estimates expect a price of around $40,000 at launch. A little on the small size but just about usable in a custom Home Cinema.

LG’s 88” 8K OLED TV Featuring Dolby Atmos

LG’s 88” 8K OLED TV Featuring Dolby Atmos

That 8k resolution by the way offers quadruple the pixel density of current 4k Televisions. Interestingly the TV also features Dolby Atmos - Dolby Atmos is the newest surround technology that includes spacial sound from above, typically speakers that fire downwards from the ceiling or reflect from the ceiling by firing upwards from the source.


Next up and probably not yet ready for the average customers home but nonetheless released to consumers by LG is this 65” OLED TV with rollable screen technology. It’s a 4K Screen with speakers built into the base, the TV rolls away into the base so as to be unobtrusive when it’s not in use. LG and other technology and display companies are investing a lot of money into bendable, foldable and see through displays - it’s likely that something akin to these rollable Televisions or see through televisions become the norm in the next 10-15 years.

LG’s Rollable OLED Television.

LG’s Rollable OLED Television.

It’s probably going to be a few years until we see these TV’s in Thailand, however it’s similar to the clothes you see in Fashion Shows, although these designs seem outlandish (and expensive) the concepts filter down into production lines so expect to see more OLED and Samsungs QLED type displays in higher and higher resolutions in the shops soon.

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Smart Home and Audio Visual Stocks in 2018

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Smart Home and Audio Visual Stocks in 2018

CEPro (Custom Electronics Professional) have an interesting article up on their site about the fortunes of Smart Home and AV company stock in 2018. It showcases details on some of the major players and what’s happened to their stock prices throughout last year. It includes details of Smart Home companies such as Control4 and details on the Sonos IPO and current stock price as well as tracking hugely successful Amazon’s stock.

“Oh what a difference one year makes. Stock prices for public companies involved either fully or via a subsidiary in the professional installation market for smart home products fell an average of 19.36 percent in 2018. That is compared to an average 40 percent gain in 2017 (and an increase of 22 percent in 2016).

Overall, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.1 percent in 2018, so custom integration stocks clearly did not perform as well as the general market, which was characterized by tremendous up and down swings the final month of the year.

The list of publicly held companies tracked by CE Pro includes 52 companies this year. As always, the list changes every year as companies buy into the smart home space, or sell their smart home assets. There are always a number of IPOs focused on the market too, including ADT, Resideo, Arlo and Summit Wireless (WiSA) in 2018. Other companies still on the list may not be tracked after 2018, including stocks like Lowe’s, which recently announced its plans to exit the smart home space as soon as it can sell off its Iris home automation platform.

Smart Home Stock prices over 2018

Smart Home Stock prices over 2018

As always, many of the stock prices (rise or fall) are not reflective specifically of the state of the smart home market. Most of the companies on the list are highly diversified companies engaged in multiple industries, from automotive to elevators.

2018 Winners Led by Napco Up 82%

The market was not good for IPOs in 2018. Across the board, every IPO had a stock price fall.

In 2018, just eight of the 52 stocks showed price gains. Napco Security Systems was the company with the highest stock price jump last year, leaping an incredible 82 percent. The Amityville, N.Y-based company's stock rose from $8.65 to $15.75 over the past 12 months. Napco's iBridge home automation platform appears to be catching on with both security integrators and custom electronics dealers alike.

Other solid gainers in 2010 were IAC Interactive (HomeAdvisor.com) up 42 percent, Alarm.com (up 38 percent) and Amazon (up 26 percent). Other companies in positive territory for 2018 were Microsoft (up 18 percent) and Sony (up 5 percent). Lowe’s and Intel also finished with tiny gains in 2018. That’s about it for the good news.

Ascent Capital, IPOs Sonos, ADT Hit Hard

Smart Home Music System SONOS had IPO

Smart Home Music System SONOS had IPO

The company with the biggest stock price decrease last year was Ascent Capital, owners of MONI central station services, the largest in the security industry, and the owners of the Brink’s Home Security name. The company saw its stock price fall 97 percent to a scant 39 cents per share. Just two years ago, the stock was sitting at a healthy $16.61 percent share. In 2017, Ascent stock fell 29 percent.

The market was not good for IPOs in 2018. Across the board, every IPO had a stock price fall. ADT, the No. 1 company in the CE Pro 100, fell 57 percent after its launch in January 2018. Arlo Technologies spun off from Netgear in July and subsequently fell 38 percent from its opening price.

The most anticipated IPO of the year was Sonos but not even its strong consumer following could tilt the market in its favor. The stock fell 35 percent to $9.82 per share following its launch in July.

Lastly, Honeywell spinoff Resideo (ADI distribution, Honeywell equipment) also did not fare well. The stock price dropped 37 percent overall after its IPO in October.

Bellwethers Control4, Best Buy Down

Control4 Sales up but Stock Price down

Control4 Sales up but Stock Price down

Bellwether stocks in the market had a tough year. Control4 saw its stock fall 41 percent in 2018. The company was coming off a year that saw its stock price nearly double in 2017, but the stock fell back to earth to end the year at $17.60 per share, down from its $29.87 price in January 2018.

Best Buy also fell with the market swoon at the end of the year. The company ended 2018 at $52.96 per share, down 23 percent. That is compared to a 61 percent spike in 2017. The 2018 price fall was despite strong quarterly sales numbers from the giant retailer.

Not surprising, the most expensive stocks are Amazon at $1,501 per share and Alphabet at $1044 per share. The cheapest stocks on the list are Ascent, Office Depot ($2.58) Summit Wireless (WiSA) ($3.42), and VOXX ($3.96).”

https://www.cepro.com/article/smart_home_consumer_electronics_stock_prices_2018/Control4

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Nuvo Music Systems now integrate with Alexa

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Nuvo Music Systems now integrate with Alexa

Great news for Smart Home owners here in Thailand. Nuvo have today announced the release of firmware version 2018.3 for their range of Wireless multi room amplifiers and speakers. This latest update allows the Nuvo Player Portfolio to be integrated with Amazon Alexa.

Smart Home owners can now control their stereo systems without lifting a finger, users can control their entire audio experience using only their voice.

Whole home audio now controlled via Alexa

Whole home audio now controlled via Alexa

Alexa, play Indie Rock Radio from Pandora in the kitchen

Simply tell Alexa what you want to hear and where you want to listen;

Controlling all your audio functions is just as easy you can tell Alexa to mute, change volume, skip song, or stop playing;

Nuvo Product Range
Alexa, set volume to 50 in the living room.

Supported Alexa music services currently include Amazon Music, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and SiriusXM with more to follow on later updates.

To get the latest Smart Home functions from your Nuvo multi-room music system just accept the latest update and download the latest update on your iOS and Android devices, phone or tablet from the iTunes or Google Play store.

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Happy New Year 2019!

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Happy New Year 2019!

Today marks the first day of 2019 and what a cracker we think this year is going to be.

Happy New Year 2019

Happy New Year 2019

Our Phuket HQ is nearing completion and we are looking forward to moving in during Early 2019. It’s a huge space and we are looking forward to installing one of our Kick Ass cinemas in there, 4k projection, Dolby Atmos, Starfield Ceiling and our Luxury Home Theater Recliners.

It will also feature the latest in Home Automation, Lighting Control and Audio. Networking and IPTV CCTV will be provided by Ubiquiti which we are using exclusively for customers and our own wifi, local networking and CCTV.

Looking forward to installing our automated Landscape 12v outdoor lighting in the next few months to make the outside of the new office look great at night.

There’s going to be lots of changes this year in the Smart Home space, exciting changes both within the industry and for us as a company. Here’s wishing a Happy New Year to all our customers, friends, family and everyone else on Earth!

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New Sonos Amp - ZP100 Reviewed

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New Sonos Amp - ZP100 Reviewed

Sonos new Standalone amplifier is out and some of the reviews are starting to come in. For those not familiar with the idea, the Sonos home audio system started out with a standalone amplifier - The ZP100 (later called Sonos Connect:amp). This standalone amplifier was controlled via their wireless controller and had 50w per channel of stereo music available. Later Sonos added an app, an unamplified version to connect to your current hifi (the ZP 90) and amplified speakers in the from of their PLAY and SUB and PLAYBAR range.

Earlier this year Sonos announced that they will be revamping the design of the Sonos Connect:AMP to fit in better with the new lineup. They promised higher power figures, better sound and easier integration into equipment racks and custom installations.

Simon Cohen from Digital Trends now has a review up;

More power, more options: Sonos’ Amp is a worthy upgrade for your speakers

The sexiest, sleekest way to convert conventional speakers into modern marvels.

Sonos new ZP100 Amplifier

Sonos new ZP100 Amplifier

HIGHS
AirPlay 2
Rich, full sound
Slick, sophisticated design
Custom installer friendly
Can power even large speakers

LOWS
Expensive
Not ideal for home theater
No adapter for optical audio

Sonos’s very first product was the ZP100, a bookshelf-class amplifier with built in Wi-Fi that you could connect to virtually any speakers. It was the product that established Sonos’s reputation for simplicity, reliability, and sound quality, and it made wireless digital music in the home a reality. The ZP100 was eventually renamed the Connect:Amp, and although its software has been updated constantly over the years, physically it has remained largely untouched. Over the years, the company has been on a tear, introducing a slew of self-powered speakers, soundbars, and a subwoofer — all of which have proven popular with consumers. So popular in fact, that the humble Connect:Amp ceased being a go-to product for consumers, and started attracting an entirely new audience: Custom AV installers.

It makes a lot of sense. The Connect:Amp is the one product that will let AV pros give their customers all of the simplicity and convenience the brand is known for, using custom-installed architectural speakers, in walls, ceilings, and even outdoors. So it was with this stakeholder in mind, that Sonos embarked on a redesign of the Connect:Amp. Enter the all-new $599 Sonos Amp, a product that is both a re-imagining of what the acclaimed Connect:Amp offers consumers and an effort to make the product even friendlier to AV pros who have attached their reputations to the Sonos brand. Does it succeed? Here’s our Digital Trends review.

SONOS New ZP100 Home Audio Amplifier

SONOS New ZP100 Home Audio Amplifier

BACK IN BLACK

The Connect:Amp, unlike the majority of Sonos’ products, only came in one dress code: Silver and white. The new Amp, on the other hand, comes in any color you want, as long as it’s matte black. Though this choice will inevitably tick off some customers who have become accustomed to buying Sonos products in a range of colors, we think it looks great.

Its low and wide stance, combined with its unique circular indentation on the top surface, pulls off a neat trick: Sitting on its own, or perhaps beside a turntable, its monolithic shape lends an instant air of high-end sophistication to any room. Added to the top of a home theatre component stack, it blends into its surroundings, all but disappearing.

Other than a single LED and subtle touch controls which grace all new Sonos products, no other feature interrupts the Amp’s visible surfaces. Even the IR receiver — a tiny sliver of a window at the bottom — is virtually invisible. If there’s one nitpick, it’s that the matte finish is a dust and fingerprint magnet.

Closeup of Sonos New ZP100 Stereo Home Audio Amplifier

Closeup of Sonos New ZP100 Stereo Home Audio Amplifier

HIT THE STACK

That circular indentation isn’t just for looks: The Amp is intended to be stacked when the need arises, and that round groove mates perfectly with the device’s circular rubber foot. In fact, all aspects of the Amp — from its height, width, and depth, to its thermal dissipation properties, to the linear arrangement of ports on its rear panel — were created to make it far friendlier than its predecessor for use in an AV rack, the tool of choice for AV installers looking to keep their customers’ gear neat, yet accessible.

Sonos Amp comes equipped with AirPlay 2, making it especially great for streaming video apps like Netflix or Youtube.

You can fit two Amps side by side in a 1.5RU rack slot, or, you can stack them as tall as you need. Unless you’re running all of them at maximum power for many hours at a time, they should be able to keep their cool. If they don’t, a sensor will keep them from melting down.

If you want a third option for mounting the Amp, it has been designed with wall-mount applications in mind. The bottom of the enclosure has a threaded hole, suitable for use with hardware like this Sanus-developed wall mount bracket.

Sonos ZP100 Home Audio Amplifier - Rear Connections

Sonos ZP100 Home Audio Amplifier - Rear Connections

THIS IS NEW

The Sonos Amp still fills the same role as the previous Connect:Amp in that you can connect up to four non-powered speakers and a powered subwoofer, and it gives you a set of RCA analog inputs for an external audio source, like a turntable. But the Amp has grander aspirations than its predecessor. The 55 watt-per-channel Class-D amplifier is gone, replaced by a much more powerful 125 watt-per-channel unit. Sonos claims this beefier amp is enough to power full-size floor standing speakers, and though we didn’t get a chance to test that claim, based on the power it was able to throw at our mid-size speakers, we don’t doubt it.

Sonos is also hoping that buyers will consider using the Amp as the basis of a home theatre system, and has given it an HDMI-ARC input so that you can connect it to a TV. In the same vein, you can control the Amp’s volume using a universal infrared remote — a feature it shares with the Sonos Beam soundbar.

It even has a very clever set of hybrid speaker terminals. With included adapters, those with bare-wire speaker cables can use a standard screw-down locking system. It’s not as convenient as the Connect:Amp’s spring-loaded terminals, but it’s arguably more secure. Or, if you’ve installed banana plugs on your wires, you can ignore the adapters and plug directly into the back of the Amp, which makes for a super-clean and low-profile install.

Sonos ZP100 amplifier Speaker Posts

Sonos ZP100 amplifier Speaker Posts

MORE ON SONOS SOUND SYSTEMS

Sonos Amp also gains AirPlay 2 functionality, something that Sonos has added to all of its most recent products including the Beam, and the Sonos One. For music listening, this isn’t a big deal as the Sonos app has always been able to access a device’s local music storage. But for streaming video apps, like Netflix, YouTube, or Amazon Video, it’s a major benefit. Listening to the soundtrack of a Netflix series like Stranger Things on a superb sound system (even a 2.1 system) is way better than on the terrible speakers on your phone or tablet.

Finally, the new Amp enables an optional mono mode, something the Connect:Amp didn’t offer. For the average consumer set-up, using a 2 or 2.1 speaker configuration, this isn’t a big deal, but AV installers will love it. Jeff Gosselin, owner of Toronto-based custom AV shop, Cloud9AV, tells Digital Trends that being able to drive up to four ceiling speakers in mono mode is critical for being able to fill a room with music that sounds complete, no matter where you’re sitting or standing.

Left and Right Speaker ports for Sonos new Stereo Amplifier

Left and Right Speaker ports for Sonos new Stereo Amplifier

MORE THAN MUSIC

We’re not entirely sure what to make of the Amp’s home theater credentials. You could, in theory, create a compelling 5.1 system with the Amp, but not on its own. To do that, you’d need either a Playbar, or a Beam acting as a combo front left+center+right set of speakers, a Sonos Sub, as the “.1,” leaving the Amp to power a wired pair of rear surround speakers. That’s not only awkward, it’s expensive.

There are other possible combinations with the Amp, like a 4.1 setup where the Amp takes on front right and left duties, along with a powered sub of your choosing, while a pair of Sonos Ones, Play:1s, Play:3s, or Play:5s get synced as rear surrounds. We tried this one out, using a set of Energy Connoisseur CB-5 speakers up front, Sonos Ones around the back, and an Energy sub. The sound was good — much better than we thought it would be given the lack of a center channel — but not as good as our standard 5.1 setup running through a dedicated Pioneer VSX-933 AV receiver, a device that sells for $200 less than the Sonos Amp.

Another quirk in the Amp’s home theater aspirations is the lack of an optical input. HDMI-ARC is great, (when it works) but we question why it’s being used exclusively. So far, no Sonos products can decode Dolby Digital Plus, which requires HDMI to pass its signal. Standard Dolby Digital 5.1 surround doesn’t need HDMI and works very nicely over TOSlink.

Overall sound quality was a significant step up, with clearer vocals and much better definition through the mids and bass.

All new TVs are equipped with an HDMI ARC port, but plenty of older ones don’t have one. The Sonos Beam ships with an optical to HDMI adapter, which neatly side-steps the whole issue, but the Amp does not. When we asked the Sonos team about this, they told us, “the percentage of users who will need an optical to HDMI adapter is thought to be relatively low. Unlike Beam, where (almost) every user will attach to a TV, Amp is more often a standalone sound system.” Sonos sells the adapter separately for $25, which is a bargain for such a handy device.

Gosselin points out that for installations where a TV is only connected to a 2.1 sound system, having ARC is very helpful. The Connect:Amp had no digital input at all, forcing TV connections to be all-analog (when the TV had analog-outs) or worse, digital-to-analog, using a third party DAC. Using ARC over HDMI also eliminates lag that could creep into the DAC process.

New Sonos ZP100 Amplifier inputs

New Sonos ZP100 Amplifier inputs

SPIN CITY

While we’re obviously a bit ambivalent about the Amp’s new role in the home theater space, we’re unequivocal when it comes to using it for its original mission: It’s a fantastic 2.1 amplifier, perfect for pairing with a turntable, or just streaming from Spotify. Our first test case was to see how the Amp performed when we compared it to a $200 Monoprice tube amp mated with a $350 Sonos Connect, running through a pair of Wharfdale Diamond 220 speakers and Klipsch powered sub. We hoped that we would hear more than a $50 difference, and we weren’t disappointed.

Overall sound quality was a significant step up, with clearer vocals and much better definition through the mids and bass. The soundstage became simultaneously wider and deeper, an effect we have gotten used to with Sonos speakers over time — they consistently punch above their weight class — and apparently Sonos’ magic works with third-party speakers too.

Bringing vinyl into the equation via a Pro-Ject Carbon turntable and matching pre-amp proved just as satisfying.

The Sonos app also gives you the option to adjust crossover frequency and phase when using your own wired subwoofer.

Still, expectations should be kept in check: While the Amp performed very well compared to a $200 Monoprice amp, with 8-ohm speakers, it wasn’t able to keep up with a much more expensive $900 Audio Control Rialto 600 amp, powering 4-ohm speakers. This won’t surprise audiophiles, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind: Although the Amp packs more power per channel than its predecessor, and can drive much larger speakers as a result, it’s still not a truly high-end amplifier.

Underneath the Sonos ZP100

Underneath the Sonos ZP100

TOTAL CONTROL

We won’t say too much in this review about the ease of setting up the Amp. Sonos has this process down to a science, and as with all Sonos products, connecting the Amp to our system was almost laughably easy.

One area that will be a novelty to those who have only used the company’s speakers is the lack of a TruePlay tuning option. Sonos claims this is because it can’t truly know the acoustic properties of the speakers people are using with the Amp, so there’s no way to know what effect the software tweaking will have. There’s a bright spot on the horizon however — Sonos plans to partner with Sonance to produce a new Sonos Architectural line of speakers, which will enable TruePlay tuning when used with the Amp.

In addition to the standard loudness, bass, and treble EQ controls, the Sonos app also gives you the option to adjust crossover frequency and phase when using your own wired subwoofer. Normally, we’ve preferred handing over more of the low frequencies to the subwoofer when running the Pioneer VSX 933 receiver, but the opposite was true when using the Amp. The Sonos team suggested that this could be thanks to the fact that the Amp “has relatively more power to drive low-frequency signals into the speakers,” which seems as good an explanation as any.

One thing we would like to see Sonos do on the Amp’s EQ in a future release is offer a series of presets that could mimic the sound of different amplifiers. Tube amps are revered for their “warmth,” so it would be fun to see what software magic Sonos could achieve with a Tube Amp setting — if they can make a $200 speaker sound like a $400 one, maybe they can make an all-digital amp sound like an analog one.

OUR TAKE

Like the older Sonos Connect:Amp the new Sonos Amp isn’t for everyone, but those looking for a dead-simple was to stream music and even movie and TV audio with authority will find this piece a great addition to their favorite speakers.

Is there a better alternative?

Perhaps. One of the big benefits to using the Sonos Amp, and the Connect:Amp before it, was the ability to harness the power of a Sonos system through your own speakers, including volume control. You simply couldn’t do this as effectively by mating a Connect to third party amplifier. But this is changing. New receivers on the market are equipped with “Works with Sonos” certification, which means that if you hook them up to a Sonos Connect, the Sonos app can take over the volume control of the receiver. Given the Sonos Amp’s so-so performance as a home theater receiver, if you primarily want Sonos functionality in your media room, via your 5.1 (or greater) speakers, a Works with Sonos AV receiver might be a better option.

We would also be remiss if we didn’t mention Denon’s HEOS competitor: The HEOS Drive. It’s a rack-mountable, 4-zone, 480-watt system. Granted, it’s $2,500, but that’s only $100 more than four Sonos Amps. Nonetheless, we don’t think that Denon’s whole-home wireless sound system is as well thought out and as easy to use as Sonos, despite having a few features that Sonos lacks, like high-res audio support.

How long will it last?

If there’s one thing we can tell you about Sonos, it’s that the company is obsessively loyal to its customer base. Product quality is top-notch, and the company has yet to drop support for any of its legacy audio products. That’s an impressive thing to say about any tech company, let alone one that has been selling its products for almost 20 years. We expect the Sonos Amp will last a very, very long time.

Should you buy it?

If you were thinking of buying a Connect:Amp, and if you don’t own full-size speakers, or care a lot about AirPlay support, we suggest grabbing one while Sonos is selling out its remaining inventory. It’s $100 cheaper than the Sonos Amp, and you likely won’t hear a big difference. For everyone else, especially custom installers looking for dead-easy, and customer-delighting solution, the Amp is a great upgrade. Its home theater chops may not wow you but having the flexibility of IR control and HDMI-ARC could come in very handy for certain scenarios where a TV is part of the overall solution. Its 125 watt-per-channel power lets you drive everything from the smallest ceiling speaker to the biggest tower, and everything in between, which means you no longer need to supplement a Sonos Connect with a 3rd party amp, just to get the sound you want.”

You can read the article direct at https://www.digitaltrends.com/gadget-reviews/sonos-amp-review/

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SONOS Postpone Google Assistant integration until 2019

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SONOS Postpone Google Assistant integration until 2019

Later this year. We’re working as hard as we can and so is Google to get it ready for that time.
— Patrick Spence - SONOS CEO on Google Integration

Whilst Sonos CEO Patrick Spence earlier in the year at the SONOS IPO suggested that a December 31st deadline was when the Google Assistant Integration would be completed. However, according to a recent blog post on the Sonos website - It wont be available until next year. In the meantime you can still use your Amazon Alexa to tell your Sonos what to do.

Amazon meanwhile continue to bring out a slew of cheap priced smart(ish) speakers that must be eating into the Sonos product line.

Google Assistant wont be coming to Sonos quite yet.

Google Assistant wont be coming to Sonos quite yet.

An Update on Bringing the Google Assistant to Sonos

The Sonos team has been hard at work with our partners at Google to bring you yet another easy way to control your Sonos system: the Google Assistant. Google’s remarkably smart voice assistant will let you do all kinds of things on Sonos; playing music with your voice is just the beginning of what’s possible.


While we originally planned to have the experience ready to ship in 2018, the reality is that we need a bit more time to get the experience right and will now look to lock down a date in 2019, and we’re continuing to make good progress.

If you’re interested in helping us kick the tires — and willing to put in the time and effort — you can sign up to be considered for the private beta here. We ask that beta testers commit to at least 14 hours of listening per week, use 10 voice commands daily, and respond to surveys within 72 hours.

Once we screen all the applicants — a process that will take a few weeks — our next step will be to start testing the experience in a few hundred homes at first, and a few thousand homes in the coming months. Our intent is to get important feedback from listeners in the real world before we launch.

We’re very excited to see Google Assistant come to life on Sonos, and we know our customers are too. Indeed, it’s easily one of the questions we get the most from customers, press, and even in the comments on our Instagram feed: When is Google Assistant coming to Sonos? We’re listening. Together with Google, we’ve learned a lot, and are confident the integration will be worth the wait.

Stay tuned. We look forward to sharing another update in early 2019!
— Sonos Blog

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New H3 Digital Office Sign is Up!

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New H3 Digital Office Sign is Up!

Our new Phuket headquarters is nearly finished, last week our sign went up. It’s been a long time building it (we’ve been busy) but it’s finally starting to come together and we expect to be moving into the new office in the early part of next year.

Sign goes up at our new Phuket HQ

Sign goes up at our new Phuket HQ

Cinema, Audio & Lights since 2004

Cinema, Audio & Lights since 2004

H3 Digital - Smart Homes since 2004

H3 Digital - Smart Homes since 2004

Cinema, Audio & Lights - Smart Homes

Cinema, Audio & Lights - Smart Homes


We can’t wait to showcase our SMART HOME systems to people including our great home cinema, audio and lighting systems. In the coming year we’ve got lots of exciting news.

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