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Sonos Is Looking to Stand Out in a Crowded Streaming Space… with Paid HD Radio?


Illustration for article titled Sonos Is Looking to Stand Out in a Crowded Streaming Space... with Paid HD Radio?

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There are numerous music streaming companies on the market, however chances are high you in all probability fall into one of three camps: Spotify, Apple Music, or Pandora. Just a few months in the past, Sonos tossed its hat into the ring, launching a free streaming radio service referred to as Sonos Radio. In the present day, it’s increasing that service within the U.S. and UK with a paid tier referred to as Sonos Radio HD.

What the what?

The brand new tier is type of an extension of the prevailing Sonos Radio service, besides that it provides extra unique content material and the flexibility to stream in lossless, CD-quality audio. The Sonos press launch claims it’s the “highest high quality sound of any radio streaming service,” although its 16-bit 44.1kHz high quality is actually normal CD high quality and a few non-radio musicstreaming companies now transcend that. That features some extra style stations, sleep and leisure stations, and “in-depth artist content material.” Sonos Radio HD particularly may even allow customers to stream with out advertisements and achieve the flexibility to skip and repeat songs.

This sounds lots like Sonos mashing collectively points of Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, and Tidal. Like Apple Music and Spotify, Sonos is leaning onerous into unique content material with musical artists. For Sonos Radio HD, it’s launching a brand new station by nation music icon Dolly Parton referred to as Songteller Radio, with extra artist-curated stations to comply with in 2021. Hello-res, CD-quality streaming is paying homage to Tidal, which is a favorite among audiophiles. (Although, Tidal isn’t the one hi-res audio choice on the market; there’s additionally Amazon Music Limitless, Primephonic, and Qobuz.)

Content material-wise, though Sonos is doing a good job of pulling each mega-famous and deep minimize artists for its artist-curated stations, one of these unique isn’t distinctive to Sonos. Apple does it. Most streaming companies value their salt today additionally provide all kinds of algorithm-curated playlists and style stations. That, and whereas Sonos says 50% of all listening time on its platform is radio, Sonos Radio is simply the fourth most-listened-to service on Sonos. So…why do that… in any respect? (Cash, it’s at all times the cash.)

The factor that the majority stands out right here is that Sonos Radio HD can be $eight monthly after a 30-day free trial. That’s considerably cheaper than most hi-res music streaming companies. Tidal’s hi-res tier is $20/month, Primephonic’s is $15/month, as is Quoboz’s. The one one on par is Amazon Music Limitless, which can be $eight for Prime Members and $10 for non-Prime members. Should you’re prepared to pay the premium for Sonos {hardware}, chances are high you care at the least just a little bit about audio high quality—so all issues thought of, this isn’t an unattractive provide.

Apparently, to enroll, customers must try this by way of Sonos’s web site and not the Sonos S2 app. A Sonos spokesperson declined to say whether or not that was an try and bypass Apple and Google’s 30% fee, stating that Sonos believed this was the “simplest way” for customers to enroll.

Sonos has had a number of different minor updates recently too. Earlier this week, its Dolby Atmos Sonos Arc soundbar obtained a software program replace to help multi-channel LPCM to convey “new immersive sound experiences for gaming, Blu-ray discs, and extra.” It additionally rebranded its Commerce Up program, which allowed customers with older units to obtain reductions on new Sonos {hardware}, to the Improve Program. The principle distinction is it expands the listing of eligible merchandise.

All this factors to Sonos seeking to shore up worth because the sensible speaker class turns into more and more aggressive. Apple, Amazon, and Google all launched inexpensive $100 sensible audio system boasting good sound high quality prior to now few months. We’ve examined each the fourth generation Amazon Echo and the Google Nest Audio and might affirm they sound spectacular for the value level. (We’re nonetheless ready to get our arms on a HomePod Mini.) All three of those audio system can even act as a sensible dwelling hub and will be paired to work in stereo. Sonos’s most cost-effective linked speaker, the Sonos One SL, is $80 extra at $180, whereas its Sonos One prices $100 extra at $200. And whereas Sonos audio system include Alexa or Google Assistant help and AirPlay 2, it does require an additional step in setup by way of the S2 app.

When you think about all this, it’s not shocking that Sonos has doubled down on offering a extra distinctive service. It doesn’t assist that some Sonos prospects haven’t been too pleased with the corporate as of late. Earlier this 12 months, the corporate had a bit of a kerfuffle with offended prospects when it determined to retire its older-but-still-functional audio system, highlighting a common problem amongst sensible dwelling gadget makers. However whereas Sonos Radio and Sonos Radio HD are intelligent performs, it stays to be seen whether or not it’ll in the end repay in a market the place most individuals have already chosen their streaming service of alternative.

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Victoria Song