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Once Again Into The Sonos Shitshow

Posted on May 7th, 2024

Dave!Just when I think that I couldn't hate Sonos more than I already do... they unleash this new shitty fucking app that's somehow even shittier than their previous shitty fucking app.

Why in the hell can't they hire a UI designer who actually knows how to craft a useable UI? Because I've only been using this heinous blight on all humanity for two hours and I've found so much wrong as to make me wonder what the fuck they're even doing.

  • Does the widget at the bottom reflect what's actually being played? Fuck no. It shows the song you first selected, then never updates again. So far as I can tell, there's no way to see what's actually playing. Unless you stop, select a new track, then play that (oh... turns out you can update the widget... all you have to do is FORCE QUIT THE APP AND RELOAD IT! Then the widget will update from what's playing. So handy!).
  • Can you arrange your favorites? Fuck no. Pin your favorites? Fuck no. You even have to dump the fuck OUT of your favorites to even get to where your playlists are at (unless it happens to somehow be one of the ten things that can be displayed on your home screen. Can you fucking imagine having to load something you don't want to get to something you need? Who the fuck thought that was the best way to arrange any of this? There's no configuring ANYTHING.
  • Are items in your favorites handy to use? Fuck no. I have songs on there that I tap to play... AND NOTHING FUCKING HAPPENS! Some songs will play. Some won't. Is there any way of finding out why that is? Of course there fucking isn't.
  • But surely the interface for controlling your music is easy to use since that's the whole fucking point of the app? Fuck no. Half the time when you click on a song for info or whatever, it will start playing even though that wasn't your intent. But there's no ellipsis to click on (...) so you assume that you click to interact with it... except that doesn't work, and you've just fucked everything up for nothing.
  • But alarms? Fuck no. But sleep timer? Fuck no.
  • And did they finally give us a useable search? Fuck no. Search is ungodly slow (EVERYTHING IS UNGODLY SLOW! Wait for your playlist to load. Wait for your songs to display. Wait for the next batch to load as you scroll. And wait to load. And wait to load. And wait to load). Even worse, you can't make the blanket search results default to your service of choice. If you want to only search Apple Music every time? TOUGH FUCKING SHIT! You either have to select the service first, then search... or you get to search EVERYWHERE EVERY TIME... then wait for the app to go non-responsive while it searches for shit on services you DON'T WANT... then you can select Apple Music (or whatever). NOTE TO SONOS: I don't want to listen to Sonos Radio EVER! How do I erase your fucking radio shit off my list?? Can I even do that? I can sure as fuck remove EVERY OTHER SERVICE.... why not yours? Does anybody even use it? Do you think shoving it the fuck down people's throats will make them want to use it?
  • But surely it's easy to do simple shit like add a song you find to a playlist? Fuck no. I don't even think it's possible to add a song you searched for to a playlist. At least not that I can find. I have to go to the desktop app to do that (even though Sonos is discontinuing it... who the fuck knows what you do after the desktop app is gone).
  • Can you at least inject music into your queue by clicking "play next?" Fuck no. You can't do FUCKING SHIT to your queue. You can't add songs... rearrange songs... remove songs... NOTHING!!
  • Using this app begs the question... is there an upper limit to how many fucking layers of sheets you can pile up? Just curious, because absolutely everything you do generates a new sheet, and you have to swipe down on EVERY FUCKING ONE OF THEM to get back home. Click on the widget to get more info, new sheet... click on the queue, new sheet... click on a track to get info, new sheet... this app has more fucking sheets than a fucking klan rally. And when you want to go back? SWIPE TO CLOSE! SWIPE TO CLOSE! SWIPE TO CLOSE! SWIPE TO CLOSE! Jesus Christ, just give us a fucking home button for God's sake.
  • Apple has had Dynamic Island on iPhone for a minute. But does Sonos use it so you have a convenient way to get to your speakers or interact with what's playing? OH FUCK NO! OF COURSE THEY FUCKING DON'T! Haven't you been paying attention? If there's a smart UI decision, Sonos actively avoids it like the fucking plague.

I'm dying to know: Does ANYBODY at Sonos actually listen to fucking music using this piece of shit? Who would want this? Pathetic. Fucking pathetic. After waiting YEARS to get an app update that's worth a shit... then getting this fucking disaster... I'm ready to throw all my Sonos gear in the front yard, douse it with gasoline, and light the fuckers up. I'd rather listen to music on a fucking iPod mini than suffer through this idiot shitshow any longer. It's just fucking inconceivable that this is where Sonos is at. Will they fix all the shit that's broken, unclear, and missing? Maybe. But shouldn't they have beta tested the app before releasing it? Well, it's Sonos. It took them a fucking YEAR to release a fix for the Pop of Death on the Arc soundbar, and I'm still not convinced that it's totally fixed because I am still having problems. So you do the math. Shake that Magic 8-Ball and the answer always seems to be "Not fucking likely."

If you're thinking of buying Sonos gear, you should take a fucking pass. A hard pass. If things keep going like this, they're not going to be around much longer anyway.

UPDATES!

Before I get to some more thoughts about this shit... can I just give a shoutout to all the people saying "Relax, it's version 1 and things will get fixed" and "Relax, it works just fine for me!" Fuck you. There are BASIC FUNCTIONS THAT ARE SERIOUSLY BROKEN OR MISSING! If I had the option of downgrading to the old app, then I'd say "Well that was bad!" and be able to relax. But I can't. And goody for you if it works for you... that doesn't fucking negate the problems that everybody else is having. Take several seats and be happy that your whole system didn't go down and all the basic features other people use are something you don't give a shit about.

But anyway...

On the Sonos site they have a feature list which shows all kinds of options you get when you click on a track...

ALL THE OPTIONS ARE THERE!

But what do I get? Save to favorites (which may or may not play when clicked on) and replace the entire fucking queue. That's it...

NOTHING IS THERE!

I can only guess that all those other basic features aren't working, and rather than getting it all fixed before release, Sonos decided to shove out an incomplete fucking app with no way to go back to the old app which, while shitty, allowed all of this.

One of the biggest complaints by others is that they can no longer see music on their local network storage. Support for this has been dropped completely. This is nonsensical in all kinds of ways, but fortunately I get around it by having Plex manage my media, and Plex is actually showing up and working (despite having a red exclamation point in the button with absolutely no explanation). Sonos's response seems to be "Don't you even stream, bro?" which has left a great many users thrilled, as you can imagine.

A minor annoyance... whenever I go to System Settings, I fly into a panic because I think a bunch of my gear has gone missing from the system. My room will show "Stereo Pair" which is normal because there's two speakers joined into a stereo pair there. But my living room will show "Arc" and that's it. It used to be "Arc + Surrounds + Sub" or something like that. I wish that they would go back to that. With so many people losing equipment out of the app, I'd really prefer not to get assaulted with this incomplete info.

When you opened up the Sonos app away from your home network in the past, you'd get a message that said something like "Searching for your Sonos network." Now, this doesn't happen. Assumably because Sonos is all about internet connectivity for some reason. And that would be fine... except it doesn't reflect the current state of your devices back home. According to the widget, Karma by Taylor Swift is playing in my bedroom. The little bouncing equalizer icon is bouncing... and I am given the option to pause what's being played. Except nothing is actually being played. Which is why this whole internet connectivity fiasco is so fucking ridiculous. It appears that EVERYTHING goes out on the internet, even when you're at home. That's why it takes forever for shit to load. And why when you scroll through your queue it has to keep pausing and loading... pausing and loading... pausing and loading. I suppose that Sonos could justify this huge fucking waste of time if they could point to the app and say "SURE IT'S SLOW! BUT YOU CAN CONTROL YOUR SYSTEM FROM ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD!" Except you can't. It gives wrong information and none of the controls even work.

To actually control your system remotely, you have to use the internet and login at http://play.sonos.com. This will be the only option available on desktop computers once Sonos kills the desktop apps, so you'd think that the web app would be fucking killer, right? Yeah... you'd think that. Except the web app is just as fucking useless and broken as the phone app. It is equally slow with a lot of waiting around for things to load. Even if you're sitting in the same fucking room as your speaker, since the controls have to go out onto the internet, visit the Sonos servers, then come back to you. No option for local network control. But it gets worse. Remember how I was mentioning that search on the iPhone app if fucking abhorrent? Somehow the web app is even worse. At least in the iPhone app you can select the service you want to search. But if you select a service in the web app, there's no search bar on the service sheet. You are forced to use the universal search bar to search all services (including Sonos fucking Radio that they won't let you fucking delete no matter how badly you want to)...

NO SEARCH FOR YOU!

It's been well-established that I fucking loathe Sonos and don't recommend their bullshit... even if you find their gear on clearance. At least right now. But there's a few things that Sonos can do which would at least make things tolerable...

  • Bring back the old app until you can get a workable new app. That should be a fucking given... especially when your initial release is missing a shitload of features and half the stuff is broken... but since it's not a given, you need to give people the option of reinstating the old version ASAP.
  • Keep your shitty new UI with its endless sheets and incomprehensible navigation if you must, but have it stay on the local network instead of going out on the internet. There's no benefit to this. Nobody wants to have their bedroom speaker play the Macarena while they're across the country or on the other side of the planet. Not only is it fucking stupid, it slows everything down to an absolute crawl. The app is unbearable to use it's so fucking slow.
  • Even better? HIRE A FUCKING TALENTED UI/UX DESIGNER WHO KNOWS HOW TO DESIGN A FUCKING APP! Jesus. This should be app creation 101. And you'd think it would be given how people railed you for the shitty design of your old app! But here's the thing... as bad as it was, I find myself longing for the old app. Sure it was a mess, but it was fast and reliable. And that's more important than how it works. By a longshot.
  • Stop sitting on shit endlessly. You took fucking forever to develop a new app (such as it is). You took fucking forever to fix the Pop of Death in the Arc. You took fucking forever to adopt HDMI. You take fucking forever for EVERYTHING! Companies who can't be responsive really don't have much hope long-term. Other companies invade your space while people wait. Better options come while people wait. You can't afford to laze around as you always have. Which is to say... FIX THIS FUCKING APP AND ALL ITS FUCKING BUGS AND ALL ITS FUCKING PROBLEMS NOW!! NOT NEXT MONTH... NOT A YEAR FROM TODAY... FUCKING NOW! And don't blame us because it's become so urgent. Had you not released a buggy pile of shit with no downgrade path, you could have taken all the time you needed. But now? Well... it's all on you.

But given Sonos's history, I am holding out zero hope that anything gets resolved quickly... if at all. They have long since stopped giving a fuck about their products, their reputation, and their customers.

   

Hotdogs in the mornin’ Hotdogs in the evenin’ Hotdogs at suppertime

Posted on February 29th, 2024

Dave!This morning I was hungry enough to eat breakfast, but not hungry enough to cook the eggs, hash browns, and toast I wanted. So I microwaved a couple hotdogs and headed off to work. Yummeh.

When I got home I wasn't nearly as exhausted as I usually am, so I nuked two more hotdogs for dinner and decided to install my guest bathroom speaker into the ceiling behind where the access panel will go. My cats hid upstairs because I was screaming obscenities the whole time. But I did it...

...barely.

If I could have found a quality bracket I would have gladly paid for it, but instead the only one that would work for the position I needed was a $20 cheap piece of crap. The screws in particular are soft, cheap, and shitty that were stripped out with zero effort (like more screws you get with cheap crap). Plus the hinge mechanism is stupidly designed. And, as if that wasn't enough, the instructions left out a critical piece that I had to figure out on my own.

Hopefully it doesn't fall down and ruin my grossly overpriced Sonos speaker. Wouldn't shock me in the least.

Now what I really need is to celebrate this achievement with a couple of hot dogs for dessert. Considering people in my home can continue to party with music while using the bathroom is worth celebrating. Because one of those people is me!

   

Deserving Brand Loyalty

Posted on November 17th, 2023

Dave!Yesterday Sonos announced a patch which will (supposedly) fix the heinous POP OF DEATH problem that Sonos ARC soundbar customers have been enduring for years. As you may remember, I talked about this a while back... where playing Dolby Atmos content via either an AppleTV 4K or an Xbox will cause a loud POP! and kill your soundbar until you reset it. The only option you have to prevent it is to turn off Atmos. I have both of those devices, and bought the ARC soundbar specifically to play Dolby Atmos content. Then I went ahead and bought two Era 300 speakers for the rear channels in the hopes that Atmos would route through them and allow me to turn it back on. NOPE! It's all or nothing.

Needless to say, I sure hope that this patch actually works. Otherwise I've spent a hell of a lot of money for nothing.

I have been a massive Sonos fan for a very long time. Sure I've has occasional connectivity problems which Sonos Support always blamed on my network (despite my ditching two sets of routers and replacing them with a very expensive Amplifi Alien mesh network), but it hasn't dimmed my enthusiasm for their products. The sound is exceptional and the capabilities are fantastic. I still have occasional connectivity problems to this day, though I reject completely the idea that it's my network's fault. My network is rock solid... and far exceeds what's required to stream sound. Usually going in and manually changing the channel that Sonos is using is enough to fix things up. Until the next time.

But then the POP OF DEATH happened, and I've been "FUCK SONOS!" ever since.

Every time they announced layoffs I was all "GOOD! YOU DESERVE TO FAIL!"... while feeling sorry for the employees who were collateral damage because their fucking management wouldn't allocate the resources required to solve a huge fucking problem that caused their products to fail for the very purpose they were designed. Remember... this problem has been going on for years!

I had it in my head that I would never buy another Sonos product ever again because this was so absurdly fucking shitty.

So when Sonos announced today that they are cutting even more jobs and focusing on developing headphones, I am not swayed. Why would I buy some expensive headphones that could ship with a massive defect that takes the company YEARS to fix? No thanks. I'll continue to buy Apple or Bose headphones, because I'm done with Sonos.

Or am I?

Honestly I don't know.

I'd sure like to think so. But maybe they will come out with something so awesome and revolutionary that I'd be willing to give them a chance if the price is right.

Regardless, Sonos is a cautionary tale of how a beloved brand can trash their own reputation and flush customer good will down the toilet. If a problem comes to your attention, you'd better fucking drop what you're doing and fix it... quickly... because you're never the only game in town, and brand loyalty only goes so far.

UPDATE: Color me fucking shocked...

Fourth time was a charm... well, that and two reboots (unplugging and plugging back in again). I watched a movie on my AppleTV 4K and no POP OF DEATH, so far. So that's refreshing.

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Bullet Sunday 826

Posted on October 15th, 2023

Dave!Fall has come and the weather is dreary and cold, but it's warm in my heart... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• The Price of Cinema is Too Damn High! I loved Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning, Part One. It is smart, exciting, and I can't wait for Part Two. What gets me is that the movie cost $291 MILLION to make. And while I'm not staying that it wasn't money well-spent (this movie is insane)... I am saying that it's $567 million box office means that the movie barely made any money after promotion. If it made any money at all...

They seriously need to stop making movies that cost these utterly bonkers amount of money. It is totally fucking up the industry, and failures like this (and so many other... The Flash, Fast X, Indiana Jones, to name some) are going to make it so that studio movies die a horrible death. That's no fun for any of us. Surely they can be more clever with less money? Because this just isn't sustainable any more.

   
• Fantasy Football! I remember when The League first debuted. It was amazing to me that it managed to make it on the air given how raunchy it was. But it endured for seven seasons, and I was a huge fan for the first four seasons. A fan for the fifth and sixth season. And was still watching for the final season, although it most definitely did not go out on a high note...

As I mentioned on Wednesday, I've been rewatching all the episodes on Hulu. Now that I have some distance from the end of the series, I cannot help but wonder if they came back for an 8th season what that would be like. I honestly don't know... but it seems like it would be a worthwhile thing to take a look at.

   
• On the Other Hand... The new Frasier is kinda... not great. It's nowhere near the level of Cheers and Frasier and I'm wondering why this was the direction they took. I mean, it's not as tragic as some of the reviews made it out to be. They tried to get some heart into it and there are funny moments despite itself. But all I feel while watching it is wanting to go re-watch the original Frasier and also rewatch Deception to see Jack Cutmore-Scott in something that was actually good and Sirens so I could see Kevin Daniels in something good. At least that way I won't have to see "David" be a horrific substitute for "Niles"... it's like he's there JUST to be unfunny and cringe.

Will & Grace managed to come back as good as it ever was... but too many of these revivals just aren't working. But because I loved the original Frasier I'm going to keep watching in the hopes that the show finds its footing. Because I'm watching the very first episode of the first Frasier and it was absolute gold from the jump.

   
• Hot Sauce! I love hot sauce. I started with the mild green sauce that my mom loved (something I still eat on tacos when I make them at home, because it's the flavor I'm used to. Later I moved on to Tabasco, which has more heat and a vinegar tang that makes it a delicious addition to everything from sauces to potato salad. Now I split my time between Tabasco, Cholula, and Sriracha. They are similar enough that I can use them interchangeably, but different enough that I prefer them for specific foods (occasionally I pick up a bottle of Frank's RedHot, which is not so hot, and Tapatío as well). Last year I was trying to save money, so I started keeping track of which brand I use most. I thought it would be Tabasco, but it ended up being Cholula because it has a bit more heat. So now I buy just that one sauce to save money so I'm not buying three and four. AND THEN... I decided to try something hotter. So now I'm addicted to El Yucateco Red...

A case of El Yucateco Red

It's more than just "hot" because it still adds nice flavor (unlike the hotter sauces I've tried where I can't even taste anything but fire). And now I'm wondering if I've reached my hot sauce limit? Or eventually will this not be hot enough either? Because it's only 5,790 on the Scoville scale, and that's barely hitting the second of ten sauces if I ever end up on an episode of Hot Ones (which tops out at 2,000,000 on the Scoville scale). Which is a great excuse to post the SNL parody, which is one of my favorites...

That never gets old.

   
• Shoresy Deux! One of the biggest surprises last year was the Letterkenny spin-off, Shoresy. It was rediculously entertaining, and ended up being my fifth favorite show of 2022. And now it's coming back...

Reeeeally looking forward to it.

   
• J-Boy! So there I was watching the movie Robots

on Hulu (Prime in the UK). It's okay. Not as good as I was hoping for, but funny in places and fairly entertaining in concept...

The best part of the movie for me was the end-credits song called J-Boy by the band Phoenix. From six years ago...

I liked the song enough that I decided to add it to my Sonos music queue.

   
• Whither Sonos! Except I couldn't add the song to my fucking Sonos music queue because on top of having shitty fucking products that they don't want to fix... their apps are fucking shitty too. First of all my MacOS app decided it wouldn't do shit until my Apple Music account was reauthorized...

Shitty fucking Sonos app telling me that I need to fucking reauthorize my account.

EXCEPT I COULDN'T BECAUSE ALL OF A SUDDEN THE APP CAN'T SEE MY FUCKING SPEAKERS...

UNABLE TO CONNECT!

But of course the "Let's fix it" link was full of shit. After trying that three times, Sonos finally wanted me to turn EVERY FUCKING SPEAKER OFF AND BACK ON...

Turn these off and back on.

That didn't work, so I ended up being told that I had to turn the router off and back on...

Turn these off and back on.

That didn't fucking work either, so I was told to turn all my shit off and on again. I ignored that and decided to uninstall Sonos and reinstall it again. That finally worked. EXCEPT... then I got an ad for Sonos's "Live Gift Guide Event" that I could not dismiss. There's no cancel button. There's no close button. You can't tap around it to get out of it. I couldn't even reboot the app and get rid of it. I was forced to "add it to my calendar" (which I didn't actually do)...

Add out event to your calendar!

Fuck Sonos. Fuck them up their piece of shit useless asses. I regret EVER getting involved with them and their shitty products. Maybe I'd feel different if they'd AT THE VERY LEAST make it so that I could use the fucking Dolby Atmos that I paid to get without having my Arc soundbar fail. But nope. It's been a problem for two years and Sonos is still "working on it." Except they're fucking not because I've heard of nobody being asked to send in their system parts so Sonos could watch it fucking happen. Jesus what an asshole company.

   
And on that happy note... I'm back to dreary weather for a dreary Sunday.

   

It’s The Pop of Death That Kills You

Posted on August 16th, 2023

Dave!NEWSFLASH @ Ars Technica: Sonos has been unable to fix Arc soundbars’ “pop of death” for over 2 years.

Ever since the technology became available for home theaters, I've wanted Dolby Atmos, the specialized sound system which adds a "height" channel to your surround sound setup. So that when you are watching John Wick and it's raining overhead... or a bullet goes flying above you... you hear it happening. It's a very cool effect (when done properly) that adds to the experience of watching movies and television... or listening to Atmos music.

I have been investing in a Sonos speak setup, which has been a pretty good solution for home audio. It's wireless so you don't have to run speaker cables, and you can group some (or all) of your speakers so that your audio is playing everywhere you have a Sonos speaker.

At first I had a Sonos PlayBar. It was an amazing soundbar for under your television. Sure, the separation between Left/Center/Right channels wasn't the best, but it was a darn good effort that I enjoyed for years.

Then Sonos released their Arc soundbar which added the afore-mentioned Dolby Atmos.

I waited for the reviews, heard good things, and bought one.

Then I went to crazy trouble to install it in my living room.

It was okay. The Dolby Atmos height channel was incredibly weak (even when set at full volume) and I don't think the quality was quite up to the standards of the PlayBar, but I was pretty happy with it overall.

Then Sonos released the Era 300, which also had the Dolby Atmos height channel for your rear speakers. This was a far, far better implementation of the Atmos effect, and I was very happy to have purchased them.

Until I wasn't.

One day while watching a movie I heard a massive POP sound and my Arc soundbar went dead. I thought it had died a horrible death... but unplugging it and plugging it back in did the trick. Until I experienced the POP again. And again. And again. And again! Apparently once it happens, it will continue to happen forever.

Sonos's solution is to turn off CRC (which turns on your television when your AppleTV turns on), which didn't work for me. Their next "solution?" Turn off Dolby Atmos. Yes, you read that right, turn off Dolby Atmos.

Now, If Sonos gave any shits at all, they would simply have one of their many users who are experiencing this POP OF DEATH problem send in their AppleTV 4K Gen 3 and Xbox, their television, their cables, and their Arc soundbar (after sending them replacement shit). Then they would have a complete system where they could CONSISTENTLY REPRODUCE THIS PROBLEM. But nope. They'd rather say "Oooh... we can't reproduce the problem!" and do NOTHING. — Every fucking time I've contacted Sonos support, they just tell me to turn off Dolby Atmos, WHICH IS THE ENTIRE FUCKING REASON I BOUGHT THE ARC IN THE FIRST PLACE! More and more I regret getting in bed with a company that doesn't give a shit about shipping a faulty product, and has been promising a fix for OVER TWO YEARS that never comes. Get a system that doesn't work.

I don't care if Sonos comes up with a special cable that filters out the problem... or sends out a firmware update... or offers to replace whatever component they can't work out with something that does... or whatever... so long as they actually come up with a fucking solution that doesn't involve turning off Atmos!

This is not fucking rocket science.

NASA could build a rocket in this amount of time.

   

A New Era for Sonos Sound

Posted on March 30th, 2023

Dave!I have a love/hate relationship with Sonos Home Audio.

On one hand, they are very good speakers. The sound I get from a single Sonos One (the cheapest, smallest speaker in their lineup) is better than I get from the speakers on my pricey Sony television. Sonos speakers are very well balanced to handle just about everything. Music sounds just as good as audiobooks which sounds as good as TV shows and movies.

But on the other hand, Sonos can be incredibly frustrating. When I replaced my Sonos PlayBar with a Sonos Arc, I spent a full hour talking with their support to get everything working. It was supposed to be an easy, no-brainer task, but it sure didn't end up that way for me. And then there's weird networking drop-outs that happen at random and can be a real bitch to resolve considering the only thing I ever get told is "IT'S BECAUSE YOUR WI-FI NETWORK SUCKS!!!" (as if I have some kind of cheap-ass Wi-Fi router buried in the basement instead of dual AmpliFi Alien routers in a mesh network that blankets my home with perfect Wi-Fi).

In the end I am happy enough with Sonos to ignore its shortcomings (no line-in is fucking stupid on a level of fucking stupid that has me reconsidering what I consider to be fucking stupid given how expensive their speakers are... and don't get me started on not being able to use dedicated left and right channels for surround sound). I have quite a few of their products collected from Black Friday sales over the years, and most rooms in my house are covered with Sonos sound. Heck, I even have Sonos in the bathrooms so I don't have to miss what's happening on my television shows when I have to get up and go pee.

And then Sonos decided to get cute and offer a new line of "Era" speakers. The Era 100, which takes the place of their entry-level Sonos One speaker... and the Era 300, which takes the place of their long-abandoned Play 3 speaker.

The Sonos Era 100 and 300 Speakers.

At first I was going to safely ignore their new offerings because I have neither the money nor the desire to expand upon my speaker collection.

But then I learned that the Era 300 is designed from the bottom up to support Dolby Atmos and I was intrigued. Dolby Atmos allows precise sound placement within a room. This is usually reserved for theaters which can install speakers all the way around the seating area... along with the ceiling... so that the action can move around the room to match what you are seeing. It's a pretty nifty trick. The technology is something that is supposed to be supported by my Sonos Arc soundbar, but the effect is minimal to the point that it might as well not even exist at all.

The Sonos Era 300 has an up-firing speaker that looked substantial enough to actually maybe kinda support actual Atmos sound bouncing down on your from above...

The Sonos Era 300 Speaker All Blown Apart.

So I used my final two Sonos upgrade credits and all the Black Friday money I had left after buying Neon Bad Monkey and pre-ordered a pair of them.

And now they're here.

And I'm just going to cut to the chase here. They are... pretty good.

Because whether or not you have great Atmos sound largely depends on the audio mix that movie and television studios add to their products. I've tested these speakers for hours with all kinds of movies available in Dolby Atmos, and it's very rare that I find myself going "Whoa!" because some sound playing above me was distinct enough to catch me by surprise. No, for the most part, you're largely just getting a better, fuller surround sound experience. Back-To-Front and Front-To-Back audio is far more distinct with those up-firing speakers because you can feel the "movement" better. Far better than I did with my Sonos Ones as rear speakers. For that reason alone I am quite happy with my purchase. And who knows? Maybe as more and more people have Dolby Atmos available at home, studios will start doing better mixing so that my speakers can take advantage of it.

Now lets get to the Dolby Atmos experience that's truly worth it... Atmos Music!

I tell you what... I had read that Apple was partnering with Sonos so that their spatial audio tracks would play on Sonos hardware... but I wasn't thinking of that when I fired up some music to see if it sounded good from the 300s. A couple tracks played and I was suitably impressed.

Then the song If You're Too Shy (Let Me Know) by The 1975 dropped and I thought I was hallucinating. Lead singer Matt Healy's vocals were IN FRONT OF the music. And acoustical queues were all over the room. If I closed my eyes, it was as if The 1975 were set up in my living room. Then I remembered about the Apple Music Atmos thing and, sure enough...

The Sonos app showing me that my music is from a Dolby Atmos mix.

For many Dolby Atmos music tracks, what you hear is flat-out mind-blowing. The 1975 remixed all their stuff, and (for the most part) it's incredible. Some songs are more experimental than others. Some songs push it too far to the point of distraction. But most of the songs are perfectly rendered in a way that makes the whole experience... maybe not better... but perhaps nicely different.

All of a sudden I was scouring all my favorite tracks to see if they had Atmos mixes available.

And it was like discovering music all over again.

Yes, there are instances where the Atmos is a gimmick that doesn't work. But for others? It runs the gamut. The biggest surprise was Kacey Musgraves Golden Hour. Whomever came up with her mixes just knocked it out of the park (with a couple notable exceptions which are gimmicky as hell). It. Is. Sublime. In Oh, What a World when that banjo hits, I had chills running up my spine. It's a fantastic experience. My favorite Post Malone tracks were wonderfully mixed for spatial audio. The newest Taylor Swift album is beautiful. And some bands you just know were hopping on the bandwagon early with Atmos remixes... like ODESZA. The track they did with Namoi Wild, Higher Ground, feels like her vocals are ON TOP OF the music. Or something. I can't even begin to explain it. But it's fantastic. Of course, it was a great track even before spatial audio...

The highest praise I can offer for spatial audio and Dolby Atmos music is that, when mixed right, the vocals never get lost in the music. They are always distinct and rendered front-and-center. One of the best songs to hear this is with Miley Cyrus's Flowers. There's places that she harmonizes with herself. But when listening to it without Atmos, the voices blend together. With Atmos, however, the harmonizing backing vocals are... like... elsewhere. They don't merge or compete... they're just another part of the music. I don't know quite how to explain it. But once I hear the difference... then go back to regular stereo... I can no longer un-hear it because the Atmos version feels like it's the way you're supposed to be hearing it.

So... probably not returning my pair of 300s... even though there's some bullshit right out of the gate.

First of all, Sonos finally... FINALLY... added bluetooth and line-in to their speakers. But when you configure them to be part of a Dolby Atmos setup... YOU NO LONGER CAN USE THEM FOR EITHER! WHAT THE BLOODY FUCK, SONOS??

The Sonos app showing me that my music is from a Dolby Atmos mix.

When that message popped up, it was all I could do to keep from throwing my phone against the wall. I was more than a little upset... I was fucking pissed.

I'm sure that Sonos will come up with some kind of bullshit excuse to explain it away, but the simple fact is that you could easily... easily... just have the speaker ignore all other input once the line-in is receiving input. This is not fucking rocket science. The fact that I can't just plug into one of my pricey new speakers with a frickin' line-in is so far beyond rage-inducing that I honestly don't know what to do with my anger from it.

But at least there's the option for a line-in... AT ALL.

If I were flush with cash I'd likely buy a single Sonos Era 300 for my bedroom and run a line from my television. That way I could have darn good TV sound along with a kick-ass speaker for music (the stereo separation from a single 300 is surprisingly good).

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!

Assuming I win the lottery tomorrow, it's not enough to just buy a $450 Sonos Era 300 speaker for my television. YOU ALSO HAVE TO BUY A FUCKING $20 MINI-PLUG DONGLE! It's like... holy shit. There's fleecing your customers, and then there's Sonos fucking gouging their customers. This is pretty disgraceful.

So... to summarize in bullet points...

  • Setup actually worked like it was supposed to this time. I had an immediate software update I had to send to the Era 300's, but I was up and running in minutes.
  • I love that the power cord plug is smaller now. My rear speakers are on a slim shelf that I drilled holes in so the cords are hidden. But the Sonos Ones had a big-ass plug which meant I had to use a metal rod to smash it through the hole. The new Era plugs are more compact and just pop through. Easy!
  • I've had mixed results with Sonos TruePlay tuning (where you walk around the room waving your phone around while the Sonos app listens to tones and calibrates the speakers so their sound is best rendered in your room). The first time I tried it years ago, I loved it. Then the last couple times I thought the calibration was pretty bad and removed it. This time the jury is still out. I think it made my Atmos music sound better... but the movies I tried after calibration didn't sound as bright and the overhead sound was muted. I'll probably keep TruePlay on but fine-tune the EQ and upward sound levels.
  • The line-in garbage mentioned above is fucking bullshit. I am outraged that not only is it fully disabled when you use them as surrounds... but you also have to buy a fucking dongle. It's as if Sonos said "WELL, YOU WANTED A LINE-IN, SO HERE IT IS... TOO BAD WE FUCKING BROKE IT!
  • Until more studios really invest in doing Dolby Atmos mixes that are killer, I wouldn't buy these speakers just for movies with Dolby Atmos. It's just not a big enough upgrade given how many mediocre mixes are out there claiming to be "Atmos."
  • The "killer app" on the Era 300s is Dolby Atmos music. Spatial audio provides an experience I haven't heard before and, for the most part, I absolutely love it. As more and more artists go back and remix their music (or remix the mixes that aren't that great) I think this is reason enough to give them a listen and see what you think.
  • Yes, the price of Sonos gear is as heinous as it ever was. About the only justification I can offer is that they feel quality. They are noticeably heavy and seem built to last. And, needless to say, the sound quality is darn good given the size. Exceptional even. I have never had a complaint about the sound I get... and even a meager little Sonos One provides a great experience. Sonos is one of those companies where I think the cost is likely worth it. That being said, every piece of my Sonos gear was bought on sale because... damn.
  • All my stuff was purchased directly from Sonos because I like that they offer a money-back-guarantee when you purchase from them. It's the least they can do given how much money it costs. If you are on the fence, it's worth investigating whether the shop you're buying from can offer a guarantee. Pretty sure not all of them do.
  • If you are a long-time Sonos customer, Sonos will give you "upgrade credits" which knock 15% off the price of their wares. For every speaker you own that's old enough to earn a discount, you get one credit to use on another speaker to replace it. Except you don't have to return your old speaker... you get to keep it! If you registered your products with Sonos, be sure to look at your account and see what's available. I saved nearly $70 each on the 300s, which is serious money.
  • A lot has been said about how "ugly" the Sonos 300s are. Personally, I'm not seeing it. I am very sensitive to design aesthetics and actually really like the look of them. When sitting on the shelf behind my couch, they look nice from any angle and have an impressive heft to them that makes me confident a cat isn't going to knock them off (if they were to ever climb up on those shelves, which they rarely do).
  • I did not buy any Era 100s and really have no plan to do so. The improvement over my Sonos Ones seems minimal, as there's no up-firing speakers for rendering Atmos. The stereo separate looks like it might be pretty good... but since the speaker is so narrow, I'm not sure how noticeable it would be.

And there you have it.

If you've got a showroom somewhere near you with Sonos gear, it might be worth a look if you're thinking about investing in new speakers.

   

I Don’t Understand

Posted on March 14th, 2023

Dave!The fact that Sonos can say that their Voice Assistant is a viable means of controlling their speakers with anything approaching a straight face is new levels of laughable.

I hear "Sorry, I Don't Understand! Please use the Sonos app!" so often when attempting to use their bullshit that I feel Sonos should hire somebody to sit in the corner with the Sonos app so I have voice control that will actually work.

Between Sonos Voice Assistant and Apple's HomeKit, I spend a hell of a lot of time being embarrassed for tech companies right now.

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It’s Only Money, Right?

Posted on August 12th, 2022

Dave!I will never get used to the spatial audio in Apple AirPods. The way that the audio shifts to provide the illusion that the sound is always coming from in front of you is witchcraft, and somebody should be burned at the stake for it. Except not really, because it is so cool.

Even after all these months, I still feel like the AirPods are broken and the sound is, in fact, actually coming from my monitor. So I pull out the earbuds and confirm that they are, in fact, working... then immediately feel mad at myself for being fooled yet again.

Different topic, same subject...

I continue to make progress on setting up my studio. Most recently that meant trying to do something about the audio system so I can listen to music while I work. I started with a single SONOS One speaker, but missed having stereo... so I added a second one... only to end up still unsatisfied because they aren't spaced well for good stereo. Also, they're blasting at me from the sides, which is disorienting.

Unfortunately there's no much I can do about it, because my desk is pushed up against the wall. And there's a window above it. What I really need is SONOS PLAY bar right in front of my desk so that I could have simulated stereo separation coming from directly in front of me.

And that's when I was like wait a minute... I could relocated the SONOS PLAY bar to my studio, then upgrade my living room surround system to a SONOS ARC. That's actually a great idea all the way around, because the ARC uses HDMI for volume control that comes directly from my television instead of the janky optical+separate remote ordeal I have with on the PLAY. As usual, it only takes money. The ARC is $900. The mounting bracket is an additional $80. With tax that's over $1000, which is hard to justify. Except... July was one of those glorious twice-a-year months with three paydays instead of two... so maybe? SONOS has an upgrade program running where you can get 15% off your purchase, and it's only money, right? Who needs savings?

So I ordered it.

I'll spend every day until it arrives experiencing buyer's remorse, I'm sure.

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I’m Sure It Happens to Every Guy

Posted on May 1st, 2021

Dave!My old 65" television weighed 70 pounds (or something like that). I can easily lift 70 pounds, but being able to lift it up a wall and be able to get it attached to the mount without breaking it? Probably not. It's just too big and awkward to see what I'm doing. So after Walmart took my money for installation, then canceled my installation, I assumed I would need help because surely my new 65" television would weigh the same, wouldn't it? Apparently not. When I went to move it out of my living room until I could get somebody to help, I didn't scoot the big box... I tried picking it up by the straps. And it did not weigh no 70 pounds. So I looked up the specs. It only weighed 47-1/2 pounds!

I know the thing is big and awkward, but surely I can manage by myself if it weighs under 50 pounds?

So last night I took down my old TV and my old mount. Installed my new mount. Then gave it a try.

Not going to lie... there was a point that I felt like I might drop it as I tried to hang it on the tiny little centering tab because I couldn't see what the heck I was doing and was trying to feel my way. But after a few minutes I felt a "pop" and there it was. I quickly screwed it in place and I was done!

But not really.

The pricey Sony mount I got which was built specifically for my television didn't allow the cables to come through the middle of the wall like my old one. If I wanted to hide my cables in the wall (and I absolutely did) I would need to cut new holes in my wall off to the side.

Fortunately I already had a punch-cut drywall blade for just such an occasion!

And the nice part about doing it myself is that I give a crap about doing good work. So unlike the "professionally installed" boxes which are all wonky and crooked, I could take the time to do the job right and make sure that my cuts are clean, level, and precise...

A hole being cut in my drywall for the cable box.

I was too tired to run the cables in the wall, so I saved that for this morning.

And then... WAAAAAHHH! My optical cable wasn't long enough! Don't you hate it when your cable comes up short? This has never happened before. I've always had PLENTY of cable to get the job done in the past! But I'm sure this happens to lots of guys and isn't a big deal. Fortunately, in this case, I can just go get a longer cable. Even more fortunate, my local Target actually had one (and only one!) in stock. From there it was pretty easy to run my cables in the wall, hook my soundbar back up, then clean up the mess. Easy peasy...

My new television hanging on the wall.

Surprisingly, everything is working perfectly. Even better than before, actually, because the audio system on the new TV works far, far better with my SONOS home theater... and the picture quality is better too.

But here's the bonus to it all. Sony uses GoogleTV to power their sets. It is a MASSIVE LEAP ahead of the shitty interface on my old busted Samsung. And it has AppleTV as an app, so I don't even have to power on my external AppleTV box! Every streaming service I use is inside my TV as an app now. That's really, really nice. Could not be happier with my new television. Even video games look great! Now all that's left to do is patch the old hole in my wall. And install my bias lighting. But I'll do that next week. I've had enough home improvement for this week.

But who knows how I'll feel tomorrow?

   

Technology Welcomes Sleep Success

Posted on September 20th, 2019

Dave!I've been having a tough time of it lately. I either pulled something in my leg... or twisted something in my leg... or maybe it's a blood clot in my leg... or perhaps nerve damage... I dunno. All I do know is that it feels as though all the bones in my left leg are being broken over and over again. It's excruciating. And sleep has been tough to come by because of it.

My guess is that it will probably have to be amputated. But I suppose that's for a doctor to decide.

Today I was too exhausted and in too much pain to get anything done, so I left work early to drug up, wrap my leg in hot packs, and take a nap.

I don't want to brag, but it was a huge success. I slept so good that there was a cat on me when I woke up. That's some great sleeping right there...

Jake laying next to me in bed

I would have liked to have stayed in bed for the rest of the day, but I have a massive to-do list that I need to be working on before winter arrives.

First up was figuring out why some of my SONOS speakers are showing up as "offline" to Alexa. It happened after the last update and it's been driving me crazy. It's also been driving the cats crazy, because one of the speakers that Alexa can't recognize is the speaker which plays their breakfast and dinner alarms.

The horror.

A half hour later and I eventually solve the problem by uncoupling my surround sound setup, making all the speakers be individual "rooms," then running "discovery" so Alexa could see all of them again. Then setting up my surround system from scratch again. What a pain in the ass that was.

But that's technology for ya. Making things easier for you while making things more difficult at the same time.

But try explaining that to a cat.

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