I’ve long associated music with home, coziness, and family: I grew up in a musical household, with two audiophile parents and grandparents who loved Motown, Mozart, and Monk. They each passed their respective loves down to me.
For a long time—like lots of people with tiny apartments and even tinier budgets—my audio setup was a single Bluetooth speaker (a Jawbone Mini Jambox), which fit neatly on the desk in my 100-square-foot bedroom.
When it came to audio quality, the Jambox wasn’t the best, but it did the job: I could plug it right into my laptop and watch TV and movies, bypassing my tinny in-computer speakers. And I’d gotten it from a friend as a hand-me-down, so the price was right.
But Bluetooth speakers have all sorts of issues, among them audio quality (on the lower end of the range of options), connectivity problems, and—most annoyingly—their proclivity to stop playing music if, say, you were connected via your smart phone and you got a phone call. Then I met a Wi-Fi speaker.
Full disclosure: The first Wi-Fi speaker—a Sonos Play:1—was in a bag of swag I received as a junior editor at a national magazine. I was, in short, a skeptic, mostly because I knew that Sonos Play:1 speakers were not equipped with 3.5 millimeter audio-in jacks that allow you to plug-and-play from your laptop or phone. But I was familiar with the brand and had heard good things from friends and colleagues who had Sonos speakers, and systems, of their own.
Reader, it took about three days before I was a convert. I set the unit up in my living room and immediately took to being able to stream anything my heart desired. A Sonos Play:1 connects to your wireless internet network at home and streams music and internet radio from your laptop or smartphone. It turns out you need a Spotify Premium, Apple Music, or—ahem—Tidal account to stream music that isn’t already in your iTunes or Google Play library. Luckily, I was already a Spotify Premium subscriber—and my options were pretty limitless. Now I own three, and being able to network them (a nifty Sonos feature) and play music from my bedroom, the kitchen, and the living room makes my apartment feel like a real home.
Audio diehards tell me that Sonos isn’t the best they’ve ever heard. And I’m fine with that. I figure it’s a tradeoff I’m willing to make for the relative freedom and ease of use of having a wireless speaker at hand.