Executive Editor, TechHiveOct 14, 2014 10:37 am PDT
If you own a Sonos multi-room audio system but have trouble with dead spots, Sonos has good news for you: The all-new Sonos Boost is a high-power signal amplifier that promises to extend the range of a proprietary Sonos network by 50 percent.
The $99 device connects directly to your router to become the first node in a Sonos mesh network, eliminating the need to have at least one other Sonos component hardwired to your router. The Boost also provides a gateway—via your router—to the Internet as well as access to storage devices on your home network. The Boost has three internal antennas that Sonos claims will “help neutralize interference from other consumer electronics that might typically cause dropouts.”
The story behind the story: Sonos has one of the best multi-room audio systems on the market, and the company’s proprietary mesh network is one of the reasons why. It operates independently of your Wi-Fi network, and it has almost unlimited range because every Sonos device you add to your system acts as a range extender.
Staying one step ahead
In the early days, you had to hard-wire at least one Sonos node to your router. Sonos later introduced the Bridge, which contained all the hardware required for the mesh network, but that didn’t have speakers and couldn’t support outboard speakers.
Last month, the company released new software that enabled the system to operate on your Wi-Fi network. No need for the Bridge and no need to hard-wire one node to your router. That’s great if you don’t have a lot of Sonos nodes (or other Wi-Fi clients), but the trade-off sacrifices the excellent mesh network. And without the mesh network, you can’t set up a surround-sound system in your home theater, using a Sonos Playbar supplemented by smaller Sonos modules.
If you have a Bridge or have one Sonos node hard-wired to your network, but are still having trouble with dead spots, the Boost might solve your problem. And there’s no need to toss your existing Bridge; it can be redeployed elsewhere on your network as a wireless bridge/repeater (all it needs is electrical power). As usual, if you can hard-wire one Sonos node to your network, you probably need either the Bridge or the Boost.
Michael is TechHive's lead editor, with 30+ years of experience covering the tech industry, focusing on the smart home, home audio, and home theater. He built his own smart home in 2007 and used it as a real-world test lab for product reviews. Following a relocation to the Pacific Northwest, he is now converting his new home, an 1890 Victorian bungalow, into a modern smart home.