The world seems like a pretty chaotic place at the moment; so it's obviously a perfect time for Sonos to throw a bit more madness into the pile, with details of how it is planning to deal with the messy divorce of its old and new Sonos speakers.
In detailing the S1 (old) and S2 (new) systems, that will launch on 8 June, Sonos hasn't really told us anything we didn't know already, so the outrage should be kept to a minimum this time around, but it has filled us in on a few juicy details, as well as giving a few hints on some interesting updates to come.
Why is Sonos changing?
At the start of the year Sonos announced that from May, it would stop updating 'legacy products'. This list includes original Zone Players, Connect, and Connect:Amp, the first-generation Play:5, the CR200 and the Sonos Bridge.
Given that some of those devices date back to the early 2000s (although some were sold as recently as 2015) it's hardly surprising that Sonos has to cut the chord at some point. The hardware surely gets to a point where it can't just keep up with the software it's expected to handle seamlessly?
Incompatible Sonos S1 hardware:
- Sonos Play:5 (Gen 1)
- All Zone Players
- CR200 controller
- Sonos Connect (Gen 1)
- Sonos Connect:Amp (Gen 1)
- Sonos Bridge
What is Sonos S2?
Sonos S2 is not only the name of a new app, that will launch on 8 June, it's also a new OS, via a firmware update, for your non-legacy Sonos speakers.
The app looks pretty swanky, truth be told, and there is going to be some slick new software features for upgraders, such as preset groupings that you can use for speakers at certain times of day, or for events - think 'Good morning', 'Party' and the like.
But the biggest deal is perhaps that Sonos is promising that S2 will "enable higher resolution audio technologies for music and home theater". We're hoping that means high-resolution audio for the likes of Tidal and Amazon Music HD. The first signs of this are the Dolby Atmos skills of the new Sonos Arc.
Sonos S1, which will launch alongside the new S2 experience, is basically Sonos as it is now. When S2 goes live, you'll see a pop-up asking you if you want to upgrade your system. If you choose not to, you'll be able to carry on using your Sonos speakers as you do today.
Sonos tells us that your system will receive bug fixes and security patches, but it won't get any S2 goodies.
As far as Google Assistant and Alexa are concerned, Sonos states: "We will work with our partners to keep your music and voice services working with our oldest products for as long as we can given their memory and processing power limitations. If we run into something core to the experience that can‚Äôt be addressed, we will let you know."
Sonos has stated that any new kit announced post May 2020, including the new Arc, Five and Sub, will not be compatible with the S1 Controller app.
Sonos S2 compatible devices:
- Play:5 (Gen 2)
- One (all generations)
- Connect (Gen 2)
- Connect:Amp (Gen 2)
- Sub (all generations)
- IKEA Symfonisk
What generation Sonos speakers do I have?
If you're confused what generation Play:5 you have, you're not sure if your Sonos Connect is first or second generation and so on, then you can always check online by logging in to your Sonos account. If your device is compatible, it will show with a 'Modern product' tick.
Can I use Sonos S1 and S2 at the same time?
Yes and no. You can use them both at the same time, sure. But you can't group speakers from an S1 group - even if they are compatible with S2 - into an S2 group.
That's the that caused Sonos the most amount of criticism when it first announced the legacy split.
If your Sonos system comprises any of those legacy devices - even just one - and a bunch of the latest and greatest Sonos speakers, then you're either going to have to ditch your old one, or condemn your new speakers to an S1 experience - and we now know you won't be able to add new Sonos speakers as they won't be compatible.
How can I upgrade my Sonos system?
You can, if you want, upgrade your old Sonos kit using a 30% credit trade-in program and the good news is that Sonos recently got rid of its controversial 'bricking' recycling program - which essentially saw traded-in Sonos speakers rendered useless and destined for a landfill.
You don't even have to send in the old speaker and it will actually still be functional, should you wish to carry on using it in an S1 setup / give it to a friend / sell it on eBay.