Hooking up the system was straightforward. It was just a matter of connecting the audio cables, the network cable, plugging it in and installing the supplied software on my iBook. Figure 3 is an installation-process screenshot taken when my first ZP80 was discovered on the LAN and was being assigned a name.
Figure 3: Setting the Player Name
I did not know how the ZP80 would find my music, but that question was answered when I got to the music selection screen (Figure 4).
Figure 4: Selecting the SMB Server
Evidently, the ZP80 could play music from SMB (or CIFS) network file systems. SMB file system support is found in almost all modern computer systems, so every computer on the LAN should be able to supply music to the ZP80. The idea is that you would set up a directory with your music files and then share that directory for the ZP80. The installation software did this for me on my iBook, but for other network devices, such as a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device, you would need to set up the sharing yourself and then tell the device about it.
In Use, Continued
As I worked my way through the configuration program and got both of the ZP80s set up, I was impressed by the quality of software. It appeared well thought out and professionally designed. Note that only the first ZP80 has to have network connectivity. Others (32 maximum) can connect wirelessly to the first (more on this later). Once the configuration was complete, a desktop controller program was available, (Figure 5) which let me play music with the ZP80.
Figure 5: The Sonos Desktop Controller
The desktop controller was a nice little program that did what you'd expect; I could choose and play music by song, album, artist, genre, etc. The device supported a number of different music formats including MP3, WMA, AAC (MPEG4), Ogg Vorbis, Audible (format 4), Apple Lossless, Flac (lossless), uncompressed WAV and AIFF.
Of course, DRM encrypted files, such as those purchased from the iTunes music store or stores that sell content for Windows Media Player, i.e. Microsoft"Plays-For-Sure," cannot be played. WMA Lossless files aren't supported, either.
For Windows users, Sonos does have a tie-in with the subscription-based Rhapsody service that allows you to play music from Rhapsody's servers. While the desktop application was well designed, the real attraction of the Sonos system was its remote controller.