Recently someone asked Finn what his favorite part about our new house is and he said our Sonos speakers. His answer really doesn’t surprise me. When planning out our renovation, Finn had a surround sound music system on the top of our list. To be honest, I am not the biggest music buff. I don’t know artists, I don’t keep up with what’s new, and I thought the sound from our Amazon Alexa was as good as it gets.
Wow, was I wrong. We’ve been living with our Sonos speakers set up for two months now and it really changes my everyday life. We have speakers built into the ceiling all throughout the first floor and then movable speakers in each bedroom on the second floor (and in the basement). We can pretty much listen to music (or TV) anywhere in the house. It’s amazing.
I’m going to have Finn takeover these next few sections because he can explain our setup way better than I can.
Figuring Out Our Sonos Speakers Setup
Because we only lived in smaller condos and apartments prior to this new home, we never invested in sound or made it a priority. I knew when we moved into our Finn Fixer Upper that we would need to upgrade our family room television experience and get a soundbar and/or speakers. Modern television manufacturers focus their development and upgrades on the picture quality and often the sound suffers, so I recommend getting at least a soundbar for your family room television.
So that is where I found myself, knowing I wanted a soundbar, but clueless on everything else. Was I going to need an amplifier, more speakers, splitters, wires and what the hell is 5.1 surround sound?
Researching and Choosing The Right Brand
My goal was to create a simple and discreet home audio system that could be utilized every day. Plus, Casey requested that it would be easy to manage without outlets, knobs or switches for a streamlined look. I actually spoke with a consultant at Sonos when I was deep into my research and not sure if my plan for the house and surround sound would work. They were so helpful. Seriously, it was midnight and this poor guy in California had me covered (I see you Matt!) and helped me decide on my final plan.
I will be upfront about the fact that Sonos is definitely not cheap. However, it is “the purest sound” in the market and in the same price class as the traditional brands (Bose, Sony, etc.) The reason I really love Sonos is the mobile app provides you with the ability to manage all of your streaming music along with all of the speakers in the house. You can also start small with just a soundbar and then easily add-on other speakers down the line when you need them.
My Surround Sound Gameplan
The trickiest piece of the puzzle for me, to no one’s surprise, was working around Casey’s design demands for the speakers. I had to make sure there were no added switch panels; they could not be free-standing behind the couch; and they could not be in the wall aside the tv. How would I ever find a way to create surround sound when she didn’t want me to put the speakers anywhere?!
Then I realized that because of our renovation, we had no ceiling and the house was down to its guts. It was the opportune time to go ahead and have our contractor lay some wiring through the ceiling so we were able to install my surround speakers in the ceiling above the couch. I was able to place the sleek and subtle subwoofer right next to the entertainment stand and we were all set.
In the end, we installed two speakers in the ceiling and actually wired them back to the front closet where our modems and cable boxes all live. Using the Sonos amp, you can turn traditional speakers into ones you can control with the app on your phone. It is a great way to take your existing speakers and make them “smart”.
The Rest of the House
Thinking about the house as one single sound system, I knew only a few more speakers would be required to cover the whole area and sync up the entire house. We went ahead and added another pair of speakers in the ceiling of the kitchen along with another amp. This provides seamless sound between both rooms and is great when you are eating breakfast or making dinner and you want the TV sound or music pumped into your area. Of course, these DO NOT need to be on when you watch TV, but the point is they can be!
When it came to the upstairs bedrooms, I wanted to make things simpler, so I ordered a few Sonos One speakers and just put one in each room. These little guys pack a loud punch and bring all the great sound technology of the larger and more expensive pieces, plus they are all Alexa compatible so it is like having the whole house wired for it. They also just recently came out with a portable speaker that you can bring with you out and about (if only we waited a few months we would have gotten those!).
Final List & Cost
As I mentioned before, it was not the cheapest thing I have ever done, but most of the time I don’t have much input on the design and home purchases so it felt good to be in charge of this aspect of our renovation. I considered the Sonos an investment for two reasons. First, it is something I use every single day (I am HUGE on investing more into items I use everyday…more on that in another post) and secondly, these speakers and accessories are mostly portable when we move someday.
Final Price Tag ~$5k
*Note: They also come in Speaker Sets, so instead of buying products individually, you can save some money if you buy them as a kit.
I am a firm believer that this is the best sound and the best user experience in the market and we could not be happier with the purchase. Even if you have a smaller condo or maybe just want to get your feet wet, I recommend getting a soundbar for your TV this holiday season or even just a Sonos One to liven up the kitchen or basement a bit. Once you get started, you will understand and want them all.
How We Use It Every Day
Okay, Casey here again. I’m not gonna lie, this was a BIG investment for us during our home renovation and in the beginning, I wasn’t on board. I just didn’t understand why we couldn’t use cheaper speakers or just use our Alexa. But after living here and using the system daily, I get it! The sound is crystal clear, it’s amazing to be able to control it from your phone, and you can easily move the sound from room to room. It’s a great investment in our home and in our daily happiness (plus, those second-floor speakers can move with us!).
For me, I now play music or podcasts while working from home. If I move around the house, I can easily change up which rooms are playing the sound. It’s nice and it really makes me feel less lonely during the day.
We have our Spotify accounts hooked up to our Sonos so I can easily find my playlists, saved songs, and more.
I’m still not a music aficionado, so I actually asked you guys for some advice on your favorite playlists to listen to while working. Here’s what you had to share…
Spotify Playlists to Listen to When Working
- Nancy Meyers’ Kitchen (I can vouch for this one, it’s amazing and I’m obsessed with every movie she has ever created).
- Throwback Jams
- Guilty Pleasures
- Acoustic Love
- Love Pop
- Roadhouse Radio
- Hipster Cocktail Party
- Deep Focus
- Brain Food
- Pop Chillout
- Pumpkin Spice State of Mind
- The Piano Guys
- 70’s Road Trip
- Yacht Rock
- Indie Folk
- Roots Revival
- Have a Good Day
- Your Favorite Coffeehouse
- Barack Obama’s Summer Playlist
I’ve worked my way through a lot of these and you guys have such good taste in music (far better than mine will ever be!). If you have any other great Spotify playlists, share them in the comments below! And let us both know what speaker setup you have in your household. We’d love to learn about other systems out there.Casey&Finn