Shootout: Three Wireless Multiroom Music Systems Page 4

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Sonos Digital Music System

The Sonos Digital Music System earned several honors last year, including a Sound & Vision Editors' Choice Award. The company recently added a new receiver/player module but was smart enough not to mess with this simple and elegantly styled product. The controller and ZonePlayers (as the receivers are called) are housed in white or gray plastic with minimal controls, and the handheld LCD controller boasts an iPod-like scroll-wheel. But the Sonos notably lacks a hard drive, CD player, or any onboard media storage. Instead, it taps into your computer, auxiliary drive, or audio source component to distribute music around the house.

SETUP The CR100 controller's menus and few buttons run the entire Sonos system. With it you can access all the music on your computer, as well as on any network-compatible external hard drive (such as the pre-loaded 200-GB Maxtor drive Sonos supplied for our review). The wireless CR100 remote ($399) operates from anywhere within 100 feet of any Sonos player, and can be used as a handheld or docked in the optional CC100 charging cradle ($50).

A ZonePlayer goes in each of your remote rooms to receive streaming music. The system is quite expandable - it accommodates as many as 32 players via wired Ethernet or six to 15 players via Wi-Fi (how many depends on the bit rates of your files).

The original ZP100 ZonePlayer ($499) has a built-in 50-watt-per-channel stereo amplifier to drive a pair of speakers - either your own or Sonos's matching SP100 bookshelf speakers ($179 a pair). The new ZP80 ZonePlayer omits the speaker amp for rooms where you already have a sound system to plug into. The ZP80 is available individually ($349), or in a bundle consisting of a controller and two ZP80s ($999). Sonos also sells a ZP100 bundle ($1,199).

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