So here’s the thing: As far as I’m concerned, us DJs simply have to hear more music than most people, in order to claim the right to be DJs! Not only that, but we have to whittle that music down into a killer collection, and finally into a killer setlist – and we all know how hard it can be to find the time to listen to and sort our new music regularly enough.
For the last few months I’ve been experimenting with Sonos (the multi-room, wireless music solution), and while I’ve got loads of opinions on what’s good and bad about it, one thing I can tell you for certain: It’s probably trebled the amount of music I get to listen to at home (that is to say, evenings and weekends, away from work). If you’ve seen Sonos and wondered how it might help DJs, this post should hopefully shed some light on it and help you decide if it’s for you (and no, nobody’s paid me to write this and yes, I did buy the gear; just felt this was worth sharing):
- It’s got awesome universal search – This is what I really, really love about it. You subscribe to a whole bunch of services, and it’ll search across not only your local music (ie on your computer or NAS), but also all the online services you subscribe to. Start typing “DFA Records”, for instance, and there you go: All the juicy new DFA stuff across all your channels – remixes, bootlegs, unreleased stuff from blogs, official releases – ready for a single tap to play any of it
- You can make meaningful playlists on the fly – I have “DJ shortlist” and “DJ to buy”, plus a “Mixes” playlist (there are lots of full mixes at the end of label compilation albums, for instance) again across all of those services, so it makes it really fast and simple to tag stuff you may be interested in from your phone as you’re wandering around the house doing other stuff
- It works with a load of excellent music services – I personally adore Hype Machine, SoundCloud (for producers, not mixes, of course), shuffler.fm and 8tracks for awesome curated music discovery, and they’re all there meaning it’s so fast to hear what’s new on them around your house from the phone in your pocket/hand. Add in all the usual suspects (Spotify, Deezer, Rdio – another good one – and Google Play Music, etc) and it’s pretty comprehensive
- It’s got web radio on it too – I love the BBC new music shows but also stuff like Ibiza Sonica for exciting tunes. Check, they’re all there, so your smartphone / Sonos system doubles up as a killer global radio app, too
- It’s truly wireless – The whole point about wireless audio is that you tap into an app on your phone and the music just comes on, right? It’s meant to make it really simple. Thing is with Bluetooth and AirPlay, if you do this from your phone and wander out of range, it goes off again. I have tried this type of solution, and found it so annoying! With Sonos, it doesn’t. It sets up the link (say, between Spotify and your Sonos speaker), then you can go down the shops, phone in pocket, for all it cares; it just carries on
There’s stuff I don’t like. Mixcloud isn’t there (you need to do a workaround which is too long to go into here), saved music in playlists can disappear (it happens sometimes with Hype Machine, for instance, when the source file is removed), and you always have to play from the Sonos app (you can’t play from Soundcloud’s app, for instance). And DJing through it is a total no-no; even if you have one of the speakers with a Line In, there’s a small but noticeable delay. Finally, of course, your playlists won’t work outside of your home and home wi-fi network. This is a “listen at home” thing.
But overall the aim of experimenting with Sonos for me was to see if it got me listening to more, and more interesting, music. I can’t think of anything else in the last 10 years that’s so devastatingly successfully managed that. It’s that good. If you’ve been considering getting a speaker or two for your home, I’d say go for it!
• Buy Sonos stuff on Amazon here.
Do you have a streaming music system, Sonos or other? Are you considering one? Or do you think this kind of thing is a waste of money? Please share your thoughts in the comments.