A big update is on the way for Sonos devices. In fact, it's probably the biggest update in the company's history, marking the end of the beginning and ushering in a whole new chapter.
The new update is known as 'S2' and is referred to by Sonos as "a new app and operating system (OS) that will power the next generation of products and experiences". It will, in other words, pave the way for new Sonos devices and features such as hi-res audio.
But the S2 update also marks the end of the line for some older Sonos products that simply don't have the processing power required to keep pace.
So, what is Sonos S2? When will it be available? Which products are compatible? And what new features will it introduce? All of those questions are answered below.
What is Sonos S2?
Sonos refers to S2 as a new app and operating system, so essentially a complete update to the software side of the ecosystem. Any compatible Sonos devices that you have will be automatically updated to S2 when it becomes available on 8th June, and you'll be prompted to download the new app for the phones, tablets and/or computers that you use to control your kit.
Sonos S2 is apparently necessary so that Sonos can introduce new products and features, increase bandwidth and improve usability.
Sonos S2 release date
Sonos S2 will be released on 8th June 2020.
As mentioned, all compatible products will be updated automatically, and current Sonos users will be prompted to download a new app for their Android and iOS devices. Any new Sonos devices launched after May 2020, such as the just-announced Arc, Five and Sub Gen 3, will come with S2 pre-installed.
Sonos S2 features
Only one specific feature of S2 has so far been outlined, and that's something called 'Room Groups'. This allows users to create lasting groups of particular zones that you often use in unison - the lounge and kitchen, perhaps - so that you don't have to do so every time you start playing. You'll be able to do this as soon as the Sonos S2 platform launches.
That doesn't seem terribly exciting in and of itself, but Sonos has also mentioned a few other upgrades that sound much more thrilling even though they've not yet been fully detailed.
The big one as far as we're concerned is an increase in audio bandwidth that will enable the introduction of "higher resolution technologies for music and home theatre". So far, the only specific format talked about is Dolby Atmos, which is a feature of the company's new Arc soundbar, but we're hoping that hi-res FLAC and MQA music is also on the way.
Sonos also mentions usability enhancements that "make it easier to get to the music and content you love" and that "coming soon, we’ll add further enhancements that will allow an ever more connected and personal experiences on Sonos".
New Sonos S2 products
The fact that Sonos had specifically said that new products introduced after May will have S2 pre-installed told us that new products were on the way, and our bet was that one of the first out of the gates would be a Dolby Atmos soundbar to replace the fairly aged Playbar.
At the risk of tooting our own horn, we were right: the Sonos Arc is one of three new devices that the company has announced and that will run exclusively on the S2 platform.
The other two new products announced are the Five (essentially a mildly updated version of the existing Play:5) and a third-generation version of the Sub.
Beyond that, it's pretty much anyone's guess. The existing Sonos products that aren't compatible with the new S2 platform have either already been replaced (the Connect and Connect:Amp, for example) or likely never will be (the Bridge and dedicated controller).
The Play:3 is very long in the tooth now, so could well be replaced. A smaller, more affordable Move would make sense to us, too. Could Sonos even be planning a new range of ceiling- and wall-mountable speakers to take advantage of S2's Dolby Atmos credentials? Could a home cinema version of the new Amp even be on the way? We just don't know, but we're looking forward to finding out.
Sonos products compatible with S2
Thankfully, the vast majority of Sonos's existing products are compatible with the new S2 platform. Here's the full list:
Sub (Gen 1)
Sub (Gen 2)
Sub (Gen 3)
Sonos products that don't work with S2
Unfortunately, some of Sonos's older, 'legacy' products simply aren't powerful enough to handle S2, and so won't be able to download the update. Here's the list of products that will not work with Sonos S2:
Play:5 (Gen 1)
All Zone Players (ZP80, ZP90, ZP100, ZP120)
Connect (Gen 1)
Connect:Amp (Gen 1)
While it will be easy to tell which generation Play:5 you've got, as the Gen 1 model looks very different to the Gen 2, both generations of the Connect and Connect:Amp look identical. You can tell which version you've got by going to the 'About My System' section of the Sonos app. Our understanding is that devices sold in 2015 or earlier are incompatible with S2 but that those purchased later will work with it.
Sonos S2: what if you've got a mix of compatible and incompatible devices?
Those who boarded the Sonos train a while ago and have continued to add products to their system may well find that some of their devices are compatible with S2 while others are not. Those people have four options:
1) Keep the entire system, even if it includes some S2-compatible devices, on the S1 platform, knowing that you will be locked out of future features and will not be able to add any products that Sonos introduces to its range after May 2020.
2) Split the system in two, separating the S1 and S2 products. You'll be able to use the new app to operate the S2 system, and the original app to operate the S1 devices. That doesn't sound great, but you might find that your Sonos speakers are actually often used more or less independently of one another, perhaps even by different members of the family, in which case this could work.
3) Trade-up the S1 devices in your system. Sonos is still offering a 30 per cent discount on new devices bought when a legacy device is traded in, and it's no longer insisting that these trade-in devices be put into 'Recycle Mode' to be eligible.
4) Get rid of the S1 devices. Perhaps you've got a friend or family member who'd be delighted to receive a still perfectly capable Sonos product.
More help with Sonos S2
If you're still unclear about what the S2 update means for you, there's a dedicated help page on the Sonos website.
Sonos S2 device deals
If you're looking to buy one or more new Sonos devices that are compatible with S2, we're here to help you get the best price possible. Below you'll find just about all of the currently available S2-compatible Sonos products at today's lowest prices.