Why you might want a $99 Sonos Boost in your system

New accessory can help boost performance in challenging wireless environments

Published: October 15, 2014 01:30 PM
The Sonos Boost acts like a supercharged Sonos Bridge.

We recently reported that thanks to a recent software update, in many situations you can now connect a Sonos speaker directly to your home Wi-Fi network, without at least one device needing a wired connection to the router. So why is Sonos now offering the Sonos Boost, a $99 accessory that uses a wired connection to your router?

Actually, there are a few reasons why you'd want a Boost. One is that you may have a number of devices already on your network, and it's become sluggish or suffers from interference problems. Another is if you want to use your Sonos speakers as part of a home-theater set-up. In either of these cases, you'll want either a Sonos Bridge ($49) or Boost.

Think of the Boost as a supercharged Sonos Bridge. Both devices make a wired connection to your router, and then create a dedicated mesh network on a separate wireless channel for all your Sonos speakers.

If you're currently using a Bridge and it works fine, there's no need to switch to a Boost. But if you have a more challenging wireless environment and have experienced performance issues using the Bridge, then getting a Boost may be the solution. About twice as powerful as the bridge, the Boost has three internal antennas that broadcast in all directions, including through walls and ceilings. Compared to the Bridge, the Boost has a greater range, more uniform coverage, and better rejection of interference.

To find the right wireless speakers, check out our Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Speaker Ratings.

Thanks to the recent software update, those with decent broadband networks can now set up a multiroom Sonos system by connecting the speakers directly to their home networks; you no longer need to have at least one device being hardwired to a router.

But if you want to create a 3.1- or 5.1-channel home theater setup—using the Playbar sound bar or rear speakers, plus a subwoofer—you're going to need at least one Sonos speaker, or a Sonos Bridge or Boost, wired to your router. In this type of setup, a wired connection is needed to eliminate latency issues, which can cause lip-sync delays between the video and the audio in TV shows and movies. (If you'll be using a stand-alone Playbar speaker without the optional subwoofer, you can use the Wi-Fi setup.)

If you currently have a wired connection or already use a Sonos Bridge, you should leave your system as is, since it's still the most reliable way to connect, unless you're having issues. If so, then the Sonos Boost may be a worthwhile addition to help you get the most out of your Sonos system. To get our full reviews of all the Sonos speakers currently available, check out our Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Speaker Ratings, which are available to subscribers.

—James K. Willcox

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