A Sonos speaker on top of a side table
Photo: Sonos

Sonos will be introducing a new app and S2 operating system in June that will support current and future wireless speakers but not older "legacy" models in the company's lineup.

The platform will allow for a variety of new personalization features, Sonos says, including the automatic grouping of speakers frequently played together. It will also enable the streaming of the better-sounding high-resolution audio offered on services like Amazon Music and Tidal.

The S2 app will work with every speaker in the current Sonos line, including the Sonos Play:5 and Sonos One SL wireless speakers, and the Sonos Move and Sonos One smart speakers. The new app will also work with recently discontinued models like the Play:3, the Play:1, and the first-generation Sonos One. Future Sonos models introduced after April will work only with the S2 app.

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However, the new system won’t work with older models like the first-generation, pre-2015 Play:5, the Zone players, first-generation Connect and Connect:Amp, the Bridge, and the CR 200, which lack the memory and processing power to run the new features.

Those older devices will be confined to a version of the current app, which will now be called Sonos S1. The renamed app will provide bug fixes and security updates, but not the new S2 features.

Consumers with a multispeaker system comprised solely of S2 components simply have to load the new app, which will just be called "Sonos." Those with just S1 components can continue to use the existing app, which will be renamed "S1."

But those with a mix of S1 and S2 components have a decision to make in June. Here are the choices.

Option 1: Remove the S1-only products from the system and use the new app to run the S2 components.

Option 2: Upgrade from the S1-only products to S2-compatible equivalents. For customers who choose this option, Sonos is offering a 30 percent discount on new S2 generation speakers as part of its Trade Up program.

Under an earlier version of the Trade Up program, owners of S1 devices had to remotely disable (or "brick") their devices to get the discount, but after consumer backlash, the company reversed its position. Instead of bricking a device, customers merely need to enter the serial number on the company's website and they can continue to use the device, give it away, or recycle it.

Option 3: Run the existing system on the S1 app. Sonos will still deliver bug fixes and security patches to S1 and S2 devices alike and, the company says, it will work with its partners to keep  music and voice services functioning for as long as possible.

Option 4: Divide the system in two, with the newer devices running on the S2 app and the older devices on the S1 app. Sonos says it will publish detailed instructions on how to do that, adding that it won’t be possible to group an S1 system with an S2 system.

In the end, there's no ideal solution for Sonos's longtime customers, but the company's speakers have routinely been among the best performers in Consumer Reports' lab tests, with the newest-generation Play:5 and Sonos One SL wireless speakers and the Sonos Move and Sonos One smart speakers sitting near the top of the rankings in their respective categories.