Hands on with Sonos and AirPlay

, purveyors of , recently made some interesting announcements. Along with the unveiling of a the company also released an update that allows those with Sonos components to incorporate Apple’s AirPlay streaming technology into their systems. I’ve had the chance to try AirPlay with my Sonos gear and it works this way.

Before you Sonos users gavotte with glee, note that Sonos has not incorporated the hardware necessary for their devices to play AirPlay streams natively. Rather, its AirPlay implementation is a workaround for current AirPlay limitations.

In order to bring an AirPlay stream to your Sonos system you must first acquire an AirPort Express Base Station. The base station will act as bridge between your home network and Sonos’ mesh network and deliver the AirPlay stream to your Sonos gear. Plug that base station into a power outlet, string an audio cable from the base station’s audio output port to an audio input on a Sonos unit. Then connect the two with an ethernet cable.

Fire up AirPort Utility, choose the AirPort Express Base Station, name it Sonos, and walk through the configuration process. During that process you’ll enable both the I Want AirPort Express To Join My Current Network and I Want To Disable The Wireless Network On This AirPort Express And Connect It To My Computer Or Network Using Ethernet options.

Using any Sonos controller select the unit attached to the base station, choose its Line In setting, and select AirPlay Device for the source name (using the Sonos Desktop Controller software on your Mac you can choose AirPlay Device from a Source Type pop-up menu). You can also select a particular device or group to play AirPlay content. And you can adjust the autoplay volume—helpful when you don’t want AirPlay volume to be radically different than the volume from other sources.