Sonos has “always been a consumer device,” says integrator Joe Whitaker, who invented the Concealer. “That is how they will always go. Let other companies like Leon and Flexson develop products to make them custom.”
CEDIA Expo 2015 will see a range of new products that bring custom features and enhancements to Sonos boxes, allowing integrators to bring extra value to a product sold by every big-box shop.
Here is what CE Pro has discovered so far in the Sonos-upgrade department.
Thenos Recessed Sonos Enclosure
Like Joe, Chris Manouel is an integrator who saw a need for a more elegant Sonos mounting solution that looks better than having a big box hanging on the wall.
As a Sonos dealer himself, Chris points out, “People don’t want to see a speaker on a table or a wall.”
So the owner of Dallas-based Honest Install invented the PlayBox, a recessed housing enclosure for the Play:1 speaker, and launched a company called Thenos.
Making its debut at CEDIA, Thenos plans to sell PlayBox direct to dealers, through distribution and to consumers at full list price.
The enclosure has an integrated box for power, enabling a direct connection to in-wall Romex, and there is a DIY version that comes with a low-voltage power relocation kit.
Thenos also will produce a metal-clad version for the commercial market.
The PlayBox will be available in both black and white – the bezels are paintable—and Chris says he does not yet have a target price for the products.
He adds that “multiple” design patents for the box are pending.
ToneCase from Leon Speakers
Earlier this year, Leon Speakers – king of the custom cabinets – introduced ToneCase, a line of products that conceal Sonos PLAY bookshelf speakers and Playbar soundbar.
Now, the world gets to see and touch these products for the first time at CEDIA, where Leon will have “a full wall dedicated to ToneCase,” says marketing director Ethan Kaplan.
The ToneCase line includes a TV mount for the Playbar soundbar (TcFIT) and a series of cabinets to house Sonos PLAY speakers.
Ethan says that that the Playbar version of ToneCase, the TcFIT, has been one of Leon’s biggest success stories in company history … “and we haven’t even shown it!”
Unlike some other generic TV mounting systems that accommodate Sonos and a wide variety of other soundbars, Leon’s version is specific to Playbar, with cable management in all the right places and custom grilles to match the specific TV on which the speaker is mounted.
The ToneCase Wooden Cabinets, which make Sonos speakers look like traditional wooden shelf speakers, are slightly more difficult for integrators to visualise, Ethan says. But the hands-on display at CEDIA should be just the ticket.
Next Level Acoustics Elite Series for Playbar
Leon isn’t the only game in town when it comes to Playbar accessories. Founded this year, Next Level Acoustics also makes a product that allows the Playbar to attach cleanly to a TV and disappear beneath a magnetic grille.
The Elite Series Sonos Playbar Case comes in various sizes to match different TVs, and it features tapered ends to mimic the side perspective of a display.
Next Level owner Robert Goldman tells CE Pro that the acoustic qualities of the case “enhance the sound of the Playbar itself.”
Interior side reflectors focus sound to the listening areas to improve intelligibility, according to the company, and a rigid cavity increases mid-bass performance. There’s an open top panel with inset grilles to provide the “necessary high-frequency ‘breathing room’” to match the Playbar.
The removable magnetic grille is partially inset for “additional structural integrity,” and the mesh weave on the grille allows for IR pass-through.
Robert says Next Level is currently developing a bracket back option for the Elite Case that will pair with a depth-adjusting bracket (AEON-90200 by AV-Express) that mounts to the TV. The combo will allow the Playbar case to swivel.
According to Robert, the bracket back model may be mounted directly above or below the TV while the TV is on its own factory stand, using the mounting holes on the back of the TV.
“The bracket back model allows for 4-inch depth adjustment forwards and backwards,” he says, “to ensure that the case is perfectly flush with either the top or bottom of the TV.”
Next Level also offers snap-on grilles in different sizes to best match the display.
Flexson – a Bevy of Sonos Accessories
Flexson has been making Sonos accessories almost since before Sonos was born.
Today the company offers wall mounts and stands for PLAY speakers, as well as a TV mount for Playbar. There are wall mounts for the Sonos Connect amp and newish Sonos Boost, a TV stand that for the Playbar, and some digital/analog attachments for the Playbar.
But the coolest of them all? ColourPlay skins for PLAY speakers, SUB and amp.
At CEDIA, Flexson products will be shown by U.S. distributor American Audio & Video.
It may sound pretty simple, but the Concealer from Vanco has some patent-pending features that enable a Sonos Play:1 (or other box speakers) to become in-ceiling speakers in a rather elegant way.