Sonos Radio Takes On Apple Music & Spotify With Original, Ad-Free Streaming

Best known for its popular line of wireless home speakers, Sonos has been working on launching its radio service, Sonos Radio -- a free, ad-supported service that includes 60,000 stations plus original content.

According to the Sonos Radio website, the service is “an Internet radio service, exclusively available on Sonos. It features 60,000 radio stations from around the world, including a selection of genre stations with music expertly curated by Sonos.”

Sonos Radio, positioning itself as a one-stop-shop, doesn’t require its users to download another app - it is simply rolled into all new and existing Sonos systems within the current Sonos app, version 11.1 or later. It will be available for the U.S., Canada, U.K., Ireland, and Australia.

The service will be available to roughly 10 million homes, and it will be supported the same as every other streaming music service that works with the company’s app. Those options include Spotify, Apple Music, and Deezer, as well as local radio stations (depending on your zip code), international stations, and internet radio services like TuneIn and iHeartRadio.

(via Digital Trends): If it sounds like Sonos Radio has a lot in common with radio-like features from Apple Music (think Beats 1) and Spotify (Discover Weekly), you’re right. However, there are two big differences at launch. First, Sonos Radio only works when you’re listening to a Sonos system. Just like the Sonos app can’t be used to access its hundreds of other music sources when you’re away from home, Sonos Radio is tethered to your Sonos wireless music speakers.

Second, all Sonos Radio streams are limited to just 128 kbps. For those who don’t pay much attention to digital audio bitrates, this is a low-bandwidth stream that will not sound as good as streaming from sources like Apple Music, Spotify Premium, or Tidal, or even your private collection of songs.

Gizmodo, however, mentions that there are two experiences under the Sonos Presents banner. The first one is Sonos Sound System, “which is actually ad-free, looks like it’s the one meant for music discovery,” and is “a station curated and hosted by a Sonos team and recorded from a studio in Sonos’ flagship store in New York City.” The second experience is artist-curated stations, where “artists will continue to update their stations over time.” The biggest of these queued up for launch belongs to Thom Yorke, whose station will be called “In the absence thereof…”:

“Here in a new form is that ever rolling compilation / office chart habit of mine of putting together what I have found recently that fascinates or moves me, what obsesses me, challenges me, opens new doors, reminds me of what I might have forgotten, is insanely complex or elegantly simple, violent, funny, messy, heavy or light. Whatever has hit me over the head basically. It may be new or old or just dug up again. With all this time we have behind doors I hope this provides a welcome connection and escape...and perhaps stops the walls closing in quite so quick.” - Thom

For the free service, Gizmodo does warn that with it being ad-supported, there are issues with data privacy and whether what you’re listening to is being harvested for insights.

“Sonos Radio is voluntary and comes with a new terms of service agreement,” the company counters. It also mentions that “no personally identifiable information is shared for Sonos Radio, but that general location data may be collected.”