Obviously, I like my music, but it hasn’t really been until recently that I’ve become a bit of a snob about what I listen to it on (I blame Sennheiser and my ace Momentum headphones). No matter what you’re playing, if it’s through a poor quality pair of speakers, it sounds a bit crappy right? But I was yet to invest on a decent pair for my home.

So, last month (yes, last month, I told you I’d been a little slack with my blogging lately!) I was excited to be invited by Joe Blogs and Currys PC World up to the recently opened Sonos Studio in Shoreditch to preview the new Sonos Play:5 speaker and participate in a speaker ‘building’ workshop.

sonosbuilding

Photo by Joe Blogs

You may not be familiar with Sonos? They’re an American company who produce products and software to tranform the home sound system for the digital age. Using their wireless speaker systems they aim to make listening a valuable experience and optimise the quality of music within the home.

sonos

There are a variety of products (and even streaming services!) within the Sonos range (which starts at £169 for the Play:1 speaker), but I’m going to talk to you about the Play:5 and the new Trueplay software.

Play:5

The new Play:5 wireless multi-room speaker is an upgrade to the original Play:5, their first wireless speaker released in 2009. My understanding is that this is the first time that Sonos have retired a product and reinvented it – and from reviews I’d read of the original version in the past it was a tough one to follow.

play5

But they seem to have managed it. The new Play:5 is, aesthetically, simpler and more modern. It’s an attractive piece of kit, available in either black or white and can be orientated three ways (horizontally, or both ways vertically) – which I believe explains the clean design, required to support this function. This versatility in orientation allows greater flexibility in placement and makes it look a bit more natural when paired with another speaker (since the release of the Play:5 Sonos have announced stereo pairing so perhaps this was deliberate?).

One thing I find interesting about the new design is that it’s actually larger than it’s predecessor – looking at other consumer electronics (classic example being the Playstation) the general trend is for upgrades to be smaller and thinner. Now this may be a little above my tech understanding but I believe it’s something to do with the quality of the bass – by getting rid of the bass port the bass sound is cleaner and deeper, which is worth losing some sleekness for in my opinion.

play5apart

There are other changes in appearance too, such as the front grille, which is now plastic rather than metal so as not to interfere with the wireless performance. But we’re not talking cheap looking plastic, this is classy stuff! The top mounted touch controls (play/pause, volume and track change) are sleek and alter dependent on orientation which is a nice touch.

The Play:5 features six speaker drivers (an increase to the five featured on the original model) with six matching Class D amplifiers, three custom designed 10cm mid-woofers and three tweeters. Now that’s all a bit techy for me, but I can tell you 100% that the sound that comes from this single speaker is HUGE. In case you can’t tell, the Play:5 is most definitely on my wishlist! It’s a shame it’s out of my current budget at £429 – but if it’s affordable to you I’d definitely recommend it!

Trueplay

With the release of the Play:5 comes some impressive new software called Trueplay. Before I tell you about Trueplay, I should perhaps mention that the Sonos speakers can be controlled via a phone app. And it’s a surprisingly easy set up.

Anyway, Trueplay – we had a nice demo of this at the workshop using a speaker placed under a sofa and turned against the walls. Trueplay tailors the output of speakers to optimise the sound dependent on where they are placed within a room. Using the app you can kind of scan the room – I believe it uses the microphone to measure speaker response and adjust the sound accordingly.

Now to my mind Trueplay has one negative – it’s currently only compatible with iPhones/iPads/iPods, Android isn’t yet supported. But as you only need to analyse a room once, you could maybe find a friend with an iPhone if you don’t have one?

On the plus side, although Trueplay was released with the Play:5, you can upgrade the software on existing Sonos speakers to work with Trueplay. Actually, the ease with which you can upgrade the software to Sonos products was something I found really impressive. Sonos design their speakers to last around ten years, so the ability to update the software regularly will keep them performing at their best. Almost makes that £429 price tag seem affordable, right?

The Challenge

After learning about the Sonos range and Trueplay we were split into two teams and challenged to build our own speakers Blue Peter style, as well as to come up with a marketing plan and sales pitch.

speakerbuilding

Photo by Joe Blogs

Despite me being a shy and retiring wallflower I had to do the talking for my team. Needless to say we lost, haha!

The Studio

I found the Sonos Studio to be a very interesting place, and a little gem in a convenient location in Shoreditch. The studio itself is on the first floor, and features listening rooms where consumers can test out the different types of speakers before buying. It’s a great space, with the main area designed to just seem like a living room. There’s also a little workshop – I’m not sure exactly how much development is actually done there, but it gave a good effect!

sonoslounge

Something I was excited about was the ground floor cafe. It’s a lovely, quiet, creative space with plenty of power outlets – absolutely perfect for some quiet time to get some work done if need be, or even just for a coffee and chat with your friends.

The drinks and food were reasonably priced and looked delicious. I tried the toasted banana bread with a hot chocolate and it was lovely. I even liked the look of the salads, and I’m really not a salad person!

sonossalad

I would definitely recommend popping in to Sonos Studio, if not for the speakers, than for the food!

sonoscafe

Thank you for having me Sonos, and for giving me the opportunity to have a sneak peak of your awesome new product!

L xx

All photos my own unless stated otherwise.

You can take a look at the official Currys PC World blog post on the event here.

Last night I was really excited to have had the chance to attend an evening with Sennheiser and Currys PC World, where Sennheiser were showcasing their latest Momentum 2.0 headphone range.

The evening started with a generous free bar, some delicious canapes, and the chance to socialise with other bloggers. I had the pleasure of meeting some lovely ladies; Milly of Mini Adventures, Leanne of Broke In The Big Smoke, Claire of Country Mouse Claire, Olivia of Beauty From The Fjord and Danielle of Keep It Simp Elle amongst others. The venue, Noir W1 in Marylebone, was lovely, although the lighting made taking photos a tough task!

sennfood

Representatives from Sennheiser were on hand to tell us all about the range and answer any questions we may have. I have to admit that, although obviously I’m a big music fan, I’m not somebody who usually splurges on headphones – I’ve always meant to, and a lot of my friends, who are heavily into their music always rave about Sennheiser. So I was really keen to give the range a try!

The products we were shown were the second generation in the Momentum range, having built on the already popular product by enhancing comfort and portability.

senn

The Over-Ear style (RRP £269.99) were the real star of the show, which is no surprise as they were recently named EISA’s European Headphones 2015-2016. Available in three colourways; black, ivory and brown, they’re timelessly stylish, a really good looking pair of headphones that won’t date and the materials used (stainless steel and leather headbands/ear pads) are top quality – these look expensive. You can really tell that Sennheiser have put a lot of thought into the design; the leather ear pads make them ridiculously comfortable (perfect for those long haul flights!) and the headband is surprisingly flexible, you’d be surprised how far it bends! This really helps when folding these otherwise bulky headphones up into a more travel friendly size and shape.

As for the sound, I spent a little while trying out the Over-Ears, having a little silent disco for one listening to the new Bring Me The Horizon while the venue were playing house music. The sound was perfect, and even before I hit play on my iPhone, the ear pads manage to cancel out all the surrounding noise. Faultless.

sennselfie

I was really excited to hear that Sennheiser will soon be launching a Bluetooth wireless pair with Active Noise Cancellation, so I’ll be saving my pennies for those! They apparantly have a 22 hour battery life too (with Bluetooth and NoiseGard activated), which I think is pretty impressive!

The smaller On-Ear headphones (RRP £169.99 – but Currys PC World currently have a fab deal on!) have the same features as the Over-Ear, they’re just smaller and use Alcantara where the Over-Ear use leather. I don’t see this as a bad thing though, it’s still a high quality material (I personally didn’t notice the difference!) and makes the range more accessible to those who don’t like to purchase leather. As with the Over-Ears, they’re available in black, ivory and brown.

sennonear

Also in the Momentum range are an In-Ear model (RRP £89.99). Currently available in a gorgeous black and red colourway, they’ll soon be released in a classic black chrome finish. I wasn’t expecting to be impressed by in-ear headphones – I’ve always found them a little uncomfortable and just use them as needs must for the gym really. But the Momentum In-Ears feature a personalised fit (they come with ear adapters in different sizes) promising optimum comfort as well as the expected top notch listening experience. As with the rest of the range, the materials used are luxurious; the In-Ears acoustic pipes are made of custom machined stainless steel (which apparantly produces more accurate sound). And, being someone who can destroy or jumble up a cable within minutes, I was really impressed with the strength of the tangle-free cable!

As well as finding out about the new products, we were treated to a couple of music related workshops.

Juno Records were on hand to teach us a little about vinyl. Being of the CD and digital music generation, vinyl isn’t something I’ve ever purchased, so I was really interested to hear that vinyl sales have been growing each year since 2011. It seems that new labels are keen to differentiate themselves from the download-only labels, and provide an attractive and collectible product for a more hands on, personalised listening experience. Makes sense to me!

One of the highlights of the evening for me was the mini DJ masterclass I received from John The Baptist. Having never DJ’d before, and having no natural rhythm, I think I was a hard one to teach!

senndj

The lovely Milly went straight after me and I think she did a much better job! To everyone who thinks DJs have a much easier job than live bands – trust me, there’s more to it than you’d think!

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I had such an amazing evening, and I’m sure you’ll be seeing more Sennheiser posts from me in the not too distant future. Thank you for having me Sennheiser and Currys PC World! And thank you Joe Blogs for hooking a girl up!

To see more pics of the night, check out the #SoundsOfSennheiser tag on Instagram. You can read the official blog post here.

L xx

Pssst… I hear Broke In The Big Smoke may be doing a little giveaway sometime soon – keep an eye out!

All photos my own.

Please note that where applicable my links direct to the iPhone compatible models, the IEi. For Android you’ll need the IEG version.