Music lovers probably know that Sonos entered the Japanese market a year ago. But for those who haven’t joined or heard about the Sonos hype yet, the California-based company is hugely popular for its speakers and home sound systems. Sonos products are smart, adaptable and stylish while offering great sound quality. And they work with most streaming services too.
My husband, Kotaro, and I recently acquired four Sonos products and we were eager to see how well they fit and perform in a typical Japanese home. Since we had a baby last December, our entertainment options are pretty limited, so we couldn't wait to try them out.
Which Sonos products did we try?
We had two Sonos One speakers with Alexa built-in, Sonos Beam, a compact soundbar, Sonos Playbase, a sound base speaker that doubles up as a TV stand, and finally Sonos Sub, the statement piece of the collection with its classy design and great bass.
How was the Sonos setup process in our Japanese apartment?
As promised, the setup process was extremely simple; after downloading the Sonos app, we just followed the instructions on our phone. The installation only took a few minutes. Since everything is wireless, no need for cables like with a traditional sound system. The app will also choose the best sound settings for the size, shape of your room and speaker position. Trueplay is spatially-aware tuning technology available in the Sonos app. It uses the microphone in your iOS device to measure how sound reflects off walls, furnishings and other surfaces in a room, and fine tunes your Sonos speaker to make sure it sounds great no matter where you've placed it. Completing Trueplay tuning for a room takes approximately three minutes from start to finish. You can also manually adjust the volume, treble and bass in your app.
When it was time to install the Sonos One speakers, we made an exciting discovery: they also double up as background speakers for the Beam, creating a full 5.1 surround sound experience.
As soon as everything was ready, my husband lunged for the TV remote and put on a soccer game. To be fair, even though I don’t particularly care for soccer, I was instantly amazed. We felt like we were IN the stadium. We could even hear each kick as the ball was being passed from player to player. I couldn’t wait to blast music and binge watch all my favorite action movies on Netflix.
What was it like living with a Sonos system in Japan?
After two weeks with our Sonos home sound system, we can say the experience has been overwhelmingly positive. The sound quality is truly amazing. We also love being able to listen to music everywhere in the house. Even their smaller speaker, the One offers noticeably better sound than our Google Home, so Sonos is a dream come true for tech-savvy audiophiles.
Sonos One is small, but don’t be fooled by its size. The speaker is surprisingly powerful. When watching movies late at night, we also like night sound and enhanced speech functions, which are useful in Japanese homes with thin walls. Since we have a baby we REALLY don’t want to wake, it’s great to be able to tone down loud sounds while still being able to hear what is being said clearly.
We love how you can mix and match Sonos speakers to build the best sound system for your living situation. You can also start small and add more to your setup later. For young singles living in studio type apartments, Beam or even just two Sonos One speakers would be enough to turn your place into a rad party pad or a gamer’s paradise (without angering your neighbors too much, that is).
My husband and I live in a Japanese mansion-type apartment and honestly, we probably wouldn’t get a subwoofer unless we were living in a house. The Beam, Playbase and the One surround speakers combo is hitting just the right spot for us. Do we love the Sub though? Yes, we do.
Also, if you are planning on leaving Japan in a few years, no need to part with your beloved sound system. Your Sonos products will work anywhere you go and adapt to different voltages. Moreover, the power cords are detachable and can be replaced easily, so no need to get adapters. We also like how the Sonos app and the user guides are available in different languages. Tech support is available 24/7 in English, which is a big plus for expats in a country like Japan.
One thing to note: Alexa is the only personal assistant currently supported in Japan, but Google Assistant will be available before Christmas in Japan. If you are a Siri user, do not despair. Although Siri is not available within the Sonos App, it works via Airplay 2 already. Thankfully, most streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music are already supported.
Just in time for the Rugby World Cup
My husband and I are planning to hold a Rugby World Cup viewing party to really test our Sonos home sound system. Awesome, right? No need to go to a sports bar to watch big, beefy men in tiny shorts fighting over a ball. Maybe we are getting old, but surely this is even better than the real deal: You get the immersive experience without the crowds and sweaty neighbors. Speaking of which, these speakers will be great for the Olympics. Bring on 2020!