Onkyo and Integra have both issued releases regarding certain of their models now being certified as "Works with Sonos". What's that then?
Well for starters it is further sign of Sonos stretching out from its notoriously walled garden to allow interoperability with other brands. This has been previously signalled by the adoption of voice control via third-party solutions (Alexa is working with some Sonos gear, and Google Voice Assistant is on a promise), by the forthcoming inclusion of AirPlay 2 and Siri control of certain Sonos models, and other tie-ups.
The new 'Works with Sonos' certification is described by Sonos as "certifying products that seamlessly connect with the Sonos Home Sound System. The badge helps you answer the question, “Will this work with my Sonos?” The badge helps people choose products that meet Sonos’ exacting standards for design and sound."
This is not, however, the equivalent of having Chromecast inside, or a HEOS or BluOS module built into the certified equipment. These products won't work with Sonos on their own, they don't have Sonos inside - at least not yet.
Rather for the Integra and Onkyo models you have to purchase a Sonos Connect box, put it alongside your amp or receiver, and plug it into a spare input.
Presto, Sonos through your amplifier.
Some might think this not particularly clever, given that you could plug the Sonos Connect into any amp or receiver in the world, certified or no. You could similarly then also group them with other Sonos products as detailed under the 'Works with Sonos' releases.
So the difference within the certification appears to be that the certified Onkyo and Integra models will be able to react to the Sonos control interface, allowing users to switch input sources (to Sonos, presumably) and adjust volume level.
Which we guess saves you a whole button press of your amplifier remote control!
Whether there is also a quality process within Sonos' statement of certifying "products that meet Sonos’ exacting standards for design and sound" will becomemore clear as we see what other products are granted the badge.
For now, compatible Onkyo models are the TX-8270, TX-NR686, TX-RZ1100, TX-RZ3100, PR-RZ5100, TX-RZ730 and TX-RZ830.
Compatible Integra models including the DRC-R1, DRC-R1.1, DRX-7, DRX-7.1, DRX-R1, DRX-R1.1, and the soon-to-be-released DRX-3.2, DRX-4.2, DRX-5.2.
It's interesting to note that other brands listed by Sonos as Certified Partners under 'Works with Sonos' include Lutron, Wink, Yonomi, Wrensilva, TunesMap, iPort, Alarm.com, ABB, Logitech, URC, and Rako.
Interesting because most of these are in the smart-home space, not the audio industry, and because for some of these, the control goes the other way.
With Wink, for example, it is the ability of a Wink Hub to control your Sonos system along with other smart home devices that goes under the 'Works with Sonos' badge.
already 'Works with Sonos'
Similarly for URC, a new URC module allows for simple and reliable Sonos control as part of the company's fully-integrated Total Control 2.0. Lutron’s Caséta Wireless, RA2 Select, RadioRA 2, and HomeWorks QS smart home systems can or will control Sonos in addition to lighting, blinds and central heating.
All about control
So 'Works with Sonos' seems to be primarily about control - other systems that can control Sonos, or Sonos being able to control other systems. It's most also likely about licensing, and about Sonos embedding its strong position in the smart-home environment against other platforms such as Chromecast, HEOS, BluOS and MusicCast, which are becoming available not only in wireless speakers and soundbars, but as platform technologies embedded within (rather than merely plugged into) amplifiers, receivers and other audio and AV equipment.
We'll add more to this story as it happens.
For more information on Onkyo and Integra in Australia, visit Amber Technology
For more information on Sonos, visit Sonos