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Sonos To Open Up API To Simplify Integration With Smart Home Systems

Wireless multiroom-audio pioneer Sonos will open up its API to make it easier for home-automation suppliers to integrate with Sonos speakers and soundbars without having to reverse-engineer Sonos software.

But Sonos isn’t saying when.

The “next big thing for us” will be “opening aspects of our platform so other companies [home-automation suppliers] can work with it,” Michael Papish, platform strategies director, told TWICE during the CEDIA Expo.

Sonos wants to provide home-automation users with “the right amount of control without compromising sound quality and ease of use,” he said, without saying when the API would be available.

For years, home-automation suppliers have reverse-engineered Sonos technology to create applications enabling their home-automation systems to control Sonos systems, and Sonos “won’t cut them off,” Papish said. But when Sonos makes software updates, the reverse-engineered solutions “might not work,” he said. Creating a “standardized protocol” will prevent that problem, he said.

Many electronics systems contractors incorporate Sonos products in custom-installed multiroom-audio and home-automation systems as music sources. In many cases, they use multiple Sonos Connect:Amps placed in a third-party rack mount to drive in-wall and in-ceiling speakers, or installers use multiple Sonos Connect preamps to drive multizone amplifiers. Many such systems incorporate a mix of wired and wireless music zones.

Last December, Denon released its Heos API so that home-control systems could control Heos wireless-multiroom amps, preamps and tabletop speakers. The API also enables integration with Denon’s Heos Drive, a component-size rack-mount four-zone preamp/amp that incorporates Heos technology and distributes network-music and cloud sources around the house to in-wall and in-ceiling speakers. A mix of the Drive’s wired zones and Heos wireless zones can be controlled from the Heos app.

Heos products currently integrate with home-control systems from Control4, RTI, Pro Control, Key Digital’s Compass Control systems and Simple Control. Integration will be available soon with Crestron, URC, Honeywell’s Tuxedo systems and Fibaro systems, the company said.

Trueplay plans: In other comments on Sonos’ technology roadmap, Papish said the company is already at work on expanding the use of its new Trueplay room-correction technology to its soundbar and to Sonos 5.1-channel wireless home theater systems. Those systems combine the soundbar with two Sonos speakers repurposed as surrounds.

As previously announced, Trueplay will be available later this year as a software upgrade for first- and second-generation Sonos products, and it will be available in the new $499 flagship Play:5 single-chassis stereo speaker, also due later this year.

Trueplay works with one Sonos speaker, with two used as a stereo pair, and with 2.1 systems that include a Sonos subwoofer, Papish said.

For now, Trueplay setup can be accomplished only with a Trueplay app running on an iOS device, whose microphone is used to analyze pulsed 20Hz-20kHz tones emitted by Sonos speakers.  The app is designed for iOS-device microphones because of the “consistency of microphones on the iPad and iPhone over generations,” Papish explained. An Android app isn’t available because the microphones on Android phones differ from model to model and from carrier to carrier, he said, but Android-phone owners can borrow someone’s iOS device to perform Trueplay setup.