2-underscored sonos arc
CNN  — 

It’s the day that many Sonos users have been waiting for, or at least pondering. June 8 marks the split of the ecosystem into Sonos S1 and Sonos S2. S1 will be home to the legacy products, essentially a few older offerings that don’t have the power inside to run S2; S2 will handle all the non-legacy products and paves the way for new features, along with a clear road for them to work with new products: Arc, Five and the third-generation Sub.

Devices that can only handle S1 include ZonePlayer, CR200, Bridge, first-generation Connect, first-generation Connect: Amp and the first-generation Play:5. These products aren’t recent and have had long lives. As they move into the legacy category within Sonos S1, they will still get bug fixes and security updates for the foreseeable future.

All the newer Sonos products, like Play:1, Playbar, Playbase, One, One SL, Beam and many others, are compatible with S2. For most users, as long as you don’t have any S1 products, the migration will be easy enough. Sonos says all you need to do is delete the current app from your device and download the new Sonos app. It has a tan color instead of the classic black that Sonos is known for.

The complication arises if you currently have a system that uses both S1 and S2 products. You can’t move that system over to S2 without splitting it — essentially keeping the S1 products on S1 and moving the rest to Sonos S2. But doing this stops whole-home audio, which is, of course, the hallmark of Sonos. Essentially you can’t group a set of S1 speakers with a set of S2. Yes, those S1 products are pretty old, but for Sonos diehards, this is less than ideal.

Options: Split your system, stay on S1 or upgrade to S2

What can you do? Well, if you split it, you’ll have two separate systems. Those with S2 will continue to get new features, while S1 products will stay in their current state, with just bug and security updates. But when you try to do this with the new app, you’ll find it’s not so simple.

Those with a mixed system who are trying to split it seem to be hung out to dry. The new Sonos app simply states you need to get a newer device, like an S1 Controller or Amp, which is a costly solution. Support documentation doesn’t really guide you through it either. You’ll need to make some changes in Settings on Sonos S1 app before proceeding and then go back to the new app. End of the day, whichever route you go, it should be automated.

Or you can choose to keep your whole system on Sonos S1, but then you’ll lose any new features that could come to the S2 products. The functionality you currently have does stay though. For this, you’ll keep the original Sonos app which is now named “Sonos S1 Controller.”

The last option, and it’s costly, would be to upgrade your S1 products to the equivalent S2 offerings. This way you can bring the full system to Sonos S2. To make that upgrade a little less costly, Sonos offers the Trade-Up program, which will let you save 30% on a new product to replace the S1 variant that you choose to upgrade. Your S1 product can still be used, just with the S1 app.

Migrating to S2

It’s a little tricky, but once you decide on the best option for you, it should be clearer. If you’re moving completely into the Sonos S2 system, it should be relatively effortless. Just delete your current Sonos app and download the new Sonos app. It can be a little confusing to find it in the App Store on iOS and Play Store on Android. It’s just called “Sonos” with a black typeface on a light brown logo with the tagline “New! Introducing S2.” The original Sonos app will be getting an update that rebrands it as “Sonos S1.”

Once you download and open the new Sonos app, the migration process can begin. You’ll need to accept the updated terms and then it will pop up noting that Sonos was found on the network. Here you can click Update and it will move the system into S2. You’ll confirm this with your Sonos email and password. From there it will update your Sonos system to 11.1, and after that, you’re on S2. The update on our system took about five minutes.

Early impressions of the S2 app

The new app looks pretty similar to the old one and it should be easy to get the feel of it. You have five main tabs across the bottom: My Sonos, Library Browse for finding content, System or Now Playing, Search, and Settings. We really like the new search function as it’s a bit clearer to navigate.

By far the best feature of Sonos S2 is the ability to save a group of speakers as a preset. No longer will you need to constantly select which speaker you want to listen to each time. Save it as a group, and you’re better off. It’s really great, and Sonos notes this is the first of a series of new user interface updates that will sit alongside audio technology updates. For the latter, Sonos S2 is a key part of Dolby Atmos on the Arc.

The worst feature we noted was how unhelpful the app is for people who want to split their systems between S1 and S2. As mentioned, it tells you to buy a new device, and it takes multiple steps to do what should be an automated process.

We’re going to be spending a bit more time with Sonos S2 ahead of our full review, but for now if you’re clear on what you want to do with your Sonos system, the update paths are much clearer than when the split was announced.

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