Sonos, one of the pioneers and leaders of multiroom audio, and Spotify, one of the pioneers and leaders of streaming audio, have come together to improve the multiroom streaming experience by providing a degree of integration in their respective apps.
Now let’s back up a bit. Spotify has an enormous library of music from which you can stream for free (I do believe there are ads or something), or with a premium subscription (which is what I have, and which is why I’m not certain of the sacrifices you must make for the free version). You stream using an app on a smart device (iPhone, iOS, Windows, OSX).
But there are a bunch of devices which support “Spotify Connect”. These include Sonos, along with a bunch of other multiroom systems, the Chromecast Audio dongle, stereo and home theatre amplifiers and receivers from many leading brands, and so on. You can only use Spotify Connect if you have a premium subscription ($11.99 a month).
You use Spotify Connect by using your regular app. Once you start music playing you can go to the “Devices” list and choose which Spotify Connect speaker you want the music to play from.
Here’s an important point about this: your phone (or whatever) then stops streaming the music. The “speaker” you’ve selected connects to Spotify and streams directly from there. You can even specify higher quality streaming for those speakers.
All this works very well. Right now as I’m writing, I have the Spotify app running on an Android tablet, controlling the feed of music via Spotify Connect to a Chromecast Audio device plugged into my desktop audio system.
Spotify has always been very particular about its service. It hasn’t let other apps have any access to the service. If you make an app for your nifty wireless speaker, and the speaker has Spotify Connect built in, all your app can do is invoke the Spotify app so that it can control the streaming.
Now both apps allows a degree of control over what’s happening. Mostly, it’s about being able to control your Sonos speakers from within the Spotify app. Says Sonos:
Now you have all the power of Sonos all over your home, directly through Spotify. Crank up the volume in every room of your home with one-tap access to grouping and ungrouping rooms right in Spotify. Pick a song, pick a room, and start playing.
To be clear, you can control speaker volumes from within Spotify, which I don’t think has been a possibility before and isn’t to my knowledge available for other Spotify Connect devices. But that’s a very useful feature since it means you don’t have to app hop to access the most important controls.
There’s also some degree of control over Spotify within the Sonos app:
Now you can control the music from any phone or tablet, using your choice of either the Spotify or Sonos app. Start listening to playlists you create on Spotify, and skip or pause tracks directly from Sonos. Both apps show you exactly what’s playing from Spotify.
Play/pause and skipping without that app hopping is, again, an excellent convenience.