When something just works

Last week I was lucky enough to be given some money. Won’t elaborate on the circumstances but it was a really nice surprise. And good timing too.

I like my music and have gradually been dragged into the modern age  – i.e. the one that my children regard as the norm – through fantastic products like Spotify and Sonos. In particular I’ve been mesmerised by two Sonos products: the Play 1 and its software, and one supporting brand in Flexson. I have a ‘proper’ system but I’m beginning to realise that these components are seriously good alternatives and allow you to build a listenable system initially for relatively little cash. A very clever idea.

Quite often, you have great tangibles let down by less strong software. It’s a common grumble in the world of photography for example and my DVD player software is a homage to Space Invaders. It’s quite a challenge for businesses to decide whether they’re a software house selling hardware or vice-versa. It’s uncommon to get the balance right. But after Apple, this is a brand that really does impress.

So, with said windfall I decided to ‘twin up’ on the existing Play 1 and make a stereo pair, which Sonos tells me is a piece of cake. I then have the quandary of where to put them. I decide a pair of stands is best and chance upon the Flexson Play 1 range – built specifically for the Sonos system and British made.

Then I look at the reviews. On the page the stands look almost flimsy but they are reviewed highly so I ‘click and collect’ at John Lewis and wait 24 hours. In the meantime I located mains power points for the units, and pondered where I was going to get some black ties to deal with the wires which were bound to show, given how narrow the stands were. Wasn’t looking forward to that.

So I collected and drove home then unpacked the goodies. I had to move around a number of the Sonos units and reprogramme them but that was so simple, so straightforward. As I said, great software.

Then came the Flexson stands. Clear instructions, minimal tools, options for carpet or solid floor positioning AND…. a channel up the rear of the stand strut to hide the wire! Genius.

In a few minutes the newly-enabled stereo system was ready for another little marvel: Sonos Trueplay. I’d not heard of this before. It apparently optimises the units to their location, given that some sitings are less than ideal acoustically. Suddenly it felt like an episode of Dr Who or something as strange pulsing, hypnotic sounds and some mandatory arm-waving (with an iPhone in hand) were involved. Was I joining a cult? Was I giving over my brain to some distant power? Weird, but in the end, Trueplay simply announced my room acoustics were OK and it was all going to be fine.

Single stand in-situ
Look, no wires!
The pair together. And what a sound they make.

So, call up Spotify, choose a track and go. My goodness, I thought the Play 1 was very good on its own but put two together and it’s breathtaking what comes out of these very modestly sized units! I listened to it for about three hours and tried all sorts of stuff on it. I realised after a while I had had a broad grin on my face for most of that time.

So, firstly this is a completely independent review. I am not associated with any of these companies in any way. I just like products that over-deliver in a very understated way and make the whole experience of putting things together even simpler than you ever thought possible. This marriage of hardware, software and third party add-ons gives you an insight of how the right people doing the right things really do make life a pleasure. So, Spotify, John Lewis, Sonos and Flexson, take a bow. I hope you all have a prosperous Christmas because you deserve it! And I am now just that little bit more loyal than I was before.






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