In a hugely insightful interview with Harry Jones – Sonos Sound Experience Engineer, we look at Sonos’ progressive design and how innovative audio can elevate hotel bedrooms in line with guest experiences.

Unforgettable hotel experiences are ones that evoke all five of a human’s senses, with particular focus on hearing – tell us how Sonos works in line with this, through their offerings fitting into a hotel.

Sonos strives to create sound experiences that satisfy the ever changing needs of customers. Listeners are turning to sound with more intention as a means of self-care, release and enjoyment because quality time is a gift we all value. Whether a short-break or extended stay, hotel experiences play a big part in how we perceive the feelings of being comfortable, relaxed and rejuvenated. We know that music can be the key to reducing stress, improving productivity and feeling more connected to one another and our environment, so our products are driven and inspired by innovations that can transform the way we listen, ultimately helping us feel more from the content we love no matter where we are.

We have a portfolio of products that serve a wide range of demands, and can be categorised as Home Theatre, All-In-One, Portables and Components. Our All-In-One speakers Era 100, Era 300 (with spatial audio) and Five are specifically designed for music, radio, audiobooks and more to sound great, elevating everyday listening. They can be used as single units or paired together to work in stereo sound – any of these would suit a single/double room or larger suite that has more than one room. The Portables range consists of Roam and Move2, these are designed for when you’re on the go – travelling or simply wanting to extend the music from your indoor sound system to outdoors (these are perfect if you’re sat on a large hotel balcony having breakfast or in a hotel suite with a private pool and want to relax and unwind with your music of choice). Our Home Theatre speakers Arc & Beam-Gen 2 are designed to work as ‘stand alones’ with the TV providing bigger and better audio for movies and entertainment in any type of hotel room (and when a soundbar is paired with 2x Era 100’s for surround sound or 2x Era 300’s for immersive spatial audio this levels up your listening experience to new heights, feeling like the sound is all around you), and they’re also perfect for just playing music and other audio content. 

All of our speakers and soundbars have built-in microphones that can be controlled by Sonos Voice, which is focused purely on serving up the music guests request and love in their room – it’s not a general purpose voice assistant so only delivers the music and Sonos app experience such as playing selected favourites from Sonos Radio genre stations or preferred tracks or playlists from over 100 music streaming services. Finally, our components such as Amp and Port along with Sonos Architectural offer a more bespoke, alternative way of audio streaming when integrating Sonos with other pieces of equipment such as passive speakers that are built into the walls or ceilings. For those looking for extra personal touches in a hotel room, you can hook these up with turntables so guests can play vinyl in their hotel suite.

It can be difficult to get the balance right between providing the answer to sound whilst doing it in an aesthetically pleasing way and not disrupting the overall design of a hotel room. How does Sonos ensure its products are not only high-quality in order to serve a purpose, but that they look sleek too?

At Sonos we believe great sound should be an integral part of any living space, and our speakers have always been designed to blend into an environment that supports personal and shared entertainment. We know that when you listen better, you live better, so we’ve always held a close interest in interior design and how this impacts the form factor of our speakers as well as the audio output. 

Built by Sonos from the ground-up, every element of our products are carefully considered by a team of people who come together to make a vision a reality, flexing its design, hardware, software, and acoustic engineering muscle. In striking a balance between an elegant product design and engineering, colour is also carefully developed across a blend of materials to create a compelling cohesion of elegance and durability. Our design language is premium but timeless, keeping the everyday interaction simple and surprising whilst it blends beautifully within a styled home or hotel room. Most Sonos speakers are designed to be placed on a shelf, or sideboard, but all Sonos speakers come in white or black so they can easily blend into whatever the decor of a space. We also have Sonos Architectural speakers which are designed to be painted and built directly into the walls and ceilings for a completely discreet hotel option.

We also recognise that our speakers have to adapt to many acoustic environments, some more challenging than others and that’s why we invented our feature Trueplay, an audio calibration feature made easy for guests/hoteliers to tune their speakers, automatically optimising the best possible sound experience for any space or speaker orientation. All Sonos products are meticulously designed and tested in association with renowned music producers, mixers and artists, ensuring they deliver brilliant sound that preserves the emotional intent of their music. 

Tell us about the process of designing the Sonos range for audio and film/TV content. 

Our commitment to innovation is stronger than ever as we forge ahead with new premium offerings, raising industry standards through bold ideas and lasting commitments. Sonos speakers have been designed to strike a perfect balance between design, acoustics, and software to ensure customers can experience brilliant sound for all their favourite music, TV, and more. We leverage our expertise in acoustic and software engineering to create smart, adaptive audio that transforms whatever you’re listening to and watching. The Sonos sound experience team led by renowned producer Giles Martin, collaborates with award-winning creators from the music and film industries to ensure that the sound that comes out of our speakers, into your rooms truly reflects the creator’s intent. 

What was once a technology designed for the cinema, Dolby Atmos is now making our everyday listening experiences way more immersive. We’re seeing an upward trend in the music and film industry mixing content in Dolby Atmos, and streaming services adding support for spatial audio. Over the years we have introduced new innovations in sound and design; at the premium end of Sonos’ home theatre line-up we have Arc, the smart soundbar featuring rich, Dolby Atmos spatial experiences with vivid detail and impressive bass designed to immerse listeners in entertainment and music. Alongside this we have Beam (Gen 2); all from the same acoustic architecture, hotel guests can experience panoramic sound delivering richer, more immersive sound audio with support for Dolby Atmos.

As technology has evolved, the creation of movie soundtracks from mono to stereo, quad to 5.1 – 7.1 and now Dolby atmos, the at-home/personal experience has been catching up. In reality most people do not have the money or the space to recreate a cinema multiplex at home, however, as we see today, and look to the future, TVs are becoming much larger, so we can take advantage of elevating the sound of entertainment we watch in our personal spaces. We now have the technology to create cinematic experiences that make you feel more from the comfort of your own room, hotel guests can now feel like they’re in the heart of the action, they will feel the adrenaline of fast moving sequences, the emotional resonance of intimate or dramatic moments, and the lingering suspense of a thrilling plot twist. When  looking to escape for a few hours and get lost in a film, with Sonos, every note, explosion, and whisper is delivered with clear, balanced sound and powerful bass all delivered with precision, pulling viewers deeper into the story. Innovation is at the core of Sonos’ identity, both in the products we build and the culture that fuels them.

We’ve seen post-pandemic how consumers are seeking entertainment-led, premium experiences wherever they are. Sonos can now support the idea of “Hollywood at Home” or “Hollywood in Hotel Room” through offering an immersive ‘theatre like audio’ – can you tell us about this? 

At Sonos we work tirelessly finding new ways to make immersive audio achievable for home theatre and music; striving for optimal sound experience. When we launched Beam, we set a new standard for the industry and created a category that didn’t yet exist at its price point and quickly became one of our most popular speakers, leading the category in many of the markets we operate in. We did it again at the premium end of soundbars with Arc, a product that encapsulates the best of Sonos – and reflects the evolving demands of our customer. With both Era 100 and 300, we brought the out loud Atmos experience to a new level in both music and home cinema. Adding two Era 100s or 300s to an Arc system is the best improvement you can make to an existing Sonos home theatre system, allowing guests to immerse fully in the experience. 

As an expert, in your opinion, what are the main benefits for hoteliers when investing in high-quality sound systems for their bedrooms?

For hoteliers I’m sure the focus is about creating the best experience for guests…and for guests it’s all about feeling like they’ve had the best experience at your hotel. So, the attention to detail that can be offered really does matter, and if you’re someone that does enjoy listening to music/ watching entertainment, especially in immersive formats, then having a premium system in your hotel room won’t go unnoticed. Quality audio can positively impact how a person responds to the content they’re consuming, their environment and who they’re with, so elevating the sound experience in a room will definitely add value to the space and the guest’s personal experience.