If you’re a Sonos owner, much of the excitement surrounding the launch of Apple Music was lost. In our home, music has become synonymous with Sonos. Their whole home audio systems are easy to set-up, easy to use and it’s the kind of rock solid performance you find with Apple products. Lofty praise and it was the primary reason I had plans on skipping Apple Music. I’m just a few days into the free trial. I’ve been using it primarily in the car and with an older Jambox. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the service, so much so that I’d consider subscribing at the conclusion of my trial. But the missing link has been Sonos support. It is coming, but it’s unclear just when exactly that’s happening. While waiting for official support, there are a few viable workarounds to get Apple Music working with your Sonos. And when it does happen, it’s glorious!
There are two ways you can make this happen. The first method requires an Apple TV and a Sonos Playbar. Not only does that make for a pretty awesome home theater setup, it also provides you with inroads to using Apple Music through your Playbar. The process is dead simple. Swipe up from the bottom of your iPhone to access Control Center. Just below the playback controls are options for AirDrop and AirPlay. Tap on AirPlay and select Apple TV. When you playback Apple Music, it’ll stream from your iPhone to your Apple TV and on to your Playbar.
In my case, I don’t have a Playbar, but I do have Sonos Connect Amp. Both the Amp and non-Amp versions will work, since they have RCA inputs. I happen to have an older AirPort Express lying around, which I had been using to extend the wireless range in my home. They can be found on eBay for $20 or so. You’ll also need a 3.5mm to RCA cable, which are about $8 or so. When they came out, they were equipped with AirTunes, so you could use a program like AirFoil to create a makeshift Sonos-like system. Despite their age (released in 2008), these support AirPlay and include a 3.5mm output.
- Sonos Connect
- 3.5mm to RCA cable
- AirPort Express (2008)
- The AirPort Express must be in close proximity to your Sonos. If you have a router other than an Apple AirPort Extreme, you’ll need a hard wired ethernet connection between the router and the AE.
Starting Mac OS X Mavericks, these were no longer supported using Apple’s Airport Utility. Corey Majer has assembled an AppleScript launcher and provides downloads to both the script and the older Airport 5.6.1. I should note that they can co-exist on your Mac. When you launch the script, it’ll launch the older app and you’ll be prompted to upgrade. Press cancel and proceed to the main configuration screen.
1. Connect the Airport Express to your Mac using an ethernet cable.
2. If the Airport Express does not appear, press ‘rescan’ to find it. If you purchase used, you can use a paperclip to reset the AE to its factory default settings.
3. Select AirPort > Wireless. For Wireless Mode, select Create a wireless network. Use the same name as your existing network. In my instance, it’s my last name. The security mode should also match what’s being used on your network and you’ll want to use the same password.
4. Click on the Music tab. Make sure there is a check next to Enable AirPlay.
5. For iTunes Speaker Name, I’ve titled it Sonos. I’ve left speaker password blank.
6. Disconnect the Airport Express from your Mac. Connect an ethernet cable between your Airport Express and your router. You should see the light flash amber and eventually it should turn solid green. This means you’re connected to your network and extending your wireless.
7. Connect the 3.5mm end to your AirPort Express and the RCA cables to the back of your Sonos Connect.
All of the heavy lifting should be done. Now let’s listen to some music.
1. Open up the Sonos app on your iPhone or iPad.
2. Tap the menu icon. Scroll down and select Line-In.
3. Select Audio Component.
4. Swipe up to open Control Center. Tap on AirPlay, select ‘Sonos’ and tap Done.
5. Open the Music app and press play.
Tip: If you have multiple speakers, including Play 1, 3 or 5, they can be grouped and will allow you to listen to Apple Music throughout your home.
As for when you can expect Apple Music to support Sonos, it does appear to be a priority. Apple’s Ian Rogers sent this tweet in response to that very question.
@jeffmc it will be ASAP, but not at launch
— ian c rogers (@iancr) June 25, 2015
If you’ve chosen to start your trial, you’ve got a full 90 days to enjoy Apple Music for free. If you have a Sonos Connect and $30 or so, you can easily get Apple Music working on your Sonos today.