How music emotionally connects us to our homes with perspective from leaders in networked music, Sonos.
Consider how you feel when you visit a historic cathedral with lofty ceilings and stained glass windows. The sense of quiet serenity you get when you step into a library. The cozy and insulated vibe that overtakes you when you stay in a mountain cabin. Or the inspiration you get from perusing a contemporary modern art museum. Design and architecture connect us emotionally to a space.
Nowhere is that emotional connection greater than in the home. It’s why we have idioms like “home is where the heart is” and “there’s no place like home.” More than any other space, home is the place to which humans connect most.
At home, the connection is not solely influenced by the way a space looks but also what happens inside it. Most people have sensory memories of home beyond sight alone. Feelings arise from smells, sounds, and touch. The smell of mom’s chocolate chip cookies wafting through the kitchen, the sound of laughter at the dinner table, football on the TV at Thanksgiving, or the feel of plush carpet underfoot.
Good design goes beyond appearance alone and takes into account all of these things. A landscape architect might plant lavender on the front porch. An architect will carefully consider acoustical design to minimize street noise. An interior designer will play with texture in a living room. And a home technology professional will design the music and content to bring a house to life. While homeowners may not want to see the technology providing entertainment, beauty, and convenience, it is crucial to make a house a home.
Forward-thinking manufacturers like Sonos take a zoomed-out view of sound in the home to understand this emotional connection, exploring the interplay between music and homeowner joy while emphasizing extreme user-friendliness.
“We’re making it a bigger priority to get the word out to designers, architects, and builders about this,” says Sarah Atkinson, Business Development Manager who works with Sonos’ Installed Solutions Team. “Our job is to help them understand the ins and outs of the smart home, how audio fits in, and that it can not only look and sound great at the same time but also be more meaningful to the residents.”
The company recently launched an accredited CEU through the American Institute of Architect (AIA), called “Networked Audio and the Effects on the Home,” around this concept that explores how sound is not only beneficial for overall wellness but for the experience you are trying to create in the home. The session examines the ways that music can affect mood, environment, and behaviors in a space. Sonos digs deep into the kinds of content customers want to access in order to enhance their home, the hardware that is needed to accomplish networked audio, and the aesthetics of these types of systems. Sonos also identifies how to eliminate user confusion and ensure an effortless experience for how a sound system is controlled throughout the home.
“Trends around wellness and a healthy home are huge, especially as people spend more time in their homes,” says Atkinson. “People want to be safe, healthy, and happy at home. And music can play an important role in creating a joyful home environment.”
According to 30,000 people surveyed from eight different countries as part of Sonos’ "Music Makes it Home" study, people who play music:
- Share more meals: over five per week and 42 per year!
- Nearly 60% say: Food tastes better with music
- Share more hours together: over three hours/week
- Share more "acts of affection" — 67% more!
“When you are in a better mood, you have a better life. We are so excited to be able to quantify how music contributes to mood,” says Atkinson. “Mood, in turn, affects sleeping, eating, exercising...everything. By installing sound systems in the home, we have the opportunity to improve clients’ lives. Sound really does matter when it comes to home design.”
Once designers realize the importance of networked audio in their projects, it becomes about sight. How do speakers around the home look? Sonos partnered with speaker company Sonance to create Sonos by Sonance. This speaker series combines Sonos’ features and listening experience with Sonance architectural speakers—known for their ability to disappear while still providing outstanding performance. The collaboration gives designers and integrators more options to blend Sonos into the interior with minimal visual impact.
SAV Digital Environments—an HTA Certified firm that recently won a Best Sonos Install contest for the home pictured above—comments on how the blending of the familiar Sonos interface combined with the great-sounding yet visually minimal Sonance speakers created a desirable result: "The homeowners wanted familiar technology. Our challenge was to take what they already knew—the Sonos system—and integrate it into the home in a meaningful way. To add to the system, we expanded audio with Sonos by Sonance in-ceiling speakers throughout, delivering high-performance sound with minimal visual impact,” says Mike Rossmiller, SAV. “The home is seamless and discreet."
What Sonos is perhaps most known for is convenient, user-friendly, intuitive control. You can control Sonos in multiple ways—voice control, the Sonos app, Apple AirPlay 2, or integrated into third-party control systems.
"Sonos is known for being physically beautiful and having a nice looking, intuitive interface. For the Installation of the Year home, we were able to integrate Sonos into the Crestron Home system, offer a clean interface for operation of Sonos without needing it to be a multi-app solution," adds Rossmiller.
Another thing that Sonos users benefit from is a software-driven sound experience. With hardware that’s driven by software, users get access to a wide range of features, like playing any song in any room or an easy way to group speakers together to play music throughout the entire home. And with software, Sonos can continuously refine the experience and update customers’ systems with new features and experiences over time.
“We recently released our ‘Listen Better’ report on social responsibility and sustainability, and one of those findings is that Sonos hardware lasts much longer than other consumer electronics,” says Atkinson. That’s not only a testament to the quality of Sonos hardware but in large part due to the Sonos software.
Atkinson, who worked in the traditional construction industry for many years, is encouraged to see the increased collaboration between residential trades. “I do feel there is more collaboration because trades, in their own way, are recognizing where the expertise is and how we can make it work together as partners. Sonos is taking this very seriously and is committed to creating connections early on in the design process and helping everyone to see technology as a crucial part of the build, not an afterthought,” she says. “By making those connections to those expert networks early on, we all have a better chance of winning.”
Photo by Whitney Kamman.