Some people complain – quite wrongly – that Apple’s design team is there solely to fight with the engineers. The thinking goes that Jony Ive spends his days doodling beautiful, thin boxes with no ports, and the engineering team then argues to get things like screens, batteries and data ports put back in.
Utter nonsense, of course, but at Sonos, it appears that this is just the way things work: The shape of its new $700 Sonos Sub was picked by customers (customers!) and then the Sonos engineers had to make a speaker to fit inside.
According to an interview with TUAW writer Dave Caolo, Sonos said that people don’t like the look of their existing subs. So instead of actually designing a good-looking one, it made foam mockups and showed them around. Once enough people had agreed on the shape, the engineers were informed of the plan:
As you could imagine, the engineering team was then handed a unique challenge: design a fantastic subwoofer that would fit inside the customer’s choice of case. “There was an uncomfortable silence at that first meeting,” Craig [Wisneski, Sonos product boss] told me. I bet.
That said, the result looks impressive. The 16KG donut-shaped enclosure holds a pair of speakers that face each other, and can take things down to a belly-rumbling 25kHZ. Dave says that the bass shook his sternum when he was forced to listen to reggae.
Setup involves little more than switching it on. You can plug it into Ethernet or join your SonosNet network wirelessly. The Sub knows what other speakers you are using, and even in what orientation you have placed them, and adjust its EQ accordingly.
It looks (and apparently sounds) pretty great – the engineering team should be commended. Rumors that Wisneski checks all his company-supplied sandwiches for lugeys remain unsubstantiated.