Photo by Matt Bean

Sonos has enlisted an impressive array of talent to bring you hand-picked tunes.

Matt Bean  – April 22, 2020 | Updated April 29, 2020

We’re big Sonos fans here at Sunset, so when news of the new in-house radio station dropped, we updated our apps and dove in. If you’ve got Sonos in your home already, chances are you love the ease with which you can upload and customize your music services, from Amazon Prime Music to Spotfiy to Pandora and so on.

And while we love Spotify for its flexibility and Sirius XM for the discovery, regular programming, and personalities it brings, the best parts of those services cost money. With the addition of this custom curated channel—featuring some heavy hitting talent—there’s finally a premium radio service available to you, at zero cost.

So how do you upgrade? And what will you find once you do?

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For starters, in your app or in the desktop experience, you should receive a notification that you have updates available. If you don’t see those, find “check for updates” in your settings menu (the gear icon) in the app, or in the Sonos drop-down from the top left navigation field on desktop.

Once you’ve updated, you’ll see a new section when you view your music sources. Within radio, you’ll find not only local and global radio stations broadcasting digitally but also a handful of channel-based, ad-supported Sonos stations: Hot Country; Cocktail Hour; Rap Game. There’s also a flagship station that promises to offer a mix of singles, similar to Apple’s Beats One.

But the real treat is the selection of ad-free artist-led stations. An early favorite is In the Absence Thereof, a station from Radiohead frontman and solo artist Thom Yorke. Defiantly eclectic, Yorke segues from Afrobeat, to moody gestural electronica from bandmate Jonny Greenwood, to experimental jazz from Argentine composer and Dizzy Gillespie collaborator Lalo Schiffrin. And that’s just the beginning. David Byrne, Brittany Howard of the Alabama Shakes, and Jack White’s Third Man Records will all be providing mixes.

There’s something wonderfully random about listening to hand-picked songs. Until we harness our quantum computing overlords to create the audio simulacrum, algorithmic curation of music will always fall flat, deep enough in to any playlist. Maybe not at first—but if you’re a voracious and/or adventurous user, you crave discovery, curve-balls, deep cuts.

That’s why Patrick Carney of the Black Keys and Julian Casablancas have two of the best shows on Sirius XM—you’re climbing inside their audio cortex. That’s why we’ve been streaming KEXP in Seattle, KRCL in Park City, and all of these LA stations for years.

And Sonos Radio is such a great addition.

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