Sonos is an old soul in the sound game, founded in 2002 as a whole home audio system that’s making a big bet on music-over-Wi-Fi before it became mainstream.
With the next generation of embedded sound already in smart homes, Sonos is stepping up its game with a retail brand experience in New York City that opened in July at 101 Greene Street.
“Our objective for the Sonos flagship retail location was to build the best place for someone to discover and fall in love with whole home audio,” said Sonos Stores general manager Whitney Walker.
“The Sonos Store is as much a retail store as it is a listening boutique and destination for trying out the company’s product lineup,” reports The Verge.
With services like Amazon Music Unlimited, Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal competing for consumer ears and dollars, Sonos has its eye on a partner ecosystem that enables top-quality music choice and quality in-home.
The company is figuring out voice control with Amazon’s Alexa and a public beta enabling users to stream directly to Sonos (rather than the Sonos app) is available to Android users now, while others must wait until the official release.
Sonos has partnered with retailers like West Elm and Apple, and installed a listening room in a record store in Brooklyn that can be rented on Airbnb.
“We really believe that our partners who are pioneering business models around paid streaming are truly unlocking the potential that we saw for music in the home over a decade ago,” said Sonos CMO Joy Howard, as reported by Fast Company. “Without our partners, nothing happens on Sonos.”
Howard is bullish on the paid subscription model that is ushering in a streaming boom for which her company is pitch-perfectly poised. “In the last six months, the number of paid subscriptions have doubled,” said Howard. “That’s the fastest that they’ve ever grown. Now people are saying that in the next 15 years, the music industry will double in size across the entire ecosystem.”
Meanwhile, Sennheiser has launched a new pop-store in the SoHo section of New York City. Opened in October, the brand calls it: “a destination for truly unique listening experiences, special events and a chance to explore the audio specialist’s range of innovative audio products.”
The pop-up follows the launch of flagship showroom Soundscape, which showcases a selection of high-end products. Housed inside the stunning Westfield World Trade Center in the Oculus, it will feature themed listening zones and will host events.
“We are excited to invite people to share our vision to shape the future of audio, and want to offer a look beyond technology by creating a stage for sound itself – and the pure excitement of hearing audio in new ways,” said co-CEO Daniel Sennheiser.
The brand describes the experience as “designed to transport visitors sonically and visually: Stepping into the store guests enter via the sound tunnel, which has been carefully engineered to damp external noise levels bit by bit—making the buzz of the city streets outside recede as you go further inside.”
The store is divided into a public area dedicated to listening experiences and retail, and a showroom for professional solutions. At the heart of the experience is the Sound Temple with the AMBEO 3D audio technology and iconic HE 1 headphones.
“We want to generate the perfect illusion as if you were there at the concert or recording studio,” said Andreas Sennheiser, Daniel’s brother and co-CEO, in Forbes.
The store is also intended to raise brand awareness. “Sennheiser is the inventor of the hi-fi headphone,” noted Daniel Sennheiser, in the New York Daily News. “Not a lot of people know that.”