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Sonos launches a paid, lossless-quality version of its radio service

Sonos launches a paid, lossless-quality version of its radio service


Sonos Radio is already the fourth-most-listened-to service on the platform

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Image: Sonos

After spending years as a platform for showcasing other music and audio services, Sonos entered the fray itself back in April with the launch of Sonos Radio. The ad-supported service offers a large mix of genre-based stations, live radio, and artist-curated spotlight stations. Sonos Radio has already risen to become the fourth-most-listened-to service on the platform, and today, the company is taking things a bit further with the launch of Sonos Radio HD. It’s a $7.99-per-month subscription that will stream select stations in lossless CD quality (16-bit, 44Hz) and allow listeners to skip, pause, and replay songs. All of the Sonos Radio original stations are also ad-free for Sonos Radio HD subscribers. It’s available starting today in the US and UK.

Sonos says the lossless audio of Sonos Radio HD makes it the highest-quality of any radio streaming service. (Live radio station broadcasts, such as those for your local stations, will still play at the same 128kbps as before.) Along with some more original music stations, the company is also adding “Sleep Sounds” to the paid tier, described as “a collection of stations promoting mindfulness and relaxation for a peaceful night’s rest.” These include brown noise, pink noise, white noise, piano for sleeping, rain, and rainforest. (Remember that you can set a timer in the Sonos app so you can play these until you’ll likely be asleep, and they’ll turn off automatically.)

Sonos Radio HD also expands on the artist participation with yet more curated stations that offer exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes stories. The first of these is Dolly Parton’s “Songteller Radio,” which will delve into the legendary singer-songwriter’s decades of music.

At $7.99 monthly, Sonos Radio HD saves you a couple bucks over Spotify, Apple Music, and other fully on-demand music services. Sonos says overall listening on its devices has been up 40 percent during the pandemic, and this gives customers another radio offering to check out as they continue spending so much time at home; there’s a free one-month trial when you first sign up.

Radio services account for 50 percent of listening on Sonos products; people clearly like the lean-back experience and music discovery that they provide. So if the company can make Sonos Radio HD benefit from that popularity, it’ll certainly help Sonos’ bottom line. Having that advantageous position as a built-in service available immediately to new Sonos customers — even before they link their Spotify or other music accounts — certainly puts Sonos Radio in a good spot for continued growth. If there’s one obvious downside compared to other streaming radio apps, it’s that this one only plays on your Sonos speakers. But maybe some eventual Sonos headphones might let you take Sonos Radio HD on the go.