Sonos Recycle Mode

isotopp image Kristian Köhntopp -
December 30, 2019
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Sonos is a company that makes Wi-Fi Connected speakers. They offer acceptable sound quality and an extremely good user experience. They also so far have never cancelled support for any of their speakers.

Hardware Lineup and Timeline

Some of their speakers are now qualified for a Trade-Up program, in particular their

  • Play:5 (1st generation) speaker,
  • the Connect:Amp and
  • the Connect.

The latter two (the Connect products) are somewhat obsolete as they were necessary when normal Wi-Fi was usually not able to carry sound data at the required reliability, so Sonos speakers built their own Wi-Fi Mesh network separately from the usual home Wi-Fi. With newer Wi-Fi standards and recently also 5 Ghz this was no longer necessary.

  • The Play:5 (1st generation) speaker, the only one currently qualified for Trade-Up appeared, in 2009, 10 years ago. It was replaced by the 2nd generation in 2015.
  • The Play:3 appeared in July 2011, and was discontinued in July 2018.
  • The Play:1 appeared in October 2013, and was replaced by the Play One (1st generation) in October 2017. The second generation Play One added Bluetooth Hardware and a much fatter SOC and even more memory only one year later.

Unfortunately I have no idea what kind of hardware the Play:5 platform was built on in 2009. I have only looked into a Play:3 from 2013. That box had a PPC based single core CPU and 64 MB of memory. Current Sonos hardware is using, IIRC, Multicore ARM SOCs and have at least four times the amount of memory.

In terms of Trade-Up, currently only the Play:5 (1st gen) qualifies. It is pretty clear that the Play:3 will be qualifying soon, too - maybe in 2020, but in 2021 for sure. In terms of long-term value, owners of the 1st gen Play One are probably currently worst off.


The Trade-Up is advertised as follows:

You select a device for Trade-Up, and receive a voucher for a 30% rebate on the purchase of a new device. You then have 21 days left to use the old device, after which time it will permanently cease to function. You can use the voucher to purchase any new Sonos device, replace the old one and ship the old device to whatever recycling services in your area accept it.

That is a normal Trade-Up program, minus the part where you uselessly ship the old hardware across the country to the maker, which will then hand it over to a recycling service instead of you doing this.

You can still continue to use the old device as long as it is supported, you can still sell the old device to others, as long as it is supported, and you can do whatever else is possible with the old hardware.


It is pretty clear where this is aiming: Sonos is looking at the oldest hardware in their lineup and that this hardware is becoming pretty long in the tooth.

Especially the limited amount of memory makes it increasingly difficult to even install the most current versions of their software. New functionality such as Airplay 2, and new services require more memory and, in case of Airplay 2 also more CPU and more Wi-Fi bandwidth than 10 year old piece of hardware has.

They would like to shrink the installed base of their outdated hardware in order to be able to move forward technologically. They would like to offer their long-time customers some kind of bonus and way to upgrade before they have to disable the hardware because it cannot longer be supported.

Not having to ship the hardware back to Sonos should be a plus, not a minus. Instead there is a pretty hard blowback on Twitter.

Most people criticise that this bricks the device.

Which is kind of the point in a Trade-Up.