Sonos – the Californian audio company known for its connected hi-fi systems – has just launched a subscription service called Flex that enables customers to rent out its speakers.
At the moment, only 500 homes in the Netherlands have the opportunity to sign up for Flex, but if the trial goes well, it’s likely we’ll see Sonos start rolling out the service globally.
Currently, the service comes in three tiers, each offering a different configuration of speakers.
For €15 a month you can rent two Sonos One smart speakers to pair them for stereo use, but for an extra €10 on top of that you can add a Sonos Beam soundbar aimed at providing excellent TV audio with added connectivity options.
For a total of €50 per month, however, you can upgrade to a Sonos Playbar, Subwoofer, and a pair of Sonos One speakers. This could either make for an impressive home cinema array, or can be spread around the house for a connected audio setup.
Subscriptions can be canceled at any time and, during the subscription period, units will be replaced with newer models as they’re released.
Hardware subscription services
This won’t be the first audio hardware subscription service we’ve seen, with the Melbourne-based company Nura offering its flagship Nuraphone headphones for a monthly fee earlier in the year.
Similar to NuraNow, Sonos Flex is aimed at offering a premium audio experience without the need for customers to commit huge sums of money outright.
The structure of both aforementioned services works well for customers looking to always have the latest iteration of the product, as they won't have to repeatedly invest full price in the newest version of the hardware as it gets released.
That said, these services might not make sense for those looking to use their speaker or headphones in the long term as they won't own the unit, even after they've paid the equivalent of retail price over the course of their subscription.
Another move Sonos has made to make its line of speakers more accessible was its partnership with Swedish furniture brand Ikea. The Symfonisk line of speakers are the most affordable that Sonos offers, and come integrated with items such as bookshelves and lamps.
If the trial proves successful, we’ll be hearing more about international availability of Flex in the near future, but until then you’ll have to pony up the full prices if you want the Sonos experience.