Sonos Radio HD drops ads, boosts quality and adds exclusives for monthly fee

Sonos has launched a subscription version of its Sonos Radio HD, stripping out the ads and raising the audio quality in addition to adding new sleep stations and more. Priced at $7.99 per month, in contrast to Sonos Radio which is free for Sonos users, as before there'll be more than 60,000 live radio stations from around the world along with Sonos Sound System and artist-curated stations. However, original stations will stream in 16-bit/44.1 kHz lossless CD quality.

The free Sonos Radio, in contrast, streams at a more mundane 128 kbps. It's not the only change. While there are already artist-curated stations on Sonos Radio, Sonos Radio HD will have exclusive versions that promise to "go more in-depth on the inspiration, music, and interviews."

That'll kick off with Dolly Parton's Songteller Radio, which will feature the bestselling artist's most popular songs, her own favorite artists, and commentary on her music and career. More are in the pipeline, Sonos says, with five new Sonos Radio HD artist-curated stations expected to arrive early in the new year.

Other content exclusive to the subscription service will be soundtracks for home, designed to be a backdrop for things like cooking, working, or relaxing. There'll also be original stations for mindfulness, productivity, and relaxation. At the end of the day, there'll be six sleep stations with white noise, pink noise, brown noise, rain, rainforest, and piano sounds that don't loop or get interrupted.

Meanwhile, you'll also be able to skip songs on streaming radio stations, or repeat them, neither of which is possible on the free Sonos Radio. That'll only apply to Sonos stations, of course, not the global radio stations.

There are a couple of things to consider, mind, beyond the $7.99 monthly price tag. For a start, Sonos Radio HD will only be available in the US and UK to begin with, unlike Sonos Radio which is currently offered in 16 different countries. Sonos Radio HD will only be available in the Sonos S2 app, meanwhile, unlike the non-subscription version which can be accessed in the original Sonos S1 app as well. That means those with hardware that doesn't support the S2 platform can't play it.

The final consideration is that, like Sonos Radio, you can only access Sonos Radio HD through your Sonos speakers. It means that you can't, for example, start streaming through the app when you're in the car, unlike other subscription-based services like Apple Music. If you're still keen to give it a try, there's a 30 day trial before you have to pay up.