Sonos will stop issuing software updates for 'legacy' speakers and devices in May

If you're using an older Sonos device like the CR200 remote, a Zone Player, or the first-generation Play:5, you have some tough decisions to make.

Sonos just announced that starting in May, a variety of its oldest products will stop receiving software updates, which means they've effectively reached "end-of-life" status as far as Sonos is concerned.

"We're extremely proud of the fact that we build products that last a long time," said Sonos in a blog post. "However, we've now come to a point where some of the oldest products have been stretched to their technical limits in terms of memory and processing power."

Among the Sonos speakers and devices that will no longer receive software updates as of May include:

Owners of "legacy" Sonos products have a couple of options. For starters, they can keep using them, with the understanding that over time, they'll start to lose functionality. For example, music streaming services may stop supporting the older devices, as well as "voice partners" such as Amazon and Google.

There may be another serious drawback to keeping an outdated Sonos speaker or component connected to your other Sonos devices. According to an email sent to affected Sonos users, a legacy Sonos product that no longer receives software updates will effectively block updates for any of your other connected Sonos components, even the newer ones. That said, a Sonos rep told us that users will, in fact, be able to "separate" legacy Sonos devices from "modern" Sonos systems, with more details to be revealed "closer to May."

"Please note that because Sonos is a system, all products operate on the same software," warns the Sonos email. "If modern products remain connected to legacy products after May, they also will not receive software updates and new features."

A second option is to "trade up" for a newer Sonos device at a 30 percent discount. To take part in Sonos' "Trade Up" program, you'll need to connect your device to your Sonos account, then confirm that you want to trade it for a newer model. Part of the process involves putting your older device in "Recycle Mode," which wipes any personal info before permanently deactivating it for recycling.

The writing was on the wall for some of Sonos's older "legacy" products. When Sonos initially announced its "Trade Up" program last October, eligible products included the Zone Players and the first-gen Play:5 speaker, which is more than 10 years old.

The Bridge, meanwhile, used to be a necessity for connecting Sonos speakers and devices to your Wi-Fi network, but a 2014 software update enabled Sonos speakers to connect directly to Wi-FI, thus eliminating the need for the Bridge.

Still, many home audio aficionados are accustomed to speakers that can last indefinitely; for example, I have a 5.1 speaker set that's close to 20 years old, and it sounds (and works) just as good as it did on the day I bought it.

But that's the thing with connected speakers and home audio devices such as those sold by Sonos: unlike "dumb" speakers and amplifiers that can last for decades, connected speakers have a shelf life that's limited by the hardware under their hoods.

Indeed, the very features that make Sonos's speakers, amps, and devices so enticing, such as their ability to connect directly to streaming music services and each other, while (in some cases) working with Alexa and Google Assistant, dramatically shorten their "sell by" date.

Updated shortly after publication to add information from an email sent to Sonos users about how connected legacy Sonos products that are no longer receiving software updates will block future updates to newer Sonos devices, along with word from Sonos that a fix is in the works.