The Sonos One – is it the best affordable smart speaker on the market?

Word has it that the Sonos One is at this moment the best Sonos speaker out there, coming at one of the most competitive prices on the market. We figured we should have a look at it and let you decide if it’s worth your attention.

The Sonos One review

The Sonos One, described by the company as “the smart speaker for music lovers”, has all the same features as other Sonos speakers, but it adds built-in voice control thanks to the array of six-microphones within the top of the device.

For several months from its release date, the Sonos One ran Amazon Alexa, but starting with january 2019, Google Assistant compatibility has become a constant choice of personal assistant. So you have no more restrictions as to what platform to use, be it an Amazon Echo or Google Home speaker.

The Sonos One is said to be essentially a Play:1 with Amazon Alexa built-in and for most hi-fi fans, this surely is going to represent an asset that’ll guarantee Sonos to take on tech behemoths like Apple, Google or Amazon.

Let’s get into more details…

When it comes to the design of Sonos One, there isn’t anything out of the ordinary. It’s a classic Sonos, that looks almost identical to the Sonos Play:1 speaker, from which it took most of of its design qualities. The speaker is wrapped in a metal grille; the Sonos logo is subtly displayed on the top inch of the front. Although it’s hard to see the Sonos One’s light from across a room. However, there is an audio cue when Alexa has heard you.

Unlike the Play:1, the One also gets a dedicated Pairing button, just above the ethernet socket.

You no longer need to have one of your Sonos units wired into your router, although we’d still recommend using cables for the most stable and reliable connection. Sonos’s wireless network is one of the best around, so you are unlikely to encounter too many issues with the wi-fi route.

Feature wise, although you can switch Alexa off entirely, it’s often worth having her listening, particularly as she is more deeply integrated here than with rivals. You can basically talk to the One just as you would with any other Amazon equipment, without having to mention the gadget you are referring to (like, “Alexa, play a Queen song on Sonos” is just going to be “Alexa, play a Queen song”).

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If you want to voice-control music in other rooms, specify where (eg. “Alexa, play Queen in the living room”).

Another cool thing that caught our attention was the so called “smart voice capture”, that is a combination of noise cancellation and a custom created six microphone formation that ensures that Alexa hears you no matter the volume of the surrounding sound.

When it was launched, the Sonos One only supported Amazon Music but has now added Spotify, Deezer, TuneIn and Audible voice control into the mix, which was very well received.

There’s no need to mention (but we will anyway 🙂 ) that you can use One’s Alexa just as you would with any Amazon equipment, like Echo or Echo Dot, so as well as playing music you can set timers and alarms, check the weather, add items to your shopping list etc.

With an Echo Dot you had to look for a visual clue that Alexa is listening, but the One’s chime is quicker and more in keeping with audio communication, so it just has that overall natural interaction feel to it.

As far as the sound goes, the Sonos One smart speaker has plenty to recommend it. It has a great setup process, a solid sound signature, and sturdy build quality. There’s no doubt that decently priced sound quality is one of Sonos’ main points of attraction.

Getting into more detail, most of The One’s energy feels concentrated in the mids and the highs. It manages to deliver a decent amount of detail without ever being fatiguing. Although we detected some problems at high volumes, we never felt like we were losing out on things like vocals, or high-pitched instruments like strings.

The thing that kind of disappointed (some of) us was the way the bass sounded. At moderate volume, it felt just great, maybe just a bit dull, but when we turned up the volume, we found out that at the low end, it can get a bit vague and doesn’t deliver that big of a punch.

Same as with the Play:1, two Sonos Ones can be combined to create a stereo pair capable of filling a room with hi-fi-like focus, and considering its £400 price tag, that would be quite the accomplishment for such a petite system.

Verdict

For compact convenience and quality, the Sonos One still comes highly recommended.

PROS:
Stylish, great design
Solid, sophisticated sound
Alexa and Google Assistant are well integrated
Seamless multi-room audio
Can pair more speakers for whole-house audio
Compatible with over 80+ music services
Easy setup
CONS:
Expensive compared to other smart speakers
Can’t be used to output TV audio
Can’t initiate some streaming audio using Alexa