What is the Sonos One?
The Sonos One is our favorite smart speaker to play music. The smart speaker market is becoming more and more crowded, but the Sonos One has an excellent balance of performance, price and sonic intelligence.
That's because Sonos is taking an independent approach to home automation and music streaming. It runs on Amazon Alexa, but Google Assistant compatibility will come in 2018. No matter which smart system you have chosen, you can add Sonos' multi-room goodness and control it by voice.
Until recently, the Sonos One was easily the best smart speaker I tried. The company has basically added a brain to the excellent Sonos Play: 1. If audio quality is important to you, and you like the hands-free help of the Amazon Echo, this is a combination made in the silicon sky. Its only real rival is Apple Homepod, which sounds better, but that costs much more and is not good to use.
Related: The best multi-satellite audio guide
Sonos One – Design
Basically, Sonos One is an adjusted version of the Sonos Play: 1, a 16 cm high speaker that fits on a bookshelf or bedside table. The only real difference is the top panel, where the physical keys have been replaced by some very responsive touch sensitive controls.
Tap to change the volume, play or pause, and swipe to change the tracks. You can also touch to mute the voice assistant, in case you do not want Alexa to listen. There are a series of six microphones that use echo cancellation technology to make sure that Alexa can hear your call even when music is playing.
On the back there is an Ethernet jack, and a button for the configuration replaces the Play button: 1 thread (designed for mounting). That's your destiny: Sonos sticks to his typically minimalist approach and is not interested in off-line auxiliary sources.
Like the rest of the range, the Sonos One was launched in white or black, although the brand has just presented the red, green and yellow options – perfect for conscious style. Sonos says he's supposed to mix with his decor, not stand out as a design statement. The Sonos One even gets rid of the bronze grid of the play: 1 – I feel we could have kept that and still do the minimalist thing.
Sonos One – Features
The main function of Sonos One is compatible with Amazon Alexa. Basically, you're supposed to treat this device as an Amazon Echo, even if it has serious audio components.
Alexa can do everything she can do on Amazon's official Echo devices on Sonos One. She can set alarms, adjust the thermostat, turn lights on and off, tell bad jokes and play music, of course.
Sonos One works with all the key transmission services that Sonos already supports, such as Spotify, Tidal, Pandora, TuneIn Radio and Amazon Music. Load them manually with the Sonos application, and then Alexa will be able to control all those services with basic commands, such as pause and skip tracks. I used the music of Tidal, Spotify and Amazon, and Sonos One answered without problems.
Out of the box, Sonos One had full support of Alexa with Amazon Music, but since then Spotify has been added and works perfectly.
Not an Amazon Alexa user? Okay, because the assistance of the Google Assistant will come through an update in 2018. You can treat the Sonos One as a Google Home and activate it by saying: "Hello Google".
The Sonos One will also work well with Apple. There is no integration with Siri, but compatibility with Apple AirPlay 2. You can watch a movie on your iPad or Apple TV 4K and stream the audio to Sonos One.
That's at the top of Sonos. multiroom system. You can play different music through different Sonos speakers or play the same through all of them. The application allows you to group or deselect speakers very easily.
You can also pair two Sonos One units and use them in stereo settings, or use them as surround in a home theater setup with Sonos Playbase.
Sonos One – Performance
Smart speakers generally do not sound very good. That's because they were conceived as assistants first, speakers second. Sonos has done it differently, since they had a good speaker and their job was to make it smarter. A smart speaker with adequate audio performance was the great idea behind the Apple Homepod, and it seems that Sonos has surpassed Apple to the fullest.
Sonos tuned the Sonos One to be acoustically similar to the Play: 1. You get the same Twin D class amps. You will also get the same configuration for two controllers: a mid / bass driver and a tweeter, which is the same arrangement found in most traditional bookshelf speakers.
They sent me Sonos One and Sonos Play: 1, and I can confirm they sound more or less the same. That is, Sonos One offers a leading audio performance in its class.
This sounds a lot bigger than it looks. The sound is wide and high: the Sonos One looks like a bedside device, but it had it as the centerpiece of an open-plan kitchen / living room, and had no trouble filling it.
Despite its size, it offers full-range sound, and you will not miss any of the highs, mid, or bass. The treble can be a bit soft, but that's preferable to hissing wheezing. The bass is impressively deep and well controlled. It's also quite noisy: I usually listen to the Sonos One adjusted to half the volume, maybe 70% if I feel boisterous. The full volume will make your neighbors hit.
In general, it's a great sound, although Apple's Homepod sounds better, with a clearer and more spacious presentation, not to mention the magical ability to recalibrate wherever you place the speaker: the Sonos One has to be calibrated using TruePlay function in the application every time it moves. If you want to play with the sound, the application allows you to manually adjust the equalizer with the treble and bass settings.
Pair two units of Sonos One together and have an appropriate stereo performance, with an excellent left-right separation and an even wider sound study. Unfortunately, this seems to be limited to devices of the same type: each Sonos One wants to pair with another Sonos One: I would not do the stereo greeting with my Play: 1.
Regarding the intelligent element, Alexa is very well implemented. You need to check the Sonos and Alexa applications to make sure you have checked all the correct boxes, but that is sorted in minutes. I had a couple of days in which it took a while to respond, and the alarms did not work: standard beta test problems. But that was solved quickly and now my Sonos One does everything that my Amazon Echo does, besides playing the music better. It is also better to raise my voice (and activate the word) while playing the music. You do not need to scream
Related: The best sound bars
Why buy Sonos One?
Sonos One sounds great, gives you access to a proven and tested multi-room ecosystem, and is wonderfully integrated with the helpful Amazon Alexa assistant. If you long for the comfort of AI and are not willing to sacrifice sound quality, this is what you need. Especially when the Sonos One costs the same as the standard Sonos Play: 1. If you're already seeing one of those, this is obvious.
Then there's the next compatibility with the Google Assistant, which serves a completely different audience. The fact that this speaker is agnostic when it comes to intelligent services is not just a good thing; It is completely necessary. As speakers seem to be getting smarter, the only way to keep everyone happy is to run an open platform, and Sonos is currently the only one who does it.
Should you update if you already have a Sonos Play: 1? That will depend on how much you feel about the intelligent element, because the Sonos One does not offer sound updates, only an intelligence one. You can probably postpone the update and buy an Amazon Echo Dot. The ability of Sonos in the Alexa application allows you to control by voice the existing Sonos devices.
A smart speaker to rule them all.