The leader in multi-room audio has added smart voice technology to its range, but is it still top of the pops?
PRODUCT Sonos One
TYPE Wireless multi-room smart speaker
DIMENSIONS (WxHxD) 120 x161x120mm
• Quoted power output Not specified
• Up to 16-bit/ 48kHz playback
• Wi-fi, Ethernet
DISTRIBUTOR Sonos UK
We were impressed with the Sonos One when it first launched in 2017, since then it’s added Amazon’s Alexa smart technology and AirPlay 2. This means that as well as using the Sonos as part of a multi-room setup with its other speakers, you can now link it together with AirPlay 2 offerings from other manufacturers, such as Apple’s HomePod.
The Sonos Controller app is well designed and provides plenty of assistance when getting started – although it will help if you’re able to connect the speaker directly to your router using an Ethernet cable during the initial set-up process. Once that’s done you can switch over to wi-fi if you prefer – but not Bluetooth or wired inputs, which both remain absent. The Controller app works with a wide range of devices and currently includes 61 different online streaming services as well, making this one of the most versatile smart speakers currently available.
It may stand just a little over 160mm high, but the Sonos One punches well above its weight. Even at modest volume levels the bass guitar on Rapture stands out and bounces along with infectious rhythm. The percussion is a delight too, fast and pacey but precise enough to pick out the tinkling cow-bells alongside the drums and cymbals. That precision doesn’t fade in the face of Bohemian Rhapsody, managing to pull out the firm underpinning of drums and bass in the operatic section even as Queen are fandango-ing at the top of their lungs. But, like the HomePod, it struggles with the heavy rock passage. It is – somewhat surprisingly – loud enough to fill the room, but the sound starts to get a little fuzzy around the edges as you push the volume up.
Turning things down a little allows the Sonos to settle back into its comfort zone, and the rich tones of Flight From The City swaddles my ears like a winter duvet. Without Queen’s sonic overload to deal with, the One allows the simple piano and string arrangement to fill the room with sound, while the light electronic chimes linger in the air as those deep piano notes rumble mournfully into the distance.
If your musical tastes lean more towards bombast, then the One might not have the solid build or sound required to function as your main music system, but it will work a treat for more delicate sounds, especially when used in smaller rooms such as a bedroom or kitchen. And, at this price, there’s always the option of beefing up the performance with a second speaker for wireless stereo in the living room, while still having change left from £400
Perfectly formed, great value entry-level smart speaker
- Impressive sound
- Versatile multi-room features
- Comprehensive streaming integration
- No Bluetooth or wired inputs
Best Sonos One prices ?
ONE FOR ALL
The Sonos One is a modest little speaker in size and price, but offers plenty of scope for expanding your music system to suit your taste. As you’d expect, the One can be used with other Sonos speakers as part of a multi-room audio system, but you can also fit it into a home cinema setup as well. A couple of Ones along with the Beam soundbar (HFC 441) will provide front and centre channels for watching films on TV, and you can add rear speakers as well, using the larger Play:3 or Play:5 (HFC 412), or even the Sonos Sub to really beef up the sound of those Hollywood blockbusters. There’s a new Sonos Amp on the way in February and Sonos has also worked with other manufacturers, such as Onkyo, to make its speakers compatible with their receivers.