Sonos One review
Smart speakers aren’t anything new.
Amazon’s clever Echo is already in millions of homes across the globe and is officially one of the best gadgets of the year.
This device, and others like it, come highly recommended but, for all of their greatness, they do have one big problem as they simply don’t sound very good.
Now one of the world’s best multi-room audio companies is attempting to fix this hugely important issue with the launch of clever new speaker.
Sonos announced their latest music device at an event in New York earlier this month and there’s no doubting that this is one of the best sounding smart speakers currently available to buy.
The Sonos One is not only packed with some of the best audio technology, but tucked inside its sleek casing is Amazon’s useful Alexa voice assistant.
This means you can now speak to your Sonos setup and get an instant reply, with Alexa able to perform a huge range of tasks, such as play music, make shopping lists and search the web.
Express.co.uk has been testing out the new Sonos One and here’s our full review.
The Sonos One includes Capacitive touch control
Out of the box the setup is relatively straight forward although you will need some patience getting things up and running.
This is because the speaker not only needs to be connected to the Sonos app and your Wi-Fi, but also be activated in Amazon’s Alexa app.
This requires a fair amount of switching between applications and typing in various user names and passwords is a little laborious with the whole process taking around 10 minutes.
We were using the beta version of the setup and Sonos has said things should be less convoluted once consumers start taking delivery of its smart speaker.
Although it’s not particularly quick we didn’t have issues installing the Sonos One with clear instructions explaining every step and, if you’ve used a smart speaker before, you shouldn’t have any problems.
Sonos One sounds much better than Amazon’s Echo
DESIGN AND PRICE
The Sonos One appears almost identical to the older PLAY:1 and that’s no bad thing as this is one of the best looking speakers currently on the market.
With a sleek design, that’s not much bigger than a can of beer, the Sonos One really won’t look out of place on that floating shelf in your living room or positioned neatly on your kitchen worktop.
It’s also incredibly well built with a design that feels sturdy, solid and made to last.
All the capacitive touch controls including volume, pause and play, are perfectly placed on the top of the speaker and even its power cable is designed to be hidden away.
And that’s important as it’s worth noting that the Sonos One needs constant power as there’s no battery tucked inside for portable audio.
The Sonos One is available in black or white and costs £199 – which is the same price as the current PLAY:1 which doesn’t feature voice search.
Sonos One is small but sounds mighty
SOUND QUALITY & ALEXA
As you’d expect from Sonos the audio quality from this latest speaker is truly superb and you’ll wonder how such room-filling sound can come from a device that’s so small.
Tucked inside the Sonos One are two Class-D digital amplifiers, one tweeter and one mid-woofer which create an audio experience which is crisp and clear with every note sounding rich and packed full of detail
This isn’t a speaker if you want bucket loads of bass but there’s just enough to make sure the sound has plenty of depth.
The Sonos One is a multi-room speaker and, if you own other Sonos products, it will link instantly with most of your current setup.
Strangely, the Songs One can’t be stereo paired with the current PLAY:1 although this may change with future updates.
Of course, what sets this speaker apart from its siblings is the fact that it includes Alexa integration.
This means you can now talk to your Sonos speakers with voice controls able to start music, set timers, making shopping lists and search the web.
Asking for music to played is the biggest reason to invest in a Sonos One with the speaker able to play radio stations and millions of songs via simple commands.
Alexa is one of the best digital personal assistants and the whole experience on the Sonos One is excellent.
It is worth noting, however, that if you want to listen to an album or favourite artist you will need an Amazon Music subscription as Spotify is currently available via the voice search on the Sonos One.
This popular music service is being added soon but there’s no official launch date just yet.
Apple Music, which can be accessed on the Snos app, isn’t supported via voice controls and, with the US technology firm soon to launch its HomePod speaker, we’re not expecting the Songs One to add this music service anytime soon – it at all.
An extra feature Sonos has confirmed is coming next year will be the addition of Google’s Assistant which will mean users can choose which voice-powered service they prefer.
There’s no word on when Google will arrive on the speaker but this addition will only improve the Sonos One experience even further.
The Sonos One comes in either black or white
As we explained earlier in our review, the speaker and app used in our test was still in a beta test version and Sonos is working hard to have everything fully ready for the official launch later this week.
However, during our test we have experienced some issues with Alexa not responding to our request for radio stations and only playing one track from our Amazon music playlists before going silent.
With help from Sonos we did get most of these errors ironed out although there’s still the odd time when Alexa gives the frustrating response, “Something went wrong.”
These issues are likely to be fixed long before the Sonos One arrives in homes but it does show how technical the Amazon integration is.
We absolutely love the Sonos One.
It’s everything we’ve wanted from a smart speaker as it now offers incredible audio quality in a device that’s a breeze to use.
It also looks stunning and, with it able to link to your other Songs speakers, you can control the entire music experience in your house with a simple voice command.
Including Amazon’s excellent Alexa is also a smart move and, with Google’s Assistant set to launch next year, voice search on the Sonos One will only get better.
Setup is a bit fiddly but once you’re up and running you’ll genuinely find it hard to not to fall totally in love with the Sonos One.
There’s plenty more smart speakers on their way in 2017 with Amazon’s new Echo, Sony’s LF-S50G and Apple’s HomePod all launching soon.
But, if you already own a Sonos system and want to make it a whole lot smarter the new Sonos One really is the only speaker you should consider.