With the Google Home Max and the Sonos One, the two top voice assistants — Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa — are now embedded inside top-notch speakers. However, at $199 for the Sonos One and $399 for the Google Home Max, these are also two of the most expensive smart speakers, so buying one is a big decision.
Here's how they compare to each other.
|Google Home Max||Sonos One|
|Price ||Google Home Max (opens in new tab)||Sonos One (opens in new tab)|
|Size||13.2 x 7.4 x 6 inches||6.36 x 4.69 x 4.69 inches|
|Weight||11.7 pounds||4.1 pounds|
|Speakers||Two 4.5-inch woofers, two 0.7-inch tweeters||One tweeter, one midwoofer|
|Ports||3.5mm in, USB-C||Ethernet|
|Wireless||802.11b/g/n/ac (2.4GHz/5Ghz) Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2||802.11b/g, 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi|
|Streaming Sources||YouTube Music, Spotify, Pandora, Google Play Music, TuneIn, iHeartRadio||55, including Pandora, Spotify, Amazon Music, Google Play Music, SiriusXM, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, Napster, MLB Gameday|
|Voice Assistant||Google Assistant||Amazon Alexa|
The Google Home Max is big in just about every way. It's more than twice as large as the Sonos One and weighs nearly three times as much. However, for its heft, Google's device is fairly unobtrusive: The speaker's trapezoidal shape means that you're likely to see just its front cloth speaker grille. Using touch controls on one of the long sides, you can slide your finger to adjust the volume. They're easy to use when the Max is lying on its side but more awkward when it's sitting on one of its ends.
The Sonos One is rectangular with rounded sides and also has touch controls on its top. Instead of cloth, the sides of the speaker consist of perforated metal. Given its smaller size, this speaker is much more inconspicuous than the Max.
Winner: Draw. Both speakers are attractive in their own ways.
The Google Home Max has two 4.5-inch woofers and two 0.7-inch tweeters, compared to one tweeter and one midwoofer in the Sonos One. When it's the Max versus a single Sonos One, there's no comparison; the Max blows it away in terms of volume and bass.
However, if you pair two Sonos Ones (which cost the same as a single Max), then it's much closer, as I discovered in our review of the Max. The Max has better bass, but the Sonos has more definition in the mids and highs.
Winner: Google Home Max. It has twice the number of speakers as a single Sonos One, so it delivers a stronger, meatier punch.
Streaming Audio Sources
Sonos lets you stream audio from 55 sources, including Spotify, SiriusXM, Google Play Music, and MLB Gameday Audio. The Google Home Max can get audio streams from YouTube Music, Spotify, Pandora, Google Play Music, TuneIn and iHeartRadio. That's a decent group, but nowhere near what Sonos offers.
Winner: Sonos One. It can stream from 49 more sources than the Google Home Max can.
The Sonos One has Alexa built in, while the Google Home Max has Google Assistant. In a competition among Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri, Google Assistant slightly edged out Alexa when it came to general knowledge, entertainment and voice recognition.
However, Alexa has better smart home integration and controls more smart home products. Plus, Alexa has thousands of skills, which further enhance its abilities.
If you prefer Google Assistant, though, know that it's also coming to the Sonos One in the near future.
Winner: Sonos One. While Google Assistant is catching up, Alexa is still the better voice assistant.
MORE: Best Alexa Skills
In addition to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, the Google Home Max has a 3.5mm audio-in jack, so you can connect it to devices such as your TV or stereo system. In addition, you can use Google Assistant to control Chromecast-enabled devices, such as Android TVs.
The Sonos One has Wi-Fi (2.4GHz only) and an Ethernet port, which limits you to streaming music from Internet sources. However, you can use Alexa to control Fire TV devices.
Winner: Google Home Max. It's more versatile when integrating the speaker into your home entertainment system.
Price and Value
At $399, the Google Home Max costs twice as much as the Sonos One ($199).
For that price, you can buy two Sonos Ones and get roughly the same audio performance as you do from a single Google home Max.
Winner: Sonos One.
|Google Home Max||Sonos One|
|Streaming Audio Sources||X|
The Sonos One wins this matchup four rounds to three. The Google Home Max has better audio, integrates well with Chromecast and Android-powered TVs, and comes with a handy 3.5mm audio jack. However, the Sonos One can stream from more audio sources, and Alexa has more abilities than Google Assistant (the Sonos One will soon have both voice assistants, too). If you're willing to splurge for two Sonos One speakers, you can get audio quality that's comparable to that of the Home Max for the same price. While you can't go wrong with either speaker, the Sonos One is the better overall choice.