Sonos has been weaving its way through the whole-home audio business for years now, but has faced increasing competition at the hands of tech giants, like Google and even Amazon, that are themselves trying to make it easier to listen to tracks in several rooms throughout the house.
In a bid to sidestep those challenges and ultimately find its way in a world dominated by smart assistants, Sonos has unveiled the $199 Sonos One. The device is essentially a smart home hub that gives you access to Amazon Alexa, but boasts the high-quality sound you’d expect from a Sonos device. Better yet, it can seamlessly connect to your existing Sonos setup.
Although the Sonos One isn’t yet available (you can pre-order it now, and it will ship October 24), some reviewers had some time to try out the speaker before it launches. And although some critics had concerns about Alexa quirks and set-up problems, overall, the Sonos One looks like a hit. Read on for a look at what reviewers are saying about the new Sonos One smart speaker.
On our own site, Mike Prospero praised the Sonos One's sound quality and the multitude of streaming services available, but noted that the setup process was a bit more involved than with other Alexa-enabled products, and that true integration with all the streaming audio through Sonos was not there yet.
"Befitting its legacy, the Sonos One speakers sound amazing for their size. Just one of them was able to fill my living room with full, balanced sound."
"Connecting Alexa and the Sonos One was a bit more involved than I’d like."
"While you can use Alexa to move forward and back through songs, you have to use the Sonos app to initiate the playback."
The Verge’s Chris Welch was clear about the Sonos One: it’s the best-sounding Alexa-enabled speaker on the market. Welch, who gave the device a score of 8 out of 10, said that the Sonos One has outstanding audio support and its integration with other Sonos devices is a treat. But he complained of the smart speaker’s setup process, which was too complicated.
“For now, and probably over the next few months, the Sonos One will remain a very nice Sonos product with Alexa built in.”
“Like its predecessor, the Sonos One delivers balanced, detailed, and full-bodied audio that outperformed my expectations of a speaker this size. It’s perfectly adequate to fill a living room or kitchen with music, and you can crank it up to ringing volumes without much distortion or harshness.”
“You set up your Sonos system, add your new speaker to that system, link all your music services to Sonos, link the speaker to your Alexa account, link those same music services from before to Alexa, and then have Alexa discover nearby supported smart home devices. That’s… a lot.”
“You can’t yet play music from Spotify with Alexa, but I’ve been told that’s coming ‘soon.’”
Engadget’s Nathan Ingraham was similarly impressed with the Sonos One’s outstanding speaker quality, and gave the device a score of 90 out of a possible 100. He also said that the Alexa integration works well, but cautioned that voice commands can be a bit of a problem at times.
“The Sonos One impressed me with clear, dynamic and loud sound that far outstrips Google Home or the original Echo.”
“If you've used Alexa on one of Amazon's own devices before, you'll mostly be right at home with the Sonos One voice commands.”
“The speaker works only with music services supported by Amazon and Alexa, which currently include only Amazon Music (naturally), Pandora, iHeartRadio and TuneIn. Even though Spotify works with other Alexa-enabled devices, it doesn't yet work on the One, though Sonos says it'll be ready soon.”
“It's not a deal-breaker, but it's probably worth noting that you might have a hard time getting Alexa's attention if you're cranking some tunes.”
Over at CNET, reviewer Ty Pendlebury gave the Sonos One a score of 8.7 out of 10. He said that the device earned high marks for its integration into the Sonos multiroom system, but cautioned that Google Assistant and AirPlay 2 support won’t be available until next year.
“The Sonos One integrates full-fledged Alexa voice control, just like an Amazon Echo speaker but with better sound quality.”
“The Sonos One is the first smart speaker I've heard that actually sounds great with music. Based on the company's Play:1, a 4-year-old multiroom speaker that still outperforms pretty much anything at its price, the Sonos One sounds even better.”
“The One costs twice as much as the new Echo.”
“When you use the One as part of an Echo system, there is no current way to default to the Sonos when playing music -- even if it's the closest to you.”
“Echo speakers can call other Echos and most phones within Northern America for free. Sonos is not able to do this.”
Wired’s Michael Calore also got into the mix and gave the Sonos One a score of 8 out of 10. Like the others, Calore said that the Sonos One sounds fantastic and believes the device’s $200 price tag offers a nice value. But he acknowledged that there’s still some work for Amazon to do to get it right.
“This new $199 speaker takes the current Alexa-Sonos relationship and removes the complexity. You could think of it as an Echo with much improved sound.”
“It does all of the Alexa things, but it's foremost a Sonos speaker, so it does all the Sonos things too—it works as part of a multi-room system, it streams from scores of services, and it obeys the company's controller apps.”
“The One is a great-sounding Sonos speaker, and that's reason enough to consider one.”
“The setup process, which involves not only adding a new speaker to your Sonos network, but also adding Amazon Voice Service to your speaker, needs ironing out.”
“The Sonos One can do most everything Alexa can do, but it can't do everything Sonos can do. So, when you ask it to play music, the Alexa living inside the One can only summon streams from the services Alexa supports.”
“The bright and shiny end goal here is an easily installed speaker you can, if you want, control only by talking. But the One isn't there yet.”