Sonos One Reviews: Premium Sound Partners Well With Alexa, Although Voice Commands Limited at Launch

Earlier in October, Sonos announced its new smart speaker device, called the Sonos One, which will launch On October 24 with support for Amazon's Alexa voice assistant. The Sonos One allows users to control the speaker entirely through voice, providing smart speaker capabilities into a music-focused device, similar to Apple's marketing for the upcoming HomePod.

Ahead of the October 24 launch, reviews for the Sonos One have been posted online, with many sites giving the new speaker a favorable review thanks to Sonos' expected high-quality playback, which becomes particularly useful with Alexa controls. Still, those voice commands are limited at launch with only a few music services supporting Alexa, making the Sonos One slightly harder to recommend for users not already in the Amazon ecosystem.

Engadget said that the Sonos One provides "significantly better" music quality than the likes of Google Home and Amazon Echo "without breaking the bank" at $199. The site elaborated that the Sonos One uses the same audio hardware as the company's Play:1 speaker, so users can expect "clear, dynamic and loud sound" when playing music, although the "low end is not as strong as what you'll get from larger (and more expensive) speakers."

sonos one engadget 2

Photo by Nathan Ingraham via Engadget

Engadget wrapped up by noting that while the speaker stumbled occassionally with voice controls and lacks support for Spotify voice commands and Google Assistant at launch, it's still "the best-sounding smart speaker you can buy."

The Play:1 has been Sonos' best-selling speaker, and with good reason. It offers significantly better music quality than your average Bluetooth or smart speaker, at a reasonable price. It's also a great first step into a multi-speaker setup for your home. The Sonos One does all of that and adds voice controls without raising the price. Those voice controls may have a few bugs to work out, but aside from one frustrating afternoon, it worked well for me.

The Sonos One is a great way for most people to significantly upgrade their audio setup while also getting the convenience of voice controls. I wish that both Spotify voice commands and the Google Assistant were supported at launch, but this speaker will keep getting more features through upcoming software updates. Given that, I have no problem recommending it now. It'll work right out of the box as an Alexa-enabled device, it'll support more music services over time and it's a great way to dip your feet into the Sonos ecosystem. Just don't be surprised if you end up wanting to buy a few more.

The Verge broke down the supported music services on the Sonos One, commenting that voice commands at launch (through Alexa) are only supported with Pandora, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and SiriusXM. Spotify users will gain access "soon," but any Apple Music or Tidal subscribers will have to start playback through the Sonos app, and after that they can use Alexa to control the songs.

sonos one the verge

Photo by Chris Welch via The Verge

There are some early frustrations and missing features that prevent the Sonos One from being a perfect marriage between Sonos sound and Alexa’s voice smarts. You can’t yet play music from Spotify with Alexa, but I’ve been told that’s coming “soon.” Other services, such as Apple Music and Tidal, are absent with no ETA, and it’s quite possible that they’ll never support voice playback. They all work perfectly fine through the Sonos app, and once music is playing from any service, Alexa can always pause, skip tracks, adjust volume, or tell you what song or artist is playing. But the bottom line is that, at least for now, Alexa is unable to play anything from your Spotify library. Instead, you’ve got Pandora, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and SiriusXM to work with out of the box.

In 2018, Sonos One will also update with support for AirPlay 2, and then iOS users will be able to more easily control music playback with the speaker. While many interesting features are promised for future updates, The Verge still gave the speaker a score of 8 out of 10 and said, "Even with the Spotify situation factored in, I’ve found the Sonos One to be good enough in most other places to earn a solid recommendation if you’re looking to spend a couple hundred bucks on an in-home speaker."

Like a few reviews, Wired mentioned a convoluted setup process that requires you to switch between the Alexa and Sonos apps multiple times, further pointing out that any device trying to seamlessly connect two ecosystems is "sure to stumble occasionally." Still, the site was a fan of the new speaker, stating that the "key point" of any Sonos product remains: "the One is a great-sounding Sonos speaker," and voice controls -- while limited -- are still a bonus.

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 has some faults. Amazon world and Sonos world are two nuanced and complex domains, and any device that attempts to bridge the two is sure to stumble occasionally. But the key point remains: The One is a great-sounding Sonos speaker, and that's reason enough to consider one. It also so happens that you can command it with your voice.

Many reviews compared the Sonos One to Google's and Apple's upcoming products, which compete in the same high-quality music playback area but have noticeable differences in price. While the Sonos One will cost $199 when it launches next week, Apple's HomePod will run for $349, and the Google Home Max will be priced even higher at $399, with both latter products debuting in December. For more of the latest HomePod news and information, be sure to check out our HomePod Roundup.

More Sonos One reviews can be found at the following sites: The Independent, The Wall Street Journal, VentureBeat, Digital Trends, 9to5Mac, SlashGear, TechHive, and Mashable.

Tag: Sonos

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Top Rated Comments

NJRonbo Avatar
87 months ago
I am surprised someone is questioning the future of Sonos compared to Apple.

Do you think Apple is going to take over the speaker industry? Me thinks not.

A single HomePod speaker goes for $350.

Two Sonos speakers can be had for $50 more and I bet it kicks the crap out of one HomePod speaker.

Sonos will play mostly any music service. You can add dozens of music and Internet radio stations to it.

HomePod is, well, Apple Music.

I am not knocking the HomePod. It's just that it is severely limited. After becoming a Sonos owner, I am very impressed with the quality of their speakers.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
NJRonbo Avatar
87 months ago
My Sonos One will be here tomorrow. If you ordered directly from Sonos, you get it early.

That being said...

I would have gone with the HomePod, but the issue is that the device is not compatible with Amazon Music Unlimited. That's a big deal.

Additionally, I am so immersed in the Sonos culture (I have four Play:5 speakers) that it just felt natural to go with the Sonos One.

I am VERY impressed with the audio from the Sonos Play:5 speakers in a stereo setup. I have yet to hear the Sonos Play One. I am certain it will be a step-down, but probably comparable to the HomePod.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
NJRonbo Avatar
87 months ago
One more downside to the HomePod....Siri.

If you are buying the speaker primarily for music and want an assistant, Siri is a poor choice. Siri is severely outflanked by Google and Amazon Alexa.

The plug-ins available for Alexa alone is a reason to go with that assistant over Siri. There are dozens upon dozens of ways you can expand Alexa voice capabilities.

Then again, most are buying for music first. However, this should be a big consideration in that choice of hardware.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
deany Avatar
87 months ago
Surprised SONOS didn't make more of a big deal that existing Alexa devices now integrate with SONOS speakers.

Also very surprised Tim Cook hasn't bought the Santa Barbara company. The perfect fit imo and at say $150M a damm sight less than the silly $3.5B Beats purchase.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Brookzy Avatar
87 months ago
If the company isn't for sale, how can it be bought?
Everything is for sale at a price! :P
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
RickInHouston Avatar
87 months ago
From what I've seen, Apple HomePod is going to own the market against Sonos, Google and Amazon.
What exactly did you see? The proprietary-ness as a plus? The cost as a plus? The lack of choice in speaker size as a plus? The lack of choice in streaming services it can play? The multiroom software GUI it utilizes?

Please continue with your insight.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)