Sonos One

The Sonos One is the best smart speaker you can buy today

The Sonos One smart speaker in white pictured on a cabinet surrounded by presents and candles
Editor's Choice
Image Credit: Sonos
(Image: © Future)

TechRadar Verdict

The Sonos One is a cleanly designed, feature-rich and great-sounding device that brings together the best of both ecosystems. You’ve got ever-improving voice assistants, including Alexa and Google Assistant, on the one hand, and on the other you’ve got Sonos with its own multi-room smarts. If you’re prepared to pay the price premium over Amazon’s or Google's first-party speakers, the One is the best smart speaker bar none.

Pros

  • +

    Full-bodied, rich sound

  • +

    Alexa / Google Assistant

  • +

    Plays music while Alexa is muted

Cons

  • -

    Expensive

  • -

    Set-up could be easier

  • -

    No Bluetooth

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The Sonos One started a revolution. It was one of the first smart speakers that didn't force users to choose between smarts and excellent sound quality (it features both), as well as the first that didn't make users choose between Alexa and Google Assistant.

Even without that, however, the Sonos One is a spectacular speaker. In our time testing it, we were consistently impressed with the sound quality in both standalone and stereo speaker modes and how voice assistant integration has continued to grow.

Sonos One Specs

Dimensions: 162 mm X 120 mm X 120 mm (H X W X D)
Weight: 4.08 lb 
Colors: Black, White
Memory: 1GB SDRAM, 4GB NV
CPU: Quad Core, 1.4 GHz A-53
Apple AirPlay 2: Apple devices iOS 11.4 and higher
Amplifiers: Two Class-D digital amplifiers
Voice assistant: Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant

Sonos speakers have also been given a hefty upgrade, as the company launched a new operating system and accompanying app that brings support for Hi-Res Audio to its newer wireless speakers.

The new Sonos S2 app also brings a feature called 'room groups'—this means your wireless speaker system will be able to remember frequently grouped players (like your bedroom speakers and your living room speakers). This should allow you to get entire areas of your home—downstairs, for example—playing music much more quickly than before. 

There's now stiff competition from Apple and Google, but the Sonos One is our top pick in our best wireless speaker guide and best smart speaker guide—and has been since it first launched.

What Sonos has working to its advantage is its multi-room ecosystem that goes a long ways toward filling the gaps left in Alexa and Google Assistant's ecosystems.

One day Amazon and Google's Hi-Fi speakers might overtake the Sonos One. But, until that day comes, you can rest assured knowing that Sonos, with its wealth of experience and brilliant inter-connectivity, still holds the top spot. Read on for our full Sonos One review.

Sonos One review: price and availability

  • First released in 2018
  • Costs $219 / £199 / AU$319
  • Expensive for a smart speaker, but worth it

The Sonos One was first released in 2018. However, it's worth pointing out that since then Sonos speakers have had several updates. 

Price-wise, the Sonos One initially launched for $199 / £179 / AU$299, but it's now $219 / £199 / AU$319.

In terms of how the Sonos One stacks up in the current Sonos line-up, it's much cheaper than the the brand's first portable speaker. This costs $399 / £399 / AU$649 and you can read more about it in our Sonos Move review.

And it's more expensive than the brand's ultra portable speaker, which costs $179 / £179 / AU$299. Check out our Sonos Roam review for more details.

Then again, it's not really a direct competitor to these portable devices. In fact, very few speakers from other brands tick all of the boxes the Sonos One does, but to compare it to other smart speakers, it's nearly double the price of the $99 / £99 / AU$149 Apple HomePod Mini and $99 / £89 / AU$149 Google Home Max.

Having said that, it's significantly cheaper than another rival: the Bose Home Speaker 500, which is $399.95 / £399.95 / AU$599.95.

What this means is, for a smart speaker, it's expensive. But Sonos is a fantastic audio brand that offers up much more than a voice assistant in a speaker, which goes some way to justifying that price. Finding the right Sonos promo codes for your needs could help a bit too.

The Sonos One in black on a shelf

Sonos One review: design

  • Simple, minimal looks
  • Touch sensitive controls

Although the Sonos One’s design is broadly based on the company’s existing Play:1 smart speaker—which you can read more about in our Sonos Play:1 review—there have been a number of improvements made. 

On the top you’ll find a touch-sensitive surface that’s a great deal sleeker than the Play:1’s trio of volume and play/pause buttons. Swiping right or left skips forward and backwards through your current playlist, while tapping in the center of the surface plays and pauses your music. Finally, tapping the left and right halves of the panel raise and lower the volume. 

It might be a simple series of controls but, as has always been the way with Sonos speakers, you’ll spend most of your time controlling them via the app. The physical controls are nice when you want to quickly skip a track, but you’re unlikely to use them much, especially now that voice control is also an option. 

A close up of the controls on the top of the Sonos One smart speaker in black

To facilitate this voice control, Sonos has equipped the speaker with six internal microphones to allow it to hear you drunkenly ask to play ‘Hey, Jude’ just one more time, and these are joined by more or less the same guts as the Sonos Play:1; namely its pair of Class-D amplifiers and a tweeter / mid-woofer driver combo. 

On the top of the device you’ve also got a power-indicating LED alongside a small light to let you know when Alexa is listening. This second LED is hardwired to the microphones, and Sonos promises that the microphones cannot listen to you if it’s not illuminated.

Sonos One review: set-up

  • Slightly tricky set-up
  • Tuning customization

Thanks to the combination of Amazon’s and Sonos’ services, the setup of the Sonos One is a little more involved than your average Echo device, but thankfully not horrifically so. 

The process involves installing the Sonos and Alexa apps, and you’ll need to sign into both your Sonos and Amazon accounts, as well as any other music streaming services that you’ll want to listen to using the speaker. 

You’ll also be encouraged to go through a ‘Trueplay Tuning’ process, which requires you to walk around your room with your phone as your speaker plays a number of test sounds. Your phone listens to how the speaker sounds in its environment, and tunes its sound accordingly. 

Of course, you can also manually adjust the treble and bass levels of your speaker if you have more specific preferences, although we were content to leave them at their default levels. 

You’ll also need to assign the Sonos One a room to allow you to identify it from the Sonos app, and it’s here that you’ll also have the ability to pair the Sonos One up with another speaker to have them play music in stereo. Unfortunately you can’t pair it with a Sonos Play:1, despite the similarities in form-factor. 

The Sonos One smart speaker in black on a wooden shelf

Sonos One review: sound quality

  • It sounds fantastic
  • An update adds support for some hi-res audio

Given that this is a Sonos speaker, you won’t be surprised to hear that the Sonos One sounds pretty fantastic. 

Throw Elegie by Mouse on the Keys at the speaker, and sound has real punch and energy to it. The song’s kickdrum...well...has kick to it, and drives the energy of the song. It’s an impressive amount of power from such a small speaker. 

The speaker even deals admirably with more complicated pieces of music. Silent Earthling by Three Trapped Tigers sounds clear and crisp, despite the multiple layers of instruments circulating throughout the song. 

That said, the speaker doesn’t offer the separation of a pair of stereo speakers with the way the music is squashed into a single channel, but it does a solid job at its size and price point, and naturally its ability to be paired with more Sonos speakers enhances its sound further still. 

Since we first tested the Sonos One, Sonos has added a bunch of updates to improve sound performance. One of the most significant is support for high-res audio. Currently, this only works with Amazon Music Unlimited, but in a blog post about the update, Sonos says: "we look forward to introducing more high-resolution experiences in the future".

Sonos One review: Alexa, the Sonos app and future developments

  • Added Spotify integration after launch
  • More updates expected

Of course, much of what’s written above could also have been said of the original Play:1 when it was first released back in 2013. The real story here is about how voice control is integrated—it is simply wonderfully executed. 

Almost, nearly perfect.

While at launch the functionality seemed a little more limited than we were expecting due to the absence of its integration with Spotify, this has now been rectified via a software update. 

It's great news, as Spotify is one of the more popular streaming services out there. Being able to simply request songs by using your voice is far more convenient than having to dig into an app on your phone. 

With Spotify now added, the Sonos One is an impressively featured multi-room speaker. It’s backed by the same great Sonos app that has seen continuous improvement and development over the years, and now integrates with all major music streaming services. 

A Sonos One in black on a wooden shelf

Otherwise the speaker acts pretty much as you’d expect a smart speaker to. It integrates with all the same smart home products, you can ask it about the weather, or just have it tell you stupid facts and jokes. 

With the Sonos Alexa skill, you can also use voice commands to get music playing on other Sonos speakers throughout your home. The skill is still in beta and is hence a little buggy (it refused to play the radio on “kitchen speaker”, but was fine with “kitchen”), but when this sees a full launch it will be another helpful feature. 

Conclusion

Essentially, we think the Sonos One is the best smart speaker on the planet. And, despite mounting competition, the fact it's held onto that top spot for years now is really saying something.

Fundamentally this is because it’s underpinned by audio quality that’s a step above what’s available on Amazon’s current generation of Echo hardware, but it’s a speaker that also integrates fantastically well with the rest of Sonos’s multi-room lineup. 

Yes, it was certainly a shame that it launched without support for the most popular streaming service in the world, Spotify, but kudos to Sonos for bringing out the update later. The speaker is now just as effective as an Amazon Echo at playing your music, and sounds better than Amazon's devices too.

Also consider...

If our Sonos One review has you considering other options, then take a look at three other smart speaker options below.

Image

Apple HomePod Mini
If you're looking for a new speaker and already have a lot of Apple products or use Apple Music, then you might be better suited to the HomePod Mini. Like the Sonos One, it offers incredible sound and a lovely design, but will work better within the Apple ecosystem.
Read our full Apple HomePod Mini review

Image

Google Nest Audio
The Sonos One supports Google Assistant, but if you want a Google-specific product, then check out the Nest Audio. This is a fantastic smart speaker with good quality audio to boot. It also has a very unassuming design that should fit well in most homes.
Read our full Google Nest Audio review

Image

Bose Home Speaker 500
The Home Speaker 500 from Bose sounds fantastic. It provides a room-filling wall of sound despite its small stature. However, it is very expensive, and you can get speakers of similar quality for less, which means we'd only recommend it for audiophiles who want the best sound possible.
Read our full Bose Home Speaker 500 review 

  • First reviewed in September 2018
  • Visit our Sonos coupon page for our latest deals and discounts.
Jon Porter

Jon Porter is the ex-Home Technology Writer for TechRadar. He has also previously written for Practical Photoshop, Trusted Reviews, Inside Higher Ed, Al Bawaba, Gizmodo UK, Genetic Literacy Project, Via Satellite, Real Homes and Plant Services Magazine, and you can now find him writing for The Verge.