- Sonos has long been hailed as one of the best manufacturers of wireless speakers.
- The Sonos One is the company’s latest and greatest smart speaker, and it replaces the Sonos Play:1.
- Both models look and sound very similar, but the Sonos One includes added support for Alexa and Google Assistant.
- While the more affordable Sonos Play:1 still offers great audio performance, the new Sonos One’s smart capabilities make it the better wireless speaker option for most buyers.
Wireless speakers have become commonplace. Gone are the days when having a multi-room speaker system meant having to run cables through the walls to a central receiver or needing a completely separate system in each room. These days, getting streaming audio throughout your house is as easy as buying a few Wi-Fi speakers and plugging them in.
Some of the most popular wireless speakers come from Sonos, which has been building Wi-Fi speakers for a few years now. Its most recent wireless speaker model for the masses is the Sonos One, which replaces the previously released Sonos Play:1. But since the Play:1 is now the more affordable option of the two, is the new Sonos One really worth the extra cash? We put the two head to head to find out.
Sonos One vs. Sonos Play:1 — which is better?
Specifically, the new Sonos One adds in support for Alexa and Google Assistant voice control, along with Apple AirPlay 2. This makes it a better fit for buyers who want a true smart speaker. Meanwhile, if all you need is a great-sounding wireless speaker, and you don’t care about voice assistant capabilities, then the more affordable Sonos Play:1 remains a worthwhile option.
Perhaps the first thing you’ll notice about the speakers is their design, and they actually look very similar in many ways. For starters, they’re shaped almost exactly the same, which isn’t a bad thing by any means. Both speakers come in at around 6.35 inches tall, meaning they’ll fit on any bookshelf, and they’re subtle enough to not draw too much attention, while still appearing relatively modern when they are looked at.
On the top of the speakers is where you’ll get playback controls, and they’re slightly different on each model. On the Sonos One, you’ll find capacitive buttons for play and pause, as well as volume and a button to mute the microphone. On the older Play:1, you’ll simply get controls for play and pause, and volume.
Perhaps the biggest design difference between the two speakers is the color-scheme. The Sonos One comes in all black or all white — and we love the look. The Sonos Play:1, on the other hand, features a gray color-scheme, and while it still looks great, it’s not quite as sleek as the newer Sonos One.
Setting up the two Sonos speakers is exactly the same, at least, initially. You’ll start by plugging the speaker in and downloading the Sonos app, after which you’ll need to create an account if you don’t already have one. You’ll then hit the “Set up a new Sonos system” button, and follow the on-screen instructions, including selecting your speaker.
That’s because the Sonos One has the added option to support either Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, depending on the voice assistant you want to use. You’ll be prompted to select a digital assistant during the setup process, which requires you to log in to your Amazon or Google account. Despite these extra steps, it’s still a relatively easy process.
Sound and extra features
Once everything is set up, you’ll be able to really take advantage of what these speakers have to offer.
Perhaps most notable, is how great both speakers sound. In fact, they sound almost identical. If you listen to the two side-by-side, you may end up hearing the tiniest of differences but, generally speaking, they both offer plenty of bass, super well-tuned mids, and a good amount of clarity and detail in the high-end. In fact, both of these speakers could go head to head with much more expensive speakers when it comes to sound quality.
Both models also offer Sonos’ Trueplay, which is an intelligent system that tunes the speakers to your room. You might not be aware of this, but speakers will sound different based on their environment because of the way that sound reacts with and bounces off of walls and other obstacles. Trueplay takes these things into consideration and, using your phone’s microphone, can tune music to sound as good as possible. Speaking from personal experience, it’s a great system and it really does help make your speakers sound a whole lot better. Unfortunately, Trueplay only works with iOS phones for now. Sonos says that’s because of the variation in microphones on Android devices, but it’s working on a solution.
As mentioned, the new Sonos One also has a few extra features not found on the Sonos Play:1. Notably, the speaker can have either Google Assistant or Alexa built right into it. That said, it can’t support both at the same time. Still, voice support makes the speaker a whole lot more useful for those that want to integrate it with the rest of their smart home. And, for Apple users, the speaker has AirPlay 2 as well — so you can easily stream music to it from your iOS apps and devices.
The bottom line
There’s a clear winner here — the new Sonos One is simply a better speaker. It’s also currently on sale for just $169, which only adds to its value.
That said, not everyone needs the extra smart features it offers. If you really don’t care about getting a digital assistant and don’t need AirPlay 2, then it may be worth buying the less expensive Sonos Play:1 if you can still find it in stock. There’s also the new Sonos One SL, which includes all of the same features as the Sonos One, with the exception of voice assistant capabilities. In other words, it’s basically a Play:1 with AirPlay 2. At a current sale price of $149, this actually make the Sonos One SL the best option for buyers who don’t want to pay extra for Alexa or Google Assistant.
If you are more on the fence about needing voice support, however, it’s worth going ahead and paying a little more for the Sonos One. You might not use the added smart features right away, but spending a little more now will prevent you from having to buy new speakers down the line once you do have smart home devices.
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Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Insider Picks team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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