A Match Made in Heaven: Sonos Newest Speaker Gets Smarter with Alexa
We know Sonos makes solid speakers but adding Amazon’s intuitive AI on Sonos One? That could blow the competition out of the water. Come Christmas, there will be an excess of smart speakers on the market. Google will have Home Mini and Google Home Max up for grabs. Apple will have shipped the HomePod then, too, and Amazon its second-generation Echo. While these are nifty speakers to have, they aren’t made by brands that have built their businesses around quality audio. That’s probably why audio performance seems pedestrian when compared to the best in the market.
Finally, a big name has answered every audiophile’s call for a smart speaker that delivers solid sounds: Sonos. The California-based consumer electronics company will, at long last, launch its own smart speaker: the Sonos One.
In Collaboration with Amazon
The company is known for making great-sounding wireless home speakers. Sonos ups the ante this time by putting voice control right into a whole-home speaker system. How did they make this possible? They baked Alexa into the Sonos One. No doubt, Sonos One is a few notches better than Echo. It’s as smart as any of Amazon’s long list of smart speakers, but it sounds way better. Is it a worthy pickup, though?
The One is almost a spitting image of the Play:1 in shape and size. In fact, the only noticeable difference may be the color of their wraparound grille. The Play:1 had one that’s colored gray while the Sonos One comes with black or white exteriors.
A touch-sensitive panel on the One replaces what was three buttons on the Play:1. The panel now shows the play/pause button, the microphone icon, and white LEDs that light up when Alexa is listening. To give Alexa a rest, simply tap the microphone symbol on top of the Sonos One.
A noteworthy feature you’ll find on the speaker is a dedicated Pairing button. It’s found right above the ethernet socket and should make pairing with other Sonos speakers (or the local Wi-Fi connection) easy. With this around, you no longer need to have one of your Sonos units plugged into your router.
Alexa is deeply integrated into Sonos One so you can interact with Alexa as you would Amazon Echo. The usual full range of timers and alarms, adding items to your shopping list, checking the weather, converting measurements, and more.
What it does control really well is the music you play on the Sonos system. Assign a Sonos kit (even those without Alexa support) to a particular ‘zone’ and you can voice-control the songs you wish to play in any room of the house.
Sadly, the Sonos One comes with one, big letdown at the moment: it only plays tunes off of Amazon Prime Music via voice commands. That is despite the fact that Spotify is already supported by both Sonos and Alexa. Spotify should be made available right before December, though. For now, you can’t command Alexa to play hits from other music services. In other words, you’ll have to tinker with the Sonos app to perform that task.
For a wireless speaker, the Sonos One may be at the top of the game. Its sound quality may be similar to the Play:1, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Keep in mind that Play:1 is already among the best-sounding wireless speakers you get at its price point. Upon closer inspection, the One produces deep, solid bass for a speaker of its size. Its soundstage is spacious and the vocals are engaging, too. The treble, meanwhile, is crisp and clear and the overall sound is noticeably sophisticated and natural.
With proper setup, the smart speaker effortlessly delivers full-bodied, weighty, and loud sounds. If you’re an audiophile, you’d know full well that those aren’t what you typically expect from most wireless speakers.
Alexa’s intelligence paired with Sonos One’s sound quality is a killer combo. It’s a worthy upgrade to the Sonos line. If you require excellent audio quality from your wireless speaker system, there’s little doubt that the One may be the way to go. Not only will it fully support voice-control for Spotify before the end of the year, the device will also be able to work with both Google Assistant and Siri (via AirPlay 2) by next year. No doubt, it’ll only get better from here.