Great sound quality
Alexa or Google Assistant
It might sound like hyperbole, but I don't believe it's an exaggeration to say that the Sonos One speaker has improved my quality of life. Prior to my experience with the Sonos One, I primarily listened to music on small smart devices like Echo Dot, my phone, or at best through my car speakers.
It wasn't until my work at Reviewed allowed me to try out a pair of second-gen Sonos One speakers that I realized the extent to which I had been depriving myself of a quality music experience, and how the right music can change the way life feels. In the hellscape that has been the year 2020, it's been more important than ever to find ways to decompress and allow my mind to escape to a happier place. Listening to music on a quality speaker has made an otherwise horrendous time more bearable. Thanks, Sonos.
About the Sonos One
- Dimensions: 6.36" x 4.69" x 4.69" (H x W x D)
- Weight: 4.08 pounds
- Colors: Black, White
- Amplification: 2 class-D digital amplifiers
- Wireless connection: WiFi, Spotify Connect, Apple AirPlay 2
- Wired connection: Ethernet
- Other features: Sonos Radio, Alexa and Google Assistant, Sonos Trueplay (iOS only)
Smart speakers and privacy
Before you purchase any smart home gadget, you need to be aware of the inherent privacy risk. While the Sonos app does allow you to opt out of "Personalization Services" in settings, the larger privacy risk comes from the voice assistant you choose. Alexa and Google Assistant have their own settings in their respective apps, and that's where you'll need to go if you want to be sure your voice recordings aren't being stored or reviewed by Amazon or Google.
A touch control on top of the One turns the mic on and off, but if you're OK with just using the app to control your music playback, the most secure way to use this speaker would be to leave the mic off and never even set up the smart assistant.
What we like
It has excellent sound quality
Judging by sound quality alone, the Sonos One is one of the best midrange smart speakers you can buy, nearly on par with the newer, larger, and identically priced Echo Studio. But what's really incredible is how the One's hardware has continued to compete with an ever-growing pool of similarly priced rivals in the smart speaker space. Continued support and regular updates have kept it from aging in the same way that other smart home products generally do. It’s not new, but it’s current.
It has lots of room for system expansion
The Sonos ecosystem can link and control a variety of speakers all over your home. You can have a soundbar and surround system in the den, a One in the kitchen, and a Move (portable speaker) in the garage, and play music in every room with one voice command. If the system is set up right, specifying what should be played where is as easy as, "Alexa, play smooth jazz in the kitchen," or, "Play the Hamilton soundtrack everywhere." Sonos has worked hard to make its speakers intuitive, and the One is no exception.
The Sonos app has tons of features
In the Sonos app, you can choose your voice assistant, link your favorite streaming services, play from any Sonos speaker on your account, and even listen to original programming via the Sonos Radio feature. The list of compatible streaming services is lengthy and includes the popular Spotify, Pandora, Tidal, TuneIn, Amazon Music, and Apple Music. (Listen to another service? Check the full list to see if the Sonos app is compatible.)
You can choose Alexa or Google Assistant
The Sonos One was one of the very first smart home products to allow its users to choose which smart assistant they want to use. The inclusion of a smart assistant means that, as long as you have the speaker’s built-in mic turned on, you can use the One just as you would an Amazon Echo or Google smart speaker.
You can ask for the forecast, listen to a summary of the day’s news, control your smart bulbs, and of course request music, audiobooks, and podcasts. One difference to note, however, is that some communication functions will only work on actual Echos and Google speakers. Google Assistant and Alexa have different capabilities and sometimes don’t work with the same smart home devices, so the inclusion of both assistants is a definite plus if you’re just beginning to build your smart home and haven’t committed to one assistant.
Be aware, though, that both assistants can’t be used at once If you have the One set up to work as an Alexa speaker, you have to go into the Sonos app and disable Alexa/enable Google Assistant before the speaker will respond to "OK, Google."
What we don’t like
It doesn't have Bluetooth
The glaring omission in the One's otherwise extensive feature list is Bluetooth connectivity. While you might not even need Bluetooth as an option for streaming music since the Sonos app natively works with so many audio services, it's such a common feature that it feels weird not to have it. Our very favorite smart speaker, the Bose Home Speaker 300 (which also hovers around $200) is a better option if you think you might want to stream audio over Bluetooth on occasion.
Multiroom music can get frustrating
I work with smart home devices all day every day, and I quickly lose patience with the ones that make make it hard for me to request simple things. Unfortunately, the Sonos One has caused me that frustration a few times. I have two One speakers in my home and I occasionally relocate them, so I struggle to keep track of which speaker is named what in the app.
So when I wanted to listen to music while I cleaned my bedroom one day, I said, "Alexa, play Fallout Boy in the bedroom," music started playing from the wrong speaker. I told Alexa to stop and asked the speaker to "play Fallout Boy here." No dice. I requested the music play "on this speaker," and "in this room," but I couldn't get it to play where I wanted until I opened the app on my phone and selected the right speaker.
Multiroom music is one of Sonos' major selling points, and it's outstanding when it works well. When it doesn't... it's no good.
Should you buy it?
Unless you’re committed to the Sonos ecosystem, go with the Bose Home Speaker 300 instead. The Sonos One is a great smart speaker for $200, there's no question. It's the Sonos ecosystem that can be a bit quirky on occasion. Despite that, Sonos has a huge following and loyal customers that rave about the same ecosystem that I find a bit frustrating, so this must be one of those either-you-love-it-or-you-hate-it kind of situations. If you know Sonos is the brand for you, then you will be happy with the One, even though there are newer speakers on the market. It's a solid speaker that has aged remarkably well.
If, however, you're just dipping your toe into the world of smart home and you're not set on any particular brand, I would point you toward the Bose Home Speaker 300. It's the same price, and in our testing, it came out on top as the best smart speaker you can buy right now. It also has Alexa and Google Assistant, tons of streaming services via those assistants, handy preset buttons, and yes, Bluetooth. The Sonos app offers a few bells and whistles you won't get with the Bose, but both apps are polished and intuitive.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Meet the tester
Sarah Kovac is an award-winning author and smart home editor for Reviewed. Previously, she worked with a multitude of outlets such as Wirecutter, TIME, PCMag, Prevention, The Atlantic, Reviews.com, CNN, GOOD, Upworthy, Mom.me, and SheKnows.
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