Adds deeper and more dramatic bass for a theater-like experience at home. Designed for use with HD TVs. Can be used for streaming music, gaming, and watching TV.
On the high end of the price spectrum.
Stands out for its deep and rich sound, especially when paired with a stereo. Can be set up in five minutes using home WiFi.
Some users wish the software was more up-to-date. App could be improved.
Despite its compact size, the smallest Sonos speaker delivers enormous sound without distortion.
Requires users to go through the Sonos app to stream music, which can be frustrating if you want to stream music directly from a phone or computer.
It's slightly larger than the PLAY:1 but offers a deeper bass than the smaller speaker. Can be used vertically or horizontally without sound distortion.
Can't directly connect to a device to play music. Also lacks an auxiliary input.
Premium standalone speakers have existed for years, but Sonos reinvigorated the product in 2005 by bringing listeners some key innovations. Not only do Sonos audio speakers deliver 360-degree sound (with round speakers broadcasting in every direction), they also build upon one another: if you have more than one Sonos speaker in your house, it’s possible to sync them to play the same music, so your favorite tunes are playing no matter where you spend your time.
Another key part of Sonos’ success is that they’re agnostic when it comes to streaming music services. Sonos speakers piggyback on your existing streaming music subscriptions – all of them – and treat them as equally accessible content providers. Where similar speakers made by Amazon, Google, and Apple are all geared towards promoting and prioritizing their own streaming ecosystems, Sonos speakers offer listeners the convenience of choice.
At BestReviews, we believe in providing honest, unbiased product reviews for our readers. We never accept any form of compensation from product manufacturers, and we buy and test products ourselves. Read on for our in-depth shopping guide to Sonos speakers.
Sonos speakers are designed to be modular, so they all work together no matter where they’re set up. That said, every Sonos speaker is designed for one of two primary uses.
For Music: Sonos speakers for music feature 360-degree sound, so no matter where they’re placed, they can deliver audio to the whole room. Despite being single speakers, they still manage to pump out crisp stereo audio and are known for their impressive bass.
Some standalone Sonos speakers can be combined with Sonos soundbars to act as rear surround-sound speakers.
Sonos speakers deliver outstanding, audiophile-quality sound, but you must supply the music, podcast, or TV soundtrack. For most people, that’s a simple matter of registering their streaming subscriptions with the Sonos smartphone app. (Spotify, Pandora, TIDAL, Apple Music, Google Play Music, and Sirius XM all play very nicely with the Sonos ecosystem.) Another way to look at it is this: if you don’t have a music streaming subscription, you won’t be able to take advantage of some of your Sonos speaker’s best features.
Music fans with large CD or vinyl collections will need to choose wisely, as most, but not all, Sonos speakers have auxiliary input jacks to connect to an external audio source.
If you have your own library of digital music files, you can stream them to any Sonos speakers using their app, provided the music files are on available network resource like a computer or NAS unit. Local streaming works well with Sonos speakers, provided you use their app (even if you’re accustomed to another music app, you’ll have to get used to theirs). Keep in mind that Sonos speakers do not have any local storage, so streaming music on your local network means you’ll need a separate computer or network-attached storage unit to host your files.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Sonos 3.1 Home Theater System
Big Movie Sound in Small Spaces
If you crave high-end home theater audio but don’t have lots of space, the Sonos 3.1 Home Theater System may be the ideal solution. Combining the three-channel audio of the Sonos SOUNDBAR with the lush, bass undertones of the Sonos SUB subwoofer, Sonos delivers all the audio action where it matters most: front and center.
Sonos speaker prices are in line with their reputation as a high-end brand. These speakers aren’t cheap, and even their lowest price point is higher than those of most competitors.
Sonos individual speakers like those in the PLAY series (PLAY:1, PLAY:3, and PLAY:5) start at $150 for the most compact model and get as expensive as $500 apiece as each model gets larger and more powerful than the last. While there are a few features that only come with certain models (for example, not all Sonos speakers have a line-in auxiliary jack), for the most part, the significant differences between each model have to do with the power and size of the speaker.
Sonos TV audio options come as a soundbar or a sound base, but in either case, expect to pay around $700 – and that’s before you connect the Sonos subwoofer, which is sold separately. All of Sonos’ TV-oriented options are among the most expensive in their category, but they’re worth every penny to those looking to bring Sonos’ sound quality and streaming options to their home theater setup.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Sonos & Alexa: A Perfect Match
In 2018, Sonos began integrating Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant services into their speakers. By marrying Amazon’s best-in-class voice-activated capability with Sonos’ best-in-class multi-room speakers, the companies have given us the best of both worlds. With speakers like the Sonos PLAY:5 Ultimate, to get your favorite music, news, or weather, all you have to do is ask.
While Sonos speakers are a flexible way to stream music from just about anywhere on the web, they’re missing some features commonly found on other, similar speakers. These omissions don’t have to be deal-breakers, but as you’re shopping, take time to consider which functionality you might be able to live without. Sonos speakers do not support the following.
Bluetooth Audio: Sonos speakers talk to each other, and your phone, over WiFi, which allows for faster data transfer than Bluetooth. Nonetheless, if you’re accustomed to using Bluetooth, you may find it takes some getting used to (or you may just want to buy an adapter).
High-Resolution Audio: Sonos speakers support up to 16-bit audio, which means some high-res audio formats can’t be played back. This won’t be a problem for most users, but audiophiles with 24-bit audio files may need a different solution (like Sonos’ competitor, Bluesound).
If you own an iPhone, you can use the TruePlay feature on the Sonos app to get the speaker to automatically optimize itself based on the size and acoustics of the room.
When shopping for a Sonos speaker, consider these tips.
If you plan to connect your Sonos to a CD player or record player, consider where you’ll place the speaker, and be sure to buy a long enough cable to connect the two.
If you plan to use your Sonos with a smart assistant like Amazon’s Alexa, set up playlists in your streaming accounts ahead of time. Asking for a pre-defined playlist can be much easier than having to continually decide what to listen to.
Even if you don’t plan on using multi-room audio very often, set it up and learn how to use it. You never know when you’ll need it – and having music playing throughout a house is a quick, easy way to create a nice atmosphere for guests.
Q. Overall, how do Sonos speakers compare to Bose speakers?
A. Although Bose is one of the biggest names in mass-market, premium speakers, Sonos has quickly earned a spot as a strong contender in the market space. Audio enthusiasts debate which sounds better, but most agree that both manufacturers deliver high-quality audio in small form factors. What differentiates Sonos from Bose is the software feature set: where Bose most commonly relies on a Bluetooth connection to a single speaker at a time, Sonos allows listeners to stream audio to multiple speakers from a single, unified app.
Q. Do Sonos speakers support AirPlay for Apple devices?
A. Sonos speakers do not natively support Apple’s AirPlay protocol for wireless audio streaming. However, with a complementary accessory like an Apple TV attached, it can function as an AirPlay speaker.
Q. Do any Sonos speakers include digital assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, or Google Home?
A. Beginning in 2018, Sonos has included Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant in some speaker models. Support for other services requires an additional accessory (for example, a Google Home Mini connected by a cable).
Q. Can I connect my record player directly to a Sonos speaker, or do I need to use a separate receiver or preamp?
A. Sonos speakers amplify sound, so it’s not necessary to use an amplifier or receiver when connecting a record player to a Sonos speaker. However, all turntables require pre-amplification prior to sending a signal to an amplifier, so you’ll either need a record player that has a built-in preamplifier (many do) or a separate pre-amplifier.
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