If you are looking to buy a Sonos speaker, it is highly recommended that you compare the Sonos One and One SL. First introduced in 2017, Sonos’s One model has now been joined by the One SL, which debuted in 2019.
They appear nearly the same, and their sound value is about even, so at first sight, it would seem like they are offering the same thing.
The Sonos One is a more expensive option than the Sonos One SL, although both are still reasonable. The previous variant’s high asking price can be attributed to its superior in-built support features.
So, how do you know which Sonos speaker is right for you? Despite their similarities, there is one major distinction between the Sonos One SL, Sonos One, and the now-defunct Sonos Play:1—three of the best entry-level Sonos alternatives. The difference is that the Sonos One includes built-in voice control with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, whereas the Sonos One SL and the original Play:1 do not.
But, is there anything else separating these two smart speaker variants from Sonos? Let’s find out now!
Sonos One vs. Sonos One SL: A Side-by-Side Comparison
Sonos One vs. One SL: What’s the Difference?
Both Sonos speakers are really loud, and we do not mean that in a negative way. In fact, the music is incredibly clear, and the bass is deep without ever being muffled.
If you want to host a party in a large space, all you need is a Sonos One or a Sonos One SL. Simply position one at each end of the one-hundred-meter edifice, and the sound would have no trouble filling the room. That is how powerful and impressive the sound quality of both speakers is.
When comparing the two, you will hardly notice a difference in sound quality. That is mainly the case because both possess virtually the same acoustic profile. If you want to get into the nitty-gritty, you will find that the Sonos One offers somewhat better performance across the frequency spectrum than its sibling. Klein in size but big in sound, the Sonos One delivers a broad spectrum of tones, from deep and controlled bass to a maximum volume.
The Sonos One SL is not far behind, probably because it comes with the same variety of amplifiers, mid-woofer, and tweeter. It may perform better and is more suitable for those looking for a speaker with a spacious midrange.
The real difference between the two is that the Sonos One comes with a built-in smart assistant. Moreover, the audio streaming capabilities coupled with a voice assistant make the Sonos One a more desirable speaker for tech lovers.
In 2017, Sonos released the Sonos One, their first smart speaker and the first in their multi-room speaker line. The One SL debuted in the latter half of 2019, maintaining the One’s overall appearance down to the all-over grille and boxy profile.
It is worth mentioning that the Sonos One SL and Sonos One are direct successors to the Play:1, featuring nearly identical designs with a few upgrades here and there.
The Sonos Play:1’s attractive appearance is the result of careful attention to detail, including a recessed top, rounded sides, a tapered bottom, and a metal grille that completely encloses the speaker. You witness the same in newer Sonos speakers.
Both of these speakers are quite similar in design — each measures 162 x 120 x120 millimeters and weighs 1.85 kilograms, and they have a sleek, cylindrical shape. They are available in standard black and white.
They are virtually identical except for a little panel on the top. The real difference is that the Sonos One has a total of six microphones, whereas the Sonos One SL does not include a built-in mic. Since microphones are no longer included in the Sonos One SL, the button to activate them has been removed from the top panel. In order to activate or deactivate the smart speaker’s microphone, the Sonos One features a dedicated button on its control panel.
Other than this, nothing much has changed. You are going to get capacitative buttons to track skipping, control volume, and play/pause the track. Both have the same flat profile with a matching white or black matte finish, and the sides are covered in a modern mesh material. The ultimate result is an understated aesthetic that does not scream “look at me!” but lets the sound do the talking.
The first generation One, the direct replacement for the defunct Play:1, came equipped with the Alexa voice assistant from Amazon. Not long after the initial release, Google Assistant was thrown into the mix.
As mentioned already, the Sonos One has six microphones for voice control. The volume will lower when you say “Hey Google” or “Alexa” just like on a Google Home speaker or an Amazon Echo, so you may give instructions to the built-in assistant. One thing you must remember is that you can only install Google Assistant or Alexa at a time on your Sonos One.
In contrast to the Amazon Echo, the Sonos One has superior sound quality and features a fully-functional application of Alexa. When using Alexa with the Sonos One, your voice will be heard more clearly than the music. That is a big plus.
If you love smart assistants, you will be better off putting your money on the Sonos One because the One SL does not come equipped with a voice assistant. But, if you assume that the Sonos One is better than its siblings in this day and age of telecommuting and video conferences via services like Zoom, you will be disappointed. It is a shame that none of them can be used for video calls, as this would have been a convenient feature.
Both of these speakers offer some additional features, most of which are quite the same. The good thing is that they can function separately or as part of a larger Sonos system to provide multi-room audio.
It is possible to pair them with another Sonos One SL or Sonos One to produce stereo sound. In fact, you can group them together with a Sonos Playbar, Playbase, Arc, or Beam for a 3.1 system. Alternatively, you can pair it with a Sub Mini or Sonos Sub for a 5.1 system.
Interestingly, both speakers can work with over 100 different streaming services, such as Apple Music, Amazon Music, Spotify, and Tidal. Moreover, they have Trueplay compatibility, which enables them to be tuned to the user’s specific environment via the iOS device’s microphone.
In contrast to the other, the Sonos One can be controlled through the Sonos app and voice commands such as playing a certain song, adjusting the volume, or skipping tracks. By the way, voice control is possible on One SL if you use a Google Assistant or Alexa-compatible device, such as Sonos Arc, Amazon Echo, Sonos Beam, or Google Home/Nest device.
In order to use these speakers, you will need a Wi-Fi network and the Sonos app, which is compatible with Apple and Google platforms as well as Windows and macOS. Neither one of them is compatible with Bluetooth, unlike the Roam, Sonos Move, or SL. Both the Sonos One SL and Sonos One support Apple AirPlay 2.
5 Must-Know Facts About the Sonos One and One SL
- Both Sonos One and One SL come with one tweeter, two amplifiers, and one mid-woofer.
- Sonos One is equipped with microphones, but you do not get one in One SL.
- Sonos One comes with wireless streaming and built-in Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Apple AirPlay2.
- Sonos Sl delivers an exceptional wireless streaming experience only with Apple AirPlay2.
- Sonos One does not offer Alexa Calls, but it lets you operate it from any Siri-enabled device.
Where to Buy
Whether you like the Sonos One for its voice assistant features or like the newer One SL more, you can easily buy them on Amazon right in time for the holidays!
- Brilliant sound - get rich, room-filling sound with the all-new Sonos One SL, and control it with the Sonos app, Apple Airplay 2, and more
- For every room - The compact design fits just about any space. Put it on your kitchen countertop, or tuck it away on your office bookshelf. It's humidity resistant so you can even put it in the...
- Apple Airplay 2 - stream sound directly from your iPhone or iPad and ask Siri to play Apple Music
- Stereo sound with two - Pair with Sonos One or another One SL in the same room for stereo separation and more detailed sound. Use a pair as rear home theater surrounds with Arc or Beam
- Build your system - easily connect Sonos speakers in different rooms over Wi-Fi to create a home sound system that brings every room and everyone together
Should You Spend Extra Money to Buy the Sonos One?
The difference in cost between these speakers is minimal, not more than twenty bucks. But, if you do not need the ability to connect to a voice assistant, that is $20 you can put toward anything else.
If you are in the market for a smart speaker, you probably do not need a Sonos One SL, but if you are looking to beef up your home’s audio system, it could be a good fit. Thankfully, both of these speakers are compatible with streaming services like Airplay 2 and Spotify Connect. Still, only the Sonos One allows you to pick between Google Assistant and Alexa, as your default music provider.
A great idea is to buy both. Why? These Sonos systems were developed to work wonderfully as a stereo pair, allowing you to enjoy more focused audio when listening to music or watching television. In this scenario, having two smart assistant-compatible speakers in the same room is unnecessary. In fact, having both on at once could be really frustrating.
Which Sonos Speaker Should You Buy, the One or One SL?
The Sonos One’s smart-assistant features are helpful in a wide variety of situations. If you have set down your phone but realize you need to lower the level immediately, you can do so remotely, for instance, by using Google Assistant or Alexa.
Similarly, adding a Sonos One to a room with an existing smart speaker is a great way to simplify your home theatre setup. It allows you to swap out an unsightly device like an Amazon Echo for one that really looks great. But, do not expect much in this case either. The smart-assistant capabilities of Sonos One are quite limited, and it fails to handle certain Alexa skills, such as calling, drop-ins, or announcements.
It suggests that when voice control features are not up to the mark, and when you do not really want them, going with the Sonos One SL to save twenty bucks is the right bet. But, no matter which way you go, know that you will be getting a top-notch piece of technology that packs a punch in terms of sound quality despite its compact size.
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