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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 OneSonos One SL
Launch Year20172019
Voice ControlTwo in-built voice assistantsNo voice control feature
MicrophonesSixNone
Spotify?YesYes
Apple Airplay 2?YesYes
Ethernet Port?YesYes
XLR Input?NoNo
Subwoofer OutputOptional WirelessOptional Wireless

Sonos One vs. One SL: What’s the Difference?

Sound Quality

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.

Design

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.

Smart Assistants

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.

Sonos Arc vs Bose
If the voice assistant feature is important to you, go with the Sonos One.

©ronstik/Shutterstock.com

Additional Features

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

  1. Both Sonos One and One SL come with one tweeter, two amplifiers, and one mid-woofer.
  2. Sonos One is equipped with microphones, but you do not get one in One SL.
  3. Sonos One comes with wireless streaming and built-in Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Apple AirPlay2.
  4. Sonos Sl delivers an exceptional wireless streaming experience only with Apple AirPlay2.
  5. 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!

Sale
Sonos One (Gen 2) - Voice Controlled Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa Built-in (Black)
  • Sonos One - The powerful smart speaker with voice control built-in
  • Brilliant sound - Get rich, room-filling sound with Sonos One, and control it with your voice, the Sonos app, Apple AirPlay2, and more
  • Voice control - Amazon Alexa is built right in so you can play music, check news, set alarms, get your questions answered, and more, completely hands free
  • 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 bathroom
  • Stereo sound with 2 - Pair 2 Sonos Ones together in the same room for stereo separation and more detailed sound. Use a pair as rear home theater surrounds with Arc or Beam
Sonos One SL - Microphone-Free Smart Speaker - Black
  • 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 bathroom
  • 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?

After a quick comparison of the Sonos One and Sonos One SL, you will realize that they are literally the same. So, ultimately, it comes down to how desperately you want the voice assistant.

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.

Last update on 2023-01-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Sonos One vs. One SL: Full Comparison with Key Differences FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What to do when you are unable to connect to Sonos?

This notification indicates that the Sonos app is unable to establish a connection with your Sonos devices.

To resolve the issue, you should follow the on-screen instructions after tapping the “Unable to connect to Sonos” alert to reconnect your system.

In case you use the Sonos S2 app, you can simply go to the Settings menu, and then hit the system notification related to issues “finding” your Sonos.

You should also remember that for the Sonos app to establish a connection with your system, you must activate a new app permission introduced in the newer iOS versions. If you are using iOS 14, open the Settings app, navigate to Privacy, and select Local Network. Allow the Sonos app to establish a connection by enabling access for Sonos here.

What are some tips for reconnecting your Sonos app to your system?

A number of things may cause connection problems, but it is sometimes as simple as checking the power source.

Always double-check that the Sonos device and the wall socket are firmly connected to the power cord. You will see a constant white light when your Sonos device is turned on and ready to work. If that is the case, you can try something else, like restarting your router.

You will have to wait for a couple of minutes as the router reboots. Verify that your mobile device or computer is back on the right Wi-Fi network before opening the Sonos app. Connecting to the correct network is essential, and you can confirm it by checking your Wi-Fi settings on different devices, including your phone, computer, and tablet. Then ensure that your Sonos device uses the same Wi-Fi settings.

Quite often, you face problems because your device connects to a guest network instead of your home network. This keeps your device from establishing a connection with Sonos.

Is Sonos One SL better than Sonos Roam SL?

While Sonos One matches with Sonos One SL in so many ways, some people want to compare them with other alternatives, such as the Sonos Roam SL.

Comparatively, the Sonos Roam SL is a superior speaker to the Sonos One SL. The Roam SL is portable since it can be used anywhere, anytime, and does not require any wires or plugs because it runs on batteries. It is more robust, having an IP67 classification that proves it can withstand being submerged in water up to a meter deep for 30 minutes without damage.

As far as loudness goes, it is roughly on par with the One SL, except there is less compression at maximum volume, so it sounds better at higher volumes. The One SL, on the other hand, is a home speaker with a wired connection. With room correction on, it produces deeper bass and a more well-rounded sound overall.

Why does my Sonos One SL no longer play music?

So many things can create this problem, but you first need to check if you can find your speakers in the AirPlay menu or not. Sometimes, you notice the volume bar move up and down on Apple devices but you hear nothing.

If that is the case, you may have some troubleshooting to do. It could be due to some issue related to a connection between the AirPlay and your speakers. It may happen when there is a minor Wi-Fi connectivity issue.

Restarting your Sonos and your network can help refresh any sluggish connections, so do so if you have not already. To restore normal operation, power down all devices, first with the router, then the Sonos One SLs, and finally the phone. Turn them off and let them cool down for a few minutes before rebooting.

What is the simple way to factory reset your Sonos speakers?

Resetting your Sonos One or One SL to factory settings might be beneficial in a number of situations. You may need to join a new Wi-Fi network, perhaps because you have relocated. Perhaps you have decided to gift a buddy with a Sonos speaker, or you are considering a trade-in or selling the item on your own. It is also possible that your Sonos speaker is broken.

Whatever the case, you can easily restore it to factory settings, and the good thing is that the process is pretty much the same for the Five, One SL, Sub, Arc, Beam, and Amp.

  1. Begin by unplugging your speaker.
  2. Find the connect button on the back of your speaker.
  3. Now, press it and hold while plugging in your speaker again.
  4. Wait for the speaker’s light to flash white and amber.
  5. Hold down the connect button and release it when the speaker light flashes green.
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