- The Sonos One is a smart speaker that integrates tightly with smart assistants like Sonos Voice Control, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant.
- The Sonos One offers integration with popular streaming services like Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, and YouTube.
- The Sonos One has exceptional sound quality, providing crisp mids and highs for music playback.
- Some drawbacks of the Sonos One include the lack of Android support, a complicated setup process, privacy concerns, and a high price compared to other smart speakers.
- An alternative to the Sonos One is the Amazon Echo, which is widely supported and offers a simpler installation process.
Why should you avoid a Sonos One? There is no shortage of wireless smart speakers on the market these days. I have particularly picky tastes when it comes to smart speakers. After years in audio post-production, you tend to get a bit snobby about audio equipment. It can’t be helped, sadly.
I’ve spent the last six years in audio post-production, and these are my own honest and impartial thoughts on the Sonos One. We’ll go over what I like best about the device, as well as some reasons you’ll want to steer far away from it.
What Is the Sonos One?
The Sonos One is a smart speaker, bringing the reputation and attention for detail its manufacturer is known for to the same arena as the Amazon Echo. On paper, it has truly impressive specs, at least for a speaker of this type. You won’t be using it to monitor the playback of a live vocalist or something. However, as a music or podcast player, it works well.
There are some bigger issues at play with the Sonos One, for me at least, which we’ll go into with some degree of depth. Needless to say, from an audio perspective, you shouldn’t have any complaints going with this smart speaker.
|One tweeter and one mid-woofer
|The Sonos TruePlay app allows users to adjust EQ settings as needed.
|TruePlay automatically measures the room and adjusts playback as needed.
Good Things About the Sonos One
Smart Assistant Integration
When it gets down to it, one of the best things about the Sonos One is how tightly it integrates with smart assistants. You’ve got access to Sonos Voice Control, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant. These are all fairly robust and well-developed smart assistants. You certainly won’t be left wanting extra functionality when it comes to assistance support.
Commands are clearly understood, thanks to a fairly good microphone. The microphone arrays use beamforming for the best overall quality. As such, if you speak clearly any of your preferred smart assistants should work just fine.
Integrated Streaming Services
There are plenty of streaming services on offer with the Sonos One. It comes out of the box with integration for Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, and YouTube. You can also stream directly from another device like a smartphone if you’d like. This does pose certain issues, but as a whole, you’ve got thousands of hours of content with the default selections.
It would’ve been nice to see something like Amazon Music or Tidal offered alongside Spotify. However, that’s a minor gripe. Simply put, you’ve got options when it comes to listening to your favorite media. Between all of those selections, you should have no problem finding what you’re after.
Great Sound Quality
This is the real reason to buy a Sonos One if there is any. The sound quality of the unit itself is unparalleled when it comes to smart speakers. It is monophonic, but the overall quality is exemplary. You’ll have crisp mids and highs when listening to your favorite songs. I’ve got a decent set of studio monitors in the Yamaha HS8s, and the Sonos One does touch on some of the best qualities of a good speaker.
It doesn’t have a soundstage to speak of, mostly because you need stereo playback for that. Your one option there is going to be to purchase another Sonos One. While this is a bit disappointing, this isn’t a dealbreaker for me. Stereophonic sound from a single speaker is an unrealistic goal. The One performs well for its intended function.
Things I Don’t Like About the Sonos One
It was unavoidable, but that’s just the way the cookie crumbles. I’ll be perfectly frank, I don’t think the Sonos One is a consumer-friendly product in the slightest. You’ve got stellar audio quality, but that isn’t enough to save it.
TruePlay is iOS Only
Let’s get my first complaint out of the way. Do you have an Android phone or tablet? If you answered yes, you should avoid a Sonos One. The TruePlay app needed for configuration is iOS only. What this effectively means is you will need an iPhone or iPad to complete the actual installation process of the hardware. You don’t simply just plug it in and you’re off to the races.
The app helps you do things like measure your room, connect to the Wi-Fi, and every other basic function. If you’re on Android, you’re out of luck. I am an Apple fan through and through, but it is inexcusable to have a device at this price point that isn’t platform-agnostic. It even has compatibility with Google Assistant, so the exclusion of Android support is baffling.
The Setup Process Is a Nightmare
I’ve got a cheap Amazon Echo that lets me listen to NPR while I’m cooking in the kitchen. The setup process for that was a cinch. I plugged the thing up, installed the Alexa app, followed the required steps, and then I was done. The Sonos One installation process is far more involved than that, however.
You aren’t going to be stuck behind your entertainment center futzing about with wires and the like, thankfully. However, you are going to have to hope that the finicky install process between the Sonos App and whatever additional smart assistant app you want to use goes without a hitch. The process is the easiest with the Amazon Alexa app.
However, when it gets down to it, the process isn’t user-friendly. That is coming from someone who has also spent a decade in information technology. If you’re selling a product on the basis of its ease of use, make the actual installation process dead simple. The involved setup is just another of my biggest reasons to avoid a Sonos One.
Smart Speakers and Privacy
This is less of an audio expert gripe and more of a former cybersecurity gripe. Your data is invaluable, I cannot stress that enough. If you don’t want to be marketed to, then you don’t want a smart speaker. There is no hypothetical scenario where it works out. Smart speakers raise a variety of different security concerns.
You have a device in your home that listens constantly, by design. Now, for some users, this isn’t going to be a dealbreaker. However, it is one of my top reasons to avoid a Sonos One. You are getting an expensive product that doesn’t respect your privacy. You could certainly argue against the Amazon Echo, Google Nest, and other smart speakers. You know what? I completely agree.
When my own personal Amazon Echo isn’t in use, it is unplugged. I don’t worry about having constant access, I’ll deal with it when I need it.
The High Price
This is a silly complaint, but I have trouble with it. The price of the actual speaker is just high for what you’re getting. With a retail price of $279, you could do a whole lot of shopping around. You could score an Amazon Echo for just about every room of your house. Yeah, the audio quality isn’t there, but I just have issues spending $300 on a Wi-Fi speaker that listens to voice commands.
This might not be one of your top reasons to avoid a Sonos One, and that’s fine. However, I’ve spent enough time around audio gear to know that you could invest your money more wisely elsewhere. There is no shortage of soundbars and other speakers with good sound quality that don’t cost the price of a studio-quality subwoofer.
You Can’t Connect Via Bluetooth
The Sonos One is wireless, so it ostensibly should handle requests and connections of all sorts, right? That is where you would be wrong my dear reader. Both the first and second-generation Sonos One speakers have zero compatibility with Bluetooth. You have Wi-Fi and ethernet. This is such a puzzling omission that I have trouble wrapping my head around it.
At the end of the day, this might not be one of your top reasons to avoid a Sonos One. However, from where I’m standing, this speaker should have Bluetooth connectivity. You’re already being excluded as an Android user, but you don’t even have the option of using something like Chromecast or streaming directly from the device.
You’ll either have to stick with the integrated streaming services or hope that playback allows you to select the speaker of your choice. That isn’t even getting into the fact that installation of the device as a whole is impossible without an Apple device in hand.
What You Should Buy Instead
- Sound automatically adapts to any room
- Supports lossless HD audio
- Built-in hub to voice control compatible lights, locks, and sensors
- Privacy protection
So, which smart speaker should you actually purchase? I will have to give a tip of the hat to the Amazon Echo. It doesn’t sound the best, but it is widely supported. You can complete the installation process through an Android or iOS. It does lack the room measuring tech you’ll find with the Sonos One. You also aren’t going to be adjust equalizers.
As it stands though, I don’t think those are wholly necessary for a smart speaker. These are devices of convenience, not some high-grade speaker solution. If you want good-quality music playback, I’d say you should invest in a decent sound system. Don’t try to have your cake and eat it too.
The basic Amazon Echo is more than enough for most users. The Sonos One is very much a specialty device with a less-than-obvious intended demographic. Simply put, avoid a Sonos One, buy an Amazon Echo.
I’m sure over the course of this review I come off as a bit of a grump in regard to the Sonos One. You know what, though? That is absolutely fine. It could just be that I’m not in the intended demographic for this particular product. At the same time, however, I do have an issue seeing who it is for. This is an expensive smart speaker with limited functionality across the board.
You don’t have access to Bluetooth connectivity, which is a major strike for me personally. Simply put, I think you can spend your money better elsewhere. You might disagree, and that’s okay. If you’re a proud Sonos One owner, I won’t take that away from you.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©ClassyPictures/Shutterstock.com.