When the Amazon Echo first launched, it was a game changer for the industry. It ushered in voice assistants into the home, in a way we had never seen – in a speaker. There had been plenty on phones and desktops, but this pushed what could be done with the technology. As the Echo Ecosystem evolved, it only got better. However, the one thing that it still lacks is good sound quality. This is where the Sonos One comes in, which brings with it the full Sonos Ecosystem.
Sonos has built a name for themselves with their multi-room audio solution. Offering audiophiles and average consumers the chance to experience audio in crystal clear quality, covering any room of your house where you can place a speaker. The app was simple, and the ecosystem allowed speakers of all sizes to aid in blanketing your house in sound. Now, they are adding a voice assistant to the mix, which makes things a lot more interesting.
Aesthetically, the Sonos One looks very similar to current generation the Play:1, though they have made a number of improvements. On the top of the Sonos One are touch-sensitive play and volume buttons that work flawlessly. Swiping left or right will skip forwards or backwards through your current playlist, while touching the center button will start or pause the music. And as you may expect, tapping on either the right or left buttons will adjust the volume level. While the buttons work, and are honestly a joy to use, you will spend most of your time in the Sonos App, as this is where all the real work gets done. That is, when you are not using the virtual assistant.
The Sonos One also includes a series of six internal microphones that facilitate the Alexa Voice Assistant, or Google Assistant once it rolls out. When you call out “Alexa” the speaker will lite up with a small LED light, and chirp to let you know it is listening. Sonos has assured us the Sonos One is not listening if the light is not illuminated.
Inside the Sonos One, you will find a Class-D amplifier and a tweeter/mid-woofer driver combo, which are essentially the guts of the Sonos Play:1. And you know what, they still sound phenomenal. Don’t get me wrong, there are more powerful options on the market, but the clarity of the Sonos One is something that needs to be experienced.
Setting up the Sonos One is the same as any Sonos speaker, save for a few extra voice assistant steps. You simply plug the Sonos One in, wait for it to finish booting up, launch the app, and you are ready to roll.
Since Sonos will need to tap into your Amazon account for Alexa, you will need to quickly sign into Amazon and give Sonos access to the API. It takes a minute, but as with anything, this will vary by internet speed and the phone you are using.
Once set up, the Sonos One integrates perfectly into your other Sonos devices. Besides the fact you can’t use the Sonos One and a Play:1 in a stereo pair, the Sonos One acts pretty much exactly as you would expect from an Amazon Echo mixed with a Sonos Speaker. It is there when you want a voice assistant, and a high-quality speaker when you don’t.
It is also great to find out that the Amazon Alexa integration into the Sonos One is nearly flawless. Doing a blind test, using the second generation Amazon Echo and a Sonos One, both speakers understood what I was asking about 85% of the time. I saw no real advantage of the Echo over the Sonos One, and with the sound quality at such a sub-par level on the Echo, I can think of no reason to recommend the Echo over the One outside of the price.
But the real seller here over a standard Amazon Echo is the sound quality. And frankly, the Sonos One blows the Echo out of the water. There is a real warmth to the music it can produce. From the clear highs to the deep lows, the Sonos One made even internet music sound phenomenal.
It even manages to keep the complexity of sound when dealing with more elaborate audio pieces. From classical, to jazz, to complex electronica, the Sonos One offered a deep, rich, audio landscape that filled the room, well beyond what can be expected for a speaker of its size. Things got even more interesting when connecting two Sonos One’s in a stereo pair, which further expanded the audio landscape and scope of the sound.
The Sonos One is a testament to what voice assistance can offer when it is paired with quality audio hardware. The ability to call out what song I need, and have it fill my room with rich, crisp sound is something that needs to be experienced first hand. If you are in the market for a new smart speaker and don’t mind a bit of a premium price point, the Sonos One is a must buy.