- Superb audio quality.
- Alexa integration for smart home control.
- Sonos app works well across streaming services.
- Google Assistant compatibility coming soon.
- No Alexa calling.
- Bulky design.
- No Bluetooth compatibility.
- Annoying if you need to switch Wi-Fi networks.
Sonos has been a significant player in the multi-room hi-fi streaming space for years now. The Sonos One isn't a brand-spanking new speaker in the Australian market.
Sonos' recent move to enable the Alexa Skill for Sonos in Australia means that it joins the growing list of smart speakers that don't just stream music, but can also control your smart home gadgets, check your bank balance and set timers, to name just a few functions.
The question then becomes how well it stacks up against the competition, given that Sonos has approached the smart speaker market from the position of offering a solid sound first, with assistant capabilities as a secondary feature.
Sonos One: Design
Sonos' design strategy shares an awful lot in common with Apple, in that it tends towards understated designs, with minimal "flashy" features and much more of a home decor feel.
That's quite appropriate for a speaker product because the point is that you want to listen to what it has to say, rather than get distracted by any particular design point.
It also means that the Sonos One looks somewhat like Apple's HomePod, but with a slightly more stodgy design aesthetic.
Whether it resonates with you is very much a question of personal taste, but it is a design that should suit most homes. It is functionally the same design that Sonos used for the Sonos Play:1 speaker, albeit in new white or black finishes.
The Sonos One has simple touch controls at the top, and power and a 3.5mm audio socket at the rear. It's uncluttered and works fine if physical controls are what you crave. Quite why you'd buy a wireless speaker to tap it all the time eludes me.
The Sonos One measures in at 161.45 x 119.7 x 119.7mm with a carrying weight of 1.85kg. That weight isn't going to affect you once it's installed, but it is a solidly built speaker. That's no doubt deliberate to assist in delivering the best possible sound quality.Back to top
Sonos One: Audio performance
Classically speaking, music was very much what Sonos did with all of its products. For years its focus has been on its multi-room proprietary mesh solutions for matching up speakers and allowing you access to as many music sources as possible.
The Sonos One is no exception, relying as it does on the Sonos app for control and music selection, outside of using voice controlled selections. More on that shortly.
The Sonos App allows you to control multiple Sonos devices, although for the purposes of testing, I only had the Sonos One to hand. Still, in theory, you can kick off your favourite tunes on one Sonos speaker and have many of them reverberate around the room.
Individual speaker setting preferences will vary, but the Sonos One sits at the top of the audio quality tree even with its most basic settings, which means it's very much a competitor to Apple's HomePod speaker.
Apple's speaker has a very slight sound edge over the Sonos One, but it's pretty darned marginal. Unless you're putting them side by side, the audio quality out of the Sonos One is going to please most listeners. That is especially true from streaming services where you're faced with audio compression anyway.
The added advantage that the Sonos One has over the HomePod is that it works with a much wider array of music streaming solutions. The HomePod only talks to Apple Music, but the Sonos One can talk to Spotify, Google Play Music, Amazon Music and many, many more sources of audio entertainment.
Sonos' companion app also allows you to search local sources for music, and like any other Sonos speaker, you can set it up as part of a home audio system. If you've got two Sonos One speakers, you can set them up as part of a stereo pair, although it appears that the same isn't true of the similar looking Sonos Play:1 speakers, which won't stereo pair according to reports.
My own musical tastes may well vary from yours, but the Sonos One did a great job showing the dynamic range in tunes such as Prince's classic Purple Rain, from the opening guitar riff all the way through to the closing wails. The crescendo at the end of David Bowie's Life On Mars sounded superb through the Sonos One, while the thumping beats and digital sound of The Beastie Boys' Intergalactic had just the right amount of oomph.
One drawback to the Sonos One is that it doesn't include Bluetooth support. That means if you want to get it working outside of its digital assistant features, you've got to use the Sonos app and be sitting on the same Wi-Fi network.Back to top
Sonos One: Digital Assistant performance
The Sonos One is Sonos' first assistant-enabled speaker, not that you would have known that if you purchased one prior to 26 April 2018.
Well, you might have known it should be voice-enabled, but aside from tricking it into using a US-based Amazon account, there was no official way to enable the Sonos Alexa Skill in Australia. That all changed recently with Sonos enabling Alexa skill integration for the Sonos One locally.
Because Alexa isn't inherently baked in, you've got to enable it as a skill in its own right on each Sonos One device. Sonos' instructions on how to do so are clear enough, but it took me three separate attempts to actually get the Alexa app running on my review unit.
While I'm complaining, which I clearly am, it's also rather irritating that in order to change the Sonos One's Wi-Fi network, you've got to plug at least one Sonos device on your network into your router via an ethernet cable. Want to simply search for fresh Wi-Fi networks and connect to those? Sorry, you can't do that.
One nice upside of the Sonos One's improved speaker array is that Alexa sounds significantly less robotic than on Amazon's own speakers. Putting the Sonos One side-by-side with the Amazon Echo Spot the difference was startling. You're still not likely to mistake Alexa for a real person yet, but if you find the robo-voices of most assistants grating, the Sonos One Alexa experience is rather more soothing.
Sonos has also stated that it will integrate Google Assistant into the Sonos One via a firmware upgrade later this year. It's quite likely that it will be Australia's first dual-assistant capable smart speaker. Sonos Australia representatives told me that the plan is to make Google Assistant available for Australians at the same time it goes live in the rest of the world.
You're still limited to one voice and account for any Alexa-based speaker in Australia, even though in the USA multi-voice support is very much an Alexa feature. That isn't a problem that Sonos can fix, but if you like keeping your calendar (or musical choices) private, it's worth keeping in mind.
If it's the smart features that appeal to you in a smart speaker, there are some small limitations to the Sonos One's Alexa implementation.
It's not compatible with the calling feature found on Amazon's own Echo speakers in any way, if that matters to you. It's also not capable of taking a command to read audible audiobooks, although you can manually start those up from the Sonos App if you fancy a little spoken word action.Back to top
Sonos One: Verdict
The Sonos One concentrates on music first, and that's no shock. Music has been integral to Sonos' DNA from day one. Adding smart features to what was already a great speaker makes for a great product. The promise that it will also integrate Google Assistant means that it's also a very flexible speaker.
You can get cheaper smart speakers, but for the asking price, the Sonos One is hard to beat.Back to top
Sonos One: Pricing and availability
The Sonos One is available in Australia for $299 outright in black or white finishes, or as a dual stereo pair for $499.
Sonos One: Alternatives
If you're keen on Sonos for its music quality, it's just part of the Sonos ecosystem, which includes standalone speakers, soundbars and amp connection products.
In the smart speaker space, Apple's HomePod is the most obvious competitor. It's a fine choice if you're heavily in the Apple ecosystem, but a limited one if you're not.Back to top
Sonos One: What the other reviewers say
|TechRadar||"Sonos’ debut Alexa speaker is a cleanly designed, feature-rich and great-sounding device that brings together the best of both ecosystems."||4.5/5|
|The Guardian||"The company’s first foray into smart tech adds Amazon’s Alexa to a great wireless speaker to create a formidable combo."||5/5|
|Engadget||"If you want clearer music than you can get from an Echo or Google Home, look no further."||5/5|
|What Hi-Fi||"Essentially, the One is a Play:1 with Alexa built in, and that’s a fine combination in our book."||5/5|
|Trusted Reviews||"If audio quality is important to you, and you like the hands-free assistance of the Amazon Echo, this is a match made in silicon heaven."||4.5/5|
|CNET||"Alexa gets the sound quality she deserves."||4.5/5|
Sonos One at a glance
What is the Sonos One? The Sonos One is the latest in a long line of home speakers designed to stream music from the internet through your house. The Sonos One is the first to add Alexa digital assistant support.
When did the Sonos One come out? The Sonos One launched in Australia in late 2017, though Alexa support was only introduced in April 2018.
How much does the Sonos One cost? A single Sonos One speaker costs $299.95 RRP, though twin packs can be purchased at a discounted rate.
What is the Sonos One?
As a pioneer of multi-room audio solutions, Sonos has been delivering high quality connected music streaming to homes for years. But with the explosion of smart speaker sales from Google and Amazon in the form of the original Echo and Google Home, it was inevitable that Sonos would eventually integrate a smart assistant into its product lineup.
The Sonos One launched in Australia late 2017, though it was only via a software update in April that it gave the ability for users to talk to Amazon's Alexa assistant, despite the fact that function was available in the US from launch.
What sets the Sonos One apart from Amazon's Echo speaker, aside from an obvious step up in audio quality, is the fact that Sonos has publicly committed to introducing the Google Assistant into the device in the future, potentially making it the first smart speaker to support multiple digital assistants. However, there's no timeline for the Google Assistant launch other than a rough 2018 launch window.
What can the Sonos One smart speaker do?
The Sonos One works like any other Sonos speaker, streaming audio from as many as 50 different services, from Spotify and Apple Music to Tidal and Audible. Not everything will work with Alexa commands, but it does offer a versatility unmatched by competitor smart speakers.
While a single Sonos speaker offers robust sound on its own, two units can be connected to create a stereo pair to help fill larger rooms. The integrated microphones allow you to access the Alexa digital assistant, which functions in the exact same manner as on the Echo family of speakers, with the ability to request music, random facts, answer quizzes and more. You also have full access to Alexa's massive library of skills, making the Sonos One as versatile a smart speaker as you could hope to find.
When did the Sonos One launch in Australia?
Sonos launched the One in Australia at the end of 2017, with Alexa support being delivered on 26 April 2018..
How much does the Sonos One cost?
You can pick up the Sonos One for $299.Back to top
|Wireless Network||802.11b/g (2.4 GHz)|
|Speaker Information||1 mid-woofer + tweeter|
|Min. Frequency Response (Hz)|
|Max. Frequency Response (Hz)|