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Sonos One review: The smart speaker for audiophiles

Sorry folks, but if you can’t speak to your Bluetooth speaker, it’s just not going to cut it anymore.

The smart speaker is here to stay, and the battle for supremacy is at fever pitch following the release of the Sonos One featuring Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant.

Here, we take a look at everything the Sonos One has to offer.

Design

If you own or have owned a Play:1, you’d be forgiven for blinking twice when you look at the shape of the One. The two speakers are visually similar from the front, rocking a rounded-square construction with the speaker wrapping around almost the entire body.

What you will notice is that the One is available in matte white or black, as opposed to the metallic grey grille of the Play:1.

Aside from colour, the major difference you’ll notice between the design of the two devices is the controls on the top panel: while the PLAY:1’s buttons are fairly unremarkable, the One boasts a sleek touch panel with no physical buttons.

Simply tap in the middle to play and pause, tap on either side to adjust the volume and slide your finger horizontally to skip tracks. It’s all very intuitive, and it’s a pleasure to look at.

The One also has a handy little light to tell you when Alexa is listening. This makes it pretty easy to tell if it didn’t hear you before wasting your time issuing a series of commands.

Alexa

Alexa is one of the big selling points for the Sonos One, and you can expect to see it (her?) integrated into future products. Take the Sonos Beam, for example, a brand-new sound bar Sonos announced in San Fransisco earlier this week, which is integrated with Amazon Alexa and Apple’s Siri.

Amazon’s virtual assistant was pretty limited when it was first rolled out with the launch of the Echo, and it was easy to consider Alexa more of a novelty than an essential element of the home.

Thankfully, we’ve already seen significant improvements between then and now, and the software will only continue to improve with age. Alexa is definitely cementing itself as much more than an inanimate object you yell stupid questions at with your friends, and it’s certainly not far off being one of the better virtual assistants on the market.

If you’ve never used a virtual assistant and are wondering what the fuss is about, using your voice to pause, skip and adjust the volume of your music is only scratching the surface. You can book a table at a restaurant via Dimmi, get travel updates from QANTAS and control other Sonos speakers and Alexa-enabled smart home devices.

Sound quality

Now for the second major selling point of this product. It’s no secret the Sonos crew know their way around a speaker, and they haven’t forgotten their roots. The One boasts exceptional sound with impressive power for a relatively small speaker, regardless of what music you’re playing.

The sound is delivered through one tweeter and a mid-woofer, both of which are driven by two Class-D digital amplifiers. We concede the bass is not mind-blowing, but you can only expect so much from such a small device. Plus, if you crave that extra oomph, you can pair two Sonos Ones together.

The device also uses six microphones, an adaptive noise suppression algorithm and voice capture technology with echo cancellation to isolate your voice while the music is playing. In other words, you can still give the One commands while pumping your favourite tunes.

Verdict

At $299, the Sonos One smart speaker is worth every single dollar. It’s just $70 above the price of the Play:1 for the inclusion of Alexa, touch controls and AirPlay. That’s a worthy investment if you ask us.

The two major criticisms of the Amazon Echo were Alexa’s basic capabilities and fairly unremarkable sound quality. Given the Sonos One addresses both of these concerns (Alexa having matured and One’s superior sound), there’s no reason this shouldn’t be the smart speaker you buy.

Just be patient when you’re setting it up, as you have to download and link the Sonos and Alexa apps as well as Spotify or any other music streaming service you plan on using. Once you get it set up and have completed the Trueplay Tuning phase (which adjusts the One’s sound based on where you position it in your room), you’ll be chatting to your new virtual assistant in no time.

About the author

Andrew is Techly’s Editor. He’s obsessed with offbeat news, keeps tomato sauce in the fridge and has a crippling fear of cardboard boxes.

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