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Sonos One review: alone or in pairs is the excellence of the smart speaker for Airplay 2 and Alexa

Recensione Sonos One: da solo o in coppia è l’eccellenza dello speaker smart per Airplay 2 e Alexa

They are as small as two good surround speakers and can also serve that purpose but Sonos One speakers can do much more in a home with a good Wi-Fi connection or a wired network.

First of all if combined between several similar specimens and other Sonos in the same house they can create a multi-room system based on Sonos technology to be used with iOS and Android smartphones and with access to practically all the liquid music libraries on the web: from Spotify to Apple Music.

Sonos One review: alone or in pairs, the excellence of the smart speaker for Airplay 2 and Alexa

The second level of use is that ofspeaker for a multi-room system based on Airplay 2 (and Airplay): iIn this case you can combine it with your Apple TV (and the connected audio system) and HomePod and other Airplay 2 speakers (see this macitynet page for compatible models) and manage both the songs to be played on each individual speaker and in the overall system to be iPhone, iPad and Mac with volume adjustment for each individual speaker. At the moment only Apple's HomePod and Apple TV allow you to control music with voice commands but not in Italy and therefore if you want to say in Italian to your system play Norah Jones in the living room on Sonos One you have to do it through iPhone, iPad and Mac.

The third level of use is that of standalone smart speaker (works at home alone with a Wi-Fi connection) with Amazon's Alexa system: in this case the microphones on board can send voice commands as do Echo speakers (which obviously have lower acoustic quality) to ask Alexa not only for information, news and routine activations for home automation, queries on the status of sensors and switch-ons and shutdowns but also access to the many libraries available through the system (Spotify, Deezer, Amazon Prime Music etc and probably in the future also Apple Music).

In the future, compatibility with Google Assistant will also arrive, promised for the end of 2018 but postponed to 2019.

Two Sonos is better than One

Made an overview of the capabilities of the system we must say that for this review we had a couple of Sonos One sent because it intrigued us the possibility of creating a small stereo system to compare with our Yamaha Hi-Fi / Surround system with our Zeppelin of reference while maintaining the ability to move the two speakers individually to other rooms for a more pervasive sound system in combination with Apple TV + Base System and our foreign HomePod for Airplay and the already installed alexa Echo Plus speakers. Sonos expressly plans to pair two Sonos One speaker in stereo configuration and helps the user to do so with a special procedure for configuring and optimizing the ambient response thanks to the built-in microphones and, last but not least, with a discount for the purchase of the speakers in pairs.

Packaging and construction

The speakers arrived in a very spartan and simple double cardboard package: in each individual box there is the speaker protected by a recycled cardboard receptacle, the separate power cable with a pipe but with a universal Philips 8 connection that allows the limit to move the speaker leave the cable where (often behind a piece of furniture) and use another more or less universal cable.The dimensions are those of the less intelligent brother Play: 1 but here there is not a gray grid but a color uniformity (white or black) on the whole surface, with a grid all around the vertical walls that connect on the back towards a band that carries the synchronization button and the ethernet socket that can be used when you have problems accessing the home Wi-Fi network ( 2.4 GHz required for home automation as always).

On the upper part we find a touch surface that shows on the LED in the center under the microphone (if the LED lit Alexa activates), the Play / pause button and the volume adjustment.

We control Sonos from iPhone, iPad and Android

If you do not want to enter the trip of home automation systems and not even a multi-room one pair of Sonos One is already an excellent system for wireless music listening, indeed we must say that the system par excellence for those who want to access all the existing digital music libraries: with the Sonos application you will have access not only to free or paid Spotify, Web radio, TuneIn, podcasts of all kinds and also to Apple Music if you have the relevant subscriptions in addition of course to your local music library that you have on iTunes directly on the iPhone or Mac. what for the songs that you have in the memory of your Android phone or in your iPad or those that you have in your NAS or in intermediate services such as Plex or MyCloud Home.

Once the application is installed you will have seamless access to all these libraries and you can also create playlists or favorites that contain individual tracks or favorite web-radio stations to listen to mixed among the various services mentioned above. In addition to this, the volume keys of your iPhone or Android become practically those of a sort of Sonos controller and from the preferences you can activate the Alexa voice management (you do not need to have other Alexa speakers in the system but only the application for iOS or Android)

Sonos One and Alexa

Speaking of Alexa, unlike Amazon's Echo speakers we cannot call the voice assistant with different names (we use Echo to talk with Echo Dot) and until a recent update the communications were rather limited but from the beginning of December you can practically use any command without limitations: you can start timers, ask for the recipe of Tiramisu Vegan in Saffron Yellow, ask for weather forecasts etc etc.Sonos One review: alone or in pairs, the excellence of the smart speaker for Airplay 2 and AlexaOnce you have inserted a Sonos One into a more complex Sonos system you will be able to tell Alexa to play a playlist on the other Sonos speakers in the other rooms individually or in a group or on compatible Alexa speakers (also from Amazon and other brands). If we have created a group Everywhere we can play the selected song in all the speakers of the house.

On board the Sonos one there are 6 microphones like on the Echo and Echo Plus of the latest generation and the reception of voice commands really proof of loud music: we always manage to make ourselves heard by the speaker thanks to the technology that smart voice capture that in fact internally puts the reproduced music in an interphase to listen to the voice coming from the room.

When we say Alexa Sonos One responds with a sort of digital bell very quickly and this is the activation track since unlike Echoes there is no visual response (in Amazon speakers the sector lights up correspond to the activated microphone): the listening quality of Sonos One more or less that of Echo Plus perhaps probably because the microphone configurations are the same while the latest generation Echo Dot seems a little later to understand the voice commands.

How does it work with Homekit and Airplay 2?

Sonos has kept its promise of compatibility with Airplay 2 and thanks to the iOS updates it is now possible to manage a multi-instance system with a pair of Sonos One like the one we are trying or with multiple connected Sonos speakers. Airplay 2 is also part of Homekit and we can also, through the Home buttons, decide if and when to pause or restart the connected Sonos speakers. In addition, by assigning the speakers to a specific room in the house we could ask to play a certain song in one room and another song in another room in combination also with a HomePod or an audio system connected to Apple TV. To configure it, open the Casasi application select + and then Add accessory, I don't have a code and select the Sonos speaker and assign it to a room

With AirPlay 2 it is possible to transmit any audio content manageable from iOS: Apple Music, Spotify, Audible, Pandora and dozens of others but also the audio of games, of your GarageBand compositions etc. etc.

Sonos One review: alone or in pairs, the excellence of the smart speaker for Airplay 2 and Alexa

You can use Siri to control Apple Music on Sonos: using iPhone, iPad and Mac you can ask Siri what to play and where to play it: here are some examples of SonosEhi Siri, play the Beats 1 radio in the room Hey Siri, turn up the volume in the living room.

It is also possible to watch content on iOS devices and listen to the related audio from iPhone or iPad using apps such as YouTube, Prime Video, Netflix and more and to propagate audio throughout the home with Sonos.

Though AirPlay 2 supported only by Sonos One, Beam, Playbase and Play: 5, using any of these speakers it is possible to use AirPlay with the entire Sonos system: speakers not compatible with AirPlay, such as Playbar or Play: 1, can benefit from the integration of AirPlay 2 since it is sufficient to group them with one of the most recent devices, compatible with AirPlay, in the app Are S.

Below you will find a mega gallery of all the commands you can give to Sonos One through Siri and Homekit thanks to Airplay 2.

The multi-system speaker to mix Siri's commands with those of Alexa: the "miracle" of continuity

After starting the music with Siri you can ask Alexa to adjust the volume or move on to the next song through Sonos One or Sonos Beam. At the same time you will be able to see what is playing also from the Sonos application: the music will always be under control from whichever of the systems you have started.

But not only that, if you do not want to use Alexa or Siri you still have continuous control of what you are playing on Sonos: if you have entered the account on an iPad, iPhone or Android phone you will always start from where you left the listening and you will find the your preferences and playlists on each device.

Sonos One review: alone or in pairs, the excellence of the smart speaker for Airplay 2 and Alexa

Part of a surround system

We would have liked to try the Sonos One as part of a Surround system in combination with the Sonos Beam that we have already tried alone on this page and a Sonos Subwoofer but for transport problems the other accessories did not arrive in time. We will update this review in the coming weeks and report it to you.

However, we were able to listen to the combination for a few minutes in an event dedicated to printing in a much larger room than our living room and the results were obviously of a high standard as well as having the possibility to manage the TV sound directly from Beam also to Sonos One, an operation impossible at the moment with a stereo configuration if you don't have Apple TV.

With Apple TV, simple stereo liping: instead of using the TV speakers (the audio signal comes through the HDMI with which you connect the Apple box) select the pair of Sonos One as Airplay speaker in the appropriate menu and the audio of your rented films or those Netflix or Amazon Prime will come from Sonos speakers.

How does it sound?

Sonos One simply has two traditional speakers on board; woofer and tweeter one above the other with frontal emission: forget the 360-degree arrangements for the multidirectional sound of Homepod or the high-low emission of the Amazon Echo speakers: here you play as in the old Hi-Fi systems with two speakers in stereo with one excellent amplitude of the sound field and with the assistance of a fantastic optimization application called TruePlay which, once positioned the speakers in the room, lets you use the microphone of your iPhone to optimize the response of the speakers in the environment.

Sonos One review: alone or in pairs, the excellence of the smart speaker for Airplay 2 and AlexaWith Trueplay you will find yourself listening to a calibration signal issued by the two Sonos One and moving to the listening area for a sort of 3D scan of the environment that will report to the speakers the actual conditions of emission and reflection and absorption of walls, windows, furniture accessories.

We placed the speakers on the sides of a 49-inch TV on a suspended lounge furniture that has a decent volume (which acts as a sound box) and with the Sonos One at about 20 cm from the back wall and we scanned TruePlay .

What to say? The sound is nothing short of excellent. Sar that our tastes are a little those of the old Hi-Fi systems of the 70/80 with a slight accentuation of the full-bodied sounds with inserted loudness but the combination of the cabinet of the cabinet with the small speakers something extraordinary if you think about the volume of the two boxes. Probably also thanks to the substantial weight of Sonos One and the non-slip surface on the bottom: the cabinet and speaker play together and do it with exceptional cleaning both at low volumes and up to 90-95% of the maximum level allowed without distortion.

Considering that we can orient them as we like but that in this case we preferred to have the emission direction at 90 perfect with respect to the back wall and the distance between the two speakers of 120 cm, the sound front really what we would have expected with the songs that we have been listening to for years: no confusion of spatial localization as happens with 360 mono speakers like Homepod that try to reconstruct the scene by themselves but always manage to do it effectively.

The bass is very present but not annoying or pumped but this depends, as we said, also on the cabinet on which you will place the speakers: the support surface and the connected volume offer great support and we do not recommend placing the Sonos One on pedestals in order not to to lose the body of the sound we have described to you.

The highs are very precise, perhaps not too brisk but this is in favor of greater musical fidelity, the mids are very open and the vocal parts gain in airiness at medium volumes.

What appears out of the ordinary, and probably Sonos has focused heavily on this, the quality of listening at medium-low volumes: with a speaker that will remain on all day to keep you company at home or at work (there are jobs in which a very pleasant background music) fundamental to have a pleasant reproduction even at low levels and here Sonos One truly portentous.

Conclusions

If you want to enter the world of digital and wireless music and smart speakers, this is surely the most versatile mode available: an "agnostic" speaker that will appeal to both Hi-Fi enthusiasts (with the obvious limitations of available acoustic power) and digital natives , both to iPhone fans and Android fans, but above all to music fans who want to range in the infinite catalog available online of streaming content and radio and podcasts on the web.

Pro

  • Audio quality – Power and sound front for excellent torque
  • Versatility with voice assistants and continuity of use from one controller to another iOS and Android.
  • Easy positioning and calibration for those who have iPhone with ad hoc application
  • Virtually infinite music library thanks to compatibility with all digital suppliers

Versus

  • There is no (yet) possibility of checking with Google Assistant
  • Apple does not allow direct voice control through Siri

Price

Sonos One is sold online and in Apple Apple Premium Reseller stores for 229 Euros per single speaker. If you buy a pair of speakers the total cost of 399 Euros, the offer also available on Amazon for a limited period.