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Sonos offers the best of the modern music listening experience: a seemingly infinite number of songs, in glorious quality, all ready to stream into your house with just the touch of an app.
But it offers so many packages that it can be a little confusing to know which of them are the best for you, and which you should buy.
The good news is that there aren’t really any bad Sonos speakers – just ones that may well be too expensive for you, and which are best to avoid.
All Sonos speakers feature the same basic smart features: you’ll be able to stream music from anywhere, use the "TruePlay" feature to adjust the sound to the shape of your room, connect them into stereo pairs or surround systems. You can also stream with multi-room features that let you fill your whole house at once. It’s just a question of which product is likely to fit best in which room.
Here’s the rundown of which is best in what situation.
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Best for: A bit of everything
Sonos’s classic speaker is “the one”, and it’s the favourite for a reason. It’s the cheapest of the home speakers, but offers the perfect introduction to what they have to offer. Small enough to fit onto almost any shelf, but still big enough that it packs a punch, it’s a mono speaker, meaning that it doesn’t go especially loud and can sometimes be lacking in clarity and bass if you strain to listen to it very hard, but it still sounds great in most cases. It becomes even better when combined with another One, to make a stereo pair that vastly widens the sound and allows the speakers to do more of what they’re best at.
The One is the perfect introduction to the Sonos system, if you are just wondering what it is all about and want to dip your toe in. It’s also the perfect extension, if you’re looking to fill up your house with more sound and more speakers. Sonos also sells another version – the One SL (£179, Sonos.com) – for slightly cheaper. It comes without a microphone, making it the perfect choice if the thought of being listened to by Alexa is scary or unnecessary, or if you just want to save a little money.
Buy now £199.00, Sonos.com
Best for: Chunky tunes
The Sonos five is the big sibling of the line-up: hefty, both in size and sound, with a price tag to match. But it is also an astonishing sounding speaker, and the best of Sonos’s line-up when it comes to music. It will pay off in rooms that are bigger or situations where you’re going to be giving the music your full attention. Pair two Fives together and you have the peak of what the Sonos system has to offer. It’s an expensive pairing – but an exquisite one, too.
Buy now £499.00, Sonos.com
Best for: Improving your TV’s sound
Sonos doesn’t just make music speakers, in fact some of its best products are meant to be paired with your TV – even if they’re great at playing music, too. The beam is perhaps the most easy to recommend of those options, representing a relatively cheap – though still fairly pricey – entry into Sonos’s home cinema speakers in the form of a soundbar. It’s guaranteed to be better than the speakers in your TV and it brings extra smart features to it, including voice assistants that can control the TV as well as being used to start music.
Because the Beam – and other home cinema speakers – are made with the same Sonos attention to sound, they also have the benefit of being beautiful music machines. As such, you’re unlikely to need another speaker in the room with a Beam, and it can serve as the perfect music streaming box, too. The Beam is small, and its sound is a little diminutive too. But as long as it’s not in a huge room, or being used for full blasting cinema-style watching, it will hold its own.
Buy now £399.00, Sonos.com
Best for: Hollywood sound at home
The Sonos arc was released last year, and marked the arrival of a range oftechnologies to the Sonos line-up, most notably Dolby Atmos. It aims to throwthe TV’s sound around the room, giving the impression that noises are comingfrom the ceiling or the floor. And the sound is big in other ways, too. Itsvast array of speakers mean that it can throw out sound that is precise andcrisp, and when it plays music it can simply not be faulted.
The Arc comes at a price as high as you might expect for something so bigand beautiful. As such, it’s only likely to pay off in rooms that areespecially big, or where you want the full cinema experience; in other cases,the Beam (£399, Sonos.com)will do the job.
There is a degree of snobbishness around soundbars, but this sounds betterthan almost any other we’ve heard. If you’re keen to get something that willlook as good as it sounds, or just to get something that will work seamlesslywith the rest of your Sonos line-up, you won’t go wrong with the arc – thoughyou will have to pay up for it.
Buy now £799.00, Sonos.com
Best for: Pairing with the speakers you already own
One of the most intriguing Sonos speakers isn’t really a Sonos speaker at all – but instead gives your existing speakers all the smarts of the system. On the face of it, the Sonos amp works just like any other amplifier: plug in your speakers using the standard cables, and it will provide them with the loud music they need for you to start listening.
Inside is the same kind of wifi features found on the rest of the Sonos line-up. You can stream from all the same sources, through the same app, with the same easy multi-room features. It’s the perfect way to combine the best of both worlds: whatever speakers you already have and love, and which might be permanently installed or otherwise found their perfect place in your home, combined with the clever features of the Sonos system.
Using it will get them in sync with the rest of your home, as well as making it easy to stream without having to plug in aux cables or fuss with CDs. Sonos also sells the Port (£399, Sonos.com), which is intended for situations where you already have an amplifier and want to add it to your Sonos system. It does that well, but it is pricey, and it’s ultimately unlikely you’ll need it unless you are installing a full smart home system.
Buy now £599.00, Sonos.com
Best for: Garden parties
Sonos’s move is really a chunky One (£199, Sonos.com) with a battery. But while describing it that way might be accurate, it also undersells just how enjoyable it can be.
For the most part, the speaker functions like any other Sonos product: tucked away in its small charging cradle, it can sit on a shelf or table and play music like the rest of its siblings in the line-up. But lift it off that cradle and its true utility becomes clear. Its battery means that it can be taken anywhere and will work for up to 11 hours, on wifi or Bluetooth, with sound as chunky as its body.
It’s still heavy though – so heavy in fact, that you’re not going to want to carry it around in a backpack, for instance, or (ironically) use it on the move. Instead, it’s best used in places where you might not otherwise be able to get to an outlet: using it in the garden, or taking it to a friend’s house.
Buy now £399.00, Sonos.com
Best for: On the move
The new Sonos roam appears to be the ultimate portable speaker for Sonos fans: it’s light, and as small as a water bottle. Despite that diminutive size, it still packs in all the smarts of other Sonos speakers, and more.
It can connect to wifi and be used like any other speaker in the home, but also taken out and used on Bluetooth – and clever features mean that the speaker will know where you are, and use whichever is best. We’re yet to use the roam yet, since it’s only available for pre-order, but as soon as it goes on sale on April 20th we’ll be the first to test out it’s small, but mighty, power.
Buy now £159.00, Sonos.com
The Verdict: Sonos speakers
The One offers an introduction to the best of Sonos: very smart, very good sound for its size and price, and the ability to link up not just with the world of music streaming but also with the rest of the speakers in your house. It’s the best place to start, and likely to be the best addition to any existing system.
But the real appeal of the line-up is that you can probably find whatever you need for the room you have – and then string the speakers together to take up your full house. As such, there’s not a speaker that won’t do the job – you just need to work out what that job is.
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