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For years, I've heard people express their love for the Sonos speaker system in their homes and offices, yet I kept on using various evolutions of Bluetooth speakers since I thought they were good enough for me. I've also outfitted my house with Google Home and Amazon Echo devices that have satisfied my listening and voice assistant needs. And after spending a few weeks with the second-generation Sonos One, I'm starting to understand why people spend thousands outfitting their homes with Sonos speakers.
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This second-generation Sonos One speaker is nearly the same as the first generation, with an improved processor, more memory, and Bluetooth Low Energy. Note that Bluetooth LE is not used for streaming audio to the speaker.
So, the questions are how does the speaker perform and is it worth the money? Read on for my weeks' worth of experience with the Sonos One.
Two Class-D digital amplifiers
One mid-woofer and one tweeter
Aluminum watch case and buckle with flexible Classic band
802.11 b/g WiFi, ethernet
161.45 x 119.7 x 119.7 mm and 1.85 kilograms (4.08 pounds)
To start, the speaker is all black with a matte black grille. It's quite heavy for its size at just over four pounds. This heft is fine though as it helps keep the speaker in place when plugged in and set on a table.
There are no hardware buttons on the top, but there are touch-sensitive areas that you can tap and swipe on to control the speaker physically. There are four buttons around the outside for volume down, volume up, and microphone toggle so you can turn off the mic and voice assistant control quickly and easily. A center button serves to play/pause while a swipe across the middle lets you skip ahead or back a track.
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Bass output was a bit weaker than I hoped, but I tried out the other speakers I have around the house and the Sonos One still sounds the best overall. I only tested one Sonos speaker, so the singular audio experience was a bit limited. With two speakers in the same space, you can set up a true stereo experience that I am sure would satisfy most music fans.
The Sonos smartphone app, available for Android and iOS, has the same interface on each platform and is used to set up the speaker. Surprisingly, I had unresolvable issues with my iPhone XS and could not get the Sonos One setup. I tried an Android phone, the OnePlus 7 Pro, and was able to get the Sonos One connected to the proper WiFi network with a selected smart assistant to try out first.
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The smartphone app has five icons at the bottom labeled My Sonos, Browse, Rooms, Search, and Settings. When you are playing content a status bar of this content appears above the five labels for quick control of your playback.
The page interfaces are made with a simple UX, proving useful for easy navigation. And while I didn't get much use out of the "rooms" page, it would prove especially useful for those who capitalize on Sonos' trademark speaker-to-speaker multi-connectivity ecosystem. The app acts as a one-stop control center for multiple speakers scattered around various rooms.
Within the settings, you will find your account login, system settings, services (voice and music), app preferences, help & tips, and more. This is also the hub for customizing alarms, AirPlay, audio compression, and your music library.
Even though I've been using iPhones since 2007, I'm a bit embarrassed to admit I never used AirPlay or really explored the functionality. Given that the Sonos One has Apple AirPlay 2 support, I finally tried it out and my eyes have been opened to a whole new world. With AirPlay 2 support you can have music and podcasts from your iOS device play to the Sonos One. This includes using Siri through your iOS device to control your music too.
As an avid podcast listener, I was also pleased with how easy it was to continually play the podcasts from the Sonos One while working in my home office. I can even use the Sonos app on an Android phone to control the playback of content from an iOS device through Apple AirPlay.
In addition to AirPlay 2 support, Sonos offers iOS users the ability to fine-tune the Sonos One for their room through its Trueplay utility. It was easy to access and adjust the equalizer settings on iPhone even after the TruePlay tuning.
While you can control your music from your phones and have it play on the Sonos One, you can also select to have either Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant-enabled on the Sonos One to serve as an audio-focused assistant. You cannot have both of these assistants enabled at the same time, but you can switch between them easily with a couple of minutes of setup.
The Amazon Alexa setup worked flawlessly for me on iOS and Android devices, but I had some issues getting Google Assistant to function through my iPhone XS for some reason. Since I have many Google Home devices sprinkled around my house, Sonos' lack of cooperation was disappointing. For example, I'm strangely having trouble when asking the Google Assistant on Sonos to play music through Spotify. It acknowledges my request and Spotify connection, but then states, "Sorry, I can't help with that yet." I can launch Spotify on my devices and have it stream to the Sonos One so I have to continue to investigate what the problem is here.
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With Amazon selected as the assistant, Alexa keeps telling me it cannot skip forward when asked so again I have to manually skip with my phone or swipe on top of the speaker to jump ahead.
But if all goes to plan and you have multiple Sonos speakers, it's possible to customize the assistant for each individual speaker. Since you can't currently group the Sonos One with your other Google Home speakers, I moved the preferred assistant on the Sonos One back to Amazon Alexa
Unlike dedicated smart speakers from Amazon and Google, the Sonos One is first a music-focused speaker. Thus, there are some limitations with Alexa and Google Assistant on the Sonos One. The limitations are primarily associated with calling and messaging capability. However, most functions from both platforms are supported, and since my family uses the Broadcast function on Google Assistant as an intercom system that's key to its functionality for me.
Check out the full list of music services supported by Sonos to see there is virtually no limitation on what you can play on the Sonos One. The most common services in the US include Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music, YouTube Music, Google Play Music, Pandora, TIDAL, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, Deezer, and more.
Overall, the Sonos One (Gen 2) is a solid speaker. While you might be limited to listening via a WiFi connection, the sound quality is uniquely impressive. And at $219, it may be the best-sounding speaker I've found in the price range while managing to fulfill Sonos' focus on "music first," providing a high-quality audio experience.
If you enjoy high-quality audio at the cost of cutting Bluetooth from the equation and possibly some bugs with voice assistants, then yes. Given my issues with the voice assistants, I think the Sonos One SL may be a better option for me since it provides all the greatness of the Sonos One without the smart assistants.
The outstanding audio performance of the Sonos One actually had me thinking more about possibly purchasing a Google Nest Hub Max for my office since I experienced limitations with both the Amazon and Google assistants on the Sonos and have a home filled primarily with Google Home speakers. Then again, the AirPlay 2 capability of the Sonos One was awesome and I'm confident Sonos updates will fix some of the issues I've had with the assistants. All that to say, the second-gen Sonos One may make it onto my wishlist, after all.
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