But as the number of Sonos products grows, it's also become harder to figure out which models to buy. With that in mind, we've put together a quick guide to the Sonos world to help you figure out which products are right for you and which offer the best performance for your money.
What is Sonos?
Sonos is one of the oldest multiroom audio systems on the market and also one of the most successful. Since the way we consume digital music has changed from playing ripped CDs to streaming services and beyond, the system has also adapted and grown.
Sonos began as a way to play MP3s on your existing speakers and it's grown to support streaming music services on a range of tabletop speakers, amplifiers, sound bars and subwoofers. Controlling the system began with a desktop app and the CR100 handheld controller, then it grew to mobile apps and now to voice assistants. Sonos offers two products, which work with both Google Assistant and Alexa voice commands.
Here are some things about the product line that you need to know:
- Works without a hub over a standard Wi-Fi network (no Bluetooth)
- Supports over 100 streaming services
- Works with Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri
- Compatible with Apple AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect
- Supports 16-bit/44.1kHz only (no )
- Stream your analog-connected music around the house (with Amp or Connect)
- Dolby Digital only (sound bars) -- no DTS or support
The current Sonos line-up is as follows:
- : $159 -- small tabletop speaker
- : $199 -- smart table speaker with onboard voice assistant
- : $349 -- streaming add-on box for existing systems, analog input/output
- : $399 -- HDMI sound bar with voice assistant
- : $499 -- large tabletop speaker
- : $599 -- amplifier with analog input
- : $699 -- sound bar with optical input
- : $699 -- sound base with optical
- : $699 -- wireless subwoofer
Which Sonos is right for you?
The new Ikea Symfonisk line is a result of a collaboration between the Scandinavian furniture giant and Sonos. It's fully compatible with other Sonos products, and both the Bookshelf and the Table Lamp can also be used for stereo sound or as a relatively inexpensive pair of rear surround sound ($200 for two Bookshelves versus $400 for two Ones). If you want a Sonos smart speaker for the price of a Bluetooth speaker, this is the model to get. Read the Ikea Symfonisk Bookshelf review.
Though it seems like it's been long gone the Sonos Play:1 is still the cheapest speaker in the line. However, for $20 more you can upgrade to a model that's better value for money. The Sonos One (Gen 1) has excellent sonics and includes both Alexa and Google Assistant in one speaker (though you can only choose one at a time).
As you can tell there are two slightly different versions of the Sonos One, but they work in exactly the same way. You can still find the Gen 1 on sale for $179 or less, whereas the Gen 2 is $199. Read the Sonos One review.
Now that the Sonos Play:3 has been discontinued, a pair of Sonos Ones is your next best bet. Setting up a stereo pair is easy with the Sonos app and the system sounds better than equivalently priced speakers like the Google Home Max or Apple HomePod. Read the Sonos One review.
With the addition of Google Assistant, the Sonos Beam is the smart sound bar to get. It may be a little bass-light without a sub but it'll make your movies sound huge with its virtual surround capabilities. Read the Sonos Beam review.
The Sonos Play:5 is a relatively niche product -- not many people have the room for a large, kind-of-expensive tabletop speaker -- but it offers some of the biggest sound from any Sonos device. The only drawback is that it doesn't have the voice commands features of the newer models. Read the Sonos Play:5 review.
The Sonos Playbase is a fully formed and excellent-performing sound base (which means your TV sits on top it). The system doesn't need a subwoofer, and unless Sonos comes up with a cheaper Sub this is the best money you can spend under a grand. Read the Sonos Playbase review.
At the upper limit of what most people should pay for a sound bar surround system, this system will offer plenty of surround sound and musical thrills. You can combine the Sonos Beam ($399), Sonos Sub ($699) and a pair of the Ikea Bookshelves ($99 each). While the Sub on its own is pretty expensive it makes a great partner for the smaller Beam, while adding surrounds completes the effect. The system doesn't have Atmos, but if you mount the bookshelf speaker high up on the walls behind you, you won't miss it. Read the Sonos Sub review.
The Sonos app
Until voice control completely replaces it, the Sonos app is still where you control most of the setup and playback. The app's focus has changed over the years, led by streaming and now voice. But it's now moved away from the services to concentrate on the speakers themselves. The app still has one of the best universal searches, and it's easy to set up your speakers too.
The app is available for the following devices:
- Apple iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
- Android phones and tablets
- Apple laptops and desktops
- Windows laptops and desktops
- Amazon Fire tablets
In addition to the Sonos app, you'll also be able to serve to the speakers directly from your favorite apps using Play To Sonos. These include: Google Play Music (on device with Sonos app installed), Spotify, Pandora, YouTube Music and Tidal. The system also supports streaming from iOS and compatible software using Apple AirPlay 2.
The main competitive standards to Sonos are Bose Music, DTS Play-Fi, built-in Google Chromecast, Yamaha MusicCast and Denon HEOS. Amazon's Echos also support the Amazon MRM system.
Wireless speakers start at around $100 -- with most featuring Apple AirPlay, Chromecast or both -- and great wireless sound bars such as the Polk Command Bar start at $250..
Originally published last month.