Sonos has just launched Sonos Play:1, their latest, most compact and most affordable wireless speaker which has been designed to be very competitive in terms of power/size and affordability. It is a compact wireless audio system, but if you compare it with many other speakers, the size in itself isn’t impressively small. And that’s where the powerful audio comes in.
The Play:1 sound is powerful and sounds quite nice with many types of music. This is definitely one of the best $199 speakers that we have had our hands on, and since we have the Bang & Olufsen A8 at the office, we’re no strangers to high-quality audio.
$200 speakers often sound a bit “shallow” because they aren’t powerful enough and usually have a hard time producing low-frequency sound. High-frequency tones that are critical to a crisp and clear sound for instrumental and voice performance can be tricky at that price range as well.
Our first impression is that this is not the case with the Sonos Play:1, and it performs well with most music styles (we’ve seen audio devices “optimized” for hip-hop in the past). When comparing it with the B&O A8 speaker, we found that it performed very well, even if the A8 was better in terms of vocals clarity. It also costs five times as much… (the A8 clearly wasn’t 5X as good…)
Design-wise, the Sonos Play:1 is smaller than one may imagine, and that’s why the sound is impressive for the size. It is also heavier than we thought it would be, and we wonder what’s inside. Maybe we should crack one open to take a look.
As usual, the cool thing with Sonos is that you can easily add many speakers throughout the house to either play the same song, or play different tracks. That’s up to you. If you are not familiar with Sonos, the company has a range of speakers that connect to the home network, either via Ethernet (that’s what we did with the Play:1), or over WiFi, thanks to a “Bridge” device that Sonos also sells. The Bridge creates another local network for the Sonos Devices, but is capable of streaming Internet music via an Ethernet connection to the home network. That way, Sonos never disturbs your WiFi setup.
The Sonos system is controlled by Apps on iOS, Android or from the Amazon Apps store (Sonos’ own remote was discontinued on April of last year). You can control speaker volume and content playback. It’s also possible to add more web services, although we would like to see some improvements in the integration of 3rd party streaming services. Things are pretty good, but not always intuitive.
The Sonos Play:1 impressed us as it is probably the best compact wireless speaker system that we have heard to date. Sonos has been known to enthusiasts for years, but if it is to become a household name, a product like Play:1 will be the catalyst.
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