The just-announced Sonos One ($199) is a Play:1 lookalike with Amazon Alexa built in. It’s designed to integrate seamlessly with your existing Sonos speakers, but it’ll also be discoverable in the Alexa app and effectively work like an Amazon Echo. You’ll be able to ask the speaker about the weather, sports scores and to control your smart home devices. But best of all you’ll get the superior sound quality and multi-room functionality that is synonymous with Sonos.
Now that Sonos and Amazon are in cahoots, you can control and listen to Amazon Music, Spotify and Apple Music all in one place. You still can’t stream Apple Music directly on your Amazon Echo, but the Sonos One offers a loophole; “Alexa, play Tom Petty on Apple Music” will work. It’s also important to note that you can now control your Sonos system with Amazon’s own hardware, like the new Echo Plus or Echo.
The Sonos One is pretty identical to the Play:1 in terms of size, aesthetics and sound quality. The Sonos One also has two Class-D amplifiers, a mid woofer and a tweeter, just like the Play:1. Like its sibling, it’s also humidity resistant and comes with Trueplay tuning software, ensuring that the Sonos One is optimized for the specific room it’s in. The main difference is that the Sonos One has a six-microphone array designed to pick up the “Alexa” keyword no matter where you are in the room. There are also touch controls on top of the speaker that’ll enable you to skip tracks and mute the built-in microphones for privacy.
For all intents and purposes, the Sonos One is an upgraded Amazon Echo — even when compared with the new Echo Plus — that also links to your existing Sonos system. It also chimes, instead of just lighting up, to let you know that it’s heard your “Alexa” and is working on a response. However, it’s also more than that. Sonos announced that the Sonos One will support Google Assistant and AirPlay 2 (and therefore Siri) in 2018. And it also opened up its developers program so that any third-party app could work with it. Sonos already announced that you’ll be able to play Tidal and Pandora with the Sonos One.
The Sonos One will officially go on sale October 24, and it won’t completely take the place of the Play:1. Sonos’s entry-level speaker works great as a stereo pair or as part of a 5.1 theater setup. For those with privacy concerns when it comes to virtual assistants, the Play:1 will still have a place in Sonos’s lineup.