Sonos doesn’t make computer speakers. And despite how closely some of its speakers look the part (specifically thePlay:1, One and One SL ), they're pretty difficult to get working as your Mac or PC's default speakers — but it's not impossible.
In order to stream music from your laptop or desktop to any Sonos speaker, you need to be either using the Sonos desktop app or a streaming app that Sonos supports (like Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music or Deezer). This is limiting because any other sound that your computer makes — like from a YouTube video, a FaceTime call or even a web notification — will still play from its built-in speakers and not your Sonos speakers.
Turning your Sonos speakers into computer speakers isn’t as easy or cheap — and you can dig this information up on Sonos forums. If you have a pair of Ones or One SLs and have them configured in a stereo pair, you can then use a Sonos Port ($449), which is streamer that's typically used to stream music to analog speakers or to sync those speakers to your existing multi-room system. In this case, you’re hooking up your laptop or desktop directly to the Port, setting the Port as your computer's default sound output and then grouping your Sonos speakers with that Port in the Sonos app.
If you have a pair of Five or Play:5 speakers, you can bypass the need for a Port because the speakers already have a line-in connection. You can connect one of the speakers directly to your computer (via a 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable) and set it as your computer's default sound output.
A quick note on stereo pairing Sonos speakers: You can technically stereo pair your Sonos speakers before or after you set one up as a computer speaker. But in order to configure two Sonos speakers in a stereo pair (and then use them like traditional computer speakers), they need to be the exact same type of Sonos speaker — the only exception is a One with a One SL. You also cannot stereo pair an older speaker with a newer speaker even if they look similar; for example you can't stereo pair a One and a Play:1, or a Five and a Play:5.
To learn how to stereo pair your Sonos speakers, click here.
The Problem with using Sonos as computer speakers
Aside from being annoying to set up and very expensive, there's another big reason why you shouldn't using Sonos speakers as computer speakers: the audio/video delay. Sonos naturally delays its audio so that it can do some digital signal processing (or DSP) to optimize the speaker's (or amp's) sound. According to Sonos, the audio delay "reduces the chance of audio issues occurring when your Sonos products are playing line-in audio in a group."
You can adjust or minimize the audio delay within the Sonos app — select Settings > select System> select the speaker or wireless amp with the line-in connection > scroll down and select Audio Delay > select Low (75ms) — but you can't turn it off completely. The result is that there will be a 30-millisecond delay (or more) between the audio and video, so if you're watching a video on YouTube, the sound and video aren't going to exactly link up. Which is definitely annoying.
How to turn Sonos speakers into computer speakers
If you're using a Port with two Ones (or two Play:1s):
- Buy a Sonos Port and set it up (via the Sonos app).
- Connect the Port to your computer via a line-in connection (you'll need a RCA to 3.5mm jack, like this).
- Select your Port as your computer's default speakers (open the Settings app on your computer > select System Preferences > Sound > Output > select the Port).
- Group the Sonos speaker (preferably a stereo pair of Sonos Ones) with the Port.
If you're using two Five or two Play:5 speakers:
- Connect the Five or Play:5 speaker to your computer (you'll need a 3.5mm to 3.5mm aux cable, like this).
- Select the Five as your computer's default speaker (open the Settings app on your computer > select System Preferences > Sound > Output > select the Five).
- Set your Five (or Play:5) in a stereo pair with your other Five (or Play:5) speaker.
Last step. Once you've successfully set your Sonos speakers as your default computer speakers, you'll want to turn AutoPlay "on" in the Settings menu of the Sonos app. This will help your Sonos system automatically play when it detects a sound from your Port's line-in connection. If you don't turn on and you use your Sonos speakers streaming music rather than just as computer speakers, you'll likely have to go through the whole process of resetting them up again as your computer's default speakers.
- Open the Sonos app on your smartphone or computer.
- Go to Settings, Room Settings and then select the Sonos speakers you are using as your new computer speakers.
- Choose "Autoplay Room" so that your Sonos speakers will automatically play when the Line-In detects a signal.
Again, turning Sonos speakers into computer speakers is difficult, pricey and not recommended — you'll likely be way happier getting a pair of dedicated computer speakers, like Audioengine's A2+. But for those people who want Sonos speakers for everything, well, there's a way to do it — and Sonos has a 45-day return policy, just in case.