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The Complete Sonos Buying Guide: Every Speaker, Soundbar and Amp Explained

We break down some terms to know, as well as every product that Sonos currently makes.

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Henry Phillips

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Sonos has been synonymous with wireless speakers for more than a decade. The company basically invented the multi-room category of home audio, starting as a software company in the early 2000s before integrating its Wi-Fi-enabled network into hardware a few years later. Its first amplifier (which became the Connect:Amp) and subsequent speakers were great, but the real beauty of Sonos was its ecosystem of audio products that made listening to music at home really easy. Anybody could pick up their phone and stream music to a Sonos speaker.

The Sonos niche has always been multi-room audio. You could group any number of Sonos speakers together, provided they were all connected to the same Wi-Fi network, and have them all playing the same soundtrack throughout the house. Or a different song could be playing on each speaker. It was all controlled through an app on your phone, too. The other big selling point of Sonos was its speakers were — and still are — essentially future-proof. They were infinitely updatable, via software patches, so when you purchased a Sonos speaker, you knew you’d have it for years to come.

Imitation is the finest form of flattery, so, over the years, a lot of companies have tried to beat Sonos at its own game. New wireless protocols have been introduced, such as DTS Play-Fi, Google’s Chromecast, Bluesound and Apple AirPlay, which essentially do the same thing as Sonos. Some big companies, most notably Google and Bose, also have their own line of multi-room speakers — and, admittedly, it forced Sonos to think more broadly.

More recently, Sonos has introduced smaller and more affordable speakers, like the Play:1, giving more people a gateway into Sonos. Under new leadership — after a decade in charge, CEO John MacFarlane stepped down in 2017 and handed over the reins to Patrick Spence — the company is now in the business of smart speakers and working with other ecosystems, like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s AirPlay (and Google Assistant sometime soon). Yes, Sonos is hip with the times.

It’s 2020 and Sonos’s bread-and-butter is still multi-room audio. That said, the breadth of its entire ecosystem has expanded a lot. Its line of soundbars (as well as its connected amplifiers) have helped it weave its way into the home theater so that now you can integrate your TV into its greater audio system. And its connected receivers and amplifiers have helped Sonos become a solution for people who already have some part of the system, like a vintage receiver or passive speakers — which is most people — and don’t want to start over. For the first time, it also has its own portable speaker.

The bottom line: Sonos is still the best home audio ecosystem out there. And its new line of audio products only proves that more.

What Is Trueplay?

Sonos makes speakers that can stream hi-fi audio, but if you talk to people who know music, like sound engineers or audiophiles, they’ll tell you a huge part of listening to music is the room you’re in. A lot of rooms aren’t meant for listening to music — it’s why a concert is always going to sound better at an auditorium rather than an open-air stadium — and Sonos’s way of combating this issue is Trueplay, a technology launched in 2015 that tunes your Sonos speaker so that it sounds best for the room it’s in.

After you plug in your Sonos speaker and go through the standard Sonos protocols, like naming the speaker and connecting it to your home’s Wi-Fi, the Sonos app will ask you to tune the speaker using Trueplay. It requires you to flip your smartphone upside down and wave it around the room. You look crazy and your Sonos speaker will make some bizarre sounds, but your smartphone is actually listening and measuring how the sound reflects in the room. Trueplay then tunes the speaker, which only takes a few minutes (per speaker), so that it sounds more closely to how the artists originally intended.

Here’s a short video by Sonos showing how Trueplay works:

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Of course, not everybody wants technology to tune their speakers for them. So if you get a Sonos speaker, you don’t have to tune it with Trueplay. And if you do, but then regret it, you can turn Trueplay off at any time — just go into the Sonos app > Room Settings > select the speaker > and turn Trueplay off.

Supported Services

As an audio ecosystem, Sonos plays well with a lot of different streaming services. It works with Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music, YouTube Music, Pandora and Google Play Music, and that’s just to name a few. (You can check out the full list of streaming services, here.) The beauty of this is that you don’t have to play music through the Sonos app. You can just open the streaming app that you normally use, say Spotify, and direct the app to play music through your Sonos system rather than through your smartphone.

If you have a streaming service that you already subscribe to and want to be able to stream to your Sonos speaker, it’s easy but you have to add that music service account to Sonos. To do this, simply open the Sonos app > select “More” > select “Add Music Services” > select the service you want to add (Spotify) > select “Add Account” and follow the rest of the instructions to finish adding your account. You can do this from a smartphone or computer from a Mac or PC.

Here’s a link for further set-up information.

The Speakers

Symfonisk Bookshelf Speaker

The Symfonisk Bookshelf Speaker is a joint collaboration between Sonos and Ikea. The speaker works exactly like Sonos’s One SL speaker (and the now phased-out Play:1), but at $99, it’s the cheapest Sonos speaker you can buy. It’s also unique, able to stand upright or be mounted horizontally on the wall; if the latter, it can function as an actual bookshelf and support the weight of several actual books. It’s worth noting that the Symfonisk Bookshelf Speaker doesn’t sound quite as good as Sonos’s One SL speaker, nor does it have the same build quality. It’s available in white or black, and it can only be purchased from Ikea.

Note: If you’re looking to wall mount the Symfonisk Bookshelf speaker, Ikea sells the necessary brackets and screws separately. The wall brackets ($20) enable you to horizontally mount the speaker, and will the purchase you’ll get a silicone pad to place on top of the speaker. You can also purchase a speaker hook ($10) to hang the speaker on a rail.

Drivers: one tweeter, mid-woofer
Amplification: two class-D digital amplifiers
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, ethernet, AirPlay 2

Buy Now: $99 Read the Review

Symfonisk Table Lamp

The Symfonisk Table Lamp is, just like the Symfonisk Bookshelf Speaker, a joint collaboration between Sonos and Ikea. The speaker works and sounds exactly like Sonos’s One SL speaker (and the now phased-out Play:1), but it also functions as a lamp (if you couldn’t tell). It’s really an ideal Sonos speaker to place on a nightstand or anyplace where you want a speaker, but don’t want it to look like you have a speaker there. It’s available in white or black, and it can only be purchased from Ikea.

Drivers: one tweeter, mid-woofer
Amplification: two class-D digital amplifiers
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, ethernet, AirPlay 2

Buy Now: $179 Read the Review

One SL

The One SL is a Sonos One speaker but without the built-in mics, meaning it can’t function as a smart speaker. You can also think of it as the next-gen version of the original Play:1 speaker, which, sadly, is getting phased out. The One SL is $20 cheaper than the One speaker, and it’s available in either white or black.

Drivers: one mid-woofer, one tweeter
Amplification: two Class-D digital amplifiers
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, AirPlay 2, ethernet

Buy Now: $179

Play:1

The Play:1 is Sonos’s original small and powered wireless speaker. You can still buy them, but it’s worth noting that Sonos introduced the One SL speaker in late-2019, which is the next-gen model of the Play:1, and has thus started phasing out the Play:1 — Sonos only sells refurbished models. For its size, Play:1’s sound is impressive. It’s naturally a mono speaker, but you can pair two Play:1 speakers together and, through the app, create that stereo sound. You can also designate two Play:1 speakers as surround speakers in 5.1 home theater system. If you’re looking for an excellent sounding speaker that’s extremely easy to use, and can’t listen to, the Play:1 is still a great speaker.

Drivers: one mid-woofer, one tweeter
Amplification: two Class-D digital amplifiers
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, ethernet

Buy Now: $99 (Refurbished)

One

The One is the same size and has the same sound qualities as the Play:1, but it has an updated, more modern look. It also has an array of microphones and comes integrated with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. Essentially, the One can work just like an Amazon Echo smart speaker — you can ask Alexa queries, to play music or to control your smart home devices — but it can also be part of a Sonos speaker system. (If you have an Alexa smart speaker you use your voice to control a Sonos system with it, but the Alexa speaker won’t play along with those other Sonos speakers; with the One, it will.) The other big difference between the One is that it supports AirPlay 2, while the Play:1 speakers do not.

It’s worth mentioning that Sonos updated its One speaker in early 2019; you’ll see both Sonos One “Gen 2” and Sonos One “Gen 1” speakers when shopping. The difference is the Gen 2 speakers have Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), an updated processor and increased memory, which for most consumers won’t make a difference. Sonos just made the new models more “ready for the future,” but they sound and work the same as the predecessors. Sonos has ceased production on the “Gen 1” models, and if you’re looking for one (because they are $20 cheaper), know that they will be increasingly more difficult to find.

Drivers: one mid-woofer, one tweeter
Amplification: two Class-D digital amplifiers
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, ethernet, Amazon Alexa, AirPlay 2

Buy Now: $199

Play:3

Sonos discontinued the Play:3 — a Goldilocks speaker between the Play:1 and Play:5 — in 2018, but the company still supports the speaker with regular updates. You’ll still likely see used or refurbished Play:3 speakers online, but Sonos doesn’t sell any new models anymore. The Play:3 can also output stereo without being paired with another Sonos speaker, just like the current Play:5. And just like the current Play:1 and One, two Play:3 speakers can be designed as rear surrounds in a home theater system. It doesn’t support AirPlay 2 like the newer generation of Sonos speakers.

Drivers: one tweeter, two mid-woofers
Amplification: three Class-D digital amplifiers
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, ethernet

Buy Now: $199 (Refurbished)

Move

The Move is Sonos’s first portable speaker and it has both built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. When connected to Wi-Fi, it works almost exactly like a Sonos One: it can play in a Sonos multi-room system and respond to either Alexa or Google Assistant voice commands. (The one difference is that the Move cannot be designated as a rear-channel speaker in a home theater system.) A button on its back turns it into a portable Bluetooth mode, so you can take the speaker – it’s drop-resistant and IP56-rated – anywhere outside the home. Unlike every other Sonos speaker before it, the Move has automatic Trueplay, meaning it automatically optimizes its sound for the space it’s in (Note: automatic TruePlay only works when used as a Wi-Fi speaker). As far as sound quality, the Move is somewhere between a One and Play:3 speaker.

Drivers: one downward-firing tweeter, one mid-woofer
Amplification: two Class-D digital amplifiers
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, ethernet, AirPlay 2

Buy Now: $399 Read the Review

Beam

The Beam is Sonos’s smallest and newest soundbar. It’s also its most affordable. Designed for small and medium rooms, the Beam can be wall-mounted or left to rest on top of a media console. One of the big differences with the Beam is that, just like the Sonos One, it comes with Alexa built-in. When connected to your TV, you can ask Alexa to turn the volume up or down, switch to a specific app (like Netflix), or switch to a specific channel (like ESPN). The Beam works best with Amazon Fire TVs because you can tell Alexa to turn the TV on or off. The other big difference is that the Beam has an HDMI ARC port that supports CEC (in addition to optical), so you can use your TV’s remote to adjust the Beam’s volume. It also means that if Sonos adds support for future technologies, like Dolby Atmos or DTS:X, there’s a better chance that the Beam will support it.

Drivers: one tweeter, four full-range woofers, three passive radiators
Amplification: five Class-D digital amplifiers
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, ethernet, optical, Amazon Alexa, AirPlay 2

Buy Now: $399

Five

Released in 2020, the Five is essentially just an updated Play:5 speaker. Sonos increased the memory and the processing power of the speaker so that it’s able to take full advantage of the Sonos S2 update. Like before, the Five comes in matte white and matte black models, but this time around the white Five has a white grille, too — so it’s all white. The Five has a line-in so you can quickly connect it to an integrated turntable. And you can still pair two Fives together and place them vertically, which then designates them as right and left channels for great stereo sound. The new Sonos Five speakers cost $499, which is exactly the same as the previous Play:5.

(The Five starts shipping on June 10.)

Drivers: three mid-woofers, three tweeters
Amplification: six Class-D digital amplifiers
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, ethernet, 3.5mm audio line-in, AirPlay 2

Buy Now: $499

Play:5

For years the Play:5 was Sonos’s biggest and best wireless speaker, but it was phased out in mid-2020 and replaced by the Five. (Sonos now only sells refurbished Play:5 models.) It is a significantly larger and much more high-fidelity speaker than the Play:1, with six drivers as opposed to the Play:1’s two drivers, each of which are individually amplified. The Play:5 works exactly the same as a Play:1 speaker — you can group it with other Sonos speakers or pair it with an Alexa device and control it with your voice — but it also has some key differences that make it more versatile. It can output both mono and stereo, for example. When the Play:5 is horizontal it will play stereo and when it’s vertical it will play mono; the Play:1 can only play stereo when paired with another Play:1 speaker. The Play:5 also supports audio line-in, which the Play:1 doesn’t, so it can hook up to a TV or a record player.

Drivers: three mid-woofers, three tweeters
Amplification: six Class-D digital amplifiers
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, ethernet, 3.5mm audio line-in, AirPlay 2

Buy Now: $399 (Refurbished)

Sub (3rd Generation)

The Sub is the company’s only wireless subwoofer and the third-generation model looks identical to its predecessors, but Sonos increased the memory and the processing power to prep for the Sonos S2 update. (The one cosmetic change over the new model has is a round “join” button, instead of the previous square.) The Sub wirelessly connects to any Sonos speaker or Sonos Amp, and it can be part of a multi-room or a home theater system, and just like Sonos’s other speakers, the Sub won’t pair with non-Sonos speakers unless you have one of Sonos’s own amps (see below). The real beauty of the Sub is it’s very easy to set up, and it will improve any Sonos system; you can also fine-tune the levels of bass with the Sonos app. If there are downsides, it’s the Sub is pretty expensive and large.

(The new Sub starts shipping on June 10.)

Drivers: two force-canceling speaker drivers
Amplification: two Class-D digital amplifiers
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, ethernet

Buy Now: $699

The Soundbars

Arc

Released in mid-2020, the Arc is Sonos’s new premium soundbar that takes the place of the 8-year-old Playbar and the 3-year-old Playbase (neither of which Sonos will continue to make), and it’s the company’s first (and only) soundbar to support Dolby Atmo. It has a grand total of 11 high-performance drivers, two of which are upward-firing to enable those vertical high channels for Dolby Atmos. It also supports Sonos’s Trueplay tuning technology and is able to automatically adjust its sound based on the home theater set-up and what’s playing, whether that’s stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1, or Dolby Atmos sound. The Arc features a 270-degree rounded plastic grille and comes in either matte black and matte white. It can be placed in front of a standing TV or wall-mounted. Sonos will release a specialized mounting unit ($79) that uses magnetic sensors so it knows if it’s mounted or not. It has a single HDMI eARC or ARC connection, so setup should be super simple. It’s also a smart speaker, just like the Beam, so you can control it with your voice using Amazon Alexa or the Google Assistant. It supports AirPlay 2 as well.

(The Arc starts shipping on June 10.)

Drivers: three silk-dome tweeters, eight elliptical woofers
Amplification: 11 Class-D digital amplifiers
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, ethernet, optical

Buy Now: $799

Playbar

The Playbar is the company’s first soundbar, released in 2013, and has since been replaced by Arc. (Sonos is phasing out the Playbar.) It uses a single optical cable to your TV and it effectively replaces your TV speakers. The neat thing, as is true with all other Sonos soundbars, is that it can connect to all other Sonos speakers in your home; you can have your TV’s audio playing through the entire house or you can integrate those other Sonos speakers in a home theater system (the max all-Sonos system is 3.1.2 or 5.1.2 setup). There are a couple of downsides to the Playbar. It’s the oldest of the company’s soundbars and doesn’t support AirPlay 2. It doesn’t support Dolby Atmos. And there’s no HDMI connection option, meaning it might not be as future-proof as other soundbars.

Drivers: three tweeters, six mid-woofers
Amplification: nine Class-D digital amplifiers
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, ethernet, optical

Buy Now: $599

Playbase

The Playbase is a soundbase (so it sits underneath your TV) that was released in 2017, but Sonos announced in 2020 that it would be phasing it out with the Playbar, in favor of the new Arc. You can still buy the Playbase on Sonos’s website, however, and it’s similar to Playbar in most ways, but it comes with a few advantages. It has a dedicated woofer, unlike the Playbar, so it naturally has more bass. And it supports AirPlay 2. (Again, the Playbase only has an optical TV connection. No HDMI.) Other than that, the main reason why people would choose the Playbase over the Playbar, or vice versa, comes down to shape.

Drivers: three tweeters, six mid-range, one woofer
Amplification: ten Class-D digital amplifiers
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, ethernet, optical, AirPlay 2

Buy Now: $699

The Amps

Connect

The Connect is Sono’s original amp that turns your receiver into a wireless one that you can stream music, too. If you already have a receiver that’s powering a set of speakers, the Connect is the cheapest way to work like Sonos speakers; you can stream music to them or integrate them into an existing Sonos setup. The Connect has analog, optical and coaxial digital audio outputs, so it should work with any stereo or AV receiver. If you’re looking to play vinyl through your current Sonos system, the Connect will work with most turntables so long as they a built-in pre-amp. There’s no subwoofer output, however.

In late 2019, Sonos introduced the Port (see below), which is the next-gen model of the Connect.

Amplification: None
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, ethernet, analog (RCA), digital (optical and coaxial)

Buy Now: $349

Port

The Port is the next-gen version of the Connect. It works the same way, hooking up to your existing stereo or receiver and turning your non-Sonos sound system into one that works just like it, but the Port adds some big things. First, it supports AirPlay 2. Second, it has 12-volt trigger, which enables the Port to automatically turn on your connected receiver when signaled through the Sonos app. And third, it’s matte black and actually looks like it will blend in with your other stereo components. The Sonos Port costs $399 and was released in early 2020.

Drivers: N/A
Amplification: N/A
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, AirPlay 2, ethernet (x2)

Buy Now: $399

Connect:Amp

While the Connect will work alongside an existing receiver, the Connect:Amp has its own built-in amplification and takes the place of that receiver. So if you have passive bookshelf speakers and no receiver, the Connect:Amp is what you want. It’ll allow you to integrate those speakers into an existing Sonos system. Or, if you don’t have Sonos speakers, the Connect:Amp allows you to stream music to those analog speakers. As far as power, the Connect:Amp will run up to 55 watts of power per channel, so it can work small or medium-sized speakers. It also allows you to connect a subwoofer, while the Connect won’t.

Amplification: class-D digital amplifier (55-watts per channel)
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, ethernet, analog (RCA), digital (optical and coaxial), subwoofer

Buy Now: $449

Amp

The Amp is essentially a more powerful Connect:Amp; it can drive larger passive speakers, distributing 125 watts per channel, while the Connect:Amp only pushes 55 watts. But other than aesthetics, the Amp has another key upgrade over the Connect:Amp — an HDMI ARC port. This allows you to connect your passive bookshelf speakers to your TV, just like a Sonos Beam, or if you have other Sonos speakers, you can play your TV’s audio through them without having one of Sonos’s soundbars. You’re also able to fine-tune the EQ settings within the Sonos app, just like the Connect:Amp.

Amplification: class-D digital amplifier (125-watts per channel at 8 ohms)
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, ethernet, analog (RCA), digital (optical and coaxial)

Buy Now: $599

Everything Else

Sonos Boost

The Boost might be the most misunderstood product that Sonos sells. (And maybe its most important.) It connects directly to your home’s router and creates it’s own Wi-Fi mesh network, just like a Google Wi-Fi or an Eero hub, but this new wireless mesh network only works with Sonos speakers — and it prioritizes audio quality over everything else. If you have a large home with spotty Wi-Fi, or you just want to make sure your Sonos is playing at its highest possible resolution, this is the $99 gadget you should invest in.

Connectivity: ethernet

Buy Now: $99

Sonos Architectural by Sonance

People have long used Sonos’s wireless amps to stream audio to their old speakers. More specifically, they used them to stream music to speakers that were built into their homes, either in the ceiling or in the wall. Now, in early 2019, there are non-Sonos speakers that are specifically designed to work with the Amp. Sonos announced a partnership with Sonance, a reputable audio company known for its in-wall and in-ceiling speakers, and now you can deck out your home with “invisible” speakers that work just like Sonos. The Sonos In-Wall by Sonance ($599 per pair), Sonos In-Ceiling by Sonance ($599 per pair), and the Sonos Outdoor by Sonance ($799 per pair) are be the first third-party speakers to be compatible with Sonos’s TruePlay tuning technology. The catch is these speakers require a Sonos Amp to work, which needs to be purchased separately.

Amplification: requires Sonos Amp
Connectivity: Wi-Fi

Buy Now: $599+

In addition to the above products, Sonos also sells vinyl, multi-room and home theater packages. The vinyl package showcases Sonos’s partnership with Pro-Ject, pairing the company’s Essential III Phono turntable with one or two of Sonos’s Play:5 speakers.

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