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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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Sonos

Welcome to Brand Breakdown, a series of comprehensive yet easy-to-digest guides to your favorite companies, with insights and information you won’t find on the average About page.

Sonos 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 is its ecosystem of audio products that make listening to music at home really easy.

The magic of Sonos is the ability to group any number of Sonos speakers together, provided they are all connected to the same Wi-Fi network, and have them all playing in sync through out the house. Alternatively, they can all be playing different tunes if you'd like. And it's all controlled through a smartphone app.

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 emulate what Sonos does. Some big companies, most notably Google and Bose, also have their own line of multi-room speakers.

Under that pressure, 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 producing smart speakers that work with other ecosystems, like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s AirPlay and Google Assistant.

In 2021, 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. Here are all the products it has in rotation, and what you should know about them.

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Sonos One
Sonos

The backbone of the Sonos lineup, One is smallest and most affordable traditional speaker Sonos offers. A smart speaker that can be integrated with either Amazon's Alexa or Google Assistant, it has an array of microphones and comes integrated with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. The other big upgrade is that the One supports AirPlay 2. 

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 difficult to find.


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

Sonos One SL
Sonos

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

Sonos Five
Sonos
Sonos

Released in 2020, the Five is most up-to-date large speaker in the Sonos lineup. Like a One, but louder and better, 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 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 new Sonos Five speakers cost $499, which is exactly the same as the Play:5, which it replaces. 

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

Symfonisk Bookshelf Speaker
Sonos

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.

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

Sonos Roam
Sonos
Sonos

The Sonos Roam is the company's smallest and most portable speaker. It has both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, so you can use it as portable Bluetooth speaker or integrate it into a larger Sonos multi-room system. It has Automatic Trueplay when streaming via both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, too. Sonos combined the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth antennas inside of Roam which gives it some abilities that are unusual in the Sonos line. For instance, it can allow you to hook a Bluetooth record player up to your Sonos system.  Additionally, the Roam has a IP67 ratings, making it a little more rugged and water-resistant than the Move.

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

Sonos Move
Sonos
Sonos

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.

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

Sonos Beam, Gen 2
Sonos
Sonos

Sonos announced the second-generation of its compact soundbar in September 2021 and it's a big upgrade over the original Beam because it supports Dolby Atmos. It lacks upward-firing drivers (like the Arc), but it's able to create virtual height channels and deliver a more immersive experience thanks to its advanced CPU (which is 40-percent faster than the original Beam's CPU). Sonos gave the new Beam an eARC connection (instead of ARC) and a new polycarbonate grille (instead of fabric), but other than that the new Beam looks basically identical and has the same capabilities as its predecessor. Sonos also made it $50 more expensive.

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

Sonos Arc
Sonos
Sonos

Released in mid-2020, the Arc is Sonos' premium Dolby Atmos 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). 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. 

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

Sonos Port
Sonos
Sonos

The Port is one of two Sonos gadgets designed to connect non-Sonos equipment into a Sonos system. It works by 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)

Sonos Sub, 3rd Gen
Sonos

The Sub is the company’s only wireless subwoofer. 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.

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

Symfonisk Table Lamp
Sonos

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

Symfonisk Table Lamp, Gen 2
IKEA

Sonos and Ikea announced the second-generation of their table lamp speaker. It's different from the previous model in that Ikea is now giving you to the option to buy one of two lamp bases (in either white or black) and then you can pair it with one of two lampshades: one glass and one a see-through textile. The lamp base will cost $140, while the glass and textile lampshades will cost $39 and $29, respectively, putting the total cost right around the $179 of the original. Just like before, the base of the table lamp will work just like a Sonos One SL speaker (no built-in voice assistant).

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

Symfonisk Picture Frame Speaker
Sonos

Released in mid-2021, the Picture Frame Speaker is the latest speaker in Ikea and Sonos's collaborative Symfonisk line. It's designed to be hung on your wall, in either landscape or portrait mode, and look like a piece of art. It does have rubber feet, too, if you want to lean it against the wall instead. The "art" of the speaker is actually its grille, which you can pop off and replace with different art that you can buy from Ikea or third-party sellers. The speaker works just like any Sonos speaker and sounds on par with One. It can be stereo paired with another Symfonisk Picture Frame Speaker, too.

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

Sonos Amp
Sonos
Sonos

The Amp works like the Sonos Port, except it's also an amp with an HDMI ARC port. This allows you to connect your passive bookshelf speakers to a Sonos system or to your TV, just like a Sonos Beam. That means if you have other Sonos speakers, you can play your TV’s audio through them without having one of Sonos’s soundbars.

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

Sonos Boost
Sonos
Sonos

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

Sonos Architectural by Sonance
Sonos

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

Discontinued and Unsupported Products
sonos system gear patrol lead full
Henry Phillips

Because Sonos speakers are essentially computers, they don't stay supported forever. Their sound-making abilities may remain intact, but their connectivity features get left behind. It's the tradeoff for the simplicity Sonos provides. Old-school vintage speakers may last for a generation, but they're also way more difficult to stream Spotify to.

Older Sonos products fall into one of two categories: Discontinued, and unsupported.

Discontinued products may still be for sale by Sonos, as refurbished models. Most importantly, they are supported by Sonos' latest "S2" app which means that although they are no longer top-of-the-line, they will place nice in a Sonos system that contains more current speakers. Buying a discontinued Sonos product can be a good get if you're looking for a deal and understand it may become unsupported sooner than newer product.s

Unsupported products are not compatible with Sonos' newest "S2" app. They can still function, but they need to be grouped on their own separate network, and Sonos may not support this workaround forever. Buying unsupported products is almost certainly not a good idea (unless you are getting it at garage sale prices), and they're included below primarily for posterity.

Sonos Beam, Gen 1 (Discontinued)
Sonos

Replaced by: Sonos Beam, Gen 2 

Sonos is phasing out the 2018-released Beam now that it has released a new and improved version: the Beam (Gen 2). This older version is very similar to the new model, but lacks polycarbonate grille, the newer eARC connection and support for Dolby Atmos. But it's still an excellent compact soundbar that supports Alexa or Google Assistant voice assistants, and can be integrated in a Sonos multi-room or home theater system. It's not a bad option if you can get a good deal on 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

Sonos Play:1 (Discontinued)
Sonos
Sonos

Replaced by: Sonos One, Sonos One SL

The Play:1 is the company's original small and powered wireless speaker. Sonos doesn't make them anymore — as they've been antiquated and replaced by the One SL — but you can still find and buy the Play:1 online (however, they're normally really expensive and there's no good reason to get one unless you found it for cheap). As for sound, the Play:1 is impressive for its size. 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.

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

Sonos Playbar (Discontinued)
Sonos
Sonos

Replaced by: Sonos Arc

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

Sonos Playbase (Discontinued)
Sonos
Sonos

Replaced by: Sonos Arc

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 third-party websites, 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

Sonos Play:3 (Discontinued)
Sonos

Replaced by: Sonos Five

Sonos discontinued the Play:3 — a Goldilocks speaker between the Play:1 and Play:5 —you might see 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

Sonos Play:5, Gen 2 (Discontinued)
Courtesy
Sonos

Replaced by: Sonos Five

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

Sonos Play:5, Gen 1 (Unsupported)
SONOS

This product is unsupported by Sonos' latest "S2" app. It still functions, but in a limited capacity. Learn more here

Replaced by: Sonos Five

The original version of the Sonos Play:5, originally called the ZonePlayer S5, was released in 2009.  Reviewed well by critics in its heyday, the first generation Play:5 is well over the hill, and no longer supported by the most modern version of the Sonos app. It is mainly worth knowing about solely so that you do not confuse it with its newer, more modern varieties. 

Drivers: two mid-woofers, two tweeters
Amplification: five Class-D digital amplifiers
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, ethernet, 3.5mm audio line-in

Sonos Connect (Unsupported)
Sonos

This product is unsupported by Sonos' latest "S2" app. It still functions, but in a limited capacity. Learn more here

Replaced by: Sonos Port

The Connect was Sono’s original amp that turns your receiver into a wireless one that you can stream music, too. The Connect has analog, optical and coaxial digital audio outputs. There’s no subwoofer output, however. In late 2019, Sonos introduced the Port, which is the next-gen model of the Connect.

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

Sonos Connect: Amp (Unsupported)
Sonos
Sonos

This product is unsupported by Sonos' latest "S2" app. It still functions, but in a limited capacity. Learn more here

Replaced by: Sonos Amp

The Connect:Amp has its own built-in amplification and takes the place of that receiver and was designed to integrate passive bookshelf speakers into an existing Sonos system. 

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

How do you connect your streaming services to Sonos?
sonos arc review lead full
Sonos

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 then 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.

Further setup info can be found here.

How do I tune my Sonos speakers?

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.

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.

  • Go into the Sonos app
  • Select "Room Settings"
  • Select the speaker
  • Turn Trueplay off



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