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What Sonos speaker Should You Buy?
What Sonos is here to help you navigate your way around finding the right Sonos product for you. With such an awesome range of products Sonos is a market leader in wireless speakers.
So what are Sonos speakers? How do they work?
With the rise of digital and computer and cloud based music. Things have become easier by adding the element of portability to your audio collection. But that didn’t solve the question of moving your system or trailing leads around the home. Then, along came the wireless revolution…
Using wireless speakers, you can stream audio from a range of devices to speakers around the home using a wireless connection. There many different ways to do this, different products and technologies, but one of the companies producing the best wireless audio solutions is Sonos. They have created a wonderful market of wireless speaker products that allow you to enjoy your music anywhere you want to with astounding quality of sound.
Getting started with Sonos…
However, Sonos’s 5.1 software update made it possible to connect your Sonos speaker direct to your wi-fi network using the dedicated Sonos controller app. This transforms the units into true, one-box wireless speakers and removes the need for a wired connection to your router.
That now means the Play:1 arguably the most flexible of the speakers as it can be moved from room to room – is the entry-level price for a Sonos speakers system, with the Play:3 and old Play:5 moving up the size, bass and cost scale. And don’t forget there’s the new Sonos Play:5 for 2015.
The Connect will turn your stereo into a streaming system, while a Connect:Amp works with your wired speakers.
And Sonos has also launched the Boost, a more powerful version of the Bridge which is there to lend a helping hand in more challenging wireless environments. The company says it offers “complete 360-degree signals through walls and ceilings” and is twice the strength of the Bridge.
What Sonos speakers to buy?
Now the question to ask is ‘which sonos speakers to buy?’ which is the question you have been asking yourself since the top of this page. I hope you now have a clearer idea of what Sonos is, and how it works. So now, what Sonos to buy? Lets have a final breakdown of the pro’s and con’s of each of the wireless speaker systems, the Play:1, Play:3 and Play:5.
The compact, yet surprisingly powerful PLAY:1 delivers deep, crystal clear sound and fits just about anywhere, for example, the work-surface in your kitchen. That bookshelf in your study. Or in any other snug space where you’d like some big music.
Clear, true sound. And a deeper bass response than the PLAY:1. That’s what gives our slightly larger PLAY:3 its rich, room-filling power. It sounds equally great whether you place it vertically or horizontally. And its sleek, modern design brings a contemporary touch to any room.
The ultimate listening experience. With the purest, deepest, most vibrant sound ever heard from a wireless speaker. That’s what our PLAY:5 is all about. If you’re a fan of sonically true, intensely vibrant, earth-shattering sound, this is the Sonos speaker for you.
Sonos Play:1 Wireless Speaker
Sonos Play:3 Wireless Speaker
Sonos Play:5 Wireless Speaker
Sonos apps and services
In addition to the ability to play a digitally stored music collection, which can be streamed from a NAS (Network Attached Storage) device, Sonos comes with a multitude of music apps and services that allow you to customise playlists and explore new or forgotten music.
Qobuz and Tidal bring CD-quality, lossless streaming to Sonos. While the other music services offer files at up to 320kbps, Qobuz and Tidal on Sonos offer unlimited streaming access to CD-quality FLAC files at 16-bit/44.1kHz for a monthly subscription charge.
“So if I want a wireless multi-room speaker system in my home, I should turn to Sonos?”
Not so fast. There are other options to consider, some of which offer more or do certain things better. There are plenty of alternative wireless speakers and a number of multi-room sound systems on the market to challenge Sonos’s dominance.
One of these is Bluesound, which in some respects is our preferred multi-room system, taking home our Product of the Year gong in our recent 2016 Awards.
The key hook here is support for high-resolution audio and in turn the musical, punchy sound. Setting the system up is simple, there’s a good selection of speaker models and a great control app, too.
Bluesound is a worthy rival to Sonos, and may suit your needs better should you want to listen to hi-res music.
In 2013, the Pure Jongo S3 speaker was launched – the first product in Pure’s own multi-room music system, which has now blossomed into a five-unit family of music streamers. They can be used solo or grouped together, offering an affordable entry into the realm of wireless and multi-room audio systems.
As well as streaming locally stored music from your phone or tablet over wi-fi, the Pure Connect app also offers over 20,000 streaming radio stations and around 200,000 on-demand programmes and podcasts through the system.
Crucially, the Pure Jongo speakers bring Bluetooth to the party, allowing you to stream music directly from your Bluetooth-enabled smartphone, tablet or computer, whether that’s your own music or from apps such as YouTube.
Also announced alongside the new Play:5 was Sonos Trueplay. Now available on the existing Play:1, Play:3 and original Play:5 wireless speakers, it’s a new feature in the Sonos app that calibrates your speaker to your room.
Wherever you place your Sonos speaker in the room will affect the sound. The Trueplay feature aims to counter this, using the microphone on an iPhone or iPad (it’s not yet available on the Android or Windows Phone Sonos apps).
This set-up process runs through a series of test tones and sweeps, which will be familiar to anyone who has set up an AV receiver. The process tunes your speaker to the room, adjusting the bass and the treble, to get it sounding the best it can. And if you don’t like the changes, you can always change it back.
Sonos: Missing features and things to consider
Of course, while Sonos may bill itself as a “wireless hi-fi system”, there’s no denying that, for a little more cash, a dedicated separates system will deliver better sound.
There are myriad streaming options should you value sound quality over the flexibility Sonos offers: a NAS device allows you to stream music to, say, the Pioneer N-50 or the Cyrus Stream XP2-QX, and the more streamers you buy the more rooms of music you can have.
But you don’t get the multi-room functionality, nor the simple, brilliant interface of the Sonos apps. And it’s notably more expensive.
You would however get hi-res audio support – something not offered by Sonos, which maxes out at CD-quality files.
There’s also no AirPlay or Bluetooth functionality built in to Sonos products, meaning you can’t direct stream from music apps, YouTube and others on a phone or tablet (apart from on Google Play Music, thanks to an update). It is possible to add an AirPort Express to Sonos models with a line input, however.
Sonos: Products and Reviews
Looking to invest in a Sonos wireless speaker? Fancy creating your own home sound system and don’t want all those trailing wires?
Take a look at our round-up of all Sonos products that we’ve had in our test rooms.
Tested at £170 / compare latest prices
The Play:1 won us over in the same way the Play:3 and Play:5 did. Ease of use is a huge draw, but it’s backed up by fantastic sound quality and an affordable price.
Whether you’re looking to get started on your Sonos journey, or just adding bits to an existing set-up, you won’t regret finding a spot for the Play:1 in your home.
MORE: Sonos Play:1 review
Tested at £260 / compare latest prices
Like the Play:5, the Play:3 is an all-in-one that combines a network music client, amp and speakers, making it simple to add an extra zone to an existing Sonos system.
You can also link two Play:3s together to make a stereo pair, as well as being able to stream music directly from your Android device, iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch.
Tested at £350 / compare latest prices
The Sonos Play:5 showed just how far the company had come. It is perfectly pitched, stylistically and technologically – a premium-feeling proposition we described as being ‘”as close to hi-fi as wi-fi gets”.
It may have the same model number but the new Play:5 is a big departure from the existing model. The speaker drivers are redesigned, and there’s one more, while the outside has a new style, which allows it to be placed horizontally and vertically. There are also touch sensitive controls. A whole host of other upgrades and improvements make it the best Sonos speaker yet.