Building out whole-house audio has become so much easier over the years with the advent of wireless connectivity. With devices such as Sonos speakers, you no longer need spools of cable, stacks of heavy components or a bottomless bank balance to create multi-room listening.
Sonos was founded back in 2002 in California by a company intent on helping you stream music from room to room in-app without needing any wires.
These speakers are designed to work wonderfully on their own, but they also come into their own when built out across the whole home.
Today, we’ll explore how Sonos continues to dominate this niche of home audio and we’ll also highlight the best speakers in the range.
Before that, though, let's talk about getting them up and running.
If the idea of setting up a robust sound system spanning multiple rooms puts you off, you’ll be amazed at the plug-and-play simplicity you’ll get with Sonos speakers.
Hook up each of your Sonos speakers to your home WiFi network and they’ll then start singing together in harmony.
Control takes place in-app, giving you a single dashboard from which to take charge of music in multiple rooms.
You won’t need any kind of bridge or gateway to get the speakers working together either. You can consider adding in Sonos Boost if you have patchy WiFi. This allows you to create a separate wireless mesh network for your Sonos ecosystem.
So once you’re up and running, how can you build out multi-room sound?
Sonos Speakers in Use
All you need to do is start with one speaker, and adding a new speaker is as simple as popping it into the app.
Every speaker is assigned to a room or a zone. You’ll then be able to play different music in different zones, or you can group them so the same music is playing throughout your home. Obviously, this works well for parties.
You can create stereo pairs of your Sonos speakers with absolute ease.
With TruePlay, the speakers use the microphone on your phone to tune and optimize the sound of your speaker according to the dimensions of the space.
With AirPlay 2, a 2018 update, you can finally stream to the speakers directly from your phone or iPad without needing to fire up the Sonos app. This is a welcome advance.
One small snag to be aware of is that Sonos speakers don’t play nice with 5GHz WiFi networks. This is a disappointment and something we hope the manufacturer will work on.
Sonos Music Services
You can start choosing the music you want to listen to in-app. You’ll benefit from all the usual suspects when it comes to streaming and with TuneIn Radio, you’ll also be able to access more than 1000 Internet stations free of charge.
Beyond that, from Amazon Prime Music and Apple Music to Spotify and SoundCloud, you’ll truly be spoiled for choice with tunes.
Best Sonos Speakers
Sonos divides up its range of wireless multi-room audio tech into 3 main areas:
- Home Theater
The overall range is sprawling, but for the purposes of today, we’ve kept the focus purely on speakers and we’ll highlight the following options at your disposal:
The Sonos One is the smallest and arguably one of the best speakers in the line and it’s now into its second iteration.
Where many competing smart speakers let you down woefully on the audio front, the One has a really strong and powerful soundscape. This speaker comes with a couple of Class-D amps and customized drivers giving you clarity and precision, even at high volume.
You’ll get a choice of using Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant which are baked in. You’ll need to choose and stick to one of them. A full half-dozen mics ensure that One can pick up your voice even across crowded and busy rooms. This allows you to enjoy at least basic smart home control, but this is certainly not the key selling point of the One.
As with all Sonos speakers, you can really ramp things up if you add more speakers into the ecosystem. Pair two Ones and you’ll get instant stereo sound. You can strengthen the low end with a powerful subwoofer or build out your home audio around Sonos speakers and soundbars.
While using the digital assistant onboard for smart home control might leave you feeling slightly underwhelmed, hands-free control of your music is a real bonus. From asking your virtual butler to change the station to hunting down your favorite track or altering the volume, get it all done the easy way with voice control.
The Sonos Play:1 is another compact smart speaker packing quite a punch.
Set-up couldn’t be much quicker or easier. Just plug in your speaker and follow a simple guided installation in-app.
You can choose from hundreds of streaming stations in-app from Amazon Music and Spotify through to TuneIn and Pandora.
Although the Play:1 is the entry-level model, it still makes a relevant addition to your arsenal when you’re building out multi-room audio. Since this speaker is built to be used within the Sonos ecosystem, you won’t get any connections for external devices. You don’t even get Bluetooth which is a slight disappointment.
The audio is solid with controlled and tight bass, smooth treble, and plenty of punch at the high end, too.
If you’re looking to get started into multi-room audio on a reasonably tight budget, the Play:1 is a wise move.
Marketed as the ultimate wireless smart speaker, does the Sonos Play:5 live up to such bold claims?
If the Play:5 seems familiar, it was first brought to market back in 2010, light years ago in terms of home automation. Now retooled, you’ll get the same thumping soundscape, even if you’ll struggle with smarts.
As with all Sonos speakers, music comes uppermost and that’s an advantage and selling point for many. Along with 6 amps, Sonos manages to pack in 3 tweeters and 3 mid-woofers along with a phased speaker array. The result of this componentry all sealed in is a reverb-free and bass-heavy sound that manages to transcend most genres.
For added stability, you can wire this speaker up by Ethernet. You’ll also get a line-in connection allowing you to hook up Play:5 to a turntable or other device.
Sonos has bundled a couple of mics with Play:5 even though they’re not being used right now.
TruePlay lets Play:5 enhance and optimize audio based on how and where this speaker is positioned in the room. You can also play a single speaker horizontally for stereo sound or pair a couple of Play:5 upright so move to mono.
When you’re looking to expand any audio system, bass in one of the first areas you might want to upgrade.
If you want to add some serious punch to your Sonos system, the Wireless Sub helps you to really add some oomph to that low end without any excessive vibration or muddiness.
Get surround sound by using a pair of Sonos One in tandem with the sub. Whether you’re listening to your favorite playlist, watching a movie or playing X-Box, you’ll get an outstanding and immersive audio experience.
We hope you’ve seen something to tempt you among these Sonos speakers. If the quality of the music you listen to it just as important to you as the type of music, anything from the Sonos range makes a better bet than most of the competition. While other manufacturers are slowly bringing more smart speakers that deliver to the market, you get a great deal for more grunt than most Alexa or lower-end Google Home speakers provide.
Bookmark our site here at SmartHome and come back soon for more of the latest smart home news. We have plenty lined up already for September, so pop back next week. Until then, why not sign up for our email newsletter? Not only will you stay fully aware of all the most current developments in the home automation space, but we’ll also throw in 20% off your first order. The only question that remains is, which Sonos speaker will you order with your discount?