Thursday , April 19 2018

Sonos One: Why two Ones is one better than one One


The name Sonos is synonymous with multi-room audio and have been for a long time. They have always produced amazing sound as far back as I can remember along with multi-room capabilities unmatched by anyone else. Now there are other manufacturers looking to muscle in on their home speaker territory and Sonos are responding.

Digital assistant speakers: Apple released theirs last year. Sony, JBL, Klipsch and of course Google and Amazon have released theirs. There are so many options available to the consumer at the moment when it comes to digital assistant speakers the question must be asked: Will Sonos be able to maintain their position at the top of the heap?

In response to the new threat from the Apple HomePod Sonos are attempting to tell everyone why they are still the best. They sent us a second Sonos One to review as a stereo pair along with multi-room audio. We thought one Sonos One was a great speaker in our previous review — read on to find out if we thought two was better than one.

The Setup

Sonos have the setup of speakers down entirely. It is easy to do and quite quick. Turn the Sonos One on, open up the Sonos app, select add a Player or SUB then select the speaker you want to add, name it and you are done.

You can then create a stereo pair with it and another Sonos speaker or you can use it for multi-room capabilities. I first tested the speaker with multi-room capabilities which included playing the same song on both speakers in different rooms and also playing different songs on each.

The process is incredibly simple and a matter of navigating the Sonos app and creating groups of speakers. Sonos have done a great job cultivating this software over time and it is easy to use.

The Sound Quality

I really do not have to add much here. Anyone who has heard a Sonos speaker before will know that the quality if top notch. Adding two of these puppies either side of my TV produced an amazing sound whether playing music or watching a movie. The depth and richness of the sound is just business as per usual for Sonos. They are synonymous with high quality speakers: the Sonos One is no exception.

Working in tandem these speakers produce a true stereo sound that gives a range of sound that has to be heard to be believed. I thought one sounded great by itself but once I paired the second speaker (which was a breeze using their app).

Limitations

There are some limitations with the Sonos One. At this stage it does not support true Chromecast. You can “cast” to the speakers using the cast button in your music app but it is not a true Chromecast. It does still work from any app that has the “Cast” button within it.

There are some limitations due to Sonos’ partnerships that prevent you from using some apps when playing music through the Sonos app. If you want to tell the Sonos One to play some Spotify, it will only work if you have a Spotify Premium account. I just used my Google Play Music app to “Cast” the music to the speakers.

Alexa is new to Australia and as such there are many “skills” that are geo-blocked — one disappointing for me was the Sony Android TV skill. Hopefully these geo-restrictions will be lifted in the not-so-distant future.

Google Assistant/Alexa

One big limitation, especially for not just us Android users but also for Australians, is the lack of Google Assistant on the speaker. Sure Alexa is finally here and works for some things there are a lot that do not work at this stage and until it does Google Assistant will be a better option for Australians.

The Alexa app is quite easy to use and this time around it worked and set up easily using an Aussie account. There are routines that allow you to add whatever commands and actions you want to it. Unfortunately the routine rarely worked as it did not recognise my voice command to it.

For all the basic stuff Alexa worked though. Weather, news, timers, alarms etc. I would have liked to be able to say to “Alexa, play XYZ from GPM” but unfortunately that is not possible — and given the current stoush between Amazon and Google I doubt it will happen any time soon. Luckily Sonos are saying that they will be adding Google Assistant this year so we will be able to do it then.

Google Assistant has very few false triggers. Alexa responded every time I said the Alexa trigger word but the problem was that Alexa seemed to trigger from the most random of phrases which to me sound nothing like Alexa. It only does it a few times a day, triggering when listening to background conversation, but it is disappointing that it’s accuracy wasn’t better.

I am unsure how Sonos will be implementing the addition of Google Assistant, whether it will be alongside Alexa or takes its place. Imagine having a smart speaker that has both Alexa and Google Assistant — the best of both worlds in my opinion.

Conclusion

When I first reviewed the Sonos One I was extremely impressed with the sound quality and ease of setup. Adding another speaker into the mix, as a multi-room option or a stereo speaker for surround sound is just as simple. The Sonos app guides you through the setup of whichever option you choose.

If one Sonos One sounded amazing, two of them in stereo mode was mind blowing. The sheer depth of the sound as well as clarity and included bass is something that all manufacturers strive for but seldom achieve. Sonos have always had great sound and this is no exception.

At this stage if you want a smart speaker, to be smart before it is a speaker, the Sonos One may not be the best option for you. Amazon’s Alexa is great in the US but unfortunately many of its functions and functionality is geoblocked making it not so good here. For all the basic stuff it is good but for many things it is not so much. As Amazon pushes more into Australia I expect more functionality to arrive but at this stage it is not here.

Sonos have said that they will bring Google Assistant to the Sonos One sometime this year and when they do it will be the smart speaker I would recommend to everyone where money is no object. At $299RRP it is not the cheapest smart speaker but you get what you pay for: sounds amazing with stereo pairing and multi-room capabilities and has a great app with easy setup.

Would I recommend the Sonos One? As a speaker yes, most definitely. As a smart speaker not so much just yet. Most of us here are all in on Google’s environment and thus Google Assistant is much more functional for us, especially here in Australia. Sonos have not yet included Google Assistant but when they do the Sonos One will be the best smart speaker available.

To answer the original question yes, two Sonos Ones are better than one — if you are setting up a multi-room home audio system I highly recommend you check out these speakers as a possible solution. I will be decking my house out with them that’s for sure.

Scott Plowman   Associate Editor

Scott is our modding guru - he has his finger on the pulse of all things ‘moddable’, pointing us towards all the cutting edge mods hacks that are available. When he’s not gymming it up, or scanning the heck out of Nexus devices, you'll find him on the Ausdroid Podcast.

Outside of Ausdroid, Scott's a health care professional and lecturer at a well known Victorian university.

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1 Comment on "Sonos One: Why two Ones is one better than one One"

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Hi Scott – how did you get Alexa to work in Australia..? Sonos advising it is still not integrated in Aus.

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