We have used the Sonos multi-room audio system for years, and have continuously enjoyed its high audio fidelity and the expansive set of audio and music services available through a few taps in the Sonos app. But until recently, the system did not have voice activation controls, making it less desirable in today’s connected home. Sonos addressed that chasm in its product line with the launch of the Sonos One, the company’s first voice-controlled speaker with the Amazon Alexa assistant built in.
As we wrote in our detailed analysis of new Sonos voice activation capabilities, playing music services over a Sonos One with the new-found Alexa features can be accomplished with simple English commands. For example, the command—“Alexa, play Smooth Jazz Radio from Pandora in the Great Room”—will play the Pandora station named Smooth Jazz on the Sonos speaker named Great Room. But as this is also a bona fide Alexa-enabled speaker, any legitimate Alexa command can be processed without the need for having any Amazon Echo speakers in the home.
Among the long list of supported Sonos audio services, you should be aware that only Amazon Music, Audible, iHeart Radio, Pandora, SiriusXM, Spotify, and TuneIn can be controlled with Alexa voice commands. Sonos plans to add more services to the list in the future, but for any services not supported by voice control, the Sonos app will always be at the ready as a fallback.
The Sonos One is fully compatible with all legacy Sonos speakers and can be included in any single- or multi-room listening experiences you can dream up within the confines of your dwelling. And at a $199 price point—just $50 more than its similarly-sized legacy brother, the non-voice-activated Sonos Play:1—we see no reason to recommend the Play:1.
The Sonos One voice activation features are powered by an array of 6 multi-directional microphones, and the system automatically lowers the volume on all Sonos speakers the instant an Alexa voice command is detected. And the audio output components are just as capable as those on any other Sonos speaker.
We would be happy to see the Sonos One under our Christmas tree, in either the black or white version.
Tom Kolnowski is the Chief Content Officer & Founder of Digitized House Media, LLC, the publisher of Digitized House | Guide to the Connected Home. When he isn’t writing about smart home technology, sustainability, and high-performance architecture, you’ll find him exploring faraway destinations with his family.