If you’re familiar with Sonos’ Play:1 speaker, then you know what to expect here. The One might be small but its sound is the opposite: it’s exciting, detailed and as capable of droning out soothing ambient as it is firing out staccato guitar riffs and vicious techno.
As you’d expect for such a tiny speaker, the bass isn’t earth-shakingly powerful and there certainly isn’t the mighty mid-range slam of Sonos’ larger speakers but what’s there is surprisingly potent and well-controlled.
Crucially, the One’s sound blends perfectly with the other speakers in the Play family, so you don’t get sudden changes in tonality as you wander from one room to another. And that leads to one minor complaint. Sonos doesn’t officially allow you to pair a Sonos One with a Play:1 to form a stereo pair.
Given the near-identical sound profile of those two speakers, that’s a bit of a shame. Thankfully, though, there is an unofficial solution: you can download the Sonosequencer app for iOS and link a Play:1 and One together.
At $299, the Sonos One costs more than the Google Home, Amazon Echo 2 and Echo Plus, but significantly less than the Apple HomePod – which makes it very good value, in our view, despite its minor niggles and frustrations.
We haven’t yet directly compared it with the excellent-sounding HomePod, but the Sonos One’s audio quality is definitely a step up from the Google and Amazon smart speakers. And the One integrates well with a multi-room Sonos system.
You could save some money by buying the Sonos Play:1 instead, or get better audio quality with a Play:3, but then you’d be missing out of Alexa’s various conveniences, such as setting alarms and reminders, or quickly converting ounces to grams while your hands are covered in flour. And with the ability to play whatever artist pops into your head at a whim, you’ll be listening to and discovering more music than ever.
What tips the One over the edge from good to great, however, is the fact that you aren’t tied to Alexa at all. Once Google Assistant support is fully baked-in, you’ll be able to take the best elements of each smart assistant or pledge your allegiance entirely to one or the other.
Unlike Amazon, Google and Apple’s smart speakers, you’ll have a choice – and whichever option you take, one thing is guaranteed: the music will take centre stage.