When we attended the Sonos One event in New York we saw a familiar product unveiled and demonstrated. It was a speaker that looked similar to the Play 1 however the biggest different was on top. Sonos One isn’t a completely redesigned version of the 2013 Play 1 but it does set you up for the next five years. When Patrick Spence, Sonos CEO, said it will “change the way the world listens”, he wasn’t wrong. The top now houses a six microphone array, replaces the physical buttons with capacitive touch and looks completely flat and smooth. Some have said that the top is not enough of a change to seperate it from the Play 1 however it is worth noting that only TWO components of the Play 1 were reused in the Sonos One. So much has changed when you look at the detail.
When the Sonos One was demonstrated in New York we experienced the power of Amazon Alexa controlling a Sonos ecosystem. It worked flawlessly and proved a real use case of taking your hands off the phone, no longer would we need to manually control our music, we could do it all with voice. This was a great thing to witness. 2017 has been the year of the smart speaker and the examples from Amazon and Google operate fantastic software however house poor quality speakers.
Finally, we were witnessing a great speaker with the opportunity to choose which smart assistant to run it all. Sonos provide access to over 80 music services and will soon offer two voice assistants, one at launch. We couldn’t have been more excited, so how did it all work when we got home?
After a little jetlag the Sonos One was ready to be plugged into an Australian powerpoint and setup. The house where it is being installed already has Sonos speakers in multiple rooms so we had an idea what to expect. As a speaker we were up and running, playing music in moments. The Sonos setup process continues to become simpler and easy for anyone to do it. We ran the Sonos TruePlay software on the smartphone to tune our new Sonos One and ensure we were getting the best sound for the room, simple. The sound from speakers made by Sonos continues to impress us, the attention to detail in their design is always impressive, all the way down to the packaging.
One screen during the setup did leave us slightly disheartened though. No voice assistants supported in Australia. As Sonos has Amazon Alexa working on the One at launch, it leaves Sonos waiting for Amazon to make it available in each market.
This is the largest disadvantage of running a third party voice assistant rather than your own, so for now we wait. For a device that will be sold in Australia with half the promised capabilities it will leave some people let down. What you need to remember though is that this speaker sounds incredible for the price point ($299 AUD RRP) and will evolve with you over the years to come.
We don’t know when Amazon’s Alexa will be in Australia and working on the Sonos One and while we know it will support Google Assistant in 2018, we don’t know exactly when. We were also informed that Apple AirPlay 2 will be coming shortly to Sonos speakers and again, we’re excited and waiting. These three things will leave people tweeting, facebooking, emailing, calling and begging to Sonos to push their partners and make it all work. AirPlay 2 allows you to flick the audio from YouTube on your iPhone (for example) to your Sonos with controls at the speaker or the smartphone.
If you have a Sonos Play 1 and you add the Sonos One to the room, you actually cannot set them up as a stereo pair. You could buy two Sonos One devices and make them a pair or you could buy two Play 1 devices and make them a pair, but you cannot mix them.
Joy Howard, the Chief Marketing Officer for Sonos, said of the Sonos One that “if you like music, this will be the only smart speaker you ever need”. We tend to agree, in that it is a great quality speaker holding features beyond it’s use at the moment, we cannot wait to see Amazon arrive in Australia to add the “smart” back into the Sonos One.
The Sonos One arrives in Australia on October 24th at most retailers in all black or all white for $299… and we’re secretly hoping Amazon make an announcement that evening before.