You have to look twice before you realize that the ONE is a new Sonos speaker. And yet it is a brand new, revolutionary multi-room speaker because the first you can control with the voice.
No, the Sonos ONE is not just a new jacket for the popular PLAY: 1 speaker. Despite the similarities, there is still another speaker. But this time it is not really about new audio technology, but about the presence of a microphone and support for voice control. For now, only via Alexa from Amazon, Google Assistant is coming. In any case, the microphone in the ONE opens the door to choose the music and operate with voice commands.
But that's not all: via the ONE you can operate all possible smart home applications that are compatible with Alexa. Think of Hue lamps or your smart thermostat.
And what about the Play: 1?
The Sonos ONE is clearly the successor to the PLAY: 1. You can see that immediately because the design is very similar. Although there are some differences here and there at the detail level. The top of the ONE is completely flat and the separate buttons have been replaced by touch sensitive keys. The new Sonos speaker also loses the rear thread that was useful for wall and ceiling mounting. Hanging up is not excluded, but you will have to do that with new accessories that are specifically designed for the ONE. Look for example at Flexion or Sanus.
Also good to know: you cannot form a stereo pair consisting of a ONE and a PLAY: 1, only of two identical models. We understand why - you might notice the differences in sound - but it does put a stick in the wheels of people who thought that with a single ONE purchase they could make a stereo pair with a PLAY: 1 that they already owned.
From a purely visual point of view, the ONE is the better of the two. Whether you opt for the black or white version, the speaker is completely in one color. It is reminiscent of the finishing of the special Tone edition of the PLAY: 1 which Sonos released in a limited edition in 2015. In terms of finishing and build quality, this is really a top product.
You have to give Sonos one thing: the brand has pioneered user-friendliness. Installing the ONE is child's play, whether you purchase a Sonos speaker for the first time or if you add the device to an existing Sonos system. The app (iOS and Android) makes it very easy to get the speaker working through a clear step-by-step plan in Dutch so that you will listen to music after a few minutes. Adding music sources is just as easy.
Sonos is the absolute king in terms of streaming services. Almost all services can be used, from big names such as Spotify, Play Music, and Deezer. Sonos is also the only external party that can play Apple Music directly, nevertheless a nice asset for fans of iPhones and iPads.
Playing your own music files is, of course, possible, from your mobile device, a shared disk on a NAS or from a Plex share. Via TuneIn you listen to radio stations from all over the world; In addition, you can also add specific radio services.
During the installation of the ONE, you will also be asked whether you want to make a link with Alexa. Tip: make sure you have already set Alexa in advance.
In this review, the focus is on the speech capabilities that are specific to the ONE compared to other wireless speakers, including the other Sonos devices. It is less about the streaming and multiroom capabilities of the Sonos system. In short: there are few systems that make it so easy to play music anywhere in the house. Both in terms of support for services and the ease with which you connect and operate speakers, Sonos is a leader.
We have always found the PLAY: 1 an amazing speaker. It is not big and yet you can easily fill a room with it, among other things because the small speaker serves a surprisingly large portion of bass. At the same time, the central area is relatively well represented, with a fairly hard roll-off in the high. It's pretty well done by the Sonos engineers because actually, this little speaker doesn't sound bad at all for its price.
In most cases, the ONE sounds better after the True play calibration. Certainly so, you just come across for a minute or two like a madman waving in the room with an iPad or iPhone. Two Sonos ONEs are a class example of how 1 + 1 = 3. The experience even in a small room is much better. Not surprising, because you make the move from mono to stereo. You'd be crazy not to do that. In a larger room, you can build a nice 2.1 system by adding a Sonos Sub.
Sonos ONE: Conclusion
Seen as a speaker, the ONE is pretty good. It is above all completely hassle-free to use, which means that everyone in the house can use it. To paraphrase a well-known statement from photography: the best speaker is the one you really use.