Sonos is a name that gets thrown around a lot when it comes to “premium audio”. And, it is pretty premium, not just in price but also in the audio quality you’re getting. But with Sonos, you’re getting a lot more than just a speaker, or a soundbar. It’s important to explain what Sonos actually is, because it’s basically what Tesla is to cars. It’s more of a tech company, than a sound company.
In this article, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about Sonos. And perhaps help you decide if it is the system you should be adding to your home.
What is Sonos?
Sonos is actually quite new, when you look at audio companies. It was founded in 2002, and is actually a publicly traded company now. It was founded for one main reason, to “transform your home sound system for the digital age.” AN dit has done that quite well. Sonos’ products and software were designed to fill every room of your home with music. But its the flexibility and functionality of its products that have made it a household name.
Originally, Sonos worked by connecting one single speaker to your home network. Then you could add additional units up to a max of 32, into the mix. This would use a dedicated secure wireless mesh network to work. Now, fast-forward almost 20 years, you can connect any, and as many Sonos speakers to your network.
With the new Sonos S2 platform that it launched in 2020, users are able to do a whole lot of different things with their Sonos speakers, all from their smartphone, and even using their virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
Sonos is mostly popular for its multi-room audio setup. Allowing you to put speakers all throughout your home and connect them together to play the same music, or even setup a wireless surround-sound setup.
First up, you’ll want to decide which Sonos speaker you want to add to your home. We’d recommend starting with a soundbar. Since it can also be used a speaker to stream music, and improve the audio from your TV. So after you get the Sonos Beam or the Arc, you’ll want to download the Sonos app.
You’re going to need to create an account. You won’t really use the account much, or even the app much. But it does make it helpful to control your entire Sonos setup, and change the EQ when you need to. The Sonos app is going to walk you through setting up your speaker(s).
Now, with the app, you’ll be able to add streaming services to the app, so you can play from the Sonos app. You can also group your speakers, if you have multiple speakers, and also adjust the volume. Like we noted already, you don’t really need to use the app, especially if you use Spotify, as you can connect through Spotify Connect. It’s super easy.
What is TruePlay and Auto TruePlay?
The same speaker can sound differently in different rooms. That’s based on the size and shape of the room, and even the height of the room. As well as windows and so forth. And that’s where TruePlay comes into play.
TruePlay is a feature that Sonos debuted a few years ago and allows the speaker to modify the acoustic output of the speaker. Essentially, giving you the best sounding audio in that room.
The way it works, is your iOS or Android device needs to be held upside down and walk slowly around the room that the speakers are in. You’ll be waving your phone up and down. The app is able to record what it hears through the phone’s microphones. That allows the speaker to make changes to how it should sound.
It does make you look weird when you’re setting it up, but you won’t have to do it again, unless you move the speaker to a new room. And it does make a huge difference.
With the Sonos Move, the company debuted Auto TruePlay technology. This eliminates the process we just talked about. Instead, it uses the internal microphones to adjust the audio output for the surrounds. It works pretty well, and is available in the Roam as well. We’d expect it to come in future speakers too.
Can I make a wireless surround-sound system with Sonos?
One of the best parts of Sonos’ multi-room audio feature, is that you are able to make a wireless surround-sound system pretty easily. Since it all connects over WiFi, there’s very little delay between the speakers, and you can easily group them together for surround-sound. You can pair a Sonos Beam or Arc with a couple of Play:5 speakers, or maybe a One or One SL speaker. The possibilities are endless.
And if you really want to make a home theater, pick up the Sub, for even better bass.
What kind of speakers does Sonos have?
Sonos actually has a pretty wide-range of speakers that are available now, and they continue to release a couple of new models every year. Sonos products are not typically cheap, in fact they are pretty expensive. And they rarely go on sale, but you can check out the best Sonos deals by clicking here.
Here are the currently available Sonos speakers that you can buy.
The Sonos One is a “beginner” speaker in our minds. This is a $200 speaker that works great on a desk, on a bedside table, or even in the living room. It also works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. There is a One SL model that is basically the same thing, but it removes the microphones and doesn’t have support for Alexa or Assistant.
The Move was the first portable speaker from Sonos. This is a $399 portable speaker that offers around 8-10 hours of battery life, and a great sound experience. It also has support for Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
Sonos Roam is the company’s smaller portable speaker, and costs $179. This is a triangle-shaped speaker, so you can stand it up or lay it on its side and still fill the room with music.
This has mostly been replaced by the One, but you can still find it in some places. It’s a small speaker that is designed for a bunch of different places in your home.
The Play:3 is a mid-size speaker that can be placed around your home, and works especially well for a wireless surround-sound system. And it is available for around $249.
The Play:5 recently got updated and costs around $499. This is the biggest non-soundbar that Sonos has. Which means big sound comes from this one too. It’s also very loud.
The Beam is the smaller soundbar from Sonos. It comes in at $349, and is made for those smaller TVs, think of 40″ models and smaller. Though it can still work well with larger TVs too. It has support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
Beam (Gen 2)
Sonos announced the second generation Beam in 2021. It’s largely the same as the original, but the big difference here is that it now has Dolby Atmos support. It also has a higher price tag of $449 now, but with Dolby Atmos, it’s worth that price.
The Arc is a really impressive soundbar from Sonos, and the biggest in their lineup. It’s like the Beam, but bigger and it has Dolby Atmos, a first for Sonos. So you’re going to get some really great sound from this one. It isn’t cheap with an MSRP of $799.
If you are really wanting to put together a home theater, then the Sub is the way to go. This is a $699 subwoofer that you can add to your setup for a nice surround-sound setup.
Ikea Symfonisk Bookshelf
The Symfonisk Bookshelf is one of two speakers that Sonos made with Ikea. This is a $99 bookshelf speaker that isn’t quite as powerful as the One, but is very close.
Ikea Symfonisk Table Lamp
The table lamp is a $179 lamp that has a Sonos speaker built-in. Again, this is a smaller speaker so it’s not quite as powerful as the One, but it is also a lamp. Unfortunately, it is not a smart lamp, but you can make it one by adding an E26 bulb to it.
How do I add Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant?
You can add Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant to many Sonos speakers. However, you cannot use both. You can, opt to switch between the two at your liking though. Just head into the Sonos app and add the assistant you want to use. You’ll be asked to add your account for Amazon or Google to your Sonos account and be all set.
These are the speakers that have Alexa or Google Assistant built-in:
- Sonos One
Now, there is a difference between “built-in” and “works with” Alexa or Google Assistant. Aside from those listed above, all Sonos speakers works with both assistants too. This means that you need to have an Echo or Nest Mini nearby to give it the command to play something on your Sonos speaker. Whereas, with it built-in, your Sonos speaker can act as an Echo or Nest Mini.
Which streaming services work with Sonos?
Sonos works with just about every streaming music service out there. This is important because the majority of its speakers do not have Bluetooth. So it’s not as simple as just connecting via Bluetooth to your phone and playing. Only the Move and Roam have Bluetooth, and that’s because they are portable speakers.
Here are the majority of the services available for Sonos, and you can check out the complete list here.
- Apple Music
- Amazon Music (Ultra HD & Dolby Atmos now available)
- YouTube Music
- Calm Radio
- Classical Archives
- Concert Vault
- [email protected]
- Hype Machine
- MLB.com Gameday Audio
- Radio Disney
- Slacker Radio
Sonos is ending updates for older devices
As with most tech, Sonos will end support for older speakers. Now these aren’t anything that was released in the past few years, majority of these were released in the early 2000s. So don’t get too upset. But you can still use these devices with the original Sonos app. New Sonos speakers need the new S2 app.
These are the speakers that are no longer receiving updates:
- original Zone Players (2006)
- Connect (2011)
- Connect:Amp (2015)
- first-gen Play:5 (2009)
- C200 (2009)
- Bridge (2007)
Luckily, there is the Sonos Trade Up program to make upgrading a bit easier. Which we’ll talk about next.
What is the Sonos Trade Up Program?
Some higher-end audio companies will do a trade up program, where you can trade in your old equipment and get a discount on your new equipment. It’s a way for them to keep your business, instead of you jumping ship to another company. Bose does this, though there’s really no public information about it. You need to ask someone at the Bose store about it.
The Sonos Trade Up program is a great way to upgrade your Sonos speakers and other equipment. You can recycle and older, eligible speaker and get 30% off of any new speaker. Users are able to upgrade through Sonos.com, a participating retailer, or with an authorized Sonos installer.