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Which Sonos should you buy?

UPDATED: From diddy speakers to new soundbar Beam, here's every bit of Sonos kit rated

Want to listen to your favourite band in every room of your house? Then there are few better options than a Sonos setup.

Sonos is the grandaddy of multi-room music, but you wouldn’t know that to look at its products. There are very few companies who could claim to be as cool and stylish.

And a Sonos system is endlessly expandable, so you can start with one speaker and keep adding until your whole house is rigged to rock. But which speaker should be your first? Or, if you’re adding to your collection, what should you get next?

We’ve condensed our reviews of every Sonos device – from the diminutive Play:1 to the TV-boosting PlayBase, and even our first impressions of the new Sonos Beam – to provide you with a one-stop shop for all the info and every rating you could possibly need. Multi-room music nirvana is but a few clicks away.

Sonos Play:1 (£149)

 Sonos Play:1 (£149)

The Play:1 is a really well built little unit. It’s far heavier than it looks, and compared to just about any other audio device costing under £150 is impeccably solid. Drop one on your foot and it’s undoubtedly the foot that would suffer the most damage. Available in black or white, each with a meticulously lasered silver grille, the Play:1 shares the Sonos family trait of blending into, rather than standing out in a room.

The Play:1 sounds superb. It goes surprisingly deep for so small a unit, but those low notes pack plenty of punch and never drown out the mid-range. Instead, vocals and pianos are clear and well projected, and the treble is clean and controlled.

Unfortunately, the Play:1 isn’t portable to allow for garden and bathroom listening, as it needs mains power to work. And when we first laid eyes on it we also thought that two of them would make for a great desktop speaker setup, but while you can combine two to create a stereo pair, there are no computer-friendly audio inputs for computer use.

But it’s a bit unfair to criticize a product for features it lacks, especially since the Play:1 is so darn good at what it does. With a recent price drop following the release of the Sonos One (below), this is the most affordable way yet to start or expand a Sonos system.

READ MORE: Sonos Play:1 review

STUFF SAYS: ✭✭✭✭✭

The Play:1 is a great, affordable way to start a Sonos system without sacrificing sound or design quality

Buy the Sonos Play:1 here

Tech Specs

Connections: Wi-Fi, ethernet Wall/stand-mountable: Yes Dimensions: 16x12x12cm Weight: 1.85kg

Sonos One

Sonos One

If you read our Play:1 review and though, "damn, that would be near perfect if it had a voice assistant built in", you’ll be looking for the Sonos One.

It looks pretty much the same as its stablemate (save for some fancy new touch controls on the top) and near on sounds the same too (its driver configuration is identical), but comes with Amazon Alexa crammed into its dinky dimensions, with Google Assistant support promised to follow soon.

Now, instead of delving into the Sonos app, you can simply speak aloud your musical desires and have Alexa dig them out from Spotify, TuneIn Radio or Amazon Music for you. It’s limited to these services for now – so perhaps hold fire if you’re a Tidal subscriber – but as Alexa starts to play nicer with more, expect those doors to open up here too.

That said, even if your music service of choice isn’t supported just yet, you can still ask Alexa all the questions you usually would, so using her as your alarm clock or meteorologist is par for the course.

The best news is that the Sonos One is only £50 extra than the bog standard Play:1, making it feel like a bit of a no brainer. If you care about music and have kitted out your home with at least a smattering of smart kit, then the Sonos One should be teetering close to the top of your smart speaker wishlist right now.

READ MORE: Sonos One review

STUFF SAYS: ✭✭✭✭✭

Sonos’s speaker gives you a great balance of sound and smarts, while working with a raft of connected home kit

Buy Sonos One here

Tech specs

Connections: Wi-Fi, ethernet Wall/stand-mountable: Yes Dimensions: 16x12x12cm Weight: 1.85kg

Sonos Play:3 (£299)

Sonos Play:3 (£299)

The Play:3 is the elder statesman of Sonos all-in-one speakers, and it is beginning to look a bit unloved.

The boxy design is lacking the style of the Play:1 and recently overhauled Play:5, but the Play:3’s biggest weakness is that the Play:1 sounds so good that it would be hard to justify spending the extra £100 for the slightly bigger speaker.

That’s not to say it’s at all bad. The Play:3 is typically Sonos in its neutral, natural sound, and it pumps out big and meaty audio given the compact dimensions. Bass is punchy, treble crisp and vocals are clear, and you can turn up the volume without the Play:3 fretting.

It’s happy being positioned vertically or horizontally, with Trueplay tweaking the sound to compensate, and as with the Play:1 and Play:5 you can combine two Play:3s to create a stereo pair.

But, as mentioned, the Play:1 has essentially the same features and sounds almost as good, so the Play:3 is one of the weaker options in the current Sonos line-up. Expect it to be replaced with an updated model, possibly even with built-in voice control, later this year or early next.

READ MORE: Sonos Play:3 review

STUFF SAYS: ✭✭✭✭✩

Another solid all-rounder, but the Play:1 and Play:5 both make more sense at this point

Buy the Sonos Play:3 here

Tech Specs

Connections: Wi-Fi, ethernet Wall/stand-mountable: Yes Dimensions: 13x27x16cm Weight: 2.6kg

Sonos Play:5 (£499)

Sonos Play:5 (£499)

The relatively recently relaunched Play:5 is a speaker that’s been redesigned from the ground up to sound better and be even more of a breeze to use. It’s the flagship of the Sonos music speaker range and every bit deserves that billing.

This is a big stylistic upgrade on the previous Play:5, with a much cleaner, more modern chassis that can be stood up or laid flat, and it’s the only one of the three Play music speakers to get touch-sensitive controls.

And this is a big sonic upgrade over its predecessor and the smaller speakers in the Sonos range. There are six drivers contained within this comparatively chunky chassis, with three 10cm woofers being joined by three smaller tweeters.

The result is a sound that unsurprisingly bigger and more authoritative, but also wider and more spacious. If you’re replacing a full hi-fi system with a Sonos speaker, this is the one to do it with.

And if you want to go further and have the cash to spare, you can combine two Play:5s to create an extremely capable stereo system – or even use two of them as the surround-left and surround-right in a PlayBar- or PlayBase-based 5.1 system. Overkill? We won’t judge.

Unlike Sonos’ other speakers, the Play:5 also has an aux-in. That might sound a bit old-fashioned, but use it to connect an Echo Dot and no-one’s going to accuse you of being behind the times.

READ MORE: Sonos Play:5 review

STUFF SAYS: ✭✭✭✭✭

The biggest and most grown-up of all of Sonos’ speakers – and also the best-sounding

Buy the Sonos Play:5 here

Tech Specs

Connections: Wi-Fi, ethernet, line-in Wall/stand-mountable: No Dimensions: 20x36x15cm Weight: 6.36kg

Sonos Beam (£399)

Sonos Beam (£399)

Sonos Beam is the latest addition to the Sonos family, taking a whole lot of the stuff we loved from the Playbar and and adding quite a few new features of its own.

Even better, it also knocks £300 off the price tag, making it quite the tempting purchase indeed. So what’s the catch?

Well, aside from the fact that it doesn’t sound quite as good as the Playbar due to its diminutive size, there really isn’t one. The Beam is packed full of more up-to-date features, including Amazon Alexa, an HDMI ARC port for controlling your TV with your voice, and support for Apple AirPlay 2, meaning you can send tracks directly from your Apple device without using the Sonos app.

It also looks much sleeker than Sonos’ older soundbar, and comes with the choice of black or white finishes. Wall mounters will be happier too – the Sonos Beam’s more slender profile means it is much more suited to taking up a spot on your wall than its larger brother ever was.

Basically, unless you value absolute sound quality above all else, and have the budget to spend on it, there’s no reason not to buy the Beam over the much more expensive Playbar.

READ MORE: Sonos Beam hands-on review

Tech specs

Connections: Wi-Fi, ethernet Wall/stand-mountable: Yes Dimensions: 66x10x7cm Weight: 1.85kg

Sonos Playbar (£699)

Sonos Playbar (£699)

Sonos’ first TV speaker, the PlayBar, is pretty much exactly what you’d imagine – a complete Sonos speaker in soundbar form.

It’s built beautifully, is typically minimalist in its styling, and is chock-full of neat touches, such as the accelerometers that can tell whether the PlayBar is laid-down or on an edge and adjust the sound accordingly.

Having said that, the PlayBar definitely performs best when it’s firing forward, so will sound better when wall mounted – even if its design isn’t the most elegant when it is. Luckily, those not wall-mounting now have an alternative in the form of the PlayBase, below.

The PlayBar and PlayBase are broadly the same in terms of features. The PlayBar has an extra ethernet port, taking the total to two, which can be handy for daisy-chaining devices but isn’t exactly essential. Otherwise, both devices have just a power connection and optical input, and both can be upgraded to full 5.1 systems with the addition of a Sonos Sub (below) and two Play:1s (above).

The idea is that you connect all of your sources (console, set-top box, etc) via HDMI to your TV, which then sends the audio back out to the PlayBar (or PlayBase) via optical. It’s a simple system, but one that’s a bit limited compared to rivals that handle all sorts of audio formats and different connections.

But no rival (barring the PlayBase) has the full suite of Sonos abilities built in, and all of those streaming options and multi-room abilities make the PlayBar very compelling indeed.

It sounds very good, too. A huge upgrade over the sound from any flatscreen TV and certainly one of the most capable soundbars around. The width and scale of the presentation is what’s most impressive, and while it’s not quite as naturally weighty and punchy as the PlayBase, it’s also smoother and less harsh in the treble, just about making this the pick of the two for pure sound quality.

READ MORE: Sonos Playbar review

STUFF SAYS: ✭✭✭✭✭

All the awesome of Sonos crammed into a TV-boosting soundbar – what’s not to like?

Buy the Sonos Playbar here

Tech Specs

Connections: Wi-Fi, ethernet, optical-in Wall/stand-mountable: Yes Dimensions: 14x90x9cm Weight: 5.4kg

Sonos PlayBase (£699)

Sonos PlayBase (£699)

If you want a Sonos speaker to use with your TV but aren’t the wall-mounting type, the PlayBase might be an option to consider.

Any TV weighing up to the 35kg can be plonked upon this stylish slab of minimalism, and connected to it via optical cable.

Other than the PlayBar’s extra ethernet cable, the two TV-boosting devices don’t really differ in terms of features – but they do differ in terms of sound. The PlayBase sounds even bigger and more authoritative than the PlayBar, with more natural bass, greater detail and more punch. But it’s also got a rather harsh treble that can be a bit annoying for the ears whether you’re playing a movie or listening to music.

It’s still a fine choice if the circumstances fit, but if wall-mounting’s an option the PlayBar -or the cheaper, smarter Beam – could be a better bet.

READ MORE: Sonos Playbase review

STUFF SAYS: ✭✭✭✭✩

The PlayBar for those who aren’t wall-mounting – but watch out for the zingy treble

Buy the Sonos PlayBase here

Tech specs

Connections: Wi-Fi, ethernet, optical-in Wall/stand-mountable: No Dimensions: 6x72x38cm Weight: 8.6kg

Sonos Sub (£699)

Sonos Sub (£699)

In the world of subwoofers, the Sonos Sub is a work of art.

Rather than an ugly box too big to hide, Sonos has come up with a design so handsome you’ll want to leave it out on display – even though its comparatively slim dimensions and comfort in either a vertical or horizontal position make it far more tuckawayable than most. It doesn’t even need to be wired to your other Sonos component/s, with power being the only essential connection.

What does the Sub do? It adds great big dollops of extra bass to any Sonos speaker.

Clearly it makes most sense as an upgrade to the PlayBase or PlayBar, as it can make your movies extra epic, but it can also be added to Sonos’ music players.

Yes, it’s a very expensive upgrade, but the difference it makes is also pretty massive, especially when it comes to big explosions. It’s not exactly subtle, though, so while it adds a huge amount of extra bass it’s not especially tuneful or nuanced.

If loud and proud is more your style, though, the Sub is well worth the extra investment.

STUFF SAYS: ✭✭✭✭✩

It’s a bit of a blunt instrument but if loads of extra bass is what you’re after the Sub certainly delivers

Buy the Sonos Sub here

Tech specs

Connections: Wi-Fi, ethernet Wall/stand-mountable: No Dimensions: 39x40x16cm Weight: 16kg

Sonos Connect (£349)

Sonos Connect (£349)

What if you want Sonos in your life but already have a beloved hi-fi? You get the Sonos Connect, that’s what.

Think of this simple white box as a Sonos speaker without the speaker bit and you’ve essentially got it. Instead of making a sound itself, the Connect outputs audio via optical, coaxial or stereo analogue, at which point your existing amplifier and speakers can do their thing with it.

Thanks to stereo analogue inputs, the Connect is also a great way to integrate more traditional hi-fi sources into your multi-room system. For example, you can plug a turntable into it (assuming it’s got a phono stage) and then listen to your vinyl through every Sonos speaker in your house. Neato.

STUFF SAYS: ✭✭✭✭✭

A quick and easy way to add all of the awesomeness of Sonos to your existing hi-fi

Buy the Sonos Connect here

Tech specs

Connections: Wi-Fi, ethernet, analogue-in, analogue-out, optical-out, coaxial-out Wall/stand-mountable: No Dimensions: 7x14x14cm Weight: 0.69kg

Sonos Connect:Amp

Sonos Connect:Amp

The Connect:Amp is just like the Connect except for the addition of – you guessed it – a built-in amplifier, which means you just need to add a pair of traditional stereo speakers to get a Sonos player that resembles a micro hi-fi system of old but can do a heck of a lot more.

The Connect:Amp might look like an expensive, last-gen route to go down, but add a good pair of bookshelf speakers to it (the £159 Mission LX-2s would do nicely) and you’d have a sonic performance that would floor even the Play:5.

STUFF SAYS: ✭✭✭✭✭

Not a popular option these days, but a Connect:Amp + some good stereo speakers = an awesome little hi-fi

Buy the Sonos Connect:Amp here