The Sonos Play:1 is the latest addition to the company’s speaker line up as well as its cheapest. Typically, Sonos multi-room audio rigs have cost a fortune to set up, but at £169.99, this compact wireless speaker is priced to compete with its rivals - and it still packs in the same smart software for streaming music from the web and your computers, and juggling it all by turning your phone or tablet into a remote. Is this the best of the bunch? We plugged one in to find out.
The Sonos Play:1 keeps the simplistic, monolithic design of its bigger brothers and shrinks it down into one tall cylinder you can hold in the palm of your hand. The metal grille wraps all the way around, and that’s analogy for the sound quality too: this petite streamer pumps out deceptively thumping sound with bass to boot. Sonos has also introduced a Pause/Play button on the top for the first time (rather than the traditional Mute), which is a useful extra if you’ve just got in the door and want to turn the music on, especially since it lets you skip forward tracks too.
As always though, it’s the software where Sonos shines. Set up is painless: plug it into your router or just connect it to your existing network, push one button and you’re good to go. You can then instantly start streaming music from your PC, phone, internet radio or even music services like Spotify. It’s this that really helps the Play:1 stand out from the competition, as Pure’s Jongo set-up requires you to subscribe to its own service, rather than pick one of many existing ones.
If you’re really prepared to splash the cash, there’s more you can do with the Play:1 besides, too. Hook two Play:1s up to the same network as a Sonos Sub and Playbar and you can use them all to watch TV in surround. A wireless 5.1 system that looks as good as it sounds? Yep, that’s now a thing.
The Sonos Play:1 can’t do everything its equally priced rivals can. It lacks Bluetooth for instant streaming from any phone without the need to install an app and an external input for plugging in a radio or MP3 player, and though it’s of a similar size to Pure’s £169 Jongo S3, it lacks an internal battery, so you can’t take it outside to use in the garden.
Its small size also mean it’s ultimately only a single source for sound. Its powerful speaker tech goes a long way to masking this, but in larger rooms where you might typically expect beefier stereo sound with speakers placed apart, you can tell - you can pair up two Play:1s to resolve this, but of course you will have to buy another to achieve the effect. As such, this is a Sonos better equipped for the kitchen or the dining room, rather than spacious large living room.