The ecosystem of Sonos smart speakers has become remarkably robust over the years. We’ve Sonos seen add features such as voice command via Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Apple AirPlay 2, as well as support for a number of popular music-streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora. And with its more recent release of the Sonos Arc, the company is able to offer one of our readers’ most requested features: Dolby Atmos. Hello, amazing sound quality. When you add in the budget-friendly Ikea Symfonisk, the number of Sonos-compatible speakers available today makes the multiroom system more attractive than ever.
Yet as the number of Sonos products keeps growing, it’s also become trickier to decide which speaker system device or devices in the Sonos ecosystem to buy. With that in mind, we’ve put together a quick guide to Sonos to help you figure out which products are right for you and which offer the best performance for your money. We’ll keep this list updated as the company releases new products.
Why the Sonos Arc is one special soundbar
Which Sonos is right for you?
The new Ikea Symfonisk line is a result of a collaboration between the Scandinavian furniture giant and Sonos. It’s fully compatible with other Sonos products, and both the Bookshelf and the Table Lamp can also be used for stereo sound or as a relatively inexpensive pair of rear surround sound ($200 for two Bookshelves versus $400 for two Ones). If you want a Sonos smart speaker for the price of a Bluetooth speaker, this is the model to get.
Read our Ikea Symfonisk Bookshelf WiFi Speaker review.
While the Sonos One SL is the cheapest speaker in the line, for $20 more you can upgrade to a model that’s better value for money. The Sonos One (Gen 2) has excellent sonics and includes both Alexa and Google Assistant in one speaker (though you can only choose one at a time).
Read our Sonos One review.
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Now that the Sonos Play:3 has been discontinued, a pair of Sonos Ones is your next best bet. Setting up a stereo pair is easy with the Sonos app and the system sounds better than equivalently priced speakers like the Google Home Max or Apple HomePod.
Read our Sonos One review.
With the addition of Google Assistant, the Sonos Beam is the smart sound bar to get. You’ll be missing a bit of the deep bass without a sub but it’ll make your movies sound huge with its virtual surround capabilities.
Read our Sonos Beam review.
The Sonos Arc is the best soundbar the company has ever released. It has some great features, including an onboard voice assistant, HDMI eARC and Dolby Atmos playback. Unlike the Beam, the system doesn’t need a subwoofer, and unless Sonos comes up with a cheaper Sub, this is the best money you can spend under a grand.
Read our Sonos Arc review.
At the upper limit of what most people should pay for a Sonos soundbar surround sound system, this system will offer plenty of surround sound and musical thrills. You can combine the Sonos Beam ($399), Sonos Sub ($699) and a pair of the Ikea Bookshelves ($99 each). While the Sub on its own is pretty expensive it makes a great partner for the smaller Beam, while adding surrounds completes the effect. The system doesn’t have Atmos, and if you want that you can upgrade to the Arc, or you could simply mount the bookshelf speaker high up on the walls behind you.
Read the Sonos Sub review.
What is Sonos?
Sonos is one of the oldest multiroom audio systems on the market and also one of the most successful. Since the way we consume digital music has changed from playing ripped CDs to streaming services and beyond, the audio system has also adapted and grown.
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Sonos began as a way to play MP3s on your existing speakers and it’s grown to support streaming music services on a range of tabletop speakers, amplifiers, sound bars and subwoofers. Controlling the system began with a desktop app and the CR100 handheld controller, then it grew to mobile apps and now to voice assistants. Sonos now offers three speakers which include either Google Assistant or Alexa onboard (One, Beam, and Arc).
Here are some things about the product line that you need to know:
- Works without a hub over a standard Wi-Fi network (no Bluetooth)
- Supports over 100 streaming services
- Works with Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri
- Compatible with Apple AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect
- Supports 16-bit/44.1kHz while the new S2 system supports hi-res (i.e. Dolby TrueHD and Atmos)
- Stream your analog-connected music around the house (with Amp, Five or Port)
- Beam supports Dolby Digital while Arc includes Dolby Atmos
In preparation for its S2 operating system, the company has replaced many of its legacy products while also introducing new ones. In 2020 alone, the company has announced the Sonos Arc soundbar, the new Sonos Five and an updated Sonos Sub. If you own older components, especially ones with “Zone” in the title, they will not be interoperable with the new system.
The current Sonos line-up is as follows:
- Sonos One SL: $179 — small tabletop audio speaker without microphones
- Sonos One (Gen 2): $199 — smart table audio speaker with onboard voice assistant
- Sonos Port: $449 — streaming add-on box for existing systems, analog input/output
- Sonos Beam: $395 — soundbar with voice assistant and HDMI
- Sonos Five: $499 — large tabletop audio speaker
- Sonos Amp: $649 — amplifier with analog input
- Sonos Sub: $699 — wireless subwoofer
- Sonos Arc: $799 — Dolby Atmos soundbar
There are also two speakers from Ikea that work with the Sonos system: the $99 Ikea Symfonisk Bookshelf Wi-Fi Speaker and the $179 Ikea Symfonisk Table Lamp.
The Sonos app
Until voice control completely replaces it, the Sonos app is still where you control most of the setup and playback of your audio. The app’s focus has changed over the years, led by streaming and now voice. But it’s now moved away from the services to concentrate on the speakers themselves. The app still has one of the best universal searches, and it’s easy to set up your speakers too.
The app is available for the following devices:
- Apple iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
- Android phones and tablets
- Apple laptops and desktops
- Windows laptops and desktops
- Amazon Fire tablets
As well as the Sonos app, you’ll also be able to serve to the audio speakers directly from your favorite apps using Play To Sonos. These include: Google Play Music (on devices with Sonos app installed), Spotify, Pandora, YouTube Music and Tidal’s streaming music service. The system also supports streaming from iOS and compatible software using Apple AirPlay 2.
The main competitive standards to Sonos are Bose Music, DTS Play-Fi, Google Chromecast built-in, Yamaha MusicCast and Denon HEOS. Amazon Echo and the Polk Command Bar also support the Amazon MRM system.
Wireless audio speakers start at around $100 — with most featuring Apple AirPlay, Chromecast or both — and great wireless sound bars such as the Polk Command Bar start at $250. Here are some of the best multiroom music systems.
More audio guides
- Which Google Home speaker should you buy?
- Sony’s new Bluetooth speaker line gets a welcome refresh
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- Is Sonos Arc the Dolby Atmos soundbar you’ve been waiting for?
- Sonos Move speaker cuts the cord, goes portable
- The best Bluetooth wireless speaker of 2020
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