Sonos was already pretty robust, with features such as Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, Apple AirPlay 2 and support for the biggest number of music-streaming services and apps such as Spotify. But with the release of Ikea's Symfonisk speakers, the number of products that include Sonos music streaming onboard has meant the system is more diverse than ever.
But as the number of Sonos products keeps growing, it's also become trickier to figure out which models to buy. With that in mind, we've put together a quick guide to the Sonos world to help you figure out which products are right for you and which offer the best performance for your money.
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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 system has also adapted and grown.
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 offers two products, which work with both Google Assistant and Alexa voice commands.
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 only (no hi-res)
- Stream your analog-connected music around the house (with Amp or Connect)
- Dolby Digital only (sound bars) — no DTS or Dolby Atmos support
The current Sonos line-up is as follows:
- Sonos Play:1: $159 — small tabletop audio speaker
- Sonos One (Gen 2): $199 — smart table audio speaker with onboard voice assistant
- Sonos Connect: $349 — streaming add-on box for existing systems, analog input/output
- Sonos Beam: $399 — HDMI sound bar with voice assistant
- Sonos Play:5: $499 — large tabletop audio speaker
- Sonos Amp: $599 — amplifier with analog input
- Sonos Playbar: $699 — sound bar with optical input
- Sonos Playbase: $699 — sound base with optical
- Sonos Sub: $699 — wireless subwoofer
Which Sonos is right for you?
Best under $100
Ikea Symfonisk Bookshelf
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 the Ikea Symfonisk Bookshelf review.
Best under $200
Sonos One (Gen 2)
Though it seems like it's been long gone, the Sonos Play:1 is still the cheapest speaker in the line if you can find it. However, for $40 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).
As you can tell, there are two slightly different versions of the Sonos One, but they work in exactly the same way. If you search hard, you can still sometimes find the Gen 1 on sale for $179 or less, whereas the Gen 2 is $199. Read the Sonos One review.
Best music under $400
Sonos One stereo pair
Sarah Tew / CNET
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 the Sonos One review.
Best home theater under $400
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 the Sonos Beam review.
Best under $500
The Sonos Play:5 is a relatively niche product — not many people have the room for a large, kind-of-expensive tabletop speaker — but it offers some of the biggest sound from any Sonos device. The only drawback is that it doesn't have the Google Assistant and Alexa commands features of the newer models. Read the Sonos Play:5 review.
Best under $1,000
The Sonos Playbase is a fully formed and excellent-performing sound base (which means your TV sits on top it). 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 the Sonos Playbase review.
Best home theater
Sonos Beam, Sub and Ikea Symfonisk Bookshelves
At the upper limit of what most people should pay for a sound bar surround 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, but if you mount the bookshelf speaker high up on the walls behind you, you won't miss it. Read the Sonos Sub review.
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
In addition to 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 device with Sonos app installed), Spotify, Pandora, YouTube Music and Tidal. 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, built-in Google Chromecast, Yamaha MusicCast and Denon HEOS. Amazon's Echos 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.
Read more: Which Google Home speaker should you buy?