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Best Sonos speakers – CNET

As a system, Sonos range of speakers has become remarkably robust over the years. We’ve seen the company add features such as voice command via Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Apple AirPlay 2, as well as support for popular music streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora. With the release of the Sonos Arc and the Beam Gen 2, the company is able to offer one of our readers’ most requested features: Dolby Atmos. It also helps that this comes with amazing sound quality. When you add in the budget-friendly Ikea Symfonisk range, 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.


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Which Sonos is right for you?

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The 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 the Bookshelf, Table Lamp and new Picture Frame can also be used for stereo sound or as a relatively inexpensive pair of rear surrounds ($200 for two Bookshelves versus $400 for two One SLs). If you want a Sonos speaker for the price of a Bluetooth speaker, this is the model to get.

Read our Ikea Symfonisk Bookshelf WiFi Speaker review.

 

David Carnoy/CNET

Sure, the Sonos Roam is one of the pricier portable speakers you can buy, but it’s also one of the best. It’s weatherproof and its solidly built, but Its secret weapon is its ability to switch between Bluetooth and WiFi when you’re in range. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

While the Sonos One SL is the cheapest indoor speaker in the line, for a little 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.

 

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 our Sonos One review.

 

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

With the addition Dolby Atmos, the Sonos Beam Gen 2 is the smart sound bar to get. You may be missing out on deep bass without a sub, but the speaker makes your movies sound huge with its virtual surround capabilities.

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

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.

 

Sarah Tew/CNET

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 buy the Sonos Beam Gen 2 ($449), Sonos Sub ($749) and a pair of One SLs as part of a set, or you can combine them with a pair of the Ikea Bookshelves ($198) separately. 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 true Atmos, and if you want that you can upgrade to the Arc or you could mount the bookshelf speakers 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 MP3s to streaming services and beyond, the audio system has also adapted and grown. 

Sonos began as a way to play iTunes playlists 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 voice assistants. Sonos now offers a range of speakers which include a choice of either Google Assistant or Alexa onboard (One, Beam and Arc).

Here are some things about the product line that you need to know:

Sonos One

The One is our favorite Sonos speaker.


Sarah Tew/CNET

With the arrival of 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 are not interoperable with the new system.

The current Sonos lineup is as follows:

  • Sonos Roam: $179 — Bluetooth and WiFi outdoor speaker
  • Sonos One SL: $199 — small tabletop audio speaker without microphones
  • Sonos One (Gen 2): $219 — smart table audio speaker with onboard voice assistant
  • Sonos Beam Gen 2: $395 — soundbar with voice assistant and HDMI
  • Sonos Move $399: — portable smart speaker with water resistance
  • Sonos Port: $449 — streaming add-on box for existing systems, analog input/output
  • Sonos Five: $549 — large tabletop audio speaker
  • Sonos Amp: $699 — amplifier with analog input
  • Sonos Sub: $749 — wireless subwoofer
  • Sonos Arc: $899 — Dolby Atmos soundbar

There are also three speakers from Ikea that work with the Sonos system: the Ikea Symfonisk Bookshelf Wi-Fi Speaker, the $140 Symfonisk Speaker lamp base (which replaces the Table Lamp) and the $199 Ikea Symfonisk Picture Frame.

The Sonos app

Until voice control completely replaces it, the Sonos app is where you control most of your audio’s setup and playback. The app’s focus has changed over the years as it’s moved away from 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. 

Sonos Beam

The Sonos app


Sarah Tew/CNET

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: 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 competition

01-polk-command-bar

The Polk Command Bar is a smart sound bar that supports Amazon’s Multi-Room Music system.


Sarah Tew/CNET

The main competitive standards to Sonos are Bose Music, DTS Play-Fi, Google Chromecast built-in, Apple AirPlay 2, 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.

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