In summary, here are my top picks for the best Sonos speakers:
- It's no secret that I LOOOOOOVEEEEEE the Five (read my review - see at sonos.com). It's by far my top Sonos piece.
- It delivers fantastic sound and a great, simple design that is ideal for the modern home. The Five is your best bet for music lovers if you're looking for high-quality audio. This speaker combines great sound with a sleek design that you can place just about anywhere in your home.
- I even recommend it over TWO PIECES of One to the vast majority.
- The One (read my review - see at sonos.com) would be my second pick due to its quality for the price.
- I like how this speaker is effortless to set up, and its battery-powered design means that you can put it in any room without having to worry about the wires.
- The Arc (read my review - see at sonos.com) would be my top soundbar pick.
- To read more about this, check out my write up on Sonos Arc vs Beam Gen 2.
Also see the Sonos speaker recommender at https://www.sonos.com/en-us/business/sonos-recommender
Let me tell you something right off the bat.
Room acoustics, particularly room dimensions and speaker positioning, will have an immense effect on sound quality.
The impact of the combination of these two is actually so strong that in most cases, it doesn't even make sense to utter a single word on sound quality without speaking of them.
This is why I'd hiiiiiiighly recommend you to check out this simple, 2D, online speaker placement calculator.
It's GOOOOLLLDDDDD. I've had an Acoustics & Audio PhD build this tool specifically for this purpose:
- Ceiling height: 106 inches or 8 feet 10 inches or 2.70 meters
- Most standard ceiling height
- Listener's height: 32 inches or 2 feet 8 inches or 0.80 meters
- Average height of a sitting person
Central heights of speakers (measured from the ground) and examples to them:
- Soundbars: 30 inches or 2 feet 6 inches or 0.75 meters
- 8", 10" or 12" Subwoofers: 8 inches or 0.20 meters
- 360 degree speakers: 32 inches or 2 feet 8 inches or 0.80 meters
- Horizontal speakers: 32 inches or 2 feet 8 inches or 0.80 meters
- Floor standing speakers: 20 inches or 1 feet 8 inches or 0.50 meters
- Bookshelf speakers: 32 inches or 2 feet 8 inches or 0.80 meters
- Center speakers: 32 inches or 2 feet 8 inches or 0.80 meters
Side note: This tool can and will return inaccurate results for small, portable Bluetooth speakers such as JBL's Go Series. It will, however, deliver just fine for more powerful, packed bluetooth speakers such as this one.
ASAP Science made a video on the loudest and quietest rooms in the world. A mind blowing example of the importance of acoustics (time adjusted video).
Other parameters such as the age/materials of the building, the furniture & carpets in place, etc can and will, of course, have an effect on room acoustics, too. But much less.
Did you know you could also virtually hear any speaker online?
Crutchfield had recently created a tool that virtually simulates the sounds of many different speakers; such as those of SVS, Klipsch, KEF and B&W. Nothing will, of course, beat hearing the speakers in reality. But I'd still recommend you to give it a shot.
While you're at it, blast my Hidden Electronic Gems list to test them:
- Dimensions: 8.03 x 14.33 x 6.06”
- Weight: 14 lbs
- Speakers: Six D-class digital amplifiers, three mid-woofers, and three tweeters
- What I liked: Fantastic sound quality, easy to set up, flexible minimalist design
- What I didn’t: No bluetooth or mics
Depending on your preference, you may utilize the Sonos Five speaker either horizontally or vertically. You'll be able to feel the thud and punch in bass-heavy sounds with its extended low-bass.
When Trueplay room correction is enabled, it has a bright sound that adds sparkle and clarity to both vocals and instruments.
While it lacks a full-fledged equalizer, its companion app provides bass and treble sliders for fine-tuning its sound. Bluetooth isn't supported; it only works with Wi-Fi or Apple AirPlay.
As opposed to what you might think, Bluetooth generally tends to lower the sound quality, so this might not be a REAL downside.
It compresses quite a bit at maximum volume, and it doesn't have built-in support for voice assistants. However, it's a good option for those who want an Apple-compatible speaker with a clean design.
To build "the ultimate speaker for the digital era," Sonos designed the Five with an updated design and a focus on premium sound.
Despite its differences from the original, the Sonos One and Sonos Beam are a wonderful fit for the company's latest offerings.
Everything on the Five has a purpose, and Sonos never takes design lightly. Three different orientations are possible, including horizontally, vertically, or in both directions. For this reason, the design is more like that of the Sonos Play 3 because it can work from all angles.
As a result, it can be employed in stereo pairs with greater freedom of placement and a more 'natural' appearance. This Five went the opposite direction, even though technology tends to get smaller and thinner with each iteration. Aside from being substantially thicker than the original, it's probably about the same width and height as the original.
The Five's capacity to produce a rich, powerful sound that can fill even the largest rooms is one of its best features. Almost three times the acoustic horsepower of its predecessor is due in large part to the driver set-up, which includes six matching Class D amplifiers.
- Dimensions: 4.71 x 6.36 x 4.71"
- Weight: 4.1 lbs
- Connectivity: WiFi, Ethernet
- What I liked: Connects to Alexa and Google Assistant, multi-room audio, wireless connectivity, and excellent sound quality, supports Apple Airplay, flexible stereo, and surround-sound configurations
- What I didn’t: Sound can get distorted at max volume, no Bluetooth, no wired connections
The Sonos One is a Play:1, but with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant built-in. That's a winning combo in my eyes. If you don't care about voice control, you should know that the Sonos One SL, which was released in 2019, is identical to the One but without the built-in microphones and voice assistant functionality.
The One resembles the late Play:1 almost exactly in terms of size and shape. Play:1's gray wrap-around grille has been replaced with a black or white grille, depending on the color of speaker you've selected for your system.
You can turn off Alexa and Google Assistant completely, but it's generally preferable to have them listening, especially because they're better integrated here than with many of their competitors.
The One's implementation of Alexa is particularly impressive, as you can simply say, "Alexa, play Bowie," and one of his songs will spring out from your One. That may seem insignificant, but it makes a huge difference in the context of day-to-day interactions.
Even if you don't have an Alexa-enabled Sonos speaker, such as a PlayBar or Five, you can use the One to broadcast music to any Sonos device you've assigned to that 'zone,' such as playing Bowie in the lounge. Your Sonos speakers go into Ziggy Stardust mode if you say, "Alexa, play Bowie everywhere."
Even if you're worried that Alexa or Google Assistant won't hear your request to skip Dancing In The Street while the song is playing on your One, a combination of noise cancellation, "smart voice capture," and a special six-microphone array will make sure you're heard.
Originally, the Sonos One could only operate Amazon Music by speech, but the company has since added compatibility for a slew of other services, including Spotify, Deezer, TuneIn, YouTube Music, Apple Music, and Audible.
Sonos finally included high-resolution music support with its Sonos S2 platform update last summer after delaying it for so long. Qobuz now also supports 24-bit streaming for Sonos S2 app users with 24-bit files stored on a local storage device. To take advantage of this feature, you'll need a Qobuz Studio Premier or Studio Sublime membership, as well as the Sonos S2 app, which supports FLAC at 24-bit 44.1/48 kHz.
- Dimensions: 3.5 x 45 x 4.5”
- Weight: 13.78 lbs
- Speakers: Eight elliptical woofers and three silk dome tweeters
- What I liked: Excellent Dolby Atmos execution, dynamic and detailed sound quality, EARC future-proofing
- What I didn’t: Only one HDMI input, quite expensive, doesn’t support Bluetooth streaming
The Sonos Arc soundbar is one of the most highly anticipated devices of the year. It ended up being pretty popular, too.
Despite the fact that most other companies had already developed products that supported Dolby Atmos, Sonos was the last to release a soundbar.
It debuted late to the Dolby Atmos soundbar party, but it rapidly proved to be the heart and soul of it. It is still one of the greatest performance-per-pound soundbars you can buy almost 18 months later. Even for Sonos, that's a lot of responsibility.
The Sonos Arc was created to work with larger TV's than the Beam at 114cm (45 inches). As a result, it looks best when used in conjunction with a 55-inch TV (or larger). It’s also significantly wider than the outgoing Playbar (90cm /35 inches).
There are four LED lights above the faint Sonos logo on the Arc's status light (76,000 holes in all the grilles combined). Even when lit (like altering volume, for example), these LEDs' brightness matches the room's ambient light, so they don't appear overly bright.
There are two context-sensitive touch panels on either side of a play/pause button that you can use to adjust the volume if desired. The microphone button and a single LED on the Arc's right side indicate whether or not it is listening for voice instructions from Alexa or Google Assistant.
eARC isn't required for Dolby Atmos transmission, but it's worth noting. Dolby Digital+ or Dolby True HD are the two formats that support Dolby Atmos. However, the conventional ARC connection can only handle the first.
Due to the widespread use of Dolby Digital+ for Atmos soundtracks, eARC is currently of no benefit. However, by connecting an external source such as a 4K Blu-ray player or Xbox to the TV and Arc, eARC allows for greater data rate Atmos sound to be sent.
To enjoy Dolby Atmos in its purest form, you must have a TV that supports eARC and pass-through capabilities. In this case, your TV's specifications are critical, of course. You don't have to worry about all of your streaming apps supporting Atmos simply because your TV has eARC or ARC because not all of them do.
Check out the User Guide for Arc on the Sonos website.
Sonos Playbase (Discontinued)
- Dimensions: 2.3 x 28.3 x 15"
- Weight: 18.9 lbs
- Soundbase Load Capacity: 77 lbs
- What I liked: Impressive load capacity, the stylish and minimalist design integrates into multi-room audio systems
- What I didn’t: No high-res audio support, setting up the optical input could be better, harsh treble
The Sonos Playbase is a small but necessary addition to the Sonos system. You can now get a Sonos TV speaker that sits directly under your television (as opposed to a soundbar, which sits near your television).
Soundbars have an obvious allure: they can completely change the sound on your TV by simply plugging it in. While it's easy to wall-mount a soundbar behind a TV that's also wall-mounted, it might be difficult to find a location for a long, uncomfortable bar of speakers if your TV is on a pedestal or another piece of furniture.
What's the answer? Not a soundbar at all, but rather a flat surface on which you may place your television. When you stop to consider it, it becomes crystal clear.
A Sonos gadget can't be mistaken for anything else. The design is sleek, stylish, and simple, as are all of the company's products. It comes in matte black or white.
On the left side of the Playbase, there's just one typical button—a circular, recessed tiny number you use for connecting the Playbase to your network and any other Sonos speakers you may already have.
Just a touch-sensitive play/pause button and two little touch-sensitive panels for volume adjustment are all that are accessible for use on the device itself. Because you can control anything from Sonos' easy, comprehensive app, you may never need to touch these controls again.
If you're looking for something that's easy to set up, the Playbase is an excellent choice. If you've been listening to your television speakers up to this point, you'll be blown away by how wide and three-dimensional the soundstage sounds.
To your ears, the Playbase's impressive 3.1 arrays will sound as if it is positioned in the distant corners of your space rather than the narrow channel you're used to hearing from other speakers. A tiny and compact all-in-one unit isn't likely to be able to accomplish that - but Sonos has managed to achieve this goal.
Keep in mind that this width might be assisted or hampered by the room's size, shape, and furniture because this system relies on the sound being bounced off walls.
Sonos Playbar (Discontinued)
- Dimensions: 3.35 x 35.43 x 5.51”
- Weight: 11.90 lbs
- Connectivity: Ethernet, TOSLINK, power connector
- What I liked: Quick and easy setup, ideal for audiophiles, flexible wireless streaming
- What I didn’t: Quite expensive, only compatible with Dolby Digital, limited connectivity
The Sonos Playbar is the best soundbar on the market if you want the best overall sound. All the other soundbars couldn't equal the clarity and crispness this one could provide in my testing environment. Considering it lacks an external subwoofer, its bass was surprisingly strong.
While a subwoofer-equipped model may offer more strong bass, the Sonos offers a more well-rounded, well-balanced sound than comparably priced versions with built-in subwoofers.
If you change your mind and want a multi-speaker surround sound system, you can connect it to other Sonos speakers. Everything has to be done over wifi using the Sonos app, which works great, but occasionally I wished there was an easy, direct Bluetooth connection.
During my evaluation, I was blown away by the Playbar's rich, room-filling sound. It's hard to believe that so much sound can come out of such a small package when listening to this instrument. There was never a trace of clipping in my tests, even when I played the loudest and highest-pitched notes possible.
This self-contained soundbar has significantly more robust bass than I imagined. Although it lacks the thunderous bass of models with external subwoofers, the Playbar's bass is clearly defined and clear, resulting in an overall sound that is far more full-bodied than that of the bassier variants.
The Playbar's overall clarity is unparalleled, with all of the notes in even the most complex and frantic of musical performances sounding distinct and perfectly defined.
For the most part, you can just plug in the Playbar and go with it when using it with a TV as a display. It's necessary to utilize the Sonos App if you want to stream music from your phone or alter sound settings.
It communicates with the playbar through your wifi network. In my testing, I discovered that getting both the Playbar and the app connected to the wifi network and talking with each other was a bit of a pain.
After much deliberation, here are my top 3 best Sonos speakers:
- The Sonos Five earns the first spot on this list of Sonos favorites. It's a great all-around speaker that can deliver excellent sound without the heft of a larger sound system.
- The Sonos One Gen 2 packs everything you'd expect out of a high-quality speaker with the addition of built-in Alexa integration. It's a versatile speaker that puts out quality sound at a reasonable price, which is why it's my top budget pick.
- Third on my list of Sonos favorites is the Sonos Arc, which is a great-sounding speaker that can put out some pretty good bass if you add it to an existing surround sound system. It's a good speaker when you want to fill the room with music, but it may not be enough for the bassheads in your life.