Technology

Sonos One (Gen 2) Smart Wi-Fi Speaker Review: The Best Alternative to a HomePod?


Sonos was one of the earliest pioneers of multi -room audio setup and wireless home audio streaming. While the company’s product range now includes mobile audio products, it’s still well known for connected smart speakers, like the Sonos One, which I reviewed today. Now officially available in India through distributors, Sonos hopes to take on existing smart speaker brands like Amazon and Google with a key differentiator – a focus on sound quality.

Worth Rs. 21,999 in India, the Sonos One (Gen 2) is a Wi-Fi speaker with support for Apple AirPlay 2, and has the ability to stream music directly from the Internet. While it’s more expensive than options like the Google Nest Audio series and Amazon Echo, the Sonos One promises better sound quality. Do these smart speakers meet the hype? Find out in this review.

Sonos One (Second Generation) works with the Sonos app, which is available on Android and iOS

Sonos One (Gen 2) design and specifications.

Sonos is known for its high -end speakers and home audio solutions, but some of the company’s latest products are positioned as more affordable one -box solutions that are easier to install and use. The Sonos One (Gen 2) is like most other smart speakers currently on the market, in the sense that it is a single device that must be connected to a power socket and intended to stay in one place.

The Sonos One (Gen 2) speakers have a rectangular block -like shape, with a metal grille around it, and a plastic base as well as the top. The bottom of the speaker has a socket for a power adapter included. The back has an Ethernet port for wired connections and a button that controls several pairing -related functions. The speaker weighs 1.85kg, and is quite heavy for a product of its size.

The top of the Sonos One (Gen 2) has a touch -sensitive zone, which is used to control playback and volume. There is also a microphone button if you need to mute the microphone. The play/pause buttons and volume controls work with a single tap, while swiping from left to right or right to left in this area will skip to the next or previous track respectively. You can also control this function from your smartphone.

The audio drive on the Sonos One (Gen 2) consists of a tweeter and a mid-woofer. The speakers are powered by a 1.4GHz quad -core processor and have 1GB of RAM. The Sonos One (Gen 2) has no Bluetooth connection and only uses Wi-Fi to stream music from the Internet via a linked service. The Google Chromecast protocol is also not supported on the Sonos One (Gen 2), so you won’t be able to send music to the speakers from an Android phone, even with a supported app.

Although the company mentioned that both 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi are supported, I had various connection issues with 5GHz Wi-Fi and had to use a 2.4GHz connection to use the Sonos One (Gen 2) properly. Sonos’s famous multi -room implementation can be provided through the app if you have multiple speakers in your home, and you can also set up a stereo pair with two Sonos One speakers in the same room.

Since the Sonos One (Gen 2) is a Wi-Fi-enabled speaker, you need the Sonos app to set it up (available on iOS and Android). The process took about 10 minutes in total, including connecting the speakers to my Wi-Fi router and linking my streaming service to it. You can also go through the ‘TruePlay’ tuning process which is said to optimize sound based on the acoustics of your room.

The app is fairly easy to use once fully set up, with tabs for quick access to recently played songs, playlists and layouts in your linked streaming service and settings for the Sonos One itself. There’s also a handy Search tab that lets you search across all linked services and your own playlists by keyword.

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Sonos One (Second Generation) supports a variety of streaming services, including Apple Music, Spotify and YouTube Music

Services that can be linked to the Sonos One (Gen 2) include Apple Music, YouTube Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible, Gaana and JioSaavn. You also get free, pre-certified access to Sonos Radio, which lets you stream a choice of stacked Internet radio stations and playlists on the speakers.

If you’re using a Sonos One (Gen 2) with any AirPlay-compatible device like an iPhone or iPad, you can play audio directly on the speakers using any of the supported apps on the device itself, thanks to AirPlay 2 support. This naturally makes the Sonos One very suitable for use with Apple devices. Sonos One supports Google Assistant or Alexa linking for hands -free voice commands in some countries, but disappointingly, this feature is not supported in India at the time of this review.

Sonos One (Gen 2) presentation.

The Sonos One (Gen 2) is a smart speaker for all intents and purposes, but the inability to provide voice assistants in India is a major drawback. For now, you can’t just ask speakers for the content you want. This is a very basic and basic feature for any smart speaker like the Amazon Echo range or Apple HomePod mini. However, the Sonos One can still be used even without this feature, even with a few more steps required to play what you want.

You might be wondering why buyers should consider this device over competing smart speakers, given this notable drawback and its high price, but I think this can be answered with one very solid thing – sound quality. The Sonos One is impressive when it comes to sound quality, delivering loud, fun and refined sound that’s more comfortable than what I’ve heard on any other mainstream smart speaker, including the Amazon Echo Studio for the same price.

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You can connect an Ethernet cable to the Sonos One, as an alternative to Wi-Fi

I use a Sonos One (Gen 2) with an Apple iPhone as a control device. I find that using AirPlay from within apps like Apple Music, YouTube Music and Audible is easier than using the Sonos app. The latter works well for fetching content, and this will be your only option if you’re using an Android phone. There are a few situations where the app can’t detect speakers via AirPlay, but this is easily fixed by rebooting either my speakers or my router.

Once connected using AirPlay, streaming is stable and lag -free, sound quality is as good as possible, and playback and volume controls are fast and responsive. While all of this will be easier with a voice assistant, none of the speaker functions are disabled so it’s not a loss.

Apple Series voice assistants can usually transfer music from one device to another using the AirPlay protocol, but all my attempts to do this with audio from my AirPods Pro to Sonos One using voice commands have encountered errors. This works correctly when using AirPlay in the Apple Music app; the music paused on my earphones and reconnected on the Sonos speakers after a while. Again, voice commands don’t seem to work at all with the Sonos One (Gen 2).

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The Sonos One (Second Generation) controls are at the top, as is the microphone

The sound quality on the Sonos One (Gen 2), as mentioned above, is exceptional for a smart speaker with this price and size. The speakers are loud, smooth, cohesive and detailed with all genres, and the sonic signature is flexible enough to adapt well to almost any type of audio content being played. Even at high volume, there’s not much distortion or struggle to be heard from the speakers, and it’s easy enough to deliver a loud sound that can be heard clearly even from different rooms in my house.

Listening to Let’s Groove by Earth, Wind & Fire, the Sonos One offers tight and smooth bass, while providing plenty of sparkle at height and definition in the mid -range of this disco track. It sounds lively and fun, with more energy delivered than I expected from a speaker of this size. Sound flexibility can be seen even with different types of music, including the bouncy and aggressive Boom by Tiesto, with speakers delivering what is needed.

Even with softer songs like Truth by Kamasi Washington, the Sonos One allows the details to stand out. With the audio book, I was able to hear Ray Porter’s excellent narration of the River of Heaven by Dennis E. Taylor clearly and attentively even from a distance of about 10 feet. The Sonos One is a well -tuned smart speaker that easily surpasses all its competitors in terms of sound quality.

TruePlay tuning on the Sonos One (Gen 2) is a rather tedious process, as it requires you to move around the room with your phone for about 10-15 minutes to measure sound using its microphone, while keeping things quiet. The process failed and had to be started several times when I tried this, because even a little distraction like someone talking in another room, or a doorbell rang. However, once done, I found the sound to be more vibrant and open with TruePlay enabled, and would recommend that you go through this step to get the best results.

decision

Smart speakers typically need to tick a few boxes when it comes to features such as Internet connectivity, the ability to link to popular streaming services and access to voice assistants. For now, the Sonos One (Gen 2) only meets two of the above requirements, although there is a possibility that the company could roll out support for voice assistants in India in the future. However, in all other things like connectivity, usability and sound quality, the Sonos One is an excellent smart speaker.

Although expensive at Rs. 21,999, the Sonos One (Gen 2) sounds so much better than any other smart speaker I’ve ever heard of, and this alone makes it worth considering if you have the budget. It might also be worth considering the Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd Generation), which while not very good in terms of sound quality, has an excellent 10-inch screen and full access to Alexa, for a more complete smart experience.


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