Sonos One Speaker: 6 Months Later

As much as I like voice assistants, it’s still early days, so I’ve been keeping my options open between Amazon, Google, and Apple.  While I’ve got devices from all three in my house, I’ve been living with not one ... not two ... but three Sonos One speakers as my primary devices for the past 6 months or so.  So today, I’m going to walk you through what that’s been like ... and hopefully ... Alexa won’t take this personally.

My house is littered with Amazon Echos that we use as voice control for home automation, asking the weather, setting timers … talking to when lonely … but I’ve never been happy with the audio quality of the Amazon speakers.  When Sonos announced the Sonos One speaker, I was immediately intrigued because of the cross platform direction Sonos has taken.  

Sonos sound quality with Alexa.  The future promise of Google Assistant and Airplay 2.  It’s the most cross platform smart speaker on the market, and not locking myself into one companies echo system is a huge plus.  So after living with not one, not two, but three of these little suckers, how does if hold up to the promise?

 

Setup

Getting the Sonos One setup is a very straight forward affair.  Plug in the speaker, load the Sonos app on your phone, and follow the step by step instructions.  In a matter of minutes you’ll be up and running.  

The weak point of setup with enabling Amazon Alexa.  During the stage of the setup, you’ll get booted out to download and install the Amazon Alexa app on your phone, login, follow Amazon’s setup procedure, which is a little cumbersome and not as refined as Sonos.  Then when you’re done, you flip back to the Sonos app, which confirms you’re done and you’re off to the races.  

With the handshaking going on between the two apps, there’s a lot of areas things can go haywire on you.  And if you’re not a tech savvy person, you could potentially end up stuck, confused, and frustrated.

 

Sound

In order to get the best sound quality, it’s also important to run the calibration on the speaker.  You’ll feel a bit like a fool walking around your room waving your phone through the air for a good 30 seconds.  

But a little embarassment will reward you with better tuned audio for your space.

This is one area that Sonos has fallen woefully behind on.  Both the Google Home Max and Apple HomePod auto tune the speaker without any user intervention necessary.  

If you move one of those speakers, they automatically adjust the tuning to match the dynamics of the new location.  If you move the Sonos One, get ready to wave you hands around like you don’t care because you’ll need to run the calibration process again.Amach

That said, the sound quality of the Sonos One is fantastic.  It’s not an audiophile quality speaker, but it’s a flat, well balanced sound.  Enough bass to give it some life, but not too boomy or overdone.  Excellent high end without sound harsh or tinny.  If you’re someone who loves Beats headphones and extra thumpy bass, you’ll be disappointed, so you’ll want to look at adding the Sonos sub or at another big smart speaker like the Google Home Max.  Overall, I give it a thumbs up for audio.

 

Multiple Speakers

This is where Sonos has been king of the hill for a long time, but to take advantage of this, you have to run all your audio through the Sonos app on your phone.  

A big negative in my book.  I’m a big fan of the podcast app Overcast, which doesn’t have built in support within Sonos, so I’m out of luck there.  

However, Sonos is due to add Airplay 2 support to the Sonos One this July, so I’ll be able to sling Overcast audio to any, or all of my speakers!  Airplay 2 can’t get here soon enough.

 

Alexa 

I have a love hate relationship with Alexa.  She’s a fickle one.  With multiple of these around my house, they sometimes battle each other for which one will answer and take control.  It’s extremely frustrating when the speaker I’m standing 5 feet away from doesn’t answer, but the one in the living room or bedroom does.  

Okay, that was simulated, but that’s what happens in our kitchen … a lot.  “Alexa, set a timer for 5 minutes.”  Somewhere off in the distance I’ll hear one respond, so I have to step closer to the one I intended to answer and try again.  But that also means I now have to go hunting for the other Alexa to cancel the timer she set on the wrong device.  

You see … Amazon hasn’t figured out yet how to get them to act as one thing yet.  A timer is a household timer that you can ask about in any room.  It only exists on the device that responded to the request.  

Since Amazon is selling echo dots in 5 packs, they clearly expect you to sprinkle these throughout your home, yet, they haven’t gotten them to behave on a household scale yet.  Major, major flaw.

 

Final Thoughts

The Sonos One is a great multi-room audio speaker, with a nice balanced audio quality.  The cross platform approach makes this the most universal smart speaker that can grow and adapt with you.  However, we’re still in the early days of the smart speaker and voice assistant category, so you’ll hit the most road bumps when using Alexa … and eventually … Google Assistant … but for right now, if you’re looking to dip your toe into the smart speaker pool, you’d be hard pressed to find a better speaker for the money that offers the same flexibility.