Sonos Play:1 review

Sonos Play:1

Sonos has always been an expensive way of doing wireless multi-room Hi-Fi, until now that is. Read our Play:1 review to find out more.

If you've always wanted Sonos speakers but always found your pockets to be not deep enough, then there's good news. The new Play:1 is just £169 matching the Pure Jongo S3 which until now was the cheaper alternative. The Jongo's major advantage is a built-in battery so you can move it around easier and place it where there is no power source. See all digital home reviews.

Sonos Play:1 with Playbar

The Play:1 is available now and Sonos will throw in a free Bridge if you buy one before Christmas. That's the small white box which plugs into your router making Sonos speakers wireless so you'll need one if you don't already have a Sonos system. Alternatively you can plug in an Ethernet cable but it defeats the point.

That's the only port on the Play:1 so it is lacking a 3.5mm to plug a device in with a cable which is always a handy option.

As with other speakers, the Sonos Play:1 looks great and has exceptional build quality. It's simple, sleek feels like a premium product with a reassuring amount of weight. It comes in the usual black and white options.

The Play:1 is the firm's smallest and most versatile speaker, as well as being its new cheapest option. This is great for anyone who wants to get Sonos into smaller spaces like a bookshelf, bed side tablet, windowsill or a busy kitchen space. All those places where a Play:3 is just too bulky. If you haven't even got shelf space then the Play:1 can be wall mounted.

The speaker is mono rather than stereo but that's a perfectly good compromise for small spaces where you otherwise wouldn't fit a speaker. If you do have more space then you can buy two Play:1 speakers to create a stereo pair – this does, of course, double the cost.

Buying two will make more sense if you own or are planning on buying the Playbar because the Play:1 can be uses as a rear surround speakers (see picture above). It can also be used with the Sonos Sub if you want to boost bass.

Despite the compact size of the Play:1, Sonos has done a great job of maintaining sound performance. The speaker has a 3.5in mid-woofer and tweeter, each with a dedicated Class-D amplifier. Sound is rich and detailed but with only two drivers is doesn't reproduce every frequency perfectly. It naturally covers mid and high range well but isn't so powerful in the bottom end.

Sonos Play:1 drivers

The sound which comes out of the Play:1 is genuinely surprising and not far off the Play:3, even if the bass performance is lower. Also surprising is the amount of volume the Play:1 can pump out without sound quality falling off a cliff into a sea of distortion. It's a featherweight with a serious punch.

If you can only afford one Play:1 then you'll benefit from excellent off-axis performance, meaning the music still sounds good if you're not positioned directly in front of the speaker.  

A slight design change, and a welcome one, is that Sonos has decided to replace the physical mute button on the Play:1 with a play/pause button. A double press skips the track you're listening to. A software update will bring this functionality to all previous Sonos equipment.

As usual, the Play:1 and any other speakers  in the system are controlled with a PC, laptop, smartphone or tablet app available for Android or iOS devices. You can then stream music from almost anywhere including devices in your home, internet radio and other services such as Spotify (requires premium subscription) and Amazon Cloud Player. It's a broad selection and you can group any Sonos speakers dotted around your home into one big group all playing the same thing or play different things on each.

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Sonos Play:1: Specs

  • 1.85kg
  • 120x120x161mm
  • 3.5in mid-woofer
  • tweeter
  • Two Class-D amplifiers
  • ethernet port
  • 1/4in thread wall mount
  • 1.85kg
  • 120x120x161mm
  • 3.5in mid-woofer
  • tweeter
  • Two Class-D amplifiers
  • ethernet port
  • 1/4in thread wall mount

OUR VERDICT

At £169 the Play:1 is compact, versatile and smashes the price barrier to the world of Sonos which previously existed. Amazingly, this speaker retains the excellent build quality and sound quality with which we’ve come to expect.

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