One of the biggest names in music-streaming hardware with its range of speakers pairing excellent sound quality with refined aesthetics is Sonos. There’s support for almost every popular music streaming service, including Spotify and Apple Music. Many of the Sonos speakers on the market also offer built-in voice assistance via Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa or Sonos Voice Control, though some don’t. We”re going to take a look at some of the best Sonos speakers out there to help you choose the best one.
With the release of the Sonos Era 100 and the Beam Gen 2, the lineup also includes Dolby Atmos playback, which brings amazing sound quality. When you add the budget-friendly Ikea Symfonisk range, Sub Mini and Ray soundbars, the number of Sonos-compatible speakers 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 and which products offer the best performance for your money. We’ll keep this list updated as the company releases new products.
Watch this: Sonos Era 100 and Era 300 Are Here: See the Next Gen of Wireless Streaming Speakers
Which Sonos is right for you?
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 Picture Frame can also be used for stereo sound, or as a relatively inexpensive pair of rear surrounds ($240 for two Bookshelves versus $378 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.
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 solidly built, but Its secret weapon is its ability to switch between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when you’re in range.
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). Sonos Voice is also forthcoming on this and other smart speakers in the range. It’s now replaced by the Era 100, but if you want Google Assistant this is still the one to get.
With its latest smart speaker, Sonos wins some (Bluetooth, stereo sound) and loses some (Google Assistant). The Era 100 replaces the existing One, and while the lack of Google is a real drag, the new speaker is also better in terms of sound quality. And with the addition of a $19 adaptor, you can now add external sources for cheap!
Sonos has a new entry-level soundbar featuring the company’s excellent multiroom music system onboard. A two-channel soundbar with Dolby Digital decoding, it’s roughly two-thirds the size of the Sonos Beam but delivers a surprisingly wide soundstage through the use of proprietary waveguides.
While it doesn’t support Dolby Atmos surround sound or have an HDMI port to connect to your TV (you connect it to your TV with an included optical cable), the sound quality for music and movies is impressive. You can pair it with a couple of other Sonos speakers, like the Sonos One, to create a surround sound system.
With the addition of 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.
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.
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 ($799) and a pair of Era 100s as part of a set, or you can combine the subwoofer and soundbar with a pair of the Ikea Symfonisk bookshelves ($260) separately. Though 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, add a Sonos Era 300 in the rear or mount the bookshelf speakers high on the walls behind you.
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, soundbars 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, Alexa or Sonos Voice onboard (One, Beam and Arc).
Here are some things about the product line that you need to know:
- Works without a hub over a standard Wi-Fi network (no Bluetooth except for the Roam and the Era series).
- Supports over 100 streaming services.
- Works with Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri, though the Era speakers don’t have Google Assistant.
- Compatible with Apple AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect.
- The new S2 system supports hi-res (i.e., Dolby TrueHD and Atmos) while legacy Sonos systems only carry 16-bit/44.1kHz.
- Stream your analog-connected music around the house (with Amp, Five or Port).
- Beam Gen 2, Era 300 and Arc include Dolby Atmos.
With the arrival of its S2 operating system, the company has replaced many of its legacy products while also introducing new ones. In 2022 alone, the company has announced the Sonos Ray soundbar and the Sonos Sub Mini. If you own older components, especially ones with “Zone” in the title, they aren’t interoperable with the new system.
The currently available Sonos lineup is as follows:
- Sonos Roam: $179 — Bluetooth and WiFi outdoor speaker.
- Sonos One SL: $199 — small tabletop audio speaker without microphones (discontinued).
- Sonos One (Gen 2): $219 — smart table audio speaker with onboard voice assistant (discontinued).
- Sonos Era 100: $249 — smart speaker with Bluetooth and stereo sound.
- Sonos Ray: $279 — soundbar with optical connection.
- Sonos Beam Gen 2: $450 — soundbar with voice assistant and HDMI.
- Sonos Move $399: — portable smart speaker with water resistance.
- Sonos Sub Mini: $429 — compact wireless subwoofer.
- Sonos Port: $449 — streaming add-on box for existing systems, analog input/output.
- Sonos Era 300: $449 — tabletop speaker with Dolby Atmos spatial audio and Bluetooth.
- 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 $181 Symfonisk Speaker lamp base (which replaces the Table Lamp) and the $250 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.
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 stream 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 main competitive standards available 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.