Sonos PLAY:1 wireless speaker
The Sonos PLAY:1 packs a significant punch considering its size and produces surprisingly good bass
- Attractive, well constructed design
- Excellent sound quality & volume
- Ease of use and setup
- Requires AC power (no battery)
- No 3.5mm audio jack
- Midrange can become muddy
The PLAY:1 is Sonos' smallest and cheapest speaker yet, and has been designed as an affordable, entry level music streaming device. It packs a significant punch considering its size and produces surprising bass levels, though we would have loved to see a battery-operated option to enhance portability.
Price$ 299.00 (AUD)
Sonos' Wi-Fi-based audio system has been a popular player in the wireless home speaker market for a number of years but its relatively expensive price tag has put it out of reach of many consumers. The new PLAY:1 is Sonos' smallest and cheapest speaker yet, and has been designed as an affordable, entry level music streaming device. It packs a significant punch considering its size and produces surprisingly good bass levels, though we would have loved to see a battery-operated option to enhance portability.
A compact, good looker
Arguably the best looking Sonos speaker.
The Sonos PLAY:1 may be the smallest speaker in the company's range, but it's arguably the best looking. The cylindrical shaped speaker has well rounded corners, a largely uninterrupted stainless steel grill that wraps around the outside, and a matte plastic base and top. It feels superbly constructed and there are no moving parts or evidence of cheap build quality. The PLAY:1 is available in black and white variants, with the silver trim alongside the speaker grill, and the Sonos branding remaining the same colour on both models.
Part of the appeal of Sonos devices in general is the minimalist look and feel, and the PLAY:1's small size makes that even more impressive. There's just three buttons on the top — volume up and down, and a play/pause button. The latter replaces the mute button found on the company's existing PLAY:3 and PLAY:5 speakers, though Sonos will mimic the play/pause control on older units with a software update.
The PLAY:1 lacks the portability of similar sized Bluetooth speakers.
The lack of a power button may seem strange initially, but Sonos says the speaker is designed to be always on, and claims it uses minimal electricity when not playing music. The design of the button also enables users to simply walk up to the speaker and press play to immediately begin playing the last track they were listening to.
Although the PLAY:1 is compact, it requires a power outlet to work and lacks the portability of similar sized Bluetooth speakers. Like all Sonos products, the speaker only works when paired with Sonos' wireless Bridge device (which plugs into your router via Ethernet), or by plugging directly into an Ethernet port. Unlike the PLAY:5, the PLAY:1 lacks a 3.5mm analog line input to play music directly, so you can only use it with the Sonos app on your computer or mobile device.
Sonos says the PLAY:1 has been designed to withstand strong humidity, such as a bathroom with a running shower, but the speaker is not waterproof or water resistant. It hasn't been designed to remain outside, unless it's situated in a covered space.
Keep it simple, Sonos
If you already own an existing Sonos speaker or PLAYBAR, adding the PLAY:1 to your home music setup is simple. If the PLAY:1 is your first Sonos speaker, which we suspect it will be for many users, there’s a quick start guide included in the box that runs you through the setup process. Provided the speaker is connected to your home Internet via the Sonos Bridge or directly through an Ethernet port, the PLAY:1 only takes a few minutes to set up and use, and the process is relatively straightforward. Sonos sells the Bridge as a seperate $75 accessory, but at the time of writing it comes bundled free with any PLAY:1 purchase.
The PLAY:1 requires the Sonos Controller app installed on your smartphone, tablet or computer. Using the app, you can play music from various sources including your local music library, and a number of music and radio services from the Internet. Setting up the system to access your full music library on a PC or Mac takes a few minutes, though the time will obviously depend on how large your library is, and the speed of your home Internet connection.
The real highlight of Sonos is a lengthy list of Internet music services.
Unfortunately, you can’t access a local music library on a Sonos system without your PC or Mac being active, and there's no way to use the device without the controller app. The app works reasonably well but the interface could definitely use an overhaul and creating a playlist isn't as simple as we would like. There's also too many taps required to do basic tasks, such as playing a song from your local music library, and music controls don't appear on the lock screen for both iOS and Android.
The real highlight of Sonos is the lengthy list of Internet music services it's compatible with. The extensive list includes Spotify, Rdio, Pandora, Deezer, MOG, JB Hi-Fi Now, Songl, TuneIn Radio and more. One notable omission is Google’s relatively new Play Music All Access service, though we expect this to be made available in the near future. As it's a network connected audio system, further services can easily be added over time.
Small in size, but not in sound
The sound produced defies its modest and compact frame.
The PLAY:1 produces surprisingly good sound quality considering its size. The device is powered by one 3.5in mid-woofer and one tweeter, each with its own custom design amplifier. Although the speaker is front-firing, it does a pretty good job of proving reasonable sound when you're not listening in its direct line of sight. This makes it ideal for various positions in your home, such as a kitchen, a bathroom or even an outdoor setting that's undercover. Audiophiles will remain unimpressed with the lack of stereo separation, but most everyday users will be more than happy with the performance of the PLAY:1 given its size.
We were particularly impressed with the mid-range, although the standard EQ setting is too bass heavy and tends to muddle mids. You'll fare much better by using the EQ on the Sonos Controller app to turn down the bass. During testing, we found the PLAY:1 excelled playing acoustic, jazz and rap music but wasn't as impressive when listening to heavy rock and metal tracks.
Volume levels are excellent for a speaker this size, and the PLAY:1 definitely packs enough punch to fill a medium-large sized room with sound. If you're coming from the larger PLAY:3 you may long for a bit of extra bass, but we were constantly surprised with performance during testing. Overall, the sound the PLAY:1 produces definitely defies its modest and compact frame.
The beauty of the Sonos system comes when you pair multiple speakers together. In the PLAY:1's case, it means that two devices can be paired together for stereo listening. Two PLAY:1's could also theoretically be used as rear-speakers in a home theatre room when paired with the Sonos PLAYBAR and Sonos SUB. The latter is of course a very expensive solution (as is even two PLAY:1's by themselves) but the option is there nonetheless.
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