September 4, 2018

Which Sonos Speaker has the Best Value

Since their inception over a decade ago, Sonos has become one of the leading brands in the speaker market, and for good reason. They combine a superior level of craftsmanship with some of the best sound quality in the business, and they run at the head of the pack when it comes to new features that turn all of the components throughout your house into a wireless and tightly integrated ecosystem.

Sonos offers may different speakers, in all different shapes and sizes.  While they all have in common a high standard of quality and performance, they all have different uses.  While we can say overall what the best value is for a general application, you choosing the right speaker for the correct application is ultimately what gives you the best value.  The learn more, please read on.


The Play:1 is best suited as a gateway into the world of modern, wireless speakers. As an entry level alternative to Sonos’ more high end apps, it gets the job done and shows off the aesthetic and craftsmanship of the Sonos name, but it’s likely not going to be the go to choice for anyone looking for a wall of sound with perfect aural integrity. Still, if you’re running on a tight budget or simply looking at a good speaker for a smaller room, it’s ready to get the job done. It can also make a great complement to a larger and more fully featured sound system. Despite its small size and modest price tag, it pumps out power way beyond its weight class. Just know that it will likely be a starting point or accompaniment on your way to a larger and more versatile sound system.


A lot of what’s great about the Play:1 holds true for the Play:3. A sensible and unobtrusive design are unified with powerful sound performance, and it has built-in functionality with a number of music apps like Tidal, Spotify, and Apple Music. Where it differs is in size: both the size of the speaker itself and the size of its output. This is largely through the inclusion of a bass radiator and additional driver. The ability to prop it up either horizontally or vertically is a nice little bonus, albeit one that’s unlikely to justify a purchase in and of itself. Unfortunately, the Play:3 has lagged behind its brethren as far as design updates, so it can look a little dated, but it’s ideal if you’re looking for significantly more power than the Play:1 and aren’t adverse to paying a little extra for the privilege.


Everything that was greater about the earlier Play models were made new again with the update to the Play:5 in 2015. More, more, more seems to be the philosophy with the Play:5, which benefits from redesigned drivers, touch-sensitive controls, and a high level of versatility in terms of display and aesthetics. A Play:5 alone is enough to provide vibrant and fully realized sound design to any appropriately sized room, but you’ll be paying for the difference. The Play:5 is double the price of the Play:3, and it has stiff competition in equivalent wireless speakers of its size and power. Still, it’s a great, singular choice for someone looking to outfit an entertainment room without having to deal with a mess of wiring.


The Playbar is Sonos’ first foray into the popular world of soundbars, and the result is about what you could expect. Like the more traditional Sonos speakers, it unifies an exceptional level of sound performance with conveniently packaged streaming features. The bass is particularly worthy of note, and it only takes up a compact 3″ in height and 5″ in width. That means it’s equally as comfortable sitting underneath your TV or mounted on the wall. In terms of pure performance, it even wins out against its soundbar rivals in the Playbase and Beam. If sound quality is your top priority, the Playbar might be the ideal choice, but you’re trading that for some of the cooler features you’ll find in newer models. The performance can be further bolstered by pairing it with the Sonos SUB.


For all practical purposes, the Playbase is a soundbar. The only difference is that it serves as a platform for your TV to stand on, sturdy and wide enough to suit most modern televisions without compromising the sound quality. In terms of style, it’s more attractive than its soundbar brethren in the Sonos catalog, but it lacks both the rich features of the Beam and the impeccable sound quality of the Playbar. But its high mobility, easy setup, and deep bench of streaming options make it a worthwhile investment for customers looking to upgrade their TV without making use of a traditional soundbar.


The One is essentially an evolution of the Play:1, adjusted to adapt to the growing popularity of smart speakers. It retains the shape, size, and general performance of the Play:1 but expands deeply with its third party app integration. Compatibility with Alexa built right in, and they work as well as they do with Amazon’s proprietary speakers, and there’s also native functionality with Siri, AirPlay2, and Google Assistant. That said, it’s not going to be the centerpiece of your entertainment room, and it’s actual performance is hard to distinguish from the classic Play:1.


If the One was Sonos’ peek into the market of modern smart speakers, the Beam blows the door wide open. This soundbar occupies less space than the older Playbar, but it suffers from rich sound quality as a result. That’s not to say that the overall performance isn’t solid, and the virtual assistant integration is as strong in the One. If you demand smart speaker functionality even when it means sacrificing sound quality and want something with more juice than the one, the Beam is the most practical solution.

The Best Value For Your Money

While Sonos’ speakers are all impressively made, and their specialized designs mean that there’s no one size fits all solution to your home’s sound engineering, you’ll ultimately find the best value in the company’s newest speaker: the Beam. Even though it’s not the cheapest Sonos speaker on the market, it hits the right balance between design, features, and performance. That said, the Play:3 runs close behind it. Despite its somewhat anachronistic design and lack of updates, it’s the best value for users who are disinterested in the smart speaker functions that the Beam offers.