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Sonos Play:1 review: A wireless sound system for every situation

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We have been living with the Sonos Play:1 system for quite some time now, and have to say it's left us mighty impressed.

We've always been a bit wary of tiny systems that promise proper Hi-Fi beating sound, but with the Play:1, they might have just got away with it. For the money, this little set of wireless speakers is a very impressive product.

How does it work?

Sonos is a clever idea. It's a two-part system made up of a wireless bridge that hooks up to your router along with a set of speakers - in this case the Play 1 - that connect to it.

The result is a sound system that you can control remotely using your smartphone or tablet. Multiple Sonos speakers in different rooms can be controlled individually, letting you control exactly what music plays around your house.

The app itself can hook up to other streaming services, such as Spotify, as well as drawing on the music library stored on your smartphone - but more on that later.

Sonos PLAY:1 wireless speaker

© Sonos

Sonos PLAY:1 wireless speaker



At the moment, the Sonos range starts with the small Play:1, but stretches all the way up to a full blown soundbar and seperate subwoofer.

The idea behind the Play:1 is twofold, firstly to act as a small standalone unit for music playback or as part of a complete system.

Two Play:1s can be paired together and used as a stereo pair, or you can add a wireless 'Sub' for more bass. Add the Play:1s to the Sonos Playbar and you have a proper surround sound system, with the two smaller speakers acting as rear surround units.

Hardware and Design

The Play:1 is put together using a single piece of steel grille wrapped around a matte plastic body. It has real weight to it and feels like a sturdy, quality product.

In terms of control, most of the interaction with the Play:1 is done via your smartphone, but there are physical play and pause buttons on top, as well as volume controls.

The back features nothing but an ethernet port and a power connector. If you fancy avoiding the need for the wireless bridge, then the Play:1 can be connected via ethernet directly to your router, but obviously that limits its range quite a lot.

Finally, you have a choice of two different colours of Play:1. The unit comes in either white or black and both, in our opinion, are small and subtle enough that they just blend into whatever room you sit them in.

Sound quality

For the money, this is an amazing-sounding product. As we have already said, these little speakers blend into the room, but the sound they put out can fill it.

The Play:1 consists of two speaker units, a tweeter and a 3.5-inch mid-woofer. The result is a surprisingly bass-heavy sound that is balanced, if a little light towards the treble end of things.

Sonos does feature a built in EQ via its app, so we rapidly cured any lightness issues we had with the audio that the Play:1 put out.

Crucially though, we don't think there are many Hi-Fi or Bluetooth speaker docks that can match a pair of Play:1s for quality at this price. Right now, two of the devices cost £338 on the Sonos website, along with a bridge for wireless streaming.

Given the audio it puts out, we would happily replace any entry-level home stereo with this. Also, the system's modularity means you can easily expand to bigger setups later, adding a subwoofer or more powerful speaker should you feel like spending more.

The app

Sonos is almost entirely app controlled, bar the physical play/pause and volume buttons found on the Play:1.

Thankfully though, the app itself is very good. It's an open system, which means that other platforms can add their services into Sonos.

Sonos Play 1 system

© Sonos

Sonos Play 1 system



At the moment, the likes of TuneIn and Spotify are integrated and are simple to set up, requiring a single sign-in and little else. Alternatively you can use your device's local music selection to stream tracks to the Play: 1.

As for streaming itself, there were absolutely no issues we encountered during our testing period with Sonos, and that was with both units being a significant distance away from both the router and the bridge.

Verdict

Play:1 has left us very impressed. It's well built, sounds great and is simple and easy to use.

The modularity of the system means you can start with one single unit and then build on things should you so desire. The only major issue we have is that there's no direct line in into the back of the Play:1. It would be nice to be able to get audio out of the unit without having to hook things up to your home network.

Portability would also be handy, as the Play:1 is better than pretty much every other Bluetooth speaker out there. Moving the unit about requires you to carry both a plug and get access to a router or transport the bridge with you. It's not the same as putting a Bluetooth speaker in your bag. Other than that, for the money, it's a very hard piece of kit to fault.

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