The Sonos Play:1 is the most affordable speaker in the Sonos multi-room line-up. It costs $210, and is worth considering even if you want a single wireless speaker rather than a full multi-room setup. It’s that good.
Alarmingly powerful and rich sound from a box that fits on a bedside table makes this one of the strongest small speakers money can buy.
Sonos brought its entry-level price down with the Play:1 over two years ago, and despite no next-generation models (like its flagship Play:5) or hardware updates since, continues to set the benchmark at this price.
The Sonos Play:1 arrives in black and white variations. Everyone will have their favorite but we found the white suited a bookshelf nicely while the black looked good plonked on the corner of a desk.
The grated design spills around the entire tin the speaker, which goes for the taller and slimmer look over the Play:3’s wider angles. It’s not the most exciting design you’ll come across but it blends in nicely with its surroundings.
On the top of the speaker, the mute button has now transformed into a play/pause button instead, which is an intuitive move by Sonos. Double tap it and you’ll skip to the next track too – extra useful.
There’s also the volume rocker and status light. You may only use these for set up and never again, but it’s handy to have them there nonetheless.
The design of the Sonos Play:1 is robust and premium though it’s also really quite heavy, which makes us more hesitant to take advantage of the optional wall mount. These might be wireless, but we wouldn’t really call them “portable” speakers.
While arguably looking a little outdated stood next to the freshly redesigned Play:5, the Play:1’s solid, sleek design stands the test of time.
It comes in black or white, though only on the chassis’ top and bottom bands does colour come into it – what really defines the Play:1’s look is its smart wraparound steel grille.
Sound and streaming
Setting it up is nice and straightforward and those familiar with the Sonos way of things aren’t in for any surprises. When Sonos first launched the Play:1, the speakers were dependent on a separate wireless bridge in order to communicate with your Wi-Fi. That’s no longer the case, as a recent update allows the speakers to latch onto your Wi-Fi without any support, although Sonos advises that homes with poor Wi-Fi coverage may want to keep using the bridge.
And for homes with particularly frustrating Wi-Fi coverage, Sonos has launched a separate accessory called the Boost, which is basically a souped-up version of the Bridge. As Sonos describes it, the Boost offers “enterprise-grade wireless capabilities” to stretch that signal right through the house.
Once you’ve done got the speakers plugged in, it’s a case of using the app to make sure everything’s communicating. If you’re worried that one speaker won’t be loud enough on its own, fear not – the Sonos Play:1 kicks surprisingly hard. No, it’s not quite hitting the levels of the Play:3 or Playbar, but that’s hardly a startling revelation. On the inside is a midrange woofer and a tweeter, and while you’ll only be getting the mono experience with one can, it’s enough to easily fill a room with crisp sound.
The question is: do you want to fill a room or fill a house? If it’s the latter, and you’re already using Sonos audio at home, then these are excellent sonic limbs to cast into a bedroom, kitchen or even a bathroom.
But if you’re using this as your main living room music source, you’re going to want to add a second one in for stereo sound, which obviously doubles the price. The Sonos Play:1 kicks up a decent amount of bass though it won’t be quite enough for, so we’d recommend pairing with a Sonos Sub if you’re serious about getting the most out of the Play:1.
It could easily become a “just one more and then I’m through” kind of addiction. But if you do decide to take another hit, adding more speakers to your system is certainly easy, as we found. Once set up, you can pair your speakers together easily via the app to create that stereo sound.
You can also connect any other Sonos speaker to your Sonos bridge, so the whole family will play nicely together. Once you’re all connected up, you can sync music across the house or have different music playing on different speakers. Controlling the Play:1 is extremely easy too. With the Sonos app you have access to the local content on your controlling but you’re also able to stream services such as Spotify, Rdio, Napster and SoundCloud. You can also do it via desktop software on your PC or Mac.
Sonos Play:1 – Setup
In the early days of the Sonos system you had to buy a bridge to connect your speakers to your home Wi-Fi. But now it’s much more like a standard wireless speaker.
On first firing up the app for iOS or Android, it should recognise the speaker almost immediately. You then simply select your home Wi-Fi network and type-in your password. That’s it.
If your Sonos runs old firmware, or if the app struggles to find your Play:1, you just need to plug it into your router using an Ethernet cable to get started. There’s such a cable in the box. Either way, setup takes just a minute or two.
The Sonos App
When the Sonos Play:1 launched, the accompanying app was one of our main criticisms. It was clunky and limited in functionality, but Sonos has made some big improvements since.
The refreshed controller app for iOS and Android now indexes your streaming services and local music files to let you find the track you want with one simple search.
The additions of SoundCloud and Google Play Music have perhaps been the biggest wins, while the support for multiple Spotify accounts is another welcome addition. There are still limitations – it doesn’t officially support iTunes Radio or AirPlay streaming – but the list of supported services is much more comprehensive than it was in 2013.
If you’re using a Windows Phone, the bad news is that you’re still left out for now with no official Sonos Windows Phone app available just yet. Let’s hope that changes soon.
The Sonos Play:1 is a great little speaker. We have no hesitation in recommending the Sonos Play:1 if you find the Play:5 too pricey. It works just like any other Sonos Play-series speaker, and offers excellent sound for both the size and price.
Those who say Sonos is just for the rich can stop now.
However, if you’re going to listen at low volumes you might also want to consider the more refined, slightly more flexible Riva Arena.