The Sonos brand is synonymous with hi-fi, whole-home audio. The PLAY:1 is the most affordable wireless speaker in the Sonos family, with the same app and a surprisingly dynamic range. The design is compact, durable and stylish. It’s available in two colors: white with a light-grey grille and black with a grey grille. The PLAY:1 is compatible with Alexa-enabled smart speakers and has one of the best companion apps in terms of audio control, ease-of-use and streaming service compatibility. The setup process is lengthy and involved, but in the end the speaker is tuned specifically to your room and ready to play high-fidelity music using your Wi-Fi network.
We placed all our speakers side-by-side to compare the sound quality. The PLAY:1 has one midrange woofer and a tweeter that are powered by their own amplifier. This set performed great in our sound tests against speakers that cost twice as much. The Bang & Olufsen M3 was the only speaker that outperformed the PLAY:1 in our sound quality tests and the difference was only noticeable since we had both speakers setup at the same time to quickly switch back and forth. The PLAY:1 exhibited stunningly accurate vocal clarity placed perfectly in front of crisp and clear treble frequencies. The bass response isn’t as prevalent and booming as some of the speakers we tested, but its proportion was good compared to the rest of the frequencies.
During the setup process, the Sonos app asks you to walk around the room waving your phone or tablet to analyze room reflection and set the EQ curve. You can adjust the EQ settings in the app if you don’t enjoy the sound of the automatic room adjustment. The app is compatible with all the popular streaming services, such as Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music and Pandora. The app is your control center for multiple streaming services and it syncs music libraries from your mobile devices. If you prefer to use the Spotify app to navigate playlists, it automatically recognizes the PLAY:1 so you don’t have to use the Sonos app. The Sonos app is the best app we tested in terms of whole-home audio control and compatibility with multiple music platforms.
The only major feature omission is the lack of Bluetooth connectivity. Bluetooth is convenient for quickly pairing and unpairing mobile devices but doesn’t offer the range or fidelity of Wi-Fi. The PLAY:1 also doesn’t have a 3.5mm auxiliary input, so keep that in mind if you plan to play music with a legacy music player like the iPod Classic.
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The Sonos PLAY:1 is a wonderfully designed smart speaker with a wide and pleasant soundstage. The app is easy and compatible with all the popular streaming services. For less than $200 pair the PLAY:1 and an Amazon Echo Dot to make Alexa and your music library sound much better.