Sonos is famous for its wireless multi-room speakers but it can be hard to know which one is best for you. We explain everything you need to know about Sonos and review the speakers to help you choose the best one for your needs.
Founded back in 2002 in California, Sonos has been setting the bar and leading the way in the multi-room speaker market for a long time. Designed to be easy to use, stylish and sound great, there’s little not to like about the Sonos range of speakers (and
headphones might be on the way, too).
Sonos has also been exploring the Bluetooth route with the Move and much smaller Roam. These give you the benefit of the usual multi-room experience but can also be taken out into the garden or beyond.
Note that the prices of some speakers were increased in September 2021 by as much as £100/US$100 with little reason given.
Scroll beyond the chart for our complete Sonos buying guide explaining how the system works and how to choose the right speakers.
What is Sonos?
In the company’s own words: “Sonos is the smart speaker system that streams all your favourite music to any room, or every room. Control your music with one simple app, and fill your home with pure, immersive sound.”
That’s a pretty accurate summary and Sonos is easily one of the easiest wireless speaker systems for consumers to get to grips with and set up. Watch the video at the top of the page for a nice visual overview.
Sonos speakers simply connect to the internet and each other via your home Wi-Fi network and you control them with the Sonos app which is available for iOS, Android, Mac and Windows (
download it via here). The speakers also have buttons for basic functions. The Sonos Controller app has replaced the physical controller which used to be the traditional method.
There was a time when you needed the Sonos Bridge to connect the speakers together but those days are gone – although the
Sonos Boost is available if you have poor Wi-Fi in your home. You just need to connect one to your router to create a Sonos Mesh Network. A handy feature is that the Ethernet ports on the back of Sonos speakers can be used to provided connectivity to other devices, like laptops.
Price and where to buy
Sonos has previously been out of many consumers’ budgets but the Sonos Roam is a reasonable £159/$169 – while the Ikea Symfonisk bookshelf is even cheaper at £99/$99.
Prices then go up to £799/$799 for the full-on home theatre speakers.
There are many places to buy Sonos speakers including the firm’s
official shop but you can also buy Sonos speakers from
Richer Sounds and
There are exceptions to that, however: the company partnered with Ikea to make a range of Symfonisk speakers – one in a bookshelf design, one designed to double as a lamp and one that is disguised as artwork. They are available
exclusively through Ikea – even the Sonos store doesn’t stock them.
original Symfonisk lamp has now been discontinued and a new model is replacing it. We’ll add this to the list as soon as we’ve tested it out.
If you can’t afford the Sonos speakers you want, then the new
Flex subscription service might be the answer. Sonos has also launched an
Upgrade Program so you can get up to 30% off if you own an old device.
Trade-in eligible speakers here.
How does Sonos work?
One of the great things about Sonos is you can simply start with one speaker and add more as and when you like (or can afford more). You can have as few or as many as you like. Adding a new speaker into the system takes a matter of seconds via the app.
Each speaker is assigned a zone, or room, and you can play different music in each zone from a number of different sources (see below) or you can group them up so the same tunes are playing throughout the house – this is great for parties.
It’s easy to move speakers around and there are many different sizes and prices to suit different needs (see below).
Features include the ability to create a stereo pair if you get two identical speakers, using any Sonos speakers as an alarm (with your choice of music or radio station to wake up to) and plugging in devices directly with the line-in port on the back.
One of the latest features is Trueplay which uses the microphone on your iPhone or iPad to tune the Sonos speaker based on various factors like the size and shape or your room and even where the speaker is placed within it. This doesn’t work with Android devices though, as there’s too much variation in microphone hardware.
In 2018, Sonos updated the system with AirPlay 2. That means you can stream directly to speakers from your iPhone or iPad without using the Sonos app. It also means you can watch video content on your device while using a Sonos speaker for the audio and controlling the system with Siri.
Sonos music services
Once you’ve got a speaker (or many speakers) set up, it’s time to play some music and the choice is vast.
Via the app, it’s easy to choose where to play music from which starts simply with any stored locally on the device where the app is installed. Sonos supports AirPlay but doesn’t have Bluetooth. You can also stream music which is on any computers that are on the same network as the Sonos system. There’s also support for
NAS drives (network attached storage).
Most users will want to use online
music streaming services, though and there are plenty to choose from. There are too many to list here but the big names include: Amazon Prime Music,
Spotify, Deezer, Soundcloud, Google Play Music, Napster and
There’s also TuneIn Radio so you can access more than 1,000 internet radio stations for free. Sonos has added YouTube Music as a supported service, too. Sonos also has its own radio station, which now has a
Sonos Radio HD paid tier. Check the complete list of supported services
Which Sonos speaker should you buy?
Sonos splits its wireless multi-room system up into three categories: speakers, home theatre and components.
We’re not looking at components (the
Amp) here as they’re not speakers but they are handy for adding an existing Hi-Fi,
vinyl turntable or pair of speakers into the Sonos system.
So, to start with the speakers, there are three sizes to choose from which gradually increase in price.
The range starts with the Ikea Symfonisk bookshelf speaker, which at £99/$99 is as affordable entry point into the system, especially since you can buy two of them and get stereo sound for less than £200/$200.
The cheapest in the core Sonos range was the One SL at £179/$179, but the Roam is now even lower at £159/$169 – although it’s quite a different speaker.
The Sonos One is then £199/$199 and has Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant built-in. We also have a round-up of the
best smart speakers here.
Not bothered about voice control? The One SL is a non-smart version of the Sonos One. It’s ideal for using as rear satellite speakers in a surround sound system or as a second speaker to stereo pair with a One since they don’t both need the smart hardware.
Note that Sonos announced that older products, those launched before 2015, would
stop being supported with software updates and new features leaving customers with any newer devices with an ultimatum. They could leave the entire system on the older software or stop using the older devices.
However, after plenty of media coverage and customer outrage, the firm has now come up with a plan to keep the older devices working. You can read what Sonos said
The S2 app launched on 8 June to support 2020 Sonos products, but doesn’t support some older devices (see below). If you have these, they won’t stop working but you’ll essentially have to run them separately on S1 instead.
- Sonos Bridge
- Sonos Connect
- Sonos Connect:Amp
- Sonos CR200 wireless remote
- Sonos Play:5 (Gen 1)
- Sonos Zone Players (ZP90, ZP100, ZP120, etc)
Find out more about
S2 upgrades, supported products and compatibility.
If you want to go big, the Play:5 was the best choice for filling the largest of rooms making it the best Sonos speaker for big lounges and similar rooms. This has now been replaced by the
In 2019 Sonos added the Move, which is both portable and the first to offer Bluetooth – two things customers (and us) have been requesting for a long long time. You can finally use Sonos outdoors without a tricky setup and it’s not just a Sonos One with a battery attached.
The Sonos Roam is the latest speaker in the range, launched in April 2021 as a smaller and truly portable option. It’s got things that other Sonos speaker don’t like wireless charging and Sound Swap to easily move music to and from it.
Those wanting extra bass can get the
Sub (now Gen 3), which can be paired up with various Sonos speakers in different arrangements. Most Sonos speakers have good enough bass and the Sub is extremely powerful so will be suited to those looking for the most luxurious setup – and perhaps detached houses.
Sonos has now restructured its home theatre range and it’s about time since the Playbar has been on sale since 2013.
That, along with the Playbase, have been replaced by
Arc, Sonos’ latest premium soundbar that includes features like Dolby Atmos and HDMI eARC. It also comes with a new design, 11 speakers and runs on the new S2 app.
It also gets some features from the Beam including AirPlay, microphones and support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
The Beam is now the other soundbar in the range, suitable for those wanting something both cheaper and more compact. Each can be paired up with other speakers like the One SL and/or the Sub.