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).
For 2020, Sonos introduced a range of new speakers including the Sonos Arc soundbar with Dolby Atmos. There's also a new S2 app to use them with, but it comes with compatibility issues with older devices.
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.
Scroll beyond the chart for our complete Sonos buying guide explaining how the system works and how to choose the right speakers.
Best Sonos Speakers 2021
Sonos One - The all-rounder
The Sonos One is a top-quality smart speaker, essentially a One SL with Alexa and Google Assistant voice-control built-in. We'd have liked some Sonos-related voice commands that most people will expect.
It's more expensive than many other smart speakers but it's worth the extra - compared to non-Sonos rivals it offers much better build quality and sound.
As an all-rounder it's a great place to start to begin building your Sonos system.
Read our full Sonos One review
Sonos Roam - The truely portable speaker
Following up from the Move, Sonos has gone truly portable with the aptly named Roam.
While its big brother can technically go anywhere, its size and weight make it quite tricky and more suitable for taking out into the garden. The Roam is 1/6th of the size and just 430g (vs 3kg).
It's also IP67 so more durable, the clever design works in upright or landscape orientations and there's even wireless charging.
It doesn't hit full marks as the battery life is short of similar rivals and Bluetooth is limited to streaming. However, the Roam is designed to be part of a Sonos system with features like Sound Swap.
Even if you don't have any Sonos speakers yet, you could arguably just use Roams around the house for a basic multi-room setup.
Read our full Sonos Roam review
Sonos Move - The one for indoors and out
The Move now has a smaller and more portable brother in the Roam that's a lot cheaper so it's understandable to find that the more attractive buy if you need a Sonos with Bluetooth.
However, the Move remains a solid purchase if you don't need it to go further than the garden and want more power. This is still the far better option for things like garden parties.
It also has other advantages over the Roam such as a replaceable battery and the charging base is included in the box. The battery life is also one hour longer at 11 hours.
Read our full Sonos Move review
Sonos One SL - The basic speaker
Not including the Ikea speakers, the One SL is the cheapest in the range and replaces the older Play:1 which was a staple speaker.
Not a huge amount has changed, but it didn't really need to. This is effectively the regular One without the microphones for voice control via smart assistants. So you get things like touch controls and AirPlay 2.
The One SL is the one to go for if you don't want or need Alexa or Google Assistant. For example, making a stereo pair with the One or using them as rear surrounds with one of the home theatre speakers.
Read our full Sonos One SL review
Sonos Beam - The compact, affordable soundbar
For most people, the Beam will be the easy choice when comparing the other Sonos soundbars.
It's more affordable, more compact and yet still sounds excellent. Plus it has features not found on its bigger brothers like Amazon Alexa and HDMI ARC. Only those with a much larger room and budget need to opt for the Playbar or Playbase.
Since Alexa is built-in, the Beam is also a smart speaker and a great choice if you're looking for one to sit in the living room.
Read our full Sonos Beam review
Ikea Sonos Symfonisk Lamp - Two in one
Believe it or not, the Symfonisk lamp sounds just as good as a Sonos Play:1, with all the same Sonos functionality, while managing to include a light fitting on top. The design will be divisive, but if you like the look and don't want to make the space for a separate lamp and speaker, this is a surprisingly good solution.
This collaboration between Ikea and Sonos essentially fits the Play:1 into the body of a table lamp, which will take a regular E14 (in the UK) or E12 (in the US) light bulb fitting - including support for smart bulbs if you so fancy.
The sound profile is almost identical to the Play:1 (though like that speaker it has no voice assistant support), and the Symfonisk lamp is fully supported by the Sonos app, including support for stereo or surround sound.
Read our full Ikea Sonos Symfonisk Lamp Speaker review
Sonos Arc - The premium soundbar
It took a while but Sonos has replaced its original soundbar with the fantastic Arc.
Beyond all the usual features you get from Sonos devices like multi-room, the Arc is all about spacial sound thanks to drivers pointing in all directions and support for Dolby Atmos.
It's easily one of the best sounding soundbars we've ever tested and it looks rather nice too.
It also benefits from eARC HDMI, although the problem here - apart from the Arc being expensive - is making sure your TV is compatible to get the most out of the soundbar. There's also no HDMI pass-though which makes it tricky for those with limited ports.
Read our full Sonos Arc review
Ikea Sonos Symfonisk - The cheap bookshelf speaker
Sonos hasn't managed to perfectly recreate its classic sound in the £99$99 Symfonisk, but it’s done a decent job if you don’t mind compromising a little on the bass.
Throw in the fact that you can wall-mount it to double as a bookshelf or hang it from an Ikea kitchen rack, and it's a handy little speaker for smaller homes.
These are a budget-friendly way to get into the app - though be warned, before long you’ll be eyeing up the pricier models to add on.
The bookshelf will be just as appealing to Sonos regulars looking either for a friendly way to bring that Sonos sound into the kitchen, or for a cheaper way to upgrade to surround sound.
Read our full Ikea Sonos Symfonisk Bookshelf Speaker review
Sonos Playbase - The one for your TV to sit on
The Playbase is expensive and you can certainly get a soundbar for a lot less if this is a problem.
Like with most Sonos products, you get you what pay for so the Playbase offers superior sound quality, design and all the additional features that Sonos has.
This really comes down to design and whether you want to sit your TV on top of the speaker. Otherwise, the Arc is a lot better if you can afford the difference.
Read our full Sonos Playbase review
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 One SL is a reasonable £179/$179 - 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 two exceptions to that, however: the company partnered with Ikea to make two different Symfonisk speakers - one in a bookshelf design, one designed to double as a lamp. Both of those speakers are available exclusively through Ikea - even the Sonos store doesn't stock them.
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, Apple Music, Spotify, Deezer, Soundcloud, Google Play Music, Napster and Tidal.
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 here.
Which Sonos speaker should you buy?
Sonos splits its wireless multi-room system up into three categories: speakers, home theatre and components.
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 here.
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 Sonos Five.
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.