Sonos Beam & Sonos One Overview

For my first update of 2019, I want to delve into some additions to our Sonos speaker setup. We’ve added a Sonos Beam, and a Sonos One to our setup. Both of these speakers are from a new generation of devices from Sonos that have some interesting and attractive new feature set. In fact, I’d go so far as to say outright: Don’t buy an Amazon Echo or Google Home device - go Sonos instead.

First up - an apology. I haven’t posted anything since November 2018. First there was a holiday, then a bout of illness, then along came Christmas & New Year (suitably busy period). However I want to get back into posting regularly. Starting with a topic I haven’t touched on for a while seemed like a good idea, and with some new additions to our Sonos setup that I hadn’t yet posted up here, this seemed like a good place to start.

You may remember that so far we had two Sonos speakers. First a Sonos Play:1 in our Kitchen, and then a Playbar in the Living room hooked up to the TV. This has now been joined by a Sonos Beam, and a Sonos One. So what are these, and what makes them different from previous Sonos speakers?

First, the Sonos Beam. We got this because we’d replaced the TV. The old TV has moved upstairs to our Office (or Den as we sometimes call it). However as is often the case with TVs, the internal speakers aren’t very good. In fact, they’re terrible! It was quickly apparent that a better solution would be required. The Sonos Beam seemed like a good choice.

The Beam is a smaller, more compact soundbar compared to the Sonos Playbar. It also comes in at a lower price point. However it also has a few features that the Playbar doesn’t. First & foremost, Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant is built-in. This actually works better than controlling Sonos speakers through an Echo, since you don’t have to be quite so specific about the commands you give.

Usually asking Alexa to ‘start’, ‘stop’, ‘pause’ etc would require you to also specify the room, otherwise Alexa will assume you want to control audio on the Echo device itself, not your Sonos speakers. However when your Sonos speaker is your Alexa device, this problem goes away.

Plus Sonos are also planning to add Google Assistant too. That was originally slated for 2018 release but got delayed.

The Beam also adds Apple Airplay 2 support. This is a capability not coming to the older Sonos speakers, since it requires new hardware.

Also different from other Sonos speakers is the addition of touch controls rather than physical buttons (including a new ‘mute’ button for the microphone if you want to stop the voice assistant listening.

Finally, the Beam connects to your TV via HDMI-ARC (Audio Return Channel). However if you want to connect via optical cable (as is the default with the Playbar), then you’ll need to use an adapter. Thankfully, Sonos include one in the box.

The Sonos One has displaced our Play:1, with the latter device moving over to our bedroom. The two devices are nearly indistinguishable from one another. They’re the same physical form factor, with only a slight difference in colour-scheme and the top controls giving away the difference.

The Sonos One also includes Amazon Alexa, and has the same touch controls as used on the Beam. It also picks up the Airplay 2 support for Apple users.

The One doesn’t replace the Play:1 completely in the range. Both speakers are still available. However the Play:1 is now available for less, reflecting that it has less features vs the One.

Sound quality is -as you’d expect- excellent from both speakers.

Certainly these are strong offerings from Sonos and I’m very pleased with them. With devices like this on the market one must surely ask the question as to why you’d buy Echo or Google Home instead of these. If the Google Assistant does finally make it to Sonos, then the case gets stronger. A single entertainment speaker with not one, but two assistants available rather than having separate devices? Seems to make sense to me.

Of course there are price differences. The Echo Dot and Google Home Mini are of going to be cheaper. However if you’re looking for an actual entertainment speaker and want something that can do music (and do it justice), then you can’t really ignore Sonos.