Which is the right Sonos speaker for you? There are a few great entry-level Sonos options in the form of the excellent Sonos One, Sonos One SL and the Sonos Play:1 and, while they're very similar, there is one key difference between them.

The Sonos One brings integrated voice control with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, while the Sonos One SL and Play:1 both avoid microphones and integrated smart assistants.

Here is how their features, designs and specifications compare to help you work out which one you should pick.

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Design

  • Same size and weight
  • Similar design, but Sonos One and Sonos One SL more refined
  • Sonos One and Sonos One SL have capacitive control panels, Play:1 has physical buttons

The Sonos Play:1 has a lovely design, offering an indented top, rounded edges, a tapered bottom and a metal grille that stretches almost 360-degrees around the speaker.

It measures 161.45 x 119.7 x 119.7mm, weighs 1.85g and it comes in white with a light metal grille or black with a graphite grille. On the top of the Play:1 there is a physical Play/Pause button, volume rocker and a status LED light, while the back has a stand mounting screw hole.

The Sonos One and Sonos One SL follow closely in the Play:1's footsteps, offering a very similar design but with a few refinements. They too have rounded edges, tapered bottoms and grills surrounding it, but the top panels are flat with a capacitive control pad rather than indented with physical buttons.

The One and One SL speakers measure and weigh exactly the same as the Play:1 and they too come in white or black options, but the white option has a white matte grille and the black option has a black matte grille rather than the metal finishes of the Play:1. There is also no mounting hole for a stand on the Sonos One or the Sonos One SL.

Features

  • Seamless multi-room functionality
  • Trueplay compatible
  • Sonos One has built-in voice control
  • Play:1 and Sonos One SL need Alexa or Google Assistant device for voice control

The Sonos Play:1, Sonos One and Sonos One SL will all work independently or as part of an existing Sonos system, offering multi-room audio.

The Play:1 can be paired with another Play:1 to create a stereo pair, while the Sonos One and Sonos One SL can be paired with another Sonos One or Sonos One SL for a stereo pair, and all three speakers can be grouped with a Sonos Playbar, Playbase or Beam for a 3.1 system, or with a Sonos SUB too for a 5.1 system.

The three speakers all offer Trueplay compatibility, allowing them to be tuned in accordance with their surroundings using the microphone within an iOS device and they are all compatible with over 100 music services, including Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music and Tidal.

Where these three devices differ is the Sonos One offers integrated voice control, allowing you to control it via the Sonos app, or by simply asking it to play a particular song, turn the volume up or down or skip a track.

The One offers a choice between the Amazon Alexa personal assistant and Google Assistant. Access to both means you'll also be able to do most things Alexa and Assistant can do through your Sonos speaker, such as ask them to order an Uber, control compatible smart home devices, or find out what the weather is like. It's worth noting you can't use both at the same time - you have to choose, but you have the option to switch between the two.

The Play:1 and Sonos One SL meanwhile, don't feature built-in voice control but voice control through Alexa to Google Assistant is possible if you have an Alexa or Google Assistant compatible device, like the Sonos One, Sonos Beam, Amazon Echo device or Google Home device.

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Hardware

  • All three have two amps, one tweeter and one mid-woofer
  • Sonos One has microphones
  • Custom drivers on Sonos One and Sonos One SL
  • AirPlay 2 support on Sonos One and Sonos One SL

The Sonos Play:1, Sonos One and Sonos One SL all feature two Class-D digital amplifiers, one tweeter for high frequency response and one mid-woofer for mid-range vocal frequencies and bass.

The Sonos One and Sonos One SL do offer custom drivers however, and the Sonos One has a six far-field microphone array that allows it to offer voice control. There is a microphone button on the capacitive control pad on the top of the Sonos One that you can tap on and off in order to choose whether the Sonos One is listening or not.

All three speakers require a Wi-Fi connection and the Sonos app, which is available for iOS and Android devices, as well as Mac and PC. Neither has Bluetooth support like the Sonos Move. The Sonos One and Sonos One SL are compatible with Apple AirPlay 2 however, while the Play:1 is not with Sonos saying it "doesn't have the horsepower to support Air Play 2".

Price

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The Sonos Play:1 costs £149 / $149 and it is available to buy from various outlets, though it will be phased out eventually following the launch of the Sonos One SL. 

The Sonos One SL costs £179 and it too is available from various retailers.

The Sonos One costs £199 / $199 and like the Play:1 and Sonos One SL, it is available from various retailers.

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Conclusion

The Sonos Play:1, Sonos One SL and Sonos One are very similar in design and sound output, but the One and One SL are slightly more refined in finish, offer capacitive touch controls like all the other newer Sonos speakers, and the One features integrated voice control.

The three devices have many of the same features in terms of music service compatibility, multi-room audio and Trueplay compatibility but the Sonos One offers seamless voice control for your entire Sonos system, without the need for an extra device like the Echo Dot or Google Home Mini as the Play:1 and Sonos One SL require. In the same breath, the Sonos One SL offers all the same features as the Sonos One, including AirPlay 2, but it ditches the microphones for those not after a smart speaker.

With only a £50 price difference between the Sonos One and Play:1, the Sonos One is a great option for many looking to start their Sonos collection or add a small speaker to an existing one. Some may not want voice control, in which case the Sonos One SL is an excellent device that delivers a great sound from its small package, the same refined design as the One, all the latest features, while also saving you some money too.

The Play:1 is still a great speaker, and worth considering, but we'd only recommend it over the Sonos One SL if you can find it significantly cheaper and you aren't fussed about the future proof features like AirPlay 2 or the more seamless design.