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Sonos One SL speaker review: An updated Play:1 with great design and privacy

, Deputy editor · ·
Review An assessment or critique of a service, product, or creative endeavour such as art, literature or a performance.

(Pocket-lint) - The Sonos One SL is - in a nutshell - a Sonos One but without the microphones. Replacing the discontinued Play:1, the Sonos One SL is for those who want the design and internal advantages of the Sonos One but don't want, or need, built-in voice control.

It might not offer Bluetooth and portability like the Sonos Roam, but the Sonos One SL still has an important role in the Sonos portfolio. For some, it'll be the perfect choice. Here's why:

Our quick take

The Sonos One SL might seem like an odd addition to the Sonos portfolio at first, and the name is certainly a little strange with seemingly no reason for the choice of 'SL', but this little speaker makes complete sense after a little more consideration. 

The Play:1 was in need of an update when compared to the other Sonos speakers - and not everyone wants built-in voice control or microphones. Those also wanting to add two Sonos One speakers to a Sonos Beam or Arc for surround sound also have the best option in the SL.

It might not offer the flexibility of Roam, or the sound stage of Move, but with the same design and internals as the Sonos One, the Sonos One SL is another fantastic speaker from Sonos - and one that meets the needs of those after a little more privacy too. 

5 stars - Pocket-lint editors choice
For
  • Excellent sound considering compact design
  • Great Sonos features
  • AirPlay 2 support
  • Perfect used as cinema surrounds
Against
  • More expensive than Play:1 it replaces
  • No Bluetooth
  • No portability
  • The name's odd for the series
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The Sonos One SL is a beautiful little speaker, just like the Sonos One, though that was to be expected given the two speakers are virtually identical.

More streamlined in design than the Sonos Play:1, the Sonos One SL has a colour-matched metal grille, with plastic detailing at the top and down the rear. There's a pairing button on the back at the bottom, along with an Ethernet port, with the power port hidden neatly underneath.

On the front, the Sonos logo sits discreetly at the top, while the bottom of the speaker tapers inwards to finish off the simple and seamless design. None of those details are any different to the Sonos One - but there are some slight variations at the top of the speaker where the controls sit.

On the Sonos One there is a microphone button, an LED light to show when the microphone is on or off, and the capacitive touch controls - play/pause, volume up and volume down - sit in the centre of the top surrounded by a circle of small holes for the microphones. That's not the case on the Sonos One SL though.

While the capacitive touch controls remain - matching the newer speakers in the Sonos line up, such as the Beam, Playbase, Arc and portable Move - the Sonos One SL doesn't have the microphone button, nor the holes around the controls. Instead, it simply has the play/pause and volume controls.

The Sonos One SL comes in black - which is the same shade of black as the Sonos One - and it is available in white too, like many of the other speakers in the Sonos portfolio. 

The Sonos One SL offers all the same features as the Sonos One, but without built-in Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa voice control. You can still control it from a Google Assistant or Alexa-compatible device, as you can with other Sonos speakers that don't have the built-in voice control, but you can't talk directly to it.

Control takes place through the Sonos app, like all other Sonos speakers - except the Sonos Move and Sonos Roam when in Bluetooth mode - which means that all the features offered by the Sonos system are present on the Sonos One SL.

This includes the ability to group multiple Sonos speakers together, adjust EQ levels, stereo pair the Sonos One SL with another Sonos One SL or Sonos One speaker, as well as Trueplay tune the Sonos One SL to its surroundings, to name but a few. The Sonos system is also compatible with over 100 music streaming services.

You can use the One SL as cinema surrounds with a Sonos Arc or Sonos Beam for a 3.1 surround system, as well as with a Sonos Sub for a 5.1 system. This is where the One SL is likely to be perfect for some, as if you have a Beam or Arc - both of which have smart assistants on board - and you want to expand your system with surround speakers, you don't need two Sonos One speakers with smart assistants too. The Sonos Roam and Move can't be used as surrounds, which makes the One SL the perfect choice here.

The Sonos One SL also has Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) on board for easy setup and it also supports Apple's AirPlay 2 - both of which the Sonos One offers, but the latter is something the older Play:1 doesn't provide (as it doesn't have the processing power required for Apple's technology).

The Sonos One SL features the same sound architecture as the Sonos One, meaning you'll find two class-D amplifiers, custom drivers, a tweeter, and a mid-woofer inside. 

As with the Sonos One, the One SL offers mighty sound for such a small package. It doesn't deliver the same performance as you'll get from the Move or larger Sonos Five, but we wouldn't expect that. 

Bass levels are rich and, much like the earlier Play:1, the One SL copes well with treble too. We listen to various music, from the likes of Beyonce to Bowie, and we're still impressed with the One SL's capabilities on all occasions.

The overall balance is towards the bassier side, but we're totally fine with that - and if you're not then you can always adjust the EQ levels in the Sonos app to suit your preference.

To recap

It might not offer the flexibility of the Roam, or the sound stage of the Move, but with the same design and internals as the Sonos One, the SL is another fantastic speaker from Sonos - and one that meets the needs of those after a little more privacy too. 

Writing by Britta O'Boyle. Editing by Stuart Miles.