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Sonos Play:1

Sonos Play:1 review: The best multiroom speaker is now better value than ever

Our Rating :
£117.97 from
Price when reviewed : £169
inc VAT

A great addition to the Sonos range, which sounds great on its own or as part of a stereo or multi-room system


  • Great sound quality, glorious build
  • Most affordable Sonos player yet
  • Incredibly flexible and future proof


  • Not much

The Play:1 also manages to solve three key issues we’ve had with Sonos’ products ever since they first came out — namely, that it’s now cheap enough to compete with what’s on offer from its rivals, small and discreet enough to tuck away anywhere, and doesn’t require an extra wireless bridge to connect to your home Wi-Fi network. If you’re looking for the perfect first step into the world of wireless multi-room audio, then this is it.

Best Sonos Play:1 deals (was £199, now £149) – Buy Now from Amazon

Sonos isn’t in the habit of discounting its Play family, but you’re in luck: the Play:1 received a very tempting 25% price cut for Black Friday, and it looks like that might stick around for good. Given that the Play:1 was retailing for around £180, that’s not quite as generous as it first appears, but if you were planning on buying a few Play:1’s to kit out your home then the savings add up pretty quickly. Don’t forget: buy two and you can pair them together for sumptuous stereo sound, or you can put them in different rooms and spread music around the house. For this kind of money, the Play:1 is a great first step into multi-room audio.

Sonos Play:1 review: Features and design

All in all, the Play:1 is a seriously tempting proposition, particularly since it works seamlessly with the rest of Sonos’ portfolio as well, allowing users to expand their sound systems to improve sound quality or combine them with the Sonos Playbar for a full surround-sound system. This gives it plenty of flexibility, and its gorgeous looks makes it stand out in your living room.

New to Sonos? Read our Which Sonos to Buy guide

Similar in size to a bookcase speaker, the Play:1 is every bit the quality piece of kit we’ve come to expect from Sonos over the years. Its stylish, curved body is wrapped in a continuous mesh grille that looks absolutely stunning, and its black and white finishes mean you can easily buy the model that fits in with your home. Pick the Play:1 up and you notice immediately that it has the same reassuring heaviness that the other Sonos players have; it’s immediately clear this is a quality bit of kit.

Sonos Play:1 review: Connectivity

As with Sonos’ other products, the Play:1 is a wireless speaker, giving you a lot of freedom as to where you place it. As Sonos has its own proprietary wireless mesh network, it used to be that you’d need to buy a Bridge product to plug into your router (or connect another player via Ethernet). Now, Sonos has updated the player’s firmware, so you can simply connect the player to your Wi-Fi network, removing the need for the Bridge entirely and making getting into Sonos cheaper than ever.

If you want to expand your system and find that some players are out of reach of your wireless network, you can simply hook a Bridge into the system (or connect the Play:1 or other player via Ethernet) and your Sonos system will automatically switch back to the traditional Mesh network. In this mode every player acts as a repeater, giving you much better coverage and reliability than you get with normal Wi-Fi.

On top of that Sonos has released the Boost, which is like a turbo-powered Bridge delivering, as Sonos says, “enterprise-grade wireless capabilities”. Most homes will be fine with Wi-Fi or a Bridge, but for difficult environments, the Boost ensures that Sonos will work everywhere.

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Sonos Play:1 review: Sound quality

The Play:1 is something of a departure for Sonos, as it’s the first player from the company that’s mono only. So, can this small, mono player deliver the sound quality that we’ve come to expect from the company? In short, the answer is n emphatic yes and it’s largely down to some clever engineering inside.

Inside, Sonos has fitted a tweeter and a brand-new 3.5in mid-range driver (each has its own amp), which has more cone movement than a speaker that size usually does. So, while a speaker that size would normally have cone movement of 6mm, this one moves 14mm. More cone movement means more air movement, which means bigger sound. On top of that, the crossover between the tweeter and driver has been customised, so it’s much lower than normal. Sonos says that this means that you lose the directionality of the speaker, so your music should fill the room no matter where you put it.

It has to be said that a single Play:1 more than adequately fills a room. With music blaring through it, it’s difficult to work out exactly where the speaker is and you can comfortably walk around without losing any detail in tracks. Sound quality is generally excellent, as we’ve come to expect from Sonos. Thanks to the high build quality and attention to detail, you can pump it up to full volume without any vibration or distortion. Despite the fact that there are just two speakers inside, the Play:1 has pretty amazing range. For the vast majority of music, there’s the thump of bass, a balanced mid-range and a sharp, but not too bright, high-end. Listening to a selection of rock, classical and rap, you can pick out the subtle details in each track.

Sonos Play:1

Obviously, with only mono sound and just the two drivers, there are some limitations to what it can do. Play a track that’s designed with stereo in mind and you lose some of the effect. For example, Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here starts off completely in the right-track, until the solo acoustic guitar kicks in on both the left and right.Similarly, Enough Space by the Foo Fighters has a wonderful intro where a guitar swirls around the left and right channels; with a single speaker, it simply doesn’t have as much impact.

A track that more dynamics that this, such as John William’s The Imperial March from The Empire Strikes Back, stretches the capabilities of the Play:1 even further. Although the entire range is audible, the Play:1 on its own doesn’t quite have the presence to really bring the track to life.

That’s not to say that the Play:1 isn’t good, it’s just a matter of knowing its limitations. For the vast majority of tracks and internet radio, the Play:1 is great and the fact that something so small can produce such big sound is impressive. For a small room, or perhaps a guest bedroom, the Play:1 is a brilliant addition to any Sonos system.

It’s important to remember that Sonos has a clever trick up its sleeve: stereo pairing. This lets you combine two players of the same type together, with one taking over the left channel and one the right. Add two Play:1 speakers together and you’ve got yourself a room-filling stereo system.

In this mode, the difference is both immediate and dramatic. By using two completely separate speakers, which you’re free to place them wherever you like, as they’re wireless, you get proper stereo separation and an increase in sound quality and volume. We’ve been using our pair like this since launch and the sound is absolutely stunning. You get all of the musical fidelity we talked about with a single speaker, but this time with proper stereo.

Sonos Play:1

Gone are any of the minor issues we had with a single Play:1. Wish You Were here is played in all of its majesty, while Enough Space’s intro swirls and loops around you just the way it should. Pairing two Play:1s together also delivers far better bass. Rock tracks just have that extra thump and immediacy that helps you get into them. We found classical tracks sounded that bit more detailed and involved as well.

As a comparison, we think that two Play:1s are better than a single Play:3, largely because of the stereo separation you get by being able to place the speakers apart. Of course, two Play:3s sound better again, although the difference isn’t quite as immediate or obvious and you’ll pay a lot more for the privilege. Overall, we have to say that while one Play:1 sounds great, two is our preferred combination.

Sonos Play:1 review: Sonos SUB

If you want that proper low-end drive, you can also add a Sonos SUB into the mix. It may be expensive, but it’s one of our favourite subwoofers ever, particularly as you can lie it on its side and slip it under a bed or sofa, so you get proper bass but without the issue of working out where to put it.

What’s clever about Sonos’ system is that adding the SUB automatically tunes the EQ on the subwoofer and your Play:1 speakers so the transition between the two matches perfectly. And cleverly, by moving a lot of the bass on to the SUB, the Play:1s can actually go louder, so you get clearer and louder sound all round.

If a stereo pair is great, a stereo pair with a SUB is amazing. The combination of the two means you get excellent detail, with that full thumping bass that a lot of tracks thrive on. The sound is much richer and fuller using this kind of set-up — it’s another huge step up. Perhaps the ultimate experience is two Play:3 speakers and a SUB, but this is eye: expensive; for the best combination of price and performance, two Play:1 speakers and a SUB is our ideal setup, particularly as the Play:1 is easier to place neatly out of the way.

Sonos SUB front view

Sonos Play:1 and Sonos Playbar for home cinema

Of course, you don’t have to use the Play:1 for music. It’s also possible to combine more than one with the Sonos Playbar home cinema soundbar. In its default configuration it’s a 3.0 system, but you can add the SUB for extra bass and two other Sonos players for the surround channels. While the Play:3 was a little expensive and a little overpowered to do the job of rear speakers, the Play:1 is perfect. It even has a wall-mounting point at the rear so you can fit it in the right place.
Sonos Playbar wall mount

In this configuration, the Play:1 puts out the high sound quality that’s required for the incidental effects and music pumped to the rear speakers. If you have a Playbar and want to expand for to surround-sound, but were put off by the price, now’s your chance to extend on a more reasonable budget.

Sonos Play:1 review: Buttons

With the Play:1 comes another big change to the way that Sonos works. Since launch, all Sonos players have had two buttons: a volume rocker and a mute button. With the Play:1 the mute has been replaced with a Play/Pause button instead.

Tap this and the music is automatically paused, so you can continue at your leisure. It also means you can walk in the house, tap the button and within 50ms have music or internet radio playing, without having to fumble around trying to find your smartphone. You can even double-tap the button to skip tracks.

Sonos Play:1

That’s not all, however. Sonos has also updated the software for all other players to reflect this change so that their Mute button now acts as Play/Pause. It’s a brilliant update to the whole portfolio system and the ability to instantly start playing something makes so much sense. As minor as it seems, long-time Sonos users will absolutely love this feature. Sonos has also updated the controller software, so it remembers all of the networks you’ve attached it to. That means you can use the Sonos system at home, at a friend’s house and at work without having to manually join it to the network each time.

Sonos Play:1 Verdict

The Play:1 is a great addition to the Sonos range, as it suddenly gives existing Sonos owners a lot more options. For people that want to get started with Sonos, it’s a superb entry-level device that doesn’t cost an absolute fortune. For those who have already invested, it’s a cheaper way to extend your multiroom audio into extra rooms.

Sonos Play:1

By itself, the Play:1 manages to fill a room, although we think it’s better suited to smaller rooms where it can be tucked out of the way. We think that the Play:3 is the better player when only one is involved. Put two Play:1s into a stereo pair, though, and it’s a completely different story with proper stereo separation and fantastic sound that beats a single Play:3.

Adding a SUB into the mix makes another big difference and you get proper thumping sound that’s up there with, if not better than, a single Play:5. Given its flexibility and that you can add other components to improve its sound, the Play:1 is a clear Best Buy winner, particularly as you no longer need the wireless bridge.

Speakers2 (mono: 1x tweeter, 1x mid-range)
RMS power outputNot disclosed
Audio inputsNone
Audio outputsNone
Dock connectorNone
NetworkingSonosNet (802.11n dual-band), 1x 10/100 Ethernet
App supportiOS, Android
Battery capacityN/A
Streaming formatsSonosNet
Supported serversUPnP, SMB
Audio formatsAAC, Flac, MP3, Ogg, WAV
Internet streaming servicesAupeo, Deezer, Napster, Rdio, Spotify, internet radio
Buying information
Price including VAT£169
WarrantyOne-year RTB
Part codePLAY:1

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