Review: Sonos PLAY:1

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sonos-1

Sonos has been long known as that company which produces the really experience but really great speakers. Well, Sonos have released an entry level speaker called the PLAY:1 – it’s a little cheaper than the other models but still packs an incredible punch. I’ve had a few months with a pair of PLAY:1 speakers with the intention of pushing them to the limits and trying out the new Deezer Elite subscription streaming service. I very quickly fell in love with the duo, read on to find out why.

The PLAY:1 is an internet connected speaker, meaning you’re able to play your music from a number of different sources. Whether it be your Spotify, Rdio or Google Play library or even the locally stored music on your device, the PLAY:1 can play it. You might be thinking though, well any bluetooth/airplay speaker can do that. The key difference here is that the PLAY:1 will maintain the connection to the streaming source, meaning you can disconnect your phone at any time and the music will keep on playing.

Design

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The design of the PLAY:1 is rather pleasing, it’s a small and compact speaker which actually has quite a bit of weight to it. While not strictly marketed as such, the PLAY:1 certainly feels right at home being a bookshelf speaker. With a long power power cable and wireless capability, you’ll easily be able to set this up on your bookshelf or anywhere really. The PLAY:1 is certainly an impressive unit and looks the part due to it’s premium high end build quality and the audio equipment inside.

At the top of the speaker, you’ll find a volume rocker, a play/pause button and a status light. You’ll be able to quickly change the volume using the volume rocker at any time (even if the speaker has been grouped) and the play/pause button to… well, play and pause. The status light is only used to symbolise that the speaker is turned on and to help with the pairing process – other than that, it isn’t used for much and can actually be turned off. On the back of the speaker, you’ll find a mounting hole to attach the speaker to a mount and an ethernet port, should you not have wireless available. On the bottom, there is lot’s of boring information and the power plug.

Connecting

To connect the PLAY:1 speaker to your network, it’s fairly simple. First of all, you need to download either the Sonos Desktop app or the Sonos iOS/Android app. Plug in your speaker to power and then open up the Sonos app. It will guide you through the setup and if it can, it will do it wirelessly but if for some reason, it’s unsuccessful (in my case, it was) then it will prompt you to complete the setup on Ethernet and then switch over to Wireless after it’s done. You can add additional speakers the same way. Unlike earlier, you won’t need a Sonos Bridge to connect your speakers to your network.

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The Sonos Desktop app is showing it’s age, however, it is regularly updated with new features and services. You’ll be easily able to Group multiple speakers and add new Music Sources. At the time of writing, music services such as Deezer, Pandora, Spotify, SoundButt, Google Play Music etc are available.

I also had the opportunity to try out the Sonos iOS application. At the time of writing, I am using Sonos for iOS version 5.3. The recent update brings a nice and modern design to the table and works really well. The app can do everything the Desktop app can do including create groups and stereo pairs, update the software on the speakers and even add new Sonos speakers to your network. The app featured all the same streaming services and even allows you to play the local content stored on your device, which is pretty cool as well.

Where I did find issue was that you’re locked into the Sonos app. There isn’t any way possible to stream content to your Sonos speaker other than using the Sonos app. So if I were listening to a podcast in Pocket Casts or watching a YouTube video, I wouldn’t be able to start streaming the audio to my speaker, which is a little annoying. From what I’ve found online, this could possibly be an upcoming feature – but it’s all speculation right now.

Sound Quality

I’m certainly no audiophile and what sounds good to me, may not sound good to you. However, I found the Sonos speakers to be perfectly capable at anything that I threw at them. From spoken word podcasts to deep, loud electronic music – the PLAY:1 speakers did an amazing job. While the majority of my music was 320kbps, the speakers sounded fine. A single PLAY:1 speaker can fill the room with good quality audio at a moderate volume and if you needed something more powerful, you can easily add another PLAY:1 speaker into a group and they’ll play in perfect syncrasy. I’m happy.

Deezer Elite

Throughout the review period, I was also invited to try out Deezer Elite, a new service in partnership with Sonos and Deezer. While the Deezer Premium plan will provide 320kbps audio streams to you, Deezer Elite will stream at an amazing 1,411kbps! Which is almost CD quality audio. You can easily add your Deezer Elite account and subscription into the Sonos app and start enjoying super high quality right away.

The audio sounds fantastic, particularly from the PLAY:1. The difference between playing something from Spotify and then something from Deezer Elite is instantly noticeable. The audio is much clearer, louder and simply better quality. If you’re going out and spending a moderate amount of money on a Sonos system then you’d be silly not to get a Deezer Elite subscription to go with it – everything sounds fantastic.

  • Score:

    9.0 / 10

  • The Good:

    Superb sound quality, solid build and great companion apps

  • The Bad:

    Setup could be easier, can’t stream to the speaker

  • Bottom Line:

    A convenient and simple sound solution

I’m sold. I love the Sonos PLAY:1 speaker and will be definitely purchasing one or two soon. The convenience of being able to grab the speaker, plug it in somewhere around your house and instantly choose music from a compatible source is fantastic. If I’ve got friends over, they can simply download the Sonos app onto their phones and add their music into the playlist as well – making it perfect for parties.

If you’re in the market for a great speaker (or two), then I’d definitely go with the PLAY:1. The requirement of needing to have a Sonos Bridge made the purchasing of a Sonos product that little more expensive, however, since that requirement is now gone, you can pick up a PLAY:1 speaker for a little under $350 AUD (at the time of writing).

Join the Conversation

  • robfol

    It’s the best sounding speaker in the Sonos range. I have a pair win white and they look and sound fabulous for the money. Even better when fed with TIDAL or Qobuz

  • darylcheshire

    can you use it as a PC speaker?

    • Chetan Chowhan

      Kind of. You can stream music already on your PC – but it won’t act as a speaker for when you are watching a movie or playing games etc.