Sonos PLAY:1 Review


Review DateOctober 14, 2013

Sonos has been steadily lowering the cost of entry for their music streaming solutions. Smartphones have eliminated the previously required $400 remote, and recent stand-alone speakers like the PLAY:5 and PLAY:3 have shrunk that cost even more. Now Sonos has hit a new low price for entry with the $199 PLAY:1. Dead simple to set up, easy to use, and incredibly capable, buying a PLAY:1 is the easiest decision you can make if you want to stream audio around the house. It’s the best $200 you’ll spend on music this year.

PLAY:1 Design

Review Date:October 14, 2013
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The PLAY:1 is a compact, but really solid, single speaker. Inside are a tweeter and a 3.5” midrange/woofer that put out a surprising refined sound for the size. A few inclusions on the outside help make the PLAY:1 a really well-engineered product. The top has volume controls and a Play/Pause button so it’s easy to adjust while in use. The rear has a threaded adapter that makes it easy to wall mount with any standard speaker mount. There is also an Ethernet jack to allow it to connect directly to the network.

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As of September 2014 you can connect the PLAY:1 directly to your Wi-Fi network without the Sonos Bridge. If you have an environment with heavy Wi-Fi interference, such as a condo or apartment building, you can use the Bridge if the Wi-Fi networks are too congested. You will need an outlet to plug the PLAY:1 into, and there is no battery so you can’t just carry it around the house with you.  The overall finish of the PLAY:1 exudes build quality well beyond the $199 price.


Where Sonos hits it out of the park is setting up the PLAY:1. All home AV components should strive to make setup this simple. I unpack the Wireless Bridge, plug it in, and connect it to my network in the basement, though this extra hardware is no longer necessary. I place one PLAY:1 speaker in the kitchen and another in the living room. After I install the Sonos app on my iPhone (also available for Android) the setup procedure takes less than 5 minutes. Just press a button or two on each device, label the speakers with a room, and the setup is complete.

At this point I can play back music on my phone, though not streaming services, and Internet radio using TuneIn. Adding music from my network and online services took but 10 minutes from a PC. I linked my Spotify and Amazon Cloud Player accounts, and point it to the music share on my NAS. A few minutes of scanning and every album I own is in the software. From picking the package up off my porch to having music playing is under an hour.

Amazing Bass

Listening to Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories in my kitchen the bass from the PLAY:1 makes me take notice. The placement under a cupboard adds some reinforcement but it still has a much fuller sound than I expect. Vocals aren’t drowned out thanks to the two-way design of the speaker and it sounds great.

Moving to the unit in the living room and putting on Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot the bass again surprises me. This room is an open 30’x12’ space but the PLAY:1 fills it up. The drums in “Kamera” have much more kick than I expect from a little box. You don’t feel it in your chest but you aren’t wondering what happened to the bottom octaves of your favorite music. A couple of quick taps in the Sonos app group the kitchen and living room speakers together. Now Wilco is playing, perfectly synced, in both rooms as I walk between them.

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