Sonos Play:1 wireless speaker
Great size and price
Light on bass
A new entry-level speaker makes the Sonos Digital Music System more flexible and affordable than ever.
Sonos is the gold standard when it comes to multi-room audio and it’s a lot more flexible than simply hooking up speakers to a few Airport Expresses spread around your home. Sonos speakers create their own wireless mesh network, so you only need to connect one speaker (or a Sonos bridge) to your home network.
Now you can drive the system from any computer or handheld device, playing music in sync throughout the house or different songs in different rooms.
Your music can come from your iGadget, computer or Network Attached Storage drive. Alternatively, Sonos can tap into internet radio stations, online simulcasts and subscription music services such as Pandora, Spotify and Rdio.
Sonos’ only real drawback is the expense, even if it’s perhaps justified considering the high-calibre speakers.
Thankfully, a Sonos system has become a lot more affordable over the years with the introduction of smaller speakers, such as the $649 Play:5 and the $479 Play:3 catering to medium and small rooms respectively. The addition of the $299 Play:1 makes it more cost-effective to bring music to the smallest nooks and crannies of your home.
The Play:1 is available in black or white and its footprint is slightly larger than a two-litre carton of milk, so around half the size of the Play:3. This makes the little Play:1 a good fit for bookshelves, benchtops, bedside tables and bathrooms – there’s a wall-mounting thread on the back and it’s 100 percent humidity-proof.
It’s possible to link two Play:1s as a stereo pair, which can stand by themselves or act as rear speakers with a Sonos Playbar home theatre system. You can also sync them with a Sonos SUB for extra low-end grunt.
The Play:1 may cater for a small living area if you’re holding dinner parties rather than dance parties. You can crank up the volume with no distortion thanks to its custom-designed 3.5in mid-woofer and separate tweeter driven by individual D-class amplifiers.
Unfortunately, the Play:1 is found wanting when it comes to bass, which becomes more noticeable as you turn up the volume. The drop in low-end performance compared to the Play:3 is roughly the same again as the step-down from the Play:5 to the Play:3. Whether you’re a fan of Dave Brubeck or Dave Grohl, if you value a rich bass line then you probably won’t be satisfied substituting a Play:1 for a Play:3 even in a small room.
This isn’t to say the Play:1 is terrible, just that you shouldn’t view it as a cheaper substitute for one of the larger Sonos speakers. It’s much better to approach the Play:1 as a cost-effective way to extend your multi-room audio system into those small places where a Play:3 seems either too expensive or too large.
Alternatively, you may view the Play:1 as a great Sonos entry point for a small living area, with the option to build up your system over time and perhaps retire the Play:1 to another room. For a limited time Sonos is throwing in the $89 Sonos bridge for free, so you won’t need to worry about running Ethernet to your single Play:1 speaker in the lounge room.
The Play:1 is a worthy addition to the Sonos family as long as you don’t overestimate its capabilities. It’s a great fit for intimate settings, but if you’re trying to totally rock a large room on a tight budget then you may be underwhelmed.