Sonos set-top streaming box: rumours, leaks and what we want from the Apple TV rival

The Sonos logo on the white speaker grille of a Sonos device.
(Image credit: Future)

Sonos is getting into video streaming. At least, that's what the rumours say. But considering that the Bloomberg report that revealed this information correctly predicted the Sonos Ace headphones, we have reason to believe it.

It says that Sonos is working on a video streaming box to rival the likes of the Apple TV 4K and Amazon Fire TV Stick (as well as a new soundbar that could well be the Sonos Arc 2).

Big news. So what can we expect from a Sonos streamer? Who will it partner with? And will it offer anything unique to help it stand out from what else is available? We'll run you through everything we know, as well as what we reckon Sonos will do.

Sonos streaming box: release date rumours

This is one area where we do have a leak to go on. According to the Bloomberg report, Sonos' streaming box will launch around the end of 2024 or beginning of 2025.

Undoubtedly, Sonos will be aiming for the former. The end of the year is when sales of these kinds of devices peak, with people buying either as gifts for others or treats for themselves. Of course, it doesn't hurt that there's more to watch at that time of year too, due to shops closing for the festive period and the inclement weather. All together now: "Oh the weather outside is frightful..."

Expect Sonos to aim for the end of 2024, but the launch could slip to early 2025.

Sonos streaming box: price prediction

A Google Chromecast with Google TV 4K plugged into the back of a TV with the remote control and a vase on the TV stand next to it. In the background are a sofa and coffee table, both out of focus.

(Image credit: Google)

We've not seen any news regarding a price yet, and with a launch likely at least a few months away, it's too early for any pricing to be set. But we would guess Sonos will pitch the device more towards the high end of the market.

Streamers can be picked up very cheap – the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K sells for just £60 / $50 / AU$79. And if you opt for a non-4K model, they're even cheaper. The Google Chromecast with Google TV, for example, is just £35 / $30 / AU$59 for the HD version.

But we can't see Sonos competing with them. Having built its name as a premium multi-room system, it'll have its sights set on the Apple TV 4K, which costs £149 / $129 / AU$219, or £169 / $149 / AU$249 for the ethernet model with more storage. Bloomberg says the Sonos box will cost between $150 and $200 (around £150, AU$270). Though with no track record in video streaming, whether it can compete at that level is another question...

Recent evidence isn't too promising. The last time Sonos entered a new market was with its Ace wireless headphones, which are priced at £449 / $449 / AU$699 – that's more expensive than the market-leading Sony WH-1000XM5. But as our review found, the wait for certain features and iffy sound quality make that price hard to justify.

Sonos streaming box: design speculation

The Sonos Era 300 and Sonos Move 2 in white side by side on a white surface with a globe and vinyl album covers in the background.

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

There's no word on how Sonos' streaming box will look. But the firm specialises in sleek, minimalist devices with rounded corners, so it's a fairly safe bet to expect more of the same.

The Era speakers introduced a new control panel, including a recessed volume trough and capacitive touch-sensitive buttons. We could see a version of this on the streaming device for consistency, though more controls are likely in a separate remote control, of which Sonos' own voice control system will surely play a big part.

The Sonos Ace headphones brought back push buttons, and are all the better for it. So there's a chance Sonos will continue its function over form approach and go for what works over what looks most modern.

Like the Apple TV 4K, we would imagine the Sonos streamer will be a box to place alongside your TV, rather than a streaming stick to plug into the back of it. Sonos devices usually only come in black or white. The Move 2 and Roam 2 come in a wider range of colours, but we can't see Sonos introducing that to a home product.

Sonos streaming box: features forecast

A Mitchell & Brown 65-inch 4K TV on a TV cabinet in front of a wood-panelled wall. On screen are rows of apps and content stills.

(Image credit: Mitchell & Brown)

If Sonos wants to compete at the top end of the streaming box market, it'll have to pack its device to the rafters with features.

The streaming box is said to run the Android operating system, which is more common on TVs than streaming devices. Sonos is rumoured to be in talks with Netflix about developing an app for the device – we would also expect all the usual suspects, such as Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and Apple TV to come as standard.

These are givens. What will be more interesting is what audio/visual formats Sonos supports.

It's no stranger to Dolby Atmos – the Era 300 was built with spatial audio at its core, after all – so we would expect that to feature. But in the video arena, the picture is less clear. Could it bring Dolby Vision to its first ever video device? Would it go all in with 4K/120 for gamers, or stick to the 60Hz refresh rate? And is HDR a given, as you would expect from a video streamer costing this much?

One thing we can be sure of is that it will work seamlessly with Sonos' other devices. Interoperability is a big plank of the firm's offering, with all its speakers (including soundbars, portables and bookshelf speakers) working together seamlessly. So expect the streaming box to slot right into your Sonos setup.

In fact, we would expect Sonos to leverage its streaming smarts in such a way as to make the streamer the heart of a surround system. The Apple TV 4K can send audio wirelessly to two HomePods, which then create a Dolby Atmos presentation to go with the on-screen video. We imagine the Sonos streamer will do a similar thing only more so, with the streamer acting as the source for up to four of Sonos's wireless speakers. If those speakers were all Era 300s, that could be a formidable Dolby Atmos setup. This is the kind of thing that would help to justify the anticipated higher price and it would also make sense given Sonos's history and recent approach to home cinema.

However, it's not guaranteed. The Sonos Ace headphones were widely rumoured to feature wi-fi to work with Sonos' wireless speakers, but in fact they only work with the Sonos Arc soundbar. Let's hope the firm has learned its lesson.

Sonos streaming box: early verdict

Not much has leaked about Sonos's streamer, and the device is a way off yet. We hope it will be worth the wait. Sonos has built a strong reputation thanks to well-designed and thought-out products that deliver excellent build quality, (mostly) superb sound quality and great ease of use. But branching out into new markets isn't easy, as the firm recently learned with its Ace headphones.

A video device will be even more of a departure for the company, and an even bigger risk. It will be fascinating to see if it can get all of the fiddly video-processing details (frame rate-matching, HDR switching, upscaling etc) right on the first attempt, or if it will end up rushing the device out before it's ready, like the recent Ace headphones.

The streaming market is currently dominated by more affordable devices, but if Sonos can get it right, the Apple TV 4K could finally have a serious rival.


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Joe Svetlik

Joe has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Stuff, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Men's Health, GQ, The Mirror, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include all things mobile, headphones and speakers that he can't justifying spending money on.

With contributions from
  • manicm
    I seriously doubt this, unless Sonos peddles it's own video streaming service, what would they gain from it, and why would they go directly in the ring with Apple when both uphold premium status? Nah.
  • BanquoStarbon
    I always wondered why no one has integrated a streaming box for TV/ movies into an AVR or soundbar. Maybe Sonos will do this.
  • Tweedster97
    BanquoStarbon said:
    I always wondered why no one has integrated a streaming box for TV/ movies into an AVR or soundbar. Maybe Sonos will do this.
    Roku has done this with the Streambar and Streambar Pro. Totally agree that it should be done more though and that it could be a good approach for Sonos.