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Got your heart set on Sonos? Unsure which of the brand's product(s) to make space for in your home? Don't look any further...

If you’re thinking of venturing into multi-room audio, the chances are you’ve considered Sonos. And why not? Over the last decade, the company has almost single-handedly shaped the wireless multi-room market into what it is today and, thanks to its competitive sound, vast array of streaming service support and set-up simplicity, it remains one of the most compelling wireless streaming solutions out there. Even with Audio Pro knocking at the door.

But while the core products in the Sonos family – Play:1, Play:3 and Play:5 wireless speakers, the Playbar soundbar, Playbase soundbase and Sub, plus new-ish One smart speaker – all share the same DNA, it’s more than just price (although they've undergone through a price hike) and size that distinguish each product. Your particular needs will determine which one(s) you should buy, and we’re here to help guide you on your way...


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Play:1 (£200)

The Play:1 is the brand’s entry-level speaker and the perfect starting point for those tight on space or budget. Around the size of a bag of sugar, it can fly solo or be paired with another (for a multi-room set-up, or in stereo mode), and gets you everything the Sonos experience has to offer: access to streaming services, including Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, internet radio and more - all streamable through the intuitive Sonos Controller app, via wi-fi or Ethernet.

Setting the bar for performance at this price, it belts it out with more weight and solidity, punch and power than you’d expect from its humble proportions - so it's one of our favourite wireless speakers at this price.

Why should you buy the Play:1?

A neatly packaged, good value speaker, the Play:1 is great for laying the foundations of your Sonos journey, or for cost-effectively expanding your existing system into more rooms. Just be aware that, unlike some portable rivals such as the Ultimate Ears Blast, the Play:1 isn’t battery-powered.

MORE: where to buy

ALSO CONSIDER: Audio Pro Addon T5, Audio Pro Addon C5

Play:3 (£300)

While the Play:3 matches its smaller sibling for features, the reason for choosing it lies in its better sound. Its extra driver and bass radiator bring more bass weight and depth, volume and power to the table.

Unsurprisingly, its trapezoidal chassis has a larger footprint than the Play:1, measuring 13 x 27 x 16cm (hwd) and, thanks to rubber feet and automatic EQ adjustment, can be orientated vertically as well as horizontally for a more natural look if two are paired in stereo.

Why should you buy the Play:3?

If you can loosen your purse-strings, the Play:3’s improved performance over its sibling more than justifies its price hike. And with the dispersion and power to fill a larger space, you get a living room-friendly speaker without having to spend a small fortune.

MORE: where to buy

ALSO CONSIDER: Audio Pro Addon C10

Play:5 (£500)

While the Play:1 and Play:3 are still knocking around in their original guises, the Play:5 had a hefty update in 2015 – all for the better.

An enclosed chassis, redesigned drivers, touch-sensitive controls and the ability to position the speaker both horizontally and vertically were all welcome changes.

Even better: it sounds better than before. The scale is huge, and the sound is packed with a lively dynamics, rich basslines and an attention to detail that makes it fun to listen to.

Why should you buy the Play:5?

The Play:5 remains Sonos's biggest and boldest speaker - but it's no longer the best in class, not when Audio Pro's Addon C10 sounds better for less money. But if you're keeping it in the Sonos family, the Play:5 will certainly entertain you.

MORE: where to buy

ALSO CONSIDER: Bluesound Pulse 2, Audio Pro Addon C10

More after the break

Sonos One (£200)

Sonos’s answer to the growing trend of smart speakers is a revamped Play:1 with Amazon’s Alexa voice-control built in - and it passes its smart test with flying colours.

It's not the best-sounding smart speaker, but the One's solid, detailed, spacious and organised presentation makes it enjoyable to listen to, and its Alexa is as seamless to use as on Amazon’s own speakers.

With the crucial feature of being able to use Alexa to control Spotify now available, and with Google Assistant and AirPlay 2 support due later this year, the One is the most well-specified and versatile smart speaker currently around.

Why should you buy the Sonos One?

You wouldn’t buy the Sonos One just for its Alexa smarts. But it's a great perk that's hard to ignore.

If you want a good-sounding wireless speaker that’s your stepping stone into the world of multi-room streaming (especially of the convenient, features-packed Sonos flavour) that just happens to have the added bonus of voice-control – all for the entry-level price of £200 – then yes, the One is the one for you.

MORE: where to buy

ALSO CONSIDER: Ultimate Ears Megablast

Playbar (£700)

Sonos in a soundbar. Essentially, the Playbar offers the same core functionality and streaming features of its speaker siblings, but can connect to your TV too (via digital optical cable only). As you’d expect, its room-filling presentation is a huge improvement over a TV sound, offering weight, solidity, dynamics and bass depth that can be made all the more impactful when a Sonos SUB (£700) is added to the mix. 

Any of the wireless speakers above can be paired with the Playbar too, to act as surround channels for a full 5.1 set-up. In this set-up, it can decode Dolby Digital and produce pseudo-surround from a stereo signal, but can't handle DTS or higher quality soundtracks such as Dolby TrueHD.

Why should you buy the Playbar?

The Playbar isn’t cheap, and the Dali Kubik One may give you better performance, but the fact it delivers movies and the Sonos music streaming package puts it in another league to anything else on the market. If that’s what’s important to you, and/or a space-hogging surround system isn’t practical, the Playbar is hard to ignore.

MORE: where to buy

ALSO CONSIDER: Dali Kubik One, Naim Mu-so

Playbase (£700)

The Playbase is quite simply a Playbar in the form of a soundbase. Stylish yet sturdy enough to plonk your telly on top, the Playbase makes perfect sense if you don't fancy using a soundbar.

But this Sonos product isn't flawless. Despite its huge, airy soundstage and energetic, solid bass (which sounds more natural than the Playbar) there's a sibilance to the treble that can be hard to ignore. There's punch and ample dynamics, though, so we'd recommend giving it a try before you buy.

It's a breeze to use when going multi-room and you still get access to all those streaming smarts but like the Playbar, the lack of HDMI connections is something worth bearing in mind.

Why should you buy the Playbase?

The Playbase isn't perfect, but the core Sonos features we love - its ease of use, the extensive streaming features, great app - are all present. It's a sure step up from your flatscreen TV's sound, and there isn't any other soundbase that packs in so many useful features into one streamlined box.

MORE: where to buy

ALSO CONSIDER: Dali Kubik OneQ Acoustics M2, Sony HT-ST5000

Sonos multi-room system

The great thing about Sonos is not only its wide range of products, long list of streaming services, and user-friendly app and set up. It’s that your system can constantly grow - whether that's through adding wireless speakers to your soundbar set-up or planting them in another room.

While no longer compulsory, we would recommend anyone committed to the multi-room cause to hardwire one (a ‘master’) speaker to your network router, so you can take advantage of the proprietary peer-to-peer ‘mesh’ network that makes Sonos so reliable. Alternatively, the more powerful Sonos Boost (£99) is designed to make your wi-fi signal ‘twice as’ robust - ideal for large houses and thick walls.

Why should you buy the Sonos multi-room system?

As an entire ecosystem, Sonos is hard to fault - if you don’t mind sacrificing hi-res audio support, of course. Sensibly priced, beginner-friendly and with an appealing expand-as-you-go ethos, it’s a multi-room mogul to be reckoned with.

MORE: Sonos multi-room system review

ALSO CONSIDER: Audio Pro multi-room system


Of course, Sonos is not the only option when going multi-room. The company was first, and has somewhat cornered the multi-room market, but big players such as Bose, LG, SamsungSony and Yamaha, and hi-res supporting brands such as Bluesound and Denon, have since joined the fray.

The increasingly popular smart speakers from Amazon and Google also offer multi-room streaming across their various voice-controlled products, while the Apple HomePod is due to get multi-room powers once that pesky AirPlay 2 update finally comes to fruition.

While most rivals may not have been able to topple the multi-room giant, newcomers such as Audio Pro have shown it is possible to get better sound performance for better value. Check out our full Sonos guide for everything you need to know about the company's speaker ecosystem and its alternatives...