The 8 best Sonos products of all time

(Image credit: Sonos)

It’s no exaggeration to say that Sonos’ products have had a huge impact on the way a lot of people listen to music and movies at home, and in almost 20 years of What Hi-Fi? testing its products, it’s had a pretty solid track record too. Okay, so there might be one, fairly recent blip on that record… but look past that and there’s a rich history filled with fantastic products that we have recommended time and time again. 

From wireless speakers to soundbars, Sonos has tackled just about every area of the home to fill it with sound. But which have been its very best products? We’ve waded through the many five-star products from the past two decades to pull out some of its most memorable. But which product is your favourite? Be sure to let us know in the comments.

Sonos ZP100

The Sonos ZP100 on a grey background

(Image credit: Sonos)

The product that started it all, the ZP100 (or "ZonePlayer" 100) was introduced to the market in 2005. However, this was not a wireless speaker, it was a compact amplifier with wireless smarts built in, and the ancestor of the current Sonos Amp.

The ZP100 allowed you to stream music to your system that you had downloaded on your computer or NAS drive (remember the days before streaming services?), as well as connect any wired sources through its two line-in inputs. 

You were then able to push that music to another ZP100, or its non-amplified sibling, the ZP80, released in 2006, creating one of the most accessible multi-rooms the industry had ever seen.  

We tested the ZP100 as part of the BU130 music system, which included a ZP80 as well as the CR100 – a full-colour music controller for those days before smartphones. What a world it was. 

We called the BU130  ‘the hottest thing to hit hi-fi in years' when we reviewed it in our September 2005 issue, and we reckon we weren't far wrong.

Sonos Play:5

The original Sonos Play:5 speaker in white

(Image credit: Sonos)

It took until 2009 for Sonos to release its first all-in-one wireless speaker, originally called the ZonePlayer S5 before being renamed the Play:5. It was the first of three iterations of this speaker – what we know as today's Sonos Five – and was so popular that it kickstarted Sonos' move into wireless audio, shaping the company it is today. 

What had begun as a software-focused company was now catapulted into the world of audio, and it quickly hired the teams it needed. The Play:5 thrilled reviewers, including ours, who gave it five stars and described it as having "a delivery far bigger than any room it's likely to be placed in".

Sonos Playbar

(Image credit: Sonos)

After the introduction of the smaller Play:3 wireless speaker and the Sub wireless subwoofer, all eyes were on Sonos to see what its next move would be. The answer came in 2013, with a side-step into TV audio and its first soundbar, the Playbar.

The Playbar was a pretty chunky proposition, with nine drivers hidden behind a cloth grille. Its only misstep was that it supported a connection to your TV via digital optical cable only, rather than HDMI – though at the time, this was more of a mild grumble than anything too drastic.

While Sonos had better to come from this department, the Playbar was a superb performer at the time, something we concluded would "massively improve the sound from your TV and give you immediate access to more music than you could ever possibly hope to listen to. The Sonos Playbar is an excellent option".

Sonos One

Sonos One

(Image credit: Sonos)

The Sonos One arrived in 2017 (with a Gen 2 following in 2019), and it was a refreshed take on the company's smallest Play:1 speaker that had been released four years earlier. Its design was made a little slicker – a new design language that we would see roll out across its speakers in the coming years – but there was actually very little, if any, difference in its sound compared with its predecessor. Not that that was a bad thing, we loved the Play:1's sound, and we felt similarly enamoured with the One.

The big talking point here was in fact the inclusion of both Amazon's Alexa and Google's Assistant, baked into a Sonos speaker for the very first time. One of the best small wireless speakers of its time with a choice of two of the best voice assistants – all for under £200? It was a win/win in our eyes, and we slapped five stars on it immediately.

Sonos Beam

A black Sonos Beam Gen 2 in front of a TV on top of a wooden rack

(Image credit: Sonos)

When the Sonos Beam was released in 2018, it was the first soundbar we'd seen from the company in five years. We'd had the Playbase a year previously (soundbases, remember those?) but the Playbar was starting to look – and sound – a little long in the tooth. Plus it was pricey, still costing £600 / $700.

No better time for Sonos to come out with a petite, stylish soundbar then, fitting right in with the company's newer design language, and taking up significantly less space than the Playbar. Not just that, it was quite a lot cheaper than the Playbar too, costing £399 / $399 and giving Sonos owners and newcomers alike a real entry-level option in the home cinema department.

Packing in five drivers and three passive radiators, we were blown away by the performance it offered – and this only got better when it released the Beam Gen 2 in 2021, adding support for a virtual interpretation of Dolby Atmos. Not all soundbars get this right, but the Beam Gen 2 has it nailed. So much so that it's still our current Award winner at its price.

Sonos Move

Sonos Move on charging dock

(Image credit: Sonos)

We actually gave the Sonos Move (and its subtly tweaked but better-sounding Move 2 successor) four stars, but we felt it worthy for inclusion in this list due to it being the first Sonos product to be portable, and the first to include Bluetooth too – two things Sonos had shied away from for years until this point.

At £450, its price is high, which makes it a tough sell from the get go, but there's no denying its charm if you are a Sonos owner. Being able to switch between it as a (pretty powerful) speaker in your Sonos system in the house then whack it into Bluetooth mode for the garden is a nice touch, and stops you needing two different speakers to do a similar job.

In our review we said that its "flexible design, numerous features and friendly sonic approach will have its fans". And we'd hasten a guess that's not far wrong.

Sonos Arc

Sonos Arc standing on a wooden unit beneath a TV screen

(Image credit: Sonos)

Okay, so the Beam was great, but if you wanted real Atmos, Sonos decided to introduce an option in its lineup for that too, taking the Playbar off the shelves in the process and replacing it with the Sonos Arc

This long, slim soundbar had 11 custom drivers powering its sound, with two of those height speakers to create the equivalent of a 5.0.2 sound.

It sounded superb, and it still does. For £799 / $799 (later raised to £899 / $899), we found that it blew much pricier rivals out of the water, delivering what we said in our review was "one of the most immersive Dolby Atmos experiences we’ve heard from a soundbar". High praise indeed.

Sonos Era 300

Sonos Era 300 next to a wooden countertop

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

And so to Sonos' most recent speaker launch, with the Era 300 ushering in a new era (geddit?) of Sonos speakers, alongside the smaller Era 100.

Goodbye to the Sonos One. Farewell Sonos Five. If you want a non-portable Sonos speaker now, these are the two options you have to choose from, with the Era 300 being the bigger and better of the two – not to mention our current Award winner.

Once you get past its rather... interesting looks, the Era 300 is a cracking speaker, with Bluetooth on board and an upwards-firing driver for spatial audio. And as for the sound? Superb.

"Sonos’ mission to deliver a great spatial audio experience from a single wireless speaker is a success, but that metric alone isn’t what makes the Sonos Era 300 an all-round enjoyable speaker," we said in our review. "It performs admirably with any format of music you throw at it, no matter what source or genre, adding up to an enticing experience that’s worth embarking on." 

Not a bad start to a new era at all.


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Verity Burns

Verity is a freelance technology journalist and former Multimedia Editor at What Hi-Fi?. 

Having chalked up more than 15 years in the industry, she has covered the highs and lows across the breadth of consumer tech, sometimes travelling to the other side of the world to do so. With a specialism in audio and TV, however, it means she's managed to spend a lot of time watching films and listening to music in the name of "work".

You'll occasionally catch her on BBC Radio commenting on the latest tech news stories, and always find her in the living room, tweaking terrible TV settings at parties.

  • Crabbydude
    I’ve used their product for quite a while, apparently not as long as some, but the best addition I’ve ever made (yes, ever based on 40+ years of compiling gear) to my sound system is the Sonos Connect. My existing amp/speaker combination with Connect allows me to listen to anything I want, any time, on my choice of hardware and I only hope it never gets removed from their supported products. I also have a Play3, Play1, and Era 100 in my house to round things out, but if Connect isn’t there, I’m out.