Sonos has had something of a mixed 2023. For all the excitement at the beginning of the year, with the launch of the five-star Era 100 and Award-winning Era 300, it had a troubling mid-year, laying off seven per cent of its employees in June and even more following in November.
In a quarterly earnings call that same month, the company confirmed a 5.5 per cent year-on-year decrease in revenue, something that CEO Patrick Spence put down to a “challenging year” in the industry.
Rather than scale back and tread carefully, though, Sonos looks to be doubling down, with leaks, teases and even official comments that suggest it has big plans for 2024.
With an eye on growth, that means a slew of new products rumoured to be coming from the company in the next 12 months – including a move into several new, and perhaps surprising, territories. So what can we expect?
Sonos headphones are coming
For many years, Sonos maintained its position as a brand for the home only – a stance that has clearly mellowed somewhat with the launch of products like the Sonos Roam. Now, it looks like its move to an all-encompassing audio brand is almost complete, with the planned launch of its first pair of headphones – something it has apparently been working on since 2019.
In the November earnings call, CEO Patrick Spence confirmed Sonos’ entry into a “new multi-billion dollar category”, starting in the second half of the year. Not long after, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman confirmed details of a premium pair of over-ear headphones in the making for 2024, as early as March/April, costing upwards of $400 (around £350/AU$650).
Unsurprisingly, it’s thought the headphones will work seamlessly within the Sonos ecosystem, with the suggestion that you will be able to switch between your home’s Sonos speaker system and your Sonos headphones when you leave the house, or vice versa when you return. If anyone can make this experience a smooth and intuitive one, it’s Sonos.
Sonos Voice Control, as featured on its speakers, will be on board here, while a newly designed app will be available for controlling portable Sonos kit away from your home wi-fi. Just like its speakers, the headphones will reportedly be available in a choice of black and white – though we’re hoping for some more colourful finishes over time.
Gurman also mentioned that Sonos is exploring the possibility of an in-ear model, to rival Apple’s AirPods. Having acquired RHA Audio a couple of years ago, it could easily lean into its experience in the earbuds market for inspiration, though details on that remain very much TBC.
- Read our Sonos headphones rumour round-up for all the latest leaks
A move into TV?
One of the more surprising rumours for 2024 is that Sonos is readying its own streaming box to rival the likes of Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Google Chromecast.
Having focused on audio for upwards of 20 years, it's not something we expected – but then Sonos has always considered itself to be a software company at its heart, not an audio one. Considering how accessible it's made the music side of streaming, it's not inconceivable to think it could bring something more to the experience on the video side too.
Gurman says the device, codenamed 'Pinewood', will be able to stream video and be controlled by voice, while also acting as a central hub for other Sonos devices. Sonos is supposedly working closely with streaming services like Netflix to build apps on to the platform, and will even be working on its own too, apparently.
Other leaked details suggest it will be a box-like design rather than a stick one, will be based on an Android operating system and will, of course, play back Dolby Atmos to make the most of compatible Sonos speakers.
Better voice control
Sonos introduced its own voice control on its speakers in 2022, not as a competitor for Alexa – which remains on its speakers alongside it – but for locally processed music control and requests.
It has some shortfalls though, like its lack of Spotify integration, so a bit of a glow-up wouldn't go amiss. Thankfully, it looks like it's coming in 2024.
An advanced version of the feature is expected to be released in the latter half of the year, dubbed Voice 2.0. What exactly the improvements will be remain to be seen, but considering the timing, we'd hasten a guess that TV control may be a part of it — if the set-top box rumour turns out to be true.
We still expect it will stick to complementing Alexa rather than replacing it, but improved support for music control feels like a must. Particularly when the one that's missing is the most popular streaming service in the world.
Sonos isn’t ignoring its current portfolio, though. We should see a number of updates and upgrades to current kit this year, if the leaks are to be believed.
This includes a second-generation Roam with rumoured new touch controls and a new flagship soundbar, with better sound and improved bass compared with the current Sonos Arc.
Considering the Arc is already a five-star product, we’re looking forward to seeing how such an upgrade performs – but we know it won’t come cheap. Expected towards the end of the year, it could cost as much as $1200 (£945/AU$1765), which is a considerable bump up from the $900/£700/AU$1500 Arc.
- Sonos Arc (Gen 2): 5 things we want from the next Dolby Atmos soundbar
However, it looks like a new version of the Sonos Sub family could be the first of the new products to show its face. Sonos released a bass-filled teaser on its Instagram page, featuring what looks to be the same rounded cut-out shape as you'll see on the Sub Mini.
In fact, the teaser uses a lot of the same footage as the teaser for the Sub Mini did last year, so what gives?
It would seem a little early to be upgrading the Mini after just a year, but there is a sale on the three-year-old regular Sub (Gen 3) right now. Does that mean there's a new redesigned Sub in the works?
One was certainly earmarked in the leaks, codenamed 'Lotus', with another higher-end sub also rumoured for the end of the year. Timelines can change, of course, so it remains to be seen what this all means.
Of course, there's always the chance, considering the caption, that Sonos has just hastily reused some old footage to keep the chatter around the leaks going. And it seems to be working. New product or not, the comments on the post would suggest a lot of excitement for what's to come for Sonos in 2024, and we have to say we're inclined to agree.
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