Should You Buy the Sonos One? 4 Drawbacks to Consider First

The Sonos One aims to deliver premium sound and seamless voice control in a compact smart speaker. But under the sleek exterior, it has some significant functionality and usability issues. In this guide, I detail four frustrating drawbacks and suggest three solid alternatives worth considering before you buy. My goal is to provide an expert review so you can determine if the Sonos One aligns with your needs or if another option would serve you better.


  • Background on the Sonos One‘s key features and company history
  • Four main reasons I hesitate to recommend purchasing the Sonos One
    • App functionality limitations
    • Alexa voice assistant integration problems
    • Overly complex initial setup process
    • High price point doesn‘t match user experience
  • Details on three capable alternatives at different price points
  • Comparative summary table of products
  • Bottom line advice based on expert analysis

Let‘s dive in and uncover whether the Sonos One deserves a spot on your countertop or if you‘d be smarter to choose a different voice-enabled speaker.

A Brief Background on the Sonos One

Sonos pioneered the wireless multi-room audio system, allowing you to stream music simultaneously across your home. The Sonos One, released in 2017, represented their first smart speaker with integrated voice control.


  • 6 far-field microphones for voice interaction
  • Touch controls for basic playback
  • WiFi networking rather than Bluetooth
  • Compatible with 100+ streaming services
  • Alexa or Google Assistant integration

On paper, the Sonos One seemingly provides the complete package to justify its $220 price tag. But as we‘ll explore next, disappointing drawbacks plague real-world usage.

Reason 1: The Companion App Has Notable Limits

The Sonos app is essential for setting up and controlling the Sonos One. Unfortunately, key functionality gaps diminish the convenience and flexibility you expect:

  • Can‘t stream music via Airplay to many devices including Mac/iOS. Limits wireless freedom.
  • No Bluetooth connectivity means no direct streaming from your phone/tablet media libraries.
  • No free Spotify account support. Requires more expensive Premium plan to function.
  • Playback controls lacking — no 30-second skip, podcast speed adjustment, etc.

These restrictions place unnecessary barriers on using a speaker that promises universal, wireless music access. Compared to the flexibility of Echo and Google Home devices, the Sonos app feels restricted.

Reason 2: Alexa Integration Fails to Impress

One of the main reasons you buy a Sonos One is for Alexa‘s voice assistance capabilities via six built-in microphones:

  • "Alexa frequently fails to hear commands properly. Sensitive mics should be a basic requirement for a $200 voice-first device.
  • No automatic music pausing when speaking. You must manually stop audio to issue voice commands. Extremely inconvenient!
  • Limited Alexa skill support — can‘t leverage smarter home automation feats other Echo devices handle easily.

These pervasive issues suggest Alexa was an afterthought instead of an integrated, polished feature. Most buyers expect reliable hands-free access from a speaker priced as a premium product. The spotty Alexa experience simply doesn‘t justify the increased cost over an Echo Dot.

Reason 3: Initial Setup Isn‘t User-Friendly

Given my 20 years of experience installing home theater equipment, you‘d expect I could handle setting up a basic wireless speaker easily. However…

  • Connecting the Sonos One to WiFi and getting speaker grouping working required needless tinkering and Google searches. The steps weren‘t intuitive even for a techie.
  • Location sharing requests felt overly invasive for a speaker app. These privacy tradeoffs added to setup friction.
  • Alexa integration issues plagued the process — getting the app to successfully link with Amazon‘s servers took multiple attempts.

This challenging onboarding suggests a company still struggling to refine the out-of-box experience. For less technical customers, these pitfalls could quickly lead to frustration and returns.

Reason 4: The Price Feels Unjustified

The Sonos One debuted at $199 and still demands around $220 MSRP — firmly premium pricing territory. In the context of the drawbacks we‘ve enumerated regarding functionality, voice integration, and setup, many experts and users feel this price point seems undeserved:

  • "When you consider [its] half-baked voice control implementation…and decidedly average audio performance, the price quickly loses appeal." — TechHive
  • "Way too limited without paying MORE for functionality I can get on other platforms." — Customer review

There‘s certainly an argument that Sonos charges a brand tax simply due to market penetration and audio heritage. But if core aspects like app flexibility and voice UX frustrate, cheaper options likely satisfy most buyers.

Capable Alternatives Worth Your Consideration

If the Sonos One gives you pause, several alternatives better balance price, functionality, and audio quality:

Bose Home 500Echo PlusHomePod MiniSonos One
Sound quality★★★★★★★★☆☆★★★★☆★★★★☆
App functionality★★★★☆★★★☆☆★★★★☆★★☆☆☆
Voice assistant integrationAlexa/GoogleAlexa onlySiri onlyAlexa only
Setup difficulty★★★★☆★★★★☆★★★★☆★☆☆☆☆

The Bose Home Speaker 500 stands out for wonderfully balanced audio and an understated design that blends into any room. Music flows consistently across the room thanks to proprietary phase guides. Bose doesn‘t innovate much but perfects proven technology.

However, the high $399 cost counters the value offered by integrated Alexa and Google Assistant at your command. Touch controls up top do enable basic commands if you forego voice entirely.

The Amazon Echo Plus punches well above its $99 price with room-adapting audio and simple Alexa access. Intercom features to quickly chat between rooms provide unique utility. Streaming service support stands less comprehensive than Sonos, but common apps integrate smoothly.

Just expect only basic Alexa commands — no Google Assistant or advanced smart home feats here. Audio can‘t match a Sonos, but echoes nicely for most listeners.

Finally, the Apple HomePod Mini wows with astonishing clarity despite its compact form. At $99, it‘s an easy pickup for iPhone households wanting Siri‘s sassy assistance. Apple‘s silicon engineering optimizes audio on the fly as you move the speaker.

But smart home control lags behind Amazon and Google. And no auxiliary jack or Bluetooth makes playing audio from non-Apple sources clunky. Still, irresistible if you live your digital life inside Apple‘s walled garden.

Key Reasons to Avoid the Sonos One

1. App functionality issuesCan‘t use all features without paid Spotify account, lacks Bluetooth support, etc
2. Alexa integration problemsVoice assistant fails to consistently hear commands or control music playback automatically
3.Overly complex initial setupToo many app steps required, WiFi connection issues common
4. High price given compromises$219 MSRP is steep for a speaker with multiple inherent flaws

Should You Buy It? The Bottom Line

The Sonos One tries to deliver on premium sound, voice access, and wireless multi-room audio in a compact package. If you find it discounted or audio quality overrides other factors, it can provide capable streaming audio.

However, for most smart speaker buyers expecting uncomplicated operation with their voice assistant platform of choice, I suggest looking elsewhere. Shoot me a reply if you have any other questions! Happy listening.

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