Top Best Bookshelf Speakers
INSTALLATION: First, the tech talk. You need 1 Sonos component to be plugged in to your home network (any of the PLAY speakers, Soundbar, Bridge, etc.) So, as an example, you must plug in either the BRIDGE or the PLAY ONE to your network with a network cable.
This turns that component into a wireless access point (or as consumers tend to call it, a "Wifi router".) All other Sonos components will now be able to wirelessly talk to that plugged-in device. No other Sonos component has to be plugged in, as long as it's within wireless range of the plugged-in one.
Should a component in your house be too far away (say, your garage) from the plugged-in one, you can connect it to your network via cable, if available, or set up a Sonos BRIDGE (or any other Sonos speaker) wirelessly somewhere between the plugged-in one and the Garage speaker.
The BRIDGE or other speaker strengthens the wireless from the plugged-in one, and extends the range to the one in the Garage. Each Sonos component is both a wireless client, and a wireless access point/repeater. Each component talks to each other in a mesh network. Think of a spider net. Any part that is touched vibrates to the rest of the net.
Tech-talk aside, think about this: One person (Person 1) is at a corner of the house. When he shouts, the person in the garage (Person 2) can't hear Person 1. The only way Person 1 can talk to 2, is to pick up the phone (talking over a wired connection, or plugging a distant Sonos component to the wired network) or having Person 3 stand between them (having a Sonos component physically be between both speakers) and relaying the information back and forth (what WiFi mesh would do). So, with each Sonos component/speaker, the Sonos wireless range gets extended.
With the Sonos wireless mesh, you could humorously place a few speakers into each house in the neighborhood, and suddenly play the same music through each home. Try that with Bluetooth speakers. You wouldn't be able to.
WiFi mesh TIP: if you have an Android device, you can Google "Android devices on SonosNet", and you will see instructions on how to use your Sonos wireless network ("SonosNet") to connect your Android phone/tablet. This allows you to use your mobile device further away from your home WiFi. This has disadvantages and advantages out of the scope of this review. I decided not to use SonosNet for my tablets.
NOTE: a Sonos BRIDGE is NOT needed to use the PLAY ONE. Just plug in the PLAY ONE to the wired network (ie your router), and it will work just fine. You still control it with the Sonos App from your mobile device. Once the PLAY ONE is plugged in, you can add other Sonos components to the system. A BRIDGE is NOT needed for that either. It's only needed if you want to extend the Sonos wireless range to a farther part of your house or yard for $50 vs buying another PLAY speaker for $100+)
- Small size. The BRIDGE is about the same size as an Apple TV/Roku/WD TV Live. The PLAY ONE is about 2-3 of them stacked on top of each other. The PLAY ONE has a fairly hefty weight, a good sign of the good sound coming from its components.
- Ease of Pairing. To pair other Sonos components (or with the Sonos Controller App), simply hit the Play/Volume Up button on the speaker, and the same combination on the other speakers. If pairing with the bridge hit the pair button on that component.
Welcome To Money Savvy
When I had just purchased a home, I was looking into having it wired for whole-house audio. Looking into multi-room systems on Amazon, it was apparent to me that it wouldn't be cheap: a cost of the speakers, controllers, PLUS the cost of running wires throughout the house. When I saw the SONOS PLAY:1 promotion, I found its wireless solution to be more cost-effective, and with better speakers to boot. I have since tried the SONOS PLAY ONE speakers that were realized in late 2017. Below are the pros and cons that led me to decide on the Sonos system.
NOTE 1: a Sonos BRIDGE is NOT needed to use the PLAY ONE. See the INSTALLATION section of this review.
NOTE 2: the PLAY:1 is the same as the PLAY ONE without voice and touch integration. As such, the PLAY:1 is less expensive.
- Hi-Fi. Speakers sound better than the multi-room, wired systems I looked at for less than $500.
- Resale Value. Wired speakers don't add much resale value to your house. So, why spend $1000s , only to leave the audio system behind when you sell the property or move? With wireless, I could take my expensive speakers with me to my new home.
- Freedom to move around.
With wireless, you are free to take the speakers anywhere you want throughout the whole house. For neighborhood block parties, I could even hook up the speakers to an extension cord out to the street, and stream music from my home. Or take it outside to your backyard. They are moisture-proof, but I wouldn't use them as permanent outdoor speakers unless you enclose them in protective casings.
NOTE on wireless: each SONOS component is its own wireless client and repeater. Sonos wireless is a private, wireless "mesh" system, separate from your home WiFi. What does that mean to you? It routes music through its own wireless, leaving your home WiFi untouched. There's an additional benefit for that, as I'll explain after the installation note below. Most of the Sonos components (PLAY:1 and PLAY ONE are NOT one of them) have 2 network ports. This means, you can plug in the component into the network jack, and use the 2nd one on the speaker to connect your laptop.
- Alexa integration: the speakers now support voice control, though it is a work-in-progress. Sonos updates the capabilities via software updates over time. Google Assistant support is scheduled to come in 2018, making the PLAY ONE a more desirable option than having a Google Home and Amazon Echo in the house. I do get frustrated far more often with Alexa not understanding me or my request. My whole family enjoys Google Assistant's better answers and ability to understand us. We can't wait for Sonos to bring the Google Assistant to the PLAY ONE.