(Pocket-lint) – The market for multi-room speakers has grown significantly in recent years, with new entrants all the time. There are some brands that have been doing the work for many years though, like Sonos. The company has been around for well over a decade and offers one of the best app platforms out there, with support for many of the big streaming services including Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music.
There are several speakers within the Sonos multi-room line up, and there are two soundbars and a wireless subwoofer too.
Let us help you work out which Sonos speaker, or speakers, are the best for you.
The Sonos Roam is an ultra-portable Bluetooth and Wi-Fi speaker that is smaller and cheaper than Move, offers waterproofing, automatic switching between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and extra features like Sound Swap. It also has built-in voice control and features like AirPlay 2.
The Sonos Move is bigger than the Sonos One, and more expensive, but it brings water resistance, portability and Bluetooth audio streaming capabilities like Roam, whilst also offering all the usual Sonos features when connected to Wi-Fi, as well as built-in voice control.
The Sonos One SL has the exact same design and sound architecture as the Sonos One, but without built-in voice control from Google or Alexa, making it a little cheaper and a good alternative to the older Play:1.
The Beam (2nd Gen) is a small form factor soundbar, designed for your TV. It’s compact, powerful and fully connected, offering HDMI for your TV, as well as Alexa and Google Assistant voice control. It offers the same sound architecture as the original Beam soundbar but the second gen model brings virtual Dolby Atmos support and a redesigned grille.
Replacing the old Playbar is the Sonos Arc, the larger of the two soundbars offered by Sonos. Not only does it support many of the features of the Beam, it also comes with Dolby Atmos upfiring speakers and HDMI eARC capabilities.
The main reason you would invest in the Sub is to pair it with the Beam or Arc, although it could also work as an excellent companion to two Sonos Five speakers working as a pair. They are an expensive pair though so make sure you really want that extra bass.
The Sonos Ikea Symfonisk Wi-Fi Bookshelf Speaker is a bookshelf and speaker in one. It doesn’t offer the same power as a Sonos One or Sonos One SL, but it’s more affordable and it offers many of the Sonos features, as well as Apple AirPlay 2.
The Sonos Ikea Symfonisk Table Lamp Speaker is a table lamp and speaker in one. It has the same power as the older Play:1 and it’s the same price a the Sonos One SL but you get a table lamp too, and Apple AirPlay 2 compatibility. It has been updated though with the new model out in mid-October.
The Sonos Ikea Picture Frame Speaker is a piece of wall art and speaker in one, with a number of interchangeable fronts available. For its shallow build, it delivers surprisingly good sound, and you also get many of the Sonos features, as well as Apple AirPlay 2.
The Sonos Roam is the smaller of the two portable, Bluetooth speakers from Sonos and the smallest Sonos speaker available, as well as the smartest.
It offers automatic switching between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth – which the larger Move (below) doesn’t – allowing for a more seamless listening experience when moving from outside to inside, and vice-versa.
Along with all the standard Sonos features, the Roam also has a feature called Sound Swap and it comes with both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, as well as AirPlay 2 and Automatic TruePlay. It can’t be used as surrounds or paired to a Sub, but it is small, light, very portable and sounds great.
The Sonos Move is the larger of the two portable speakers from Sonos, offering Bluetooth audio capabilities alongside Wi-Fi. When in Bluetooth mode – there’s a toggle switch on the rear – the Sonos Move allows you to pair your device to it and stream audio, as you would any other Bluetooth speaker.
When in Wi-Fi mode, the Sonos Move offers all the same features you would expect from a Sonos speaker, controlled using the Sonos app. It offers Automatic Trueplay tuning so if you move the Move, it will automatically tune itself to its surroundings, and there is Apple AirPlay 2 on board too.
Additionally, the Sonos Move has built in Google Assistant and Alexa voice control – like the Sonos One below – and it is IP56 water and dust resistant so you can bring it wherever you’re going. The battery lasts around 10 hours but there is a charging dock, as well as USB Type-C.
The Sonos One has integrated voice control from Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant like the Sonos Move and Roam, allowing you to control other Sonos speakers, as well as order an Uber or control smart lights, for example.
It features a similar design to the older and discontinued Play:1, but the Sonos One has a colour-matched speaker grille and a capacitive touch control pad rather than physical buttons. It also offers the same sound architecture as the Play:1 and while it doesn’t offer the power of the Sonos Five, the Sonos One still sounds great for its size.
There is no Bluetooth on board like the Sonos Roam or Sonos Move, but the Sonos One is an excellent little speaker and two make for great surrounds paired with a Sonos soundbar, like the Sonos Beam.
Sonos One SL
The Sonos One SL is virtually identical in design to the Sonos One, except the SL doesn’t offer voice control and therefore ditches the microphone array on the top compared to the Sonos One.
Aside from no integrated Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, the Sonos One SL offers the same features as the One though, including Apple AirPlay 2 support, compatibility with over 100 music services, multi-room audio and Trueplay tuning.
The Sonos One SL replaced the older Play:1, and is one of the smallest and cheapest Sonos speakers for those that don’t want a smart speaker or those that might want to use the Sonos One SL as surrounds with the Sonos Beam taking over voice, for example.
You’ll still be able to control the Sonos One SL through a third-party Amazon Alexa or Google Home device, and it can also be stereo paired with another Sonos One SL or a Sonos One.
Introduced as a like-for-like replacement for the Play:5, the Five is the biggest speaker in the Sonos line-up and the most powerful. It features capacitive touch controls and can be positioned vertically or horizontally. There is no built in voice control but users with an Alexa or Google Assistant-enabled device, or separate Sonos One, Roam, Move, Beam or Arc, can control the Five with their voice. There is Apple AirPlay 2 compatibility too.
As with other Sonos speakers, you get the same option to pair two Five speakers together for a full-fledged stereo pair, have multi-room audio, combine it with TV speakers for surround sound, place the speaker where you choose when connected to the Wi-Fi mesh network, as well as the streaming options and app features.
The main enhancements over the older Play:5 model are better processing, memory and more stable wireless connectivity.
Sonos Ikea Symfonisk speakers
Sonos and Ikea teamed up together to offer the Symfonisk range of speakers, of which there are a few options. The original speakers came in the form of the Symfonisk Wi-Fi Book Shelf Speaker and the Symfonisk Table Lamp Speaker, though there is now a Symfonisk Picture Frame Speaker too, as well as an updated Table Lamp Speaker coming.
All offer all the same features as other Sonos speakers, including Trueplay tuning, multi-room audio, compatibility with over 100 music services, the ability to stereo pair two of the same and voice control via an Alexa or Google Assistant-enabled device.
The Sonos Ikea Symfonisk speakers are controlled via the Sonos app but they have dual functions in that the Book Shelf speaker can be a bookshelf too, as well as positioned vertically or horizontally, the Table Lamp is a lamp as well as a speaker and the Picture Frame is a piece of art and a speaker. All are AirPlay 2 compatible.
The Symfonisk Wi-Fi Book Shelf Speaker is the cheapest way to start a Sonos system, offering a decent sound for the price and size. The Symfonisk Table Lamp Speaker is more expensive, as is the Symfonisk Picture Frame Speaker, but they both offer good sound and functional designs.
The Sonos Arc is a 5.0.2 bar with HDMI eARC and a completely retuned experience over the Playbar, which it replaces in the line-up.
It comes with a newer design aesthetic, with sleek, curved edges and rounded ends that look similar to the Sonos Move speaker if you look at that from above, tying it in with the rest of the Sonos family.
There are a stack of speaker drivers inside, with centre, left and right channels, plus a couple angled for a wider surround effect than the Beam (for example). Two additional drivers are angled upwards to send Dolby Atmos extra channels to your ceiling and down to the seating position to envelope you in immersive audio.
Sonos Beam (2nd Gen)
The Sonos Beam (2nd Gen) is an upgrade to the original Beam compact soundbar, adding support for virtual Dolby Atmos, a speaker grille that matches the Arc and support for not just HDMI ARC but HDMI eARC too, like the Arc.
It offers all the features of a Sonos speaker but TV smarts too, like the original Beam, and there’s built-in Alexa and Google Assistant voice control, as well as AirPlay 2 support too.
The Sonos Beam (2nd Gen) works with all other Sonos products in a multi-room setup and can also be paired with the Sub and other speakers – except Move and Roam – for a 5.1 surround sound setup, but perhaps the most attractive element is that it’s much cheaper than the Arc.
The Sonos Playbase is a soundbase rather than a soundbar, designed for TVs that are not wall-mounted, with the intention being that its super-slim build slides beneath the TV as oppose to hung under it on the wall.
It follows the same design principals as the Five, with black and white colour options, a premium plastic exterior and capacitive touch control buttons.
Like the older Playbar, you can connect the Playbase to your TV with an optical cable for 3.0 home cinema sound, pair it up with the Sonos Sub for 3.1 home cinema, or add two of the same Sonos speakers for 5.1 surround sound. It will also work with your TV remote and it is also a very capable standalone speaker as well as a TV sound booster.
While it looks identical, the Sonos Sub was given an upgrade to a third-generation model.
It is an extension of the Sonos Beam or Arc, and its intention is to add more depth to everything you hear by introducing more bass, offering a frequency response down to 25Hz. You can stand the Sonos Sub upright or lay it flat and it features built-in rubber feet, as well as optional feet.
Audio settings are automatically adjusted to balance the Sub and the paired Sonos component and like the rest of the Sonos system, the Sub can be controlled using the Sonos app and it will connect wirelessly to your home network so you can place it wherever you choose.
The main differences between the lastest model and last generation is the gen 3 comes with better processing, more memory and stronger wireless connectivity.
Writing by Britta O’Boyle. Originally published on .