Sonos PLAY:1 – Smart Speaker for Audio Entertainment
The Sonos PLAY:1 is a key part of the Sonos home audio range of smart speakers. With these speakers installed in your home, you can play audio across multiple channels and stream music into any room. And it's also possible to rig up impressive home cinema systems, adding a whole new dimension to your home entertainment routine.
The PLAY 1 is a wireless speaker model which sells under the logo “mini, but mighty.” Compact and streamlined, it fits into nooks and crannies around the home, while delivering the kind of performance you would expect from much beefier speakers.
If you want to join the next generation of home audio and cinema fans, this Sonos PLAY:1 buyer's guide is for you. Read on to learn more about what these cutting edge smart devices can do for your music listening and movie-watching life, and for ways to cut the cost of integrating them into your living room.
The Home Audio Brand
Sonos started out back in 2002, before the Internet of Things and smart devices were even a rumour. But they quickly became market leaders in creating audio devices that interacted with smartphones and wireless internet connections, offering a totally new way to deliver audio in domestic settings.
2004 saw the introduction of AES-encryption for Sonos speakers, making it feasible to stream audio in multiple rooms at the same time. And soon after, they launched the CONNECT range, which started to allow users to rig up speakers in pairs and other combinations, with soundbars and controls to give them an unprecedented degree of flexibility.
For the first time, audio fans could connect multiple speakers and hear the same track running in synch, with no drop offs or noticeable flaws, wherever they went. The technology behind this achievement was formidable, and no other company could match it, propelling Sonos into pole position as a global home audio player.
The PLAY collection launched in 2009 and marked a major departure for Sonos. With the PLAY:5, the price of their speakers dropped dramatically, and also incorporated iPhone and Android controls. The PLAYBASE was created to offer pure bass notes (Sonos even developed their own resin materials to achieve the perfect vibrations). And the range expanded, with the PLAY:3 appearing in 2011, then the PLAY:1 in 2013.
The PLAY:3 offered a mid-range alternative to the PLAY:5, but the PLAY:1 was different. Much smaller than any other PLAY device, the PLAY:1 represented an incredible compression of audio technology into a compact casing. It could still interact with PLAYBARS and other speakers via the SonosNeT infrastructure, but users could move it easily wherever they wished and even take it on vacation to provide a high-quality audio experience.
Understanding Sonos Audio Systems
Before moving onto a deeper look at the PLAY:1's specifications and features, it's helpful to get to grips with the basics of how Sonos systems work.
Sonos speakers rely on a system known as SonosNet, which provides the software underlying their audio. SonosNet works via a central app which can be installed on almost any smartphone or PC, and also uses Wi-Fi internet connections to stream data throughout the home. Bluetooth wasn't preferred as it can interact with mobile phone calls and messages, and Sonos wanted a seamless audio experience.
SonosNet may use Wi-Fi, but it doesn't conflict with existing internet connections. Thanks to something called the “mesh”, it sets up a totally standalone network dedicated solely to your audio preferences. The mesh can handle as many as 32 Sonos products (more than enough for most homes). Each one needs to be synched up via the Controller App, which Sonos make as easy as possible. However, it's worth digging out your Wi-Fi password if you don't have it to hand, as each new device will require you to enter it.
With your PLAY:1 or other Sonos product installed and synched up, the app is ready to use. Mp3s, DVDs, Netflix series, online sports feeds – anything can be streamed over the Sonos network, and you can control the volume with ease via the app. As we'll see in a moment, some Sonos speakers also offer voice control, which can be the simplest way to call up movies or songs. In any case, you'll almost certainly find Sonos much easier than constantly swapping Blu-rays or CDs, or hooking up speakers via audio cables.
Sonos Voice Control With Amazon Alexa
Sonos PLAY 1 Key Features
Firstly, the Sonos PLAY:1 comes in a couple of colours, with stylish white and black versions available for customers to choose. So pick a tone which harmonises with your home's interior. Aside from colour, the different models don't vary at all on the inside, where you'll find the following technical specifications:
Drivers: 1 90mm diameter with 1 mid/woofer and 1 tweeter
Amplifiers: 2 class-D amplifiers
Dimensions: 16.1 x 11.9 x 11.9cm
Power supply: AC 120/240V
Audio formats supported: compressed MP3, iTunes Plus, WMA (including purchased Windows Media downloads), AAC (MPEG4), AAC+, Ogg Vorbis, Audible (format 4), Apple Lossless, Flac music files, and uncompressed WAV and AIFF files
Wi-Fi connectivity: IEEE 802.11b/g
However, those simple specifications don't really tell the whole story. The beauty of the PLAY:1 lies in the way it packs impressive functionality into a small package. Here are some of the most important features for buyers to know about:
Easy pairing with services like Alexa of the Amazon Echo range, providing voice activated controls. Just toggle the Sonos “skill” on any Amazon device, and it will synch up with a properly installed PLAY:1, putting you totally in control of everything your speakers play.
Physical controls on top of the PLAY:1 make it easy to play or pause tracks and toggle the volume when required.
Setting up the speakers is extremely easy when you have SonosNet installed. The only connector required is a standard ethernet cable. That's much simpler than older high-performance audio speakers.
Users can set alarms via the Sonos app, allowing them to wake up to their favourite music or radio shows.
Audio-wise, the tweeters offer punchy sound in a small package, and the sound quality actually improves as volume increases.
Easy to pair with other Sonos products, putting fully wireless home audio setups within reach of ordinary home owners.
Can Sonos PLAY:1 Speakers be Connected to TVs and Computers?
Yes, Sonos PLAY:1 speakers can be hooked up to Smart TVs, but not with the PLAY:1 alone. One way to link TVs and Sonos devices is to use TV connect. Sonos Connect is an extra piece of kit which creates a bridge between Sonos speakers and other devices such as stereos and TVs. It also works via home Wi-Fi networks, and the SonosNet app, and will be essential for anyone seeking to create a Sonos-based home cinema system.
The other option is to buy a Sonos PLAYBAR along with your PLAY:1. These soundbars connect directly to TVs and essential act as a Connect device as well as an extra speaker. However, most people won't need a PLAY:1 if they also have a PLAYBAR, as the soundbar offers pretty impressive audio in its own right. The PLAY:1 is most useful as a standalone device for audio streaming from the web. But if you want it to form part of a wider home TV and cinema setup, the TV Connect is the better option to go for.
Sonos One vs Sonos PLAY:1
The PLAY:1 was released back in 2013, and Sonos haven't stood still in the period since then. In fact, they have released a successor to the PLAY:1, which is confusingly called the One. So how do the two models compare, and has the new model blown its predecessor out of the water?
The answer is, not really. The One is essentially a slightly more feature-rich version of the PLAY:1. It's just as compact and powerful, but comes with built in voice activation (instead of having to use third party smart hardware like Amazons Echo). It also has capacitive touch controls and is compatible with Airplay 2 – which some users will appreciate but probably isn't decisive.
There have also been some minor cosmetic changes, with a more rounded chassis along with the remodelled top panel. But at its root, the One isn't a step change from PLAY:1, and both models remain key parts of the Sonos range.
What Kind of Users Would Choose the PLAY:1?
Before suggesting a few creative ways to create home cinema systems with the PLAY:1, it's important to note that these smaller speakers aren't really optimised for TV or movie watching. They can do the job well (and cheaply) but the PLAYBAR, PLAY:3 and PLAY:5 are better adapted to creating cinema-quality audio.
The PLAY:1 is a different kind of device. With its wireless connectivity, relatively small size, ease of use and portability, it's great for music fans who want to stream a few tracks while they cook, work out or just relax after work. And it's ideal for heavy Spotify users who want a way to get more from their streaming collection.
PLAY:1s are also a good addition to existing Sonos systems. Because of the way Sonos have set up their products, you can add a PLAY:1 in seconds to your home. Many people like to gradually build up their network room by room, until they have audio streaming capabilities wherever they go. With PLAY:1 speakers, you can do so affordably and still enjoy excellent audio quality.
Home Cinema Setup with Sonos PLAY:1 Speakers
While the PLAY:1 isn't specifically targeted at home cinema applications like the PLAY:3 and PLAY:5, it can be turned into a pretty impressive imitation of your local movie palace all the same. The key here is pairing up multiple PLAY:1s and arranging them intelligently using appropriate accessories.
Sonos know the value of pairing, which is why they offer the option of buying PLAY:1 speakers in two room sets. These sets save a lot of money relative to more powerful Sonos devices, and can be arranged wherever you like thanks to the PLAY:1's diminutive size and wireless networking.
The trick is to use the best ways to arrange these small-scale speakers to get the best audio experience. And that's where stands, brackets and wall mounts come in so handy.
Stands – If you want a reliable Play:1 stand, look for brands like Flexson or Sonos' own Sanus varieties, which can be found at merchants like John Lewis and Richer Sounds. Specialist stands will ensure that the speakers are positioned at the optimal height for standard sofas and armchairs (around 34-inches if you were wondering) as well as the best angle. And they also come with high-grip bases which keep your speakers stable – reducing the vibrations that can really become annoying during movies.
Brackets – With a PLAY:1 bracket, you can control the angle of your speaker with total precision. These accessories bolt onto the wall and feature a hinged mechanism which holds the speakers in place. Many feature both tilting and swivel functions, giving extra options, and they can be positioned on the ceiling as well, if that makes sense in your surround sound environment.
Wall mounts – Cheaper than brackets in general, a wall mount will simply fix the PLAY:1 in position securely. There should be zero noticeable vibrations when the action becomes noisy, and adding and removing your speakers should be as hassle-free as possible.
When you come to arrange your speakers, some general rules apply. For starters, try to keep the speakers equidistant to those watching the TV or listening to music. One way of looking at it is like this: If you have two PLAY:1s, the speakers and the listener should form an equilateral triangle.
Having accessories to angle your speakers is also vital. When speakers are directed towards the ears of the listener, it makes a big difference to their clarity and power. That's why people take the time to install wall mount and bracket accessories – it really does matter.
Generally speaking, it's better to position your PLAY:1s facing the listener, next to or slightly above the screen. And it's also important that they are not touching the wall (another thing that mounts can help with).
On the other hand, if you have a PLAYBAR, forward facing PLAY:1s won't be so crucial. In that case, you can use a stand or two to position them behind you – adding even more depth to the on-screen entertainment.
How to Make a Sonos PLAY 1 Purchase at the Best Price
If you want to add a high-quality streaming device to your bedroom or you need to supplement your Sonos home audio system, buying a PLAY:1 could be the ideal way to go. These minimalist beauties mix up functionality, power and a reasonable price, so it's easy to see why they are becoming a feature of homes across the UK.
When you come to make a purchase, there's no need to pay face value for your next Sonos speakers. Instead, use the hotukdeals listings to home in on the best current offers. Our pages include all of the UK's biggest home audio brands, with Currys, Amazon, Richer Sounds, John Lewis and SuperFi all part of the mix. And it's a competitive marketplace, so expect plenty of reductions whenever you shop.
However, if you really want to slash the cost of home audio devices, be sure to shop during major sales periods. For instance, Black Friday and Cyber Monday in November are a great time so snag Sonos deals, and the New Year Sales can often be just as good. When these occasions roll around, hotukdeals will have the low down on how to make the biggest savings.
Sonos PLAY:1 Offers at hotukdeals
Sonos PLAY:1 speakers offer a compact way to add high-quality music, radio and podcast streaming anywhere in your home. These small-scale wonders pack plenty of power under their casing, and can be hooked up to services like Alexa for voice activated music listening, while they can even be included in home cinema setups. Find the perfect price for these advanced speakers at the hotukdeals PLAY:1 listings.