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Sonos One SL Review

Small yet expressive, a great option for an apartment or as a building block for a larger system,
Best Buy Award
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Price:   $179 List | $179 at Amazon
Pros:  Great sound quality, small, relatively inexpensive
Cons:  No Bluetooth connection, not the thumpiest bass
Manufacturer:   Sonos
By Max Mutter and Michelle Powell  ⋅  Oct 17, 2019
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72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 9
  • Sound Quality - 40% 7
  • User Friendliness - 20% 8
  • Volume - 20% 7
  • Connectivity - 20% 7

Our Verdict

For those looking for a great sounding home speaker on a budget, the Sonos SL is a fantastic choice. It booms with such bass power and sings with such clarity that belie its small stature, and does so while costing significantly less than many of the top models in the market. It also comes with the ability to easily pair with other Sonos speakers, should you ever have the desire and ability to start expanding into a multi-speaker system. Really, our only gripe with this speaker is its lack of either a Bluetooth connection or physical port, making it a bit difficult to directly connect Android or Windows devices (AirPlay compatibility circumvents this issue for Apple users). However, if you have an AirPlay compatible device and/or are fine with just streaming music directly to the speaker via WiFi, the Sonos One SL will be your new best friend.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
Sonos One SL
Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award   
Price $179 List
$179 at Amazon
$500 List
$499.00 at Amazon
$400 List
$299.00 at Amazon
$399 List
$399 at Amazon
$259 List
$199.00 at Amazon
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Pros Great sound quality, small, relatively inexpensiveExcellent sound quality, great volume, easy multi-speaker management, AirPlay compatableExcellent Sound, Great volume, relatively compact, many connection optionsGreat sound quality, great volume, battery powered, easy to connect/control multiple speakersGreat sound quality, compact, loud, multiple connection options
Cons No Bluetooth connection, not the thumpiest bassExpensive, somewhat large, no BluetoothExpensive, multi-speaker management leaves a bit to be desiredExpensive, somewhat heavy to move around when used in battery modeSlightly pricier than some comparable models
Bottom Line Small yet expressive, a great option for an apartment or as a building block for a larger system,Provides the best-sounding base for a multi-speaker systemThe best sounding speaker we've tested, but asks a high priceIf you’ve ever wanted to bring one of your Sonos speakers outside with you, this is what you’ve been waiting forImpressive bass and good overall sound in a compact and versatile package
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Rating Categories Sonos One SL Sonos PLAY:5 Bose Home Speaker... Sonos Move Bose Home Speaker...
Sound Quality (40%)
10
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7
10
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9
10
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9
10
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8
10
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8
User Friendliness (20%)
10
0
8
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8
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8
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8
Volume (20%)
10
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7
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9
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8
Connectivity (20%)
10
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7
10
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8
10
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9
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9
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9
Specs Sonos One SL Sonos PLAY:5 Bose Home Speaker... Sonos Move Bose Home Speaker...
Smart Home Compatability None Alexa, Google Home Alexa, Google Home Alexa, Google Home Alexa, Google Home
Bluetooth No No Yes Yes Yes
Inputs WiFi, Ethernet, AirPlay WiFi, Ethernet, 3.5mm Aux, AirPlay Bluetooth, 3.5mm Aux, WiFi, AirPlay Bluetooth, WiFi, AirPlay Bluetooth, Micro-USB, 3.5mm Aux, WiFi, AirPlay
Dimensions 4.7" x 4.7" x 6.4" 14.3" x 8" x 6" 4.3" x 6.7" x 8" 9.4" x 4.9" x 6.2" 4" x 5.6" x 6.3"
Weight (lb) 3.88 14 1.8 6.61 2.09
Warranty 1 year limited 1 year limited 1 year limited 1 year limited 1 year limited

Our Analysis and Test Results

The One SL is the basic building block of the multi-speaker system offered by Sonos, but for those shopping on a budget we think it sounds great all on its own. The sound quality is impressive for such a small speaker, and it has plenty of volume for the average living room or small apartment.

Want Voice Control Built-in?
The Sonos One is acoustically and aesthetically identical to the SL, but adds an array of microphones that allow you to use Alexa and Google voice assistants without any external accessories.

Performance Comparison



Sound quality


The SL is one of the best sounding small home speakers on the market. If you're looking for the boomiest bass possible, it may not be for you, but otherwise it's sure to please.


Sonos has largely built brand on the impressive clarity of its speakers, and the SL completely delivers on that front. Acoustic numbers heard on the speaker take on a largely live feel, with every slight tremble in a vocal or slide on a guitar string clear and audible. This characteristic also makes it a great device for listening to podcasts and talk radio.

When music with more low end enters the equation, the SL still sounds great. It pushes out impressively powerful bass notes given its small size, and manages to do so with very little of the muddling heard in many other small speakers. However, it just can't match the rotund bass offered by some of the larger (and generally more expensive) speakers on the market. For most styles of music that difference is more or less negligible. However, if your jam is bass-heavy hip hop, metal, or EDM, the SL may sound a bit thinner than you'd like. The being said, we have yet to find a bass powerhouse in this price range, so we'd still consider the SL a viable option for budget-conscious bass lovers.

The One SL offers great sound for a lower price than much of the competition.
The One SL offers great sound for a lower price than much of the competition.

User Friendliness


The SL offers a great user experience, but with an important quirk you need to take note of.


No Bluetooth Connection


Most people expect modern home speakers to feature a Bluetooth connection, but that is a technology that Sonos has largely eschewed. Instead, this speaker forces you to stream music directly to the speaker via WiFi (or through a hard-wired ethernet connection) using the Sonos app on your phone/tablet/computer as a remote control with which to access your favorite music streaming services (Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music, Apple Music, et cetera).

The top of the speaker features simple play/pause and volume touch controls.
The top of the speaker features simple play/pause and volume touch controls.

The only other option, which is only available to Apple users, is to use the SL's AirPlay compatibility. This essentially allows you to treat the SL as a standard Bluetooth connected device, playing audio from things like Netflix, youTube, or saved non-streaming files, but only if you have an Apple device that is connected to the same WiFi network as the SL.

Sonos has their reasons for not offering Bluetooth, with better quality streaming over WiFi and a lack of musical interruptions every time you get a text being chief amongst them. We've both tested and lived with Sonos systems for thousands of hours and generally haven't found the lack of Bluetooth limiting. However, if you have a Windows or Android laptop or tablet and want to be able to beam the audio to your speaker, the SL will leave you disappointed. Additionally, it's a bit hard for visitors to your home to take over DJ duties unless they're willing to log onto your WiFi and download the Sonos app. You might want to look at the similarly priced options from Bose, which all offer a Bluetooth connection, if this sounds like a limiting factor for you.

The Sonos App makes finding music and managing multiple speakers incredibly easy.
The Sonos App makes finding music and managing multiple speakers incredibly easy.

A Streamlined App


Sonos isn't the only speaker company that allows you to stream content directly over the internet, freeing you phone from its duty as an intermediary. However, the app it uses to accomplish such a feat is one of the best around. It's relatively easy to log into your Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music, and other accounts within the app, and then search that combined library of music in one convenient place. You can then play any of that music on the SL while leaving your phone completely unencumbered. This app also works great for managing a multi-speaker system, if you ever feel inclined to get your SL some brothers and sisters.

You can hardwire an ethernet connection if your WiFi tends to be spotty.
You can hardwire an ethernet connection if your WiFi tends to be spotty.

Smart Home Compatibility


The SL is compatible with both Amazon Alexa and Google Home Voice assistants. The SL doesn't have any internal microphones, however, so you'll have to pair it with an external smart device if you want to summon it with your voice. If you want a voice assistant built-in you can spend just a bit more on the Sonos One (no SL), which is the same speaker but with virtual assistant capabilities baked right in.

Volume


Akin to its bass power, the SL sounds impressively loud given its relatively small size. When listening to it in an 800 square foot apartment, it was able to fill the entire space with sound, even with half a dozen people milling about. If you ended up having a raucous party with dozens of people wanting to dance to loud music, the SL might struggle just a bit, but otherwise we think it offers plenty of punch.


Connectivity


You can send music to the SL via WiFi using the Sonos app, also via WiFi using AirPlay and a compatible Apple device, or with a hard wired internet connection through the ethernet port. However, the SL lacks any way to connect to it without the internet. You can't send audio saved on a mobile device directly to the speaker via Bluetooth, and there is no physical audio port. Therefore, if your internet goes down, the SL loses all of its functionality.


Value


The Sonos One SL provides impressive sound quality for a relatively reasonable price, making it a good option for an audiophile on a budget. It also offers almost limitless opportunities for expansion, making it a good option for those that want to spend a little to make their home system sound better now, but don't want that investment to dry up if you decidet to upgrade in the future.

Conclusion


If you're looking for good sound that won't break the bank, and have an AirPlay compatible device or aren't fussed by the lack of a Bluetooth connection the Sonos One SL will serve you well.


Max Mutter and Michelle Powell