The Sonos One is a great speaker that offers entry into the Sonos ecosystem, the current gold standard of home audio systems. But, maybe due to the price of the Sonos speaker system, you might wonder what the alternatives to the Sonos One are. Some of the best alternatives include:
- Amazon Echo Plus
- Denon HEOS 1
- Bose SoundTouch 10
- Bose Home Speaker 300
- LG PK5W XBOOM
We’ll look at the details of all these units below, so you can make an informed decision to either go with an alternative, or to be more confident in your decision to get into the Sonos system. But first, let’s look at the Sonos One option and what it offers.
Key Features of the Sonos One
The Sonos One (on Amazon) is one of the key Sonos products. Designed to operate by itself, as part of a surround sound system, or even as part of a full-home speaker system, the Sonos One is a versatile speaker that is most people’s first purchase when entering into the Sonos speaker ecosystem. To compare it with alternatives, it will be good to first put down what the key features of the Sonos One are.
- Connectivity is dead-simple, with support for Apple Airplay 2 and, of course, the support of the full Sonos ecosystem with its polished app and integration of Spotify, Audible, and dozens of other apps. It’s hard to beat the usability here.
- Connectivity through ethernet or wifi, but not Bluetooth – you won’t need the Bluetooth connection for your phone, because Sonos expects you to connect both your phone and the speaker to your wi-fi system. This ensures better quality audio.
- Easily expandable to stereo setups and beyond within the Sonos ecosystem, which is optimized for building the right speaker setup for you.
- Compact, simple design that can blend into any environment.
- Built-in microphone that supports integration with Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa
Amazon Echo Plus
The Amazon Echo Plus (on Amazon) is a smart speaker that comes closest to the level of integration and easy connection that the Sonos One offers. In fact, the Echo Plus goes a little beyond Sonos, offering itself as a smart home hub. This means that other smart home services like Phillips Hue and others will not need separate bridges to function. The Zigbee smart home standard is baked in.
Where Sonos offers an extensive array of other speakers you can add to your system, the Echo Plus is a little limited, but not totally limited. You can pair more Echo speakers for stereo sound, and even an Echo sub to get a more extensive stereo sound system, but that’s about the limit. There’s nothing like the Sonos Arc Dolby Atmos soundbar in the Amazon/Echo ecosystem.
Cosmetically, the design is unobtrusive, and there are even a few creature comforts that the Amazon system allows that Sonos doesn’t, like the ability to use the Echo speakers as intercoms throughout your house. You won’t find Airplay on this unit, but it does have Bluetooth functionality and wifi too, with enough integrations to major apps to make it easy enough to use.
- Additional smart home hub functionality (via built-in Zigbee bridge) can greatly simplify an extensive smart home setup.
- Some ability to connect more echo speakers for limited surround sound (2.1).
- Some neat tricks like intercom functionality, and extensive Alexa Skills integration.
- Can be found for less than half the cost of the Sonos One.
- Doesn’t offer an extensive ecosystem of speakers to support larger surround systems (see our article explaining surround sound channels if you’re not sure why this is important).
- Not as integrated as Sonos One when it comes to pushing sound to the device, there is native support for most of the first-party apps you’d be interested in using, like Spotify, Audible, etc.
Denon HEOS 1
The Denon HEOS 1 (on Amazon) is another alternative that adds a few features on top of the Echo, bringing this unit closer to the overall experience of the Sonos One. First, the speaker itself is designed to be used in the same ways as Sonos: get 1, then get another, and build out your whole home audio system within the HEOS ecosystem. In this way, HEOS is clearly going for the full network effect you get with Sonos.
Although the HEOS 1 linked above can be hard to find at this point, the newer 2020 model is not named the same but is designed to continue the HEOS line in the same way. Within the HEOS ecosystem, the HEOS 150, 250, and 350 are designed to work together in the same way that the Sonos system does, so you have options to build robust surround sound and house-wide speaker systems.
The HEOS platform also has an app with tons of integrations, bringing the unit even closer to the experience of using Sonos. With Spotify, Amazon Music, Tidal, and other streaming services baked right in, the unit is easy to connect to and easy to grow your system with. There’s even Bluetooth to go along with the wifi connection option, which the Sonos system lacks.
The only problem with Denon is that some may think these speakers take a few too many cues from Sonos. All of the speakers come in black and white, and the HEOS 1, at least the 2020 model, is designed eerily similar to the Sonos One. At the Denon price point, which is roughly at or above the price of some comparable Sonos speakers, it’s hard to make a compelling argument for Denon over Sonos other than simple brand preference.
- Simple-to-use networking of multiple speakers to support surround sound and multi-room speaker setups
- Bluetooth, along with a robust app ecosystem with streaming service integrations, make the usability of the Denon system closer to the gold standard Sonos has set
- Prices around or above Sonos for some of the speakers in the HEOS system
- Design and app ecosystem are such close copycats to what Sonos has created that the slight lack of polish in the app really stands out.
Bose SoundTouch 10
Bose has stepped up their game in recent years, taking important cues from Sonos in some of the right places, while still maintaining their own design ethos and commitment to high-quality speakers at very approachable prices. You may have seen our article comparing the Bose Soundtouch 300 to the Sonos Playbar, so it’s no surprise that they have hardware aligned with the Sonos One as well.
The Bose SoundTouch 10 (on Amazon) packs in all the features you’d want in a Sonos One alternative: Bluetooth and Wifi, Alexa support, and clean design, with both white and black options so that it can seamlessly blend into your surroundings.
As with the HEOS system, there is a “1,2,3” style speaker family within the SoundTouch brand: the SoundTouch 10, 20, and 30, and all of these speakers are designed to seamlessly pair and work as surround sound options or whole-home audio systems. All of the familiar trappings are here: an app to coordinate speakers, big sound in a small size, and plenty of options for getting the content you want onto the speaker itself in a clean, simple way.
But, again, it’s hard to say that it does more on that front in any meaningful way. The Bose brand has a legacy of quality behind it, but, as almost every competitor in the industry right now, it’s playing catch-up with Sonos. There’s not much to get excited about.
- Can be found for roughly half the cost of the Sonos One
- Plenty of networked speaker options that make for an easily configurable and expandable setup.
- Not so much less expensive that it’s an obviously cheap alternative. The price is less than Sonos, but they’re close enough that it may be worth paying extra for the quality of the ecosystem.
- There’s a certain lack of style with the Bose SoundTouch series, as if it all exists because a spreadsheet said it should. It’s a speaker ecosystem that’s dressed in business format, with zero cool factor.
Bose Home Speaker 300
I harped a little on the SoundTouch series, and perhaps that was a little unfair, because when you look at the Home Speaker 300 (on Amazon), it’s clear that Bose has two players in the home speaker system game. And where the lower-priced SoundTouch speakers lack a compelling feature set, the Home Speaker 300 has gotten more attention in the way of exciting, new ideas.
Not only is the Home Speaker 300 supported with a much richer ecosystem of compatible speakers than the SoundTouch 10, but those speakers are also higher quality in the Home series. The Speaker 500, for instance, has an LCD screen to throw up some album art for what’s playing. This sets the unit apart, and helps make a compelling argument for the Home speakers over Sonos.
Not only that, the other speakers in the family include bigger and smaller units, multiple soundbars, and other options to help you build an even more customized sound system than Sonos–one that fits your unique needs perhaps better. The design is smart and elegant, not copying Sonos but riffing on it in an intentional way, and the reviews swear up and down that the sound quality is equal to, if not greater than that of Sonos.
With Wifi & Bluetooth, a Bose Music App that is different than the comparable offering for the SoundTouch series, and Alexa, Google Assistant, and even AirPlay support, the Home Speaker spares no expense. It even sports a line-in/AUX port, which is noticeably missing from the Sonos One.
- A rich ecosystem of pairable speakers and soundbars and top-notch app support helps you feel like you’re not missing the simplicity or expandability of Sonos.
- Plenty of connectivity options and some exciting things going on within the series, like great hardware design and unique features like the Home 500’s LCD screen.
- At the same price point of the Sonos One, you have to really be excited about the other Bose Home series speakers to make this a compelling option.
- May struggle to stand out in the pack, especially with a competing series– SoundTouch– come from the same Brand.
LG PK5W XBOOM
You may have noticed a common theme in this article so far, that the alternatives to Sonos all feel like, well alternatives to Sonos – speakers that struggle to stand out due to the feeling that they are jumping on a bandwagon too late and with too lite to make them stand out. LG started down this path with 2015’s Music Flow series which sported and H3 and H5 speakers that were pairable.
But LG has since done something very original, developing their XBOOM series that runs the gamut from small, portable speakers, right up through standing units with multiple large drivers. The XBOOM series offers options for stereos setups, and can technically support whole-home audio, but with XBOOM LG is trying to do something different and original.
The design, which trends more toward ruggedized outdoor-use speakers (with many sporting water resistance) and features like karaoke mixers and LED lighting on the drivers built-in, you can tell that LG is playing a different game than Sonos, and for the right person this can be a compelling alternative.
The LG PK5W XBOOM (on Amazon) is the most directly comparable XBOOM speaker to the Sonos One, but even that’s a wide margin away. With Bluetooth and optional pairing for stereo sound, the PK5W has some features of the Sonos One, but with “boom lighting” and waterproofing, it’s clear this is a different animal. But it’s worth considering if only to solidify your confidence in choosing between what’s out there.
- Unique design with some compelling features that could be crucial for your unique use case.
- Not playing copycat to Sonos.
- Although there are plenty of options in the XBOOM family, they don’t play nicely with one another in the same way that the other options on the list do.
- No app or digital ecosystem supporting the speakers in the same way that Sonos has.
As you can see, if you’re in the market for a Sonos One competitor, you do have plenty of great options. The Echo and XBOOM series offer different and unique use cases that Sonos can’t easily emulate, though they each have their own speaker connection limitations.
The Bose Home series and the Denon HEOS line come the closest to replacing the Sonos experience full-sail, but they struggle to stand out from the gold standard that Sonos has set. But both options are fantastic speakers.
If you’re really only ready to dip your toe in, but not sure how far you want to go with whole-home speaker systems, the SoundTouch series offers a compelling price point and feature set to give you a try-before-you-buy experience of the more expensive options.