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 500
- 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 whether you’re using a Connect or a Port (our comparison article). 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
- 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
- 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 500
- 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
- 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.