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Friday, April 12, 2024

Sonos launches Play:1 wireless speaker, updates system features

Sonos has launched a powerful new entry-level speaker to its range, the Play:1, at a price set to compete with the wider Bluetooth speaker market.

The new Sonos Play:1 wireless speaker.
(Credit: Sonos)

Sonos has introduced the Play:1 to its range of wireless speakers. A new entry-level model to complement the existing range of larger, more expensive speakers it has to offer. Suiting use as a single speaker for small rooms, as a stereo pair for larger rooms or as rear-channel speakers to deliver surround sound to a Sonos Playbar, these new speakers seem like the most versatile option Sonos has yet offered.

The Play:1 is priced at AU$299, bringing the Sonos system into competition with a different category of wireless speakers for the first time. Companies like Bose, Pioneer and Sony all have Bluetooth wireless speakers around the AU$200 to AU$400 range — speakers that typically offer portability but lack the extensive set of streaming service options Sonos is best known for.

The new Bose SoundTouch speaker range, which is arguably the closest competitor product to Sonos yet launched, starts from AU$549.

Apart from being the smallest in the Sonos range (although technically called the Play:1, it features two digital amps and two drivers), the new speaker also features humidity resistance, making it suitable for use in bathrooms. There is also a mounting point on the rear to allow for much more creative positioning than any other speaker in the range.

The new Play/Pause button.
(Credit: Sonos)

A big change from the past is a shift from a “Mute” button next to the volume to a “Play/Pause” button. This gives Sonos speakers the ability to pick up where they left off on a playlist, streaming a radio service or station from where they left off for the first time. Older Sonos speakers will have the mute button function changed to play/pause as part of the latest software update, which is available now.

Another feature in the latest software update lets Sonos owners run systems attached to different wireless networks seamlessly. Until now, Sonos users with set-ups at their home, office or holiday house would need to reset their app when changing locations. Now, the controller apps will recognise the change of network automatically and let you get straight into your music.

One further feature now keeps track of what playlists or streams each speaker has been using before being added to a wider group of speakers. Previously, when speakers were added to a larger group during parties and then removed from the group later, they would lose whatever was in their playlist.

Technically, it should have been called the Play:2.(Credit: Sonos)

With US pricing of US$199, it is a shame the local pricing didn’t come in at AU$249. But sadly Sonos products across the board come in for steep price stepping compared to US pricing, and the AU$299 price point matches the same percentage price shift as the Play:3 and Play:5 speaker options.

That said, unlike the higher-priced speakers, the Play:1 is fundamentally in a price range that makes it accessible against other options in the market. Being an entirely wireless streaming system, it takes a commitment to go digital that many buyers may not be sure of. Spending AU$449 and upward for other Sonos speakers is a big step for first timers, while the Play:1 will be a much more attractive sell and easier to consider expanding to a stereo pair or buying as a pair up front.

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