Sonos Play:1 – Compact Wireless Smart Speaker Review

The Sonos Play:1 is a dinky bookshelf speaker designed to sit on a shelf or kitchen counter out of the way. At about the size of a large Kilner jar, approximately 16cm high, you’ll have no trouble fitting the Play:1 speaker in any room, in any situation, but you will need a power socket nearby as it’s not battery powered and therefore not portable like the newer Sonos Move, despite what its small size suggests.


Each Sonos Play:1 has two drivers, a mid-range/bass driver and a smaller tweeter. Traditional bookshelf speakers use the same arrangement. However, its main driver uses stronger-than-average magnets to allow the speaker cone to move back and forward further than normal.

  • 161.45 x 119.7 x 119.7mm, 1.85kg, same as Sonos One
  • Black or white colour options
  • Physical button controls
  • Ethernet port, Wi-Fi, mounting screw hole

The Play:1 keeps button options to a minimum, which is standard for Sonos speakers, with the newer models like the Sonos Beam, Playbase, Sonos One, Sonos One SL, and Sonos Move opting for capacitive touch controls over physical buttons. There’s a slight change to the standard Sonos controls on the top. The familiar volume rocker and status light remain the same, but the Mute button has been replaced with Play/Pause. It’s a smart change since it still immediately quiets the speaker, plus you have the option to resume whatever you were listening to with a single touch, even if it’s hours later. (Sonos is also releasing a firmware upgrade to change the functionality of the Mute button to Play/Pause on its existing speakers.)

As the Play:1 is one of the older speakers in the Sonos line-up now, however, you’ll find physical volume up and down buttons and a play/pause button on top of the speaker.

Setup: As painless as wireless audio gets

The Play:1’s sound is just as weighty and solid as we remember, with plenty of power and punch for a small speaker. It’s hearty enough to get stuck into meaty drums but, at the same time disciplined enough to keep complex rhythms on a tight leash. If you’ve already got a Sonos system, adding the Play:1 is as easy as you’d expect: tell the app you want to add a speaker, press the volume-up and Play buttons when prompted, and you’re good to go. It’s seriously that easy.

Similar in size to a bookcase speaker, the Play:1 is every bit the quality piece of kit we’ve come to expect from Sonos over the years. Its stylish, curved body is wrapped in a continuous mesh grille that looks absolutely stunning, and its black and white finishes mean you can easily buy the model that fits in with your home. Pick the Play:1 up and you notice immediately that it has the same reassuring heaviness that the other Sonos players have; it’s immediately clear this is a quality bit of kit.

What can you stream?

Podcast fans may find their app of choice isn’t supported. Sonos’s solution is TuneIn Radio, the most popular internet radio app and also a good way to listen to podcasts. It comes ‘preinstalled’ in the Sonos app.

Sonos has all of its competitors beat when it comes app support. Many major services are supported, including Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Cloud Player, Rdio, SiriusXM, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, Stitcher, Rhapsody, MOG, Slacker, and, plus plenty of neat niche services such as Wolfgang’s Vault, Songza, 7Digital, 8tracks, Murfie, batanga, aupeo!, Dar.FM and Hearts of Space. For comparison, Samsung’s Shape M7 supports only Amazon Cloud Player, Pandora, TuneIn Radio, and Rhapsody; Bose’s SoundTouch only supports Pandora.

The apps: Widely available, but showing their age

The Play:1 is controllable by Sonos’ Controller app, which is available on iOS, Android, OS X, and Windows.

You can also set alarms using the app, although as there’s no snooze function you’d better be good at getting out of bed.

  • Great sound quality
  • Compact design
  • Seamless multi-room audio
  • Easy setup
  • Compatible with over 100 music streaming services
  • Trueplay compatible
  • Voice control through Alexa-enabled or Google Assistant-enabled device
  • Voice control requires additional device
  • Sonos One and Sonos One SL have more seamless design
  • Sound quality not as good as Play:3 or Sonos Move

The Bottom Line The Sonos Play:1 finally brings the company’s wireless audio magic to the masses, in a fantastically designed compact speaker that’s just $199/AU$299.

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