Sonos Simplified: Which Sonos Speakers are Right for You?
There’s the Sonos One, the One SL, the Five, the Era 100 and the Era 300. The Arc, the Beam and the Ray. Yes, the Sonos product line is flexible and diverse, and just about anyone can find a solution for their needs. But with plenty of options also comes the paradox of choice — Where do you start? What Sonos speakers are best for you? What's the difference?
If you’re asking yourself those questions, you’ve come to the right place. We put this guide together to demystify and simplify Sonos, and bring you closer to delivering beautiful, wireless music in every room in your home.
Before we dive in, let's take a quick look at Sonos and wireless multi-room audio. (Already familiar with Sonos? Jump ahead to the "Choosing the right Sonos speakers" section.)
What is Sonos?
Sonos is a multi-room wireless streaming system. Let's take that one step at a time. A Sonos “system” consists of a streaming device, amplifier, and speaker, all contained within one unit, like the Sonos One speaker or Arc sound bar. You plug the speaker into a wall power outlet, download the free Sonos app onto your smartphone, iPad, or computer, and Sonos will walk you through setup, step-by-step so that you're off and running in no time. Every Sonos product connects to your home's Wi-Fi, so you can play your music wirelessly from a music streaming service like Spotify or TIDAL, or from your smartphone, tablet, or computer.
When you add more than one Sonos speaker to your home, you can play a different song in each room or listen to the same one throughout the house, which is where "multi-room" comes in. From small and compact for a kitchen or bathroom to larger and versatile speakers for a home theater surround sound, all are designed to deliver big, room-filling audio anywhere you put them. (Sonos speakers will even optimize it based on your room's acoustics, thanks to the easy to use, built-in audio calibration technology called TruePlay.)
Wait — what's music streaming?
Instead of buying music song by song, wireless streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, Qobuz, or TIDAL give you instant access to almost any song or album recorded, ever, via a monthly or annual subscription of about $15 (or roughly the price of one CD). You don’t own the music; you are listening to it, continuously streaming over your Wi-Fi and into a pair of Sonos speakers. This is very different from Bluetooth, where you are transmitting the music from your phone (and as a result, every alert and sound your phone makes, too). With Sonos, the music continues (even if you get a phone call) and does not drain your phone's battery.
Choosing the right Sonos speaker for you.
You can start small and purchase any Sonos piece a la carte over time, mixing and matching your way to suit your audio needs. Every Sonos product works great on its own, but the real magic of Sonos happens when you expand your system. Before we get into building your multi-room audio system, let's meet the essential Sonos lineup.
Music in every room with Sonos Sets.
Now that you've got a lay of the Sonos land, there are many different ways to configure your Sonos system. You can mix and match Sonos speakers to your liking, or take advantage of pre-bundled Sonos Speaker Sets. Each set is designed to make it easier (and more affordable) to set up the multi-room audio system or home theater surround sound you need. Our Sonos customers particularly like the Sonos "Group" feature, which allows you to fill every room with music with the touch of a button. No more walking around the house in and out of music “dead zones.”
Two Room Set
Features two Sonos speakers (either a pair of Ones, One SLs, or Fives). Place one speaker in the family room and one in the kitchen, or pair two together for stereo sound.
Three Room Set
Features three Sonos speakers. Add one speaker to three different rooms, or set up a stereo pair in the family room and one speaker in the kitchen.
Four Room Set
Features four Sonos speakers. Place them wherever you like - one in every bedroom in the house, a stereo pair in the basement and a pair in the family room, etc.
Bring movies to life with home theater surround sound.
Whether you're a movie buff or your week centers around family movie night, mix and match Sonos speakers to create a wireless 3.1 or 5.1 home theater system.
A Sonos soundbar makes for a simple home theater setup. Add a Sub to it and you've got earth-shaking, room-filling sound for your home cinema experience. Choose the Ray or Beam + Sub mini for smaller rooms and the Arc + Sub for filling up larger rooms. The Soundbase would be your go-to if space is a concern. With a super slim, low-profile design, it can lay flat on top of your media cabinet and under your TV.
For home theater surround sound, take your 3.1 Beam or Ray + Sub Mini setup and add two rear speakers, like a pair of One SLs or Fives for a 5.1 system.
Add a pair of One SLs or Fives to your Arc + Sub setup, and you've got a full-blown, jaw-dropping Dolby Atmos home theater with 3D surround sound that will blow you away.
There are many configurations for home theater sound, but keep in mind you can expand upon your Sonos Set no matter where you start. You might have a home theater set in the family room, and a few Ones in other rooms around the house for multi-room audio. The beauty of Sonos: there’s a ton of flexibility.
Add wireless streaming to your non-Sonos products.
The Sonos Port is a small device that connects to your existing amplified audio system (stereo or receiver) to add wireless Sonos streaming and easily expand your sound system to more rooms. Listen to music, podcasts, audiobooks, and internet radio with your amplified audio equipment. You can also stream vinyl, CDs, and stored audio files to Sonos speakers in other rooms of your home.
Control the Sonos Port with the Sonos app or Apple AirPlay 2 which lets you stream sound directly from your iPhone or iPad and ask Siri to play Apple Music). Set up is easy: simply plug in the power cord, connect an audio cable to any empty input on your system (e.g., tape, tuner, aux, etc.), and you’ll be able to stream music from your favorite apps, like Spotify, Qobuz, Pandora, TIDAL, and more.
Give your current loudspeakers a wireless upgrade.
Sonos' amplifier/streamer, known as the Amp is, in fact, just that: a Class-D amplifier (125W/Ch at 8 ohms) that can bring the Sonos wireless streaming experience to your floor-standing, in-wall, in-ceiling, outdoor, and bookshelf speakers. Simply run a wire from the Amp to each of your speakers, and you have a complete Sonos system in that room that you can control from any device with the Sonos app. Many homeowners even use a Sonos Amp to power wired outdoor speakers for a clean, wireless sound system in their backyard.
The difference between the Port and the Amp: The Amp has a built-in amplifier. So, if you already have an amp in your setup, go with the Port.
Extend your Wi-Fi for stronger, more reliable Sonos sound.
Every time you add a Sonos piece to your home, it acts like a “booster,” extending the Sonos Wi-Fi coverage. With that said, Sonos also makes a piece called the BOOST, which takes your Sonos off your regular home network and creates a new, powerful dedicated Sonos network that will reach further. Since it’s under $100, we recommended it to anyone with “less than perfect” Wi-Fi in their home. It plugs into your router and gives greater coverage.
Bring the Sonos sound home.
Ready to bring wireless music into your home? Shop all Sonos products a la carte or Sonos Sets today.