We recently reported the news that Sonos were introducing a new speaker to their wireless hifi range, the Play:1. Well we have now got our hands on not just one but TWO of these little beauties to review especially for you!
As with other Sonos speakers, the build quality of the Play:1 is to a very high standard. It stands just 16.15cm (6.36”) tall, and has a square footprint of just 12cm x 12cm (4.7” x 4.7”). Despite its relatively diminutive size, the Play:1 is surprisingly heavy, 1.85kg (4.08lb) heavy in fact. This is probably down to the high quality of the speakers inside and to all the other electronic components that allow it to create/join a Sonos network around your home.
The Play:1 is available in both White and Black. As you will see from the pictures, we got the white flavour.
As the speaker is small, Sonos have included a threaded mount on the rear of the speaker next to the Ethernet port, which means you can mount them on any stand or wall mount that has a 1/4” thread, if you so wish. This is something that has is also possible with the Play:3, but I have always thought the Play:3 was a bit too big and heavy for that.
The power socket is located on the underneath of the speaker. The plug is shaped to fit neatly into a recess on the underneath which means that you don’t have an ugly power plug poking out of the back.
At a first cursory glance, the buttons on the top of the speaker look like the same standard Sonos buttons that you can find on the Play:3 and Play:5. On closer inspection, however, you will notice that Sonos have changed the small single button from a mute button to a Play/Pause button. Hit the button once and the music will start or stop, or double press the button to skip to the next song. This gives users the ability to control the music directly from the speaker (albeit to a fairly restricted extent) rather than having to open the app on their smartphone or tablet every time or use Sonos’ own controller. It is unclear at the moment whether Sonos are considering changing the other speakers in their product line to have the same functionality. My suspicions are that they might well do this on future updates to the Play:3 and Play:5, but it probably makes more sense to keep it as a mute button on the PLAYBAR.
You’d be forgiven for suspecting that due to the smaller size of the Play:1 that the sound quality might not be up to the same standard as other Sonos speakers. This is certainly what I was expecting to be saying in this review. However, I am very pleased to report that it could not be further from the truth. I was absolutely amazed at how much punch the Play:1 packed. I was expecting the lower ranges to be particularly poor, but the bass that the little guy can pump out is impressive to say the least.
As with the Play:3, it is simple to link up two Play:1 speakers to create a stereo pair. The ability to create a wireless stereo pair has always been a feature that I have considered to be particularly neat. However, buying two Play:3 speakers was prohibitively expensive for me. Whilst still not exactly cheap, buying two Play:1 speakers is far more financially viable. We do have two Play:1 speakers to review, and so I have been able to test out this feature. To set it up, you just click the option to create a stereo pair in the app or Sonos software, select the second speaker you want to join to the current one and then press the volume up button on that second speaker. It really is that simple.
Obviously having two Play:1 speakers providing stereo sound makes quite a big difference to just having one. The sound from one on its own is impressive, but having two joined together gives the sound a much more rounded and immersive feel, like when you switch a TV/sound system between mono and stereo sound (in fact – EXACTLY like this…!).
In case you are unaware how Sonos systems work, there are a number of ways to play music through your Sonos speakers.
- Link the system with your computer’s music folder (e.g. an iTunes music folder). The system will then index the folder, and create a library of all the music that is in there. The music isn’t duplicated, so if your computer is turned off, you won’t be able to play your music.
- Store your music on a NAS (network attached storage) device, and plug that directly into the Ethernet port on the back of any Sonos device. The music on the NAS will be indexed and available to play on any Sonos speaker connected to your system (not just the one to which the NAS is connected).
- Stream directly from an iOS or Android device using the Sonos controller app.
- Use the built-in internet radio service (Tune-In radio) to choose from thousands of free internet radio stations.
- Choose from a number of available built-in streaming services (e.g. spotify, amazon cloud player, rdio, last.fm and loads more). These are typically subscription-based services. If you already subscribe to any of them (e.g. the premium Spotify subscription) then this is a no brainer. However, even if you don’t subscribe to any of them yet, then it might be worth considering to give you access to many thousands more songs than you currently have in your libraries.
- Line-in. The Play:1 and Play:3 speakers do not have a line-in socket. But if you have a Play:5 or Connect device in your setup, then you can connect any device using a 3.5mm audio cable to the Audio in connection on the back and then use that as a source for your entire Sonos system too.
Final thoughts and verdict
I make no secret of the fact that I am a big fan of Sonos and have always been an advocate of the Sonos system to anyone willing to listen to me gush with high praise. However, I have often found it hard to convince people to consider Sonos due to the cost. Try as I might to explain that the high cost was completely worth it, it always boiled down to the fact that even a Play:3 was simply too expensive to buy merely to “give it a go”.
This has all changed now with the Play:1 – it has a lower price, but doesn’t sacrifice any of the quality in either sound or hardware. This makes the financial barrier for newcomers to try out Sonos much lower. People can now just buy a Play:1 to see how they get on with it and once they have experienced the great sound and ease with which the system can be set up and used, it is then a much easier decision for them to keep building their Sonos collection over time until their whole house is “sonosified”.
I am also glad that creating a stereo pair is now much cheaper. This makes a big difference if you are looking to create a Sonos 5.1 surround sound set up in your living room. I previously reported in our PLAYBAR review that this would set you back a whopping £1716 (using the RRP of the PLAYBAR, SUB and two Play:3s). But now if you buy two Play:1s instead, this figure is reduced considerably to £1536.
All in all, I am extremely impressed with the Play:1. Big functionality with big sound from a small speaker with a small price tag. What more could you possibly want?!
At the time of writing, Sonos are offering a free Bridge (worth £39) with every purchase of any Play speaker.
To find out more about the Play:1, visit Sonos.com.
See more pictures of the Sonos Play:1 on our Facebook album here.