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Home News Sonos speakers, soundbars and subs: Your guide to the ecosystem

Sonos speakers, soundbars and subs: Your guide to the ecosystem

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(CNN) —  

Just a few years back, whole-home audio was a super costly expense that also required a lot of wiring. Wi-Fi’s gotten stronger, more music services have launched and tech companies are delivering systems that remove the hassle and bring the price down. Sonos is a prime example of that, with an array of products across multiple price points. The brand is also focusing solely on whole-home audio, unlike some other brands in the space.

The lineup ranges from ultra expensive soundbars that can replace full-home theater setups to entry-level portable speakers. It aims to offer an audio solution that works for any type of room and at any budget. Sonos also switched things up when it announced the S2 platform — it was a bit of a botched rollout, as it resulted in some products losing support and features, but a majority of recent Sonos products are fully supported.

So let’s run through the lineup of Sonos speakers, soundbars and woofers.

Sonos One

At $199, the One is the affordable smart speaker from Sonos. It has a pretty basic tall, rectangular design with rounded edges that give it a homey-meets-modern feel. The One is compact (just over 6 inches by 4 inches), meaning it’s compact enough to be tucked on a bookshelf, a nightstand or a mantle without taking up a considerable amount of space. Two amplifiers, a tweeter and a woofer power the sound. The audio experience is rich and clear while also sporting the ability to fill a decent-size room and offer a vibrant mix. It’s on par with the sound from a HomePod, but you’d likely need two Amazon Echos to reach this sound level.

Sonos One also doubles as a smart speaker, as you can choose your preferred voice assistant — either Amazon Alexa or the Google Assistant — to answer your calls (and be at your beck and call), thanks to the built-in microphone array.

The Sonos One is kind of the gateway to the Sonos ecosystem as of now, and for $199, you’re getting a full-featured smart speaker that packs a punch with sound.

Sonos

For $20 less than the Sonos One, the One SL is a slightly less smart version of the speaker. You get the same internal hardware (two amplifiers, a tweeter and midwoofer), so you get identical sound quality as the Sonos One. But Sonos essentially ripped out the microphone array and some of the smarts. The One SL is still controlled by the Sonos app, and if you have other Sonos speakers that feature voice control, you can ask the app to play songs or a radio station on the SL speakers.

The One SL is the perfect option for those who don’t care for a smart speaker. After all, you can still control playback via the Sonos app. Secondly, it’s one of the most affordable ways to expand the ecosystem, but we still wish it was a bit cheaper. If you have a soundbar from Sonos, like the Beam or Arc, this is a great way to add additional speakers to your home entertainment setup. Like the One, One SL comes in your choice of black or white.

Sonos Roam

Mike Andronico/CNN

Sonos Roam

The Sonos Roam is the most affordable member of the Sonos family, and the most portable. This $169 Bluetooth speaker is about the size of a water bottle, and it’s the perfect Sonos speaker for those who want something they can easily toss in their bag on the way to the beach or the pool. Speaking of which, it’s also IP67 waterproof rated (meaning it can survive a dunk in the water) and lasts a solid 10 hours on a charge.

While the Roam works great as a stand-alone Bluetooth speaker, it can also connect to your home Wi-Fi to deliver all of the perks of a traditional Sonos device. Like the other speakers on this list, the Roam can sync up with other Sonos speakers to keep the tunes going throughout your home while also letting you give voice commands via Alexa or Google Assistant.

We found the Sonos Roam to offer booming and rich sound for its size, and a lot of versatility for the price. If you want a fully untethered Sonos experience but don’t want to spring for the larger, more expensive $399 Sonos Move, this is the Sonos speaker for you.

PHOTO: Jason Cipriani/CNN

Jason Cipriani/CNN

PHOTO: Jason Cipriani/CNN

The $399 Move is the larger of Sonos’ two portable speakers, with 10 hours of battery life, Wi-Fi connectivity and support for Bluetooth. It’s not waterproof, but with an IP65 rating, it can withstand a splash or two — just don’t leave it outside in a rainstorm. It automatically senses its surroundings to mix whatever you’re listening to for the best sound experience. It can easily fill a room and is notably louder than a One or One SL, plus it makes a dent outdoors. We’ve tested it on a second-story deck and could hear it about 50 feet away in the backyard. Most importantly, sound comes out 360 degrees, so you can place it on a table, center on a patio or off to the side and still get full coverage. It’s available in black or white for $399 — if you want something bigger and more booming than the Sonos Roam, the Move is well worth considering.

Aaron, Halie (Intern)

Since the Sonos Beam lives within the Sonos ecosystem, it’s easy enough to play the role of a speaker for music, podcasts and whatever is on your TV. It’s relatively unassuming and small with a pretty simple design — but it can shake rooms, thanks to the multiple speakers inside. When we had it mounted during our review, it was known for rattling the wall with bass, just to put it in perspective.

Inside the Beam are four woofers, a tweeter, three radiators and five amplifiers to power audio. Via the Sonos app, you can turn on a speech enhancer, which is great for action movies, as it will increase dialogue while there’s an explosion going on in the background. As a whole, the mix is balanced, so even with low, mid and high tones playing, you won’t hear a hodgepodge of random sounds on top of one another.

Beam also supports the HDMI Arc standard, which allows the TV to turn it on or off (in sync with your TV) and for one remote to control the whole setup. You can also set the Beam to be an Alexa or Google Assistant smart speaker.

We’d make the bet that for $399, this could be your Sonos system for an apartment. It gets plenty loud and won’t disappoint on movie night. The Beam is available in black or white.

Sonos Arc

Sonos Arc

We’ll be frank: The Sonos Arc is not cheap at $799. It’s in line with full-home theater systems, but for the price, this 43-inch soundbar will be more than enough to complete your home theater setup. It’s like the Beam on steroids, with 11 speakers inside and support for Dolby Atmos.

It sits at the upper echelon of soundbars without a doubt and packs an incredibly wide soundstage that works well for music, movies, TV shows and spoken-word audio. Listening to live concerts will present you with a wall of sound, and it’s a really vibrant mix that lets each tone really present itself in its full force. As we noted in our full review, no matter the content we threw at it, the result was a rich, crisp and clean audio experience. It also carries over the speech enhancement feature from the Beam. The Arc is available for $799 in black or white.

SONOS

Similar to the Arc, the Sonos Sub is not cheap at $699, but it aims to add a dimension of sound to the soundbar you pair it with. You can also use it with a full 5.1 channel setup: essentially a soundbar, a subwoofer and a pair of speakers (left and right) in the rear. Safe to say the Sub can pump out a strong force of bass, but it won’t rumble the floor all that much with force-canceling drivers inside. Instead of pushing the force out of the speaker, it will reduce rattling or shakes by firing inward. Sound still makes it out, though, to say the least.

If you’re looking for strong bass, we highly suggest a Sub. And if you’re pairing it with the Arc, know that it does support the Dolby Atmos standard for a proper mix. The Sub comes in black or white for $699.

As we continue to test the Sonos family of products, we’ll be back with updates to this guide.

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