home stereo

Sonos Introduces The Play:1, A Little $199 Speaker With Big Sound

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Over the years, Sonos has built a reputation for producing high-quality stereo components that can magically connect to your own personal music library, as well as a large number of streaming services online. Today the company is introducing the Play:1, which is the smallest, most affordable product in its portfolio of wireless speakers.

The Play:1 follows a number of new products that Sonos has released recently, as it seeks to capture a new generation of fans who are turning to streaming music services to get their fix. There was the Sonos Playbar, released earlier this year as the centerpiece of its home-theater ambitions, as well as the Sonos Sub subwoofer launched a year ago.

In each case, Sonos is making components that are designed to quickly and easily plug in to any user’s home network and turn up high-definition sound with minimal fuss. Each piece works by connecting to the Sonos Bridge, which is like the central hub for any and all Sonos products in the home.

From there, products can be paired with each other in the same room, or they can be connected separately in different rooms to create a whole-home stereo system. Being able to connect, mix, match, and reconfigure your home theater system is kind of like “speaker LEGOs”, as one Sonos executive described it to me.

Once set up, everything is then controlled through the company’s wireless apps, which are available for iPad, iPhone, Android, Mac, and PCs. Those apps allow users to listen to music that they have on their own music, while also connecting to dozens of music services like Spotify, Pandora, Songza, iheartradio, and others.

So what makes the Play:1 special? The product is the company’s most aggressive in terms of price and form factor. It’s about seven inches tall, five inches wide, and priced at just $199.

Like existing Sonos products, the Play:1 is built to work in pretty much any room in the house. It has a rugged, classic design that will allow it to blend in as a pair with your current TV setup, or to sit by itself in the kitchen or study. It also has a sealed architecture to withstand humidity if you wanted to keep one in your bathroom.

The sound is solid for a speaker of its size — on its own, the Play:1 has a good range of highs and lows, and has minimal distortion even when playing at high volume. It’ll be an excellent addition to any room which doesn’t already have some sort of audio setup in it, and first-time buyers probably won’t be disappointed with it as a standalone unit.

But where the Play:1 really shines is when two units are paired or when it’s connected with other Sonos products. The Play:1 benefits from the flexibility that Sonos builds into all its speakers: It can be set as a standalone unit in a room that doesn’t already have a stereo component, or it can be combined with other Sonos products to create a much bigger sound.

For fans who already have a couple of Sonos speakers, the Play:1 will allow them to complement their existing setups. For instance, you could combine two Play:1 units with a Playbar and Sonos Sub, using them as rear speakers in that setup. In each case, Sonos does the work of remixing the sound profile depending on whichever components are plugged in.

Priced at $199, Sonos is no doubt hoping to appeal to both first-time home stereo system buyers, as well as existing customers who might want to augment their existing system by adding more speakers throughout their home. And for a limited time, Sonos is also giving away its wireless Bridge — priced at $49 — to get new customers on board.