Sonos One SL Review
Small, white, and from California? One thinks first of things with the “i” in the name. But the Sonos One SL is just as chic as these and sounds even better. And it’s bedroom-ready for data-conscious users.
Sonos stands for multi-room devices like no other provider. Since 2009, the provider has supplied wireless loudspeakers that can be networked and interconnected via WLAN. Add to that one of the best apps with the most features.
Sonos is often represented in the multiroom theme world, for example, with the Sonos One and its predecessor, the Sonos Play 1, Sonos Five, or the Sonos Arc soundbar or the portable outdoor speaker Sonos Move (Review).
Simply put, the Sonos One SL is a Sonos One with no built-in microphones. Admittedly, that alone would not qualify him for a Techstage test. But Sonos has continued to improve the product and its software in other respects over the past three years.
- Large selection of music from streaming services
- Pleasant sound
- Compact dimensions
- Easy handling
- No local music playback from Android mobile devices
- Integration of shared drives in the network tedious
Design: Bright and elegant
The model was available in white for the test, but a black version is also available. However, not everyone wants to place listening microphones in the bedroom, which is why Sonos has now apparently launched the Sonos One without microphones and voice assistants on the market with the One SL. All other functions are identical to the Sonos One. The loudspeaker in the rounded cuboid housing measures around 161 x 120 x 120 mm and weighs 1.85 kg.
The loudspeaker is supplied directly with 230 V mains voltage, whereby the plug on the connection cable has been shaped so that it protrudes as little as possible. Music start/stop and volume up/down are the only controls on the speaker; the rest is done through the Sonos app. Thanks to its moisture resistance, the loudspeaker should also be usable in the kitchen and bathroom, but it must not get wet.
Installation and operation
The speaker is set up quickly. Even with many multi-room speakers, the first thing that needs to be done is an update that cannot be postponed; this can be done in five minutes. Multiple speakers can be set up in multi-room configurations in different groups and as a pair for stereo playback, right in the Sonos app. So there are no problems like Chromecast. The faster 5 GHz WLAN can also be used. Airplay is available for Apple users, Spotify Connect is also on board.
An Ethernet cable port can be found on the back of the speaker, which can be used in case of WiFi connection or setup issues. There were no setup problems in the test.
Incidentally, Bluetooth is only used for setup; music playback on Sonos “only” runs via WLAN, except for portable speakers with an integrated battery. This is consistent since WLAN offers better sound quality than Bluetooth without apt-X. Furthermore, since the Sonos app can also play files locally from a smartphone or the network via WLAN, nobody will miss it either.
Sonos One SL – App – picture series
Playing music from the Internet via streaming is easily possible, with the selection of exemplary services and Qobuz also being available.
Radio stations can be played via Sonos’ radio, which uses Tune-In and acts as its curated music provider. However, you will find them faster directly on Tune-In if you search for radio stations by name.
There is also no measurement via Trueplay; you have to optimize the sound manually with an iOS device without a microphone.
Sound: Balanced and pleasant
The Sonos One SL is an active two-way speaker: a tweeter and a mid-range driver are installed. The latter also takes over the basses. However, Sonos is silent about the size of the speakers and the performance of the two-class D amplifiers.
So what wouldn’t be necessary even if the Sonos app doesn’t have many options for placing it in corners or on shelves? Even in difficult locations, the treble and bass settings are enough to achieve a pleasant, non-booming sound. There is also a loudness function, with which the loudspeaker sounds good when it is quiet, without getting on your nerves loudly. And even at an uncomfortably high volume, the loudspeaker still plays without distortion.
So, the sound quality when playing local files, as a stream via Spotify and as a stream from Quboz, increases in this order. For example, the highs in the intro of Al Stewart’s On the border are recognizable in all three ways; with Qobuz, the optimal quality is achieved.
The One SL is no higher than other speakers in its class and offers a lot in return. You can’t go wrong here, especially since the manufacturer also supports its products long-term. For the extended possibilities of the hardware of the 2nd generation, new features should come in the Sonos app at some point.
As always, Sonos is a safe bet, and the speaker is a good addition for any Sonos fan. On the other hand, if you want to use your existing system or high-quality loudspeakers in a multi-room arrangement, you should perhaps look at alternatives such as Denon Heos or Yamaha Musiccast.