Sonos One Reviews are starting to appear... 'Good hardware.. buggy software'. What a surprise !!

  • 18 October 2017
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The first few reviews of the Sonos One are emerging.

https://www.engadget.com/2017/10/18/sonos-one-review/

Unfortunately, there were a few times I ran into some strange and frustrating bugs -- the speaker wasn't recognizing that it was playing music, so "pause" or "next track" requests didn't work. Amazon Music also occasionally got confused and told me it was playing on another device so it couldn't play on the speaker I asked for.

https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2017/10/18/16490866/sonos-one-speaker-review-alexa

The process of enabling Alexa was a different matter and left me, a tech reviewer, feeling pretty stupid. Alexa could answer general questions and control my smart lights just fine within minutes, but would give me a “Something went wrong” error when I asked for music (or podcasts) with voice commands.

https://www.wired.com/story/review-sonos-one/

Once you get things humming, the limitations of the voice controls become clear pretty quickly. The Sonos One can do most everything Alexa can do, but it can't do everything Sonos can do. So, when you ask it to play music, the Alexa living inside the One can only summon streams from the services Alexa supports. If you want to play something from your local MP3 library or one of the 80-odd services supported by Sonos (Apple Music, Google Play Music, Mixcloud, MLB.com), you have to pull out your phone and tap.

All are very complimentary about the hardware (it's a Play 1 after all) but have picked up on the unreliability of the software on several counts and the limited services that can be controlled by voice.

I'd be showing more empathy and urgency if I was Sonos as this will not go away and needs fixing quickly.

A dodgy public beta after so long since the announcement doesn't look good.

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35 replies

Userlevel 7
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Are you aware what Beta means? Of course it has bugs, that is why it is in public Beta to try and find the issues no amount of private testing would do. Have you used it yet? What is dodgy about it? It works great for what I suspect the majority, and if you already happen to have Amazon Unlimited it is a boon.

Personally I have found it to be excellent. Yes it is limited to calling up music from Amazon at the moment, and given the partnership and the proximity to the holiday season I can understand the business reasons for this. However you can still use it to skip, pause and control volume regardless of source. Radio stations calling works a treat too.

Let's see how the competition are doing? Oh yes there isn't any is there.

I have been eager to see this arrive, as we all have, but I cannot understand the slating Sonos are getting for trying to be first and provide a Hardware solution too with the One.
These reviews are easily misunderstood. A quote from one:
"But until that work is done—by Amazon and by Sonos—you'll need to assume an early-adopter mentality with regards to the One. "

The unsaid here is that the same mentality is needed by someone buying an Amazon Echo even today. And what is not properly stated is that as far as any non Alexa controlled action is concerned, the Sonos One is just as good as the play 1, for the same price, so there is no risk in the purchase.

I am not sure about how well Amazon does backward compatibility, but I expect Sonos to have built the One such that it will remain adequate for many iterations/generations of voice control to come, to take it much beyond the level that voice control - from any platform that offers it - is at today. I am not sure that would be the case with the Echo being sold today.
I would expect a public beta to work better than it does. If I ask it 'play (song name) in the back room' it says ' I can't find (song-name-in-the-backroom)' which is pretty dumb. It should be able to separate the registered device name from the requested song title as a matter of basic operational function. If I ask just to play something by (artist) in the backroom it says 'ok' and then plays something completely different. There's bugs and there's poorly implemented software . . .as it stands it's unuseable. Maybe my system has something wrong with it, I can't believe they'd release something this bad. It's a shame, the hardware is excellent but becoming redundant now with Alexa pairing to decent bluetooth speakers with multiroom abilities.
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Radio stations calling works a treat too.
No, it doesn't. Not at all.
https://en.community.sonos.com/amazon-alexa-and-sonos-229102/public-beta-my-feedback-6792177
https://en.community.sonos.com/amazon-alexa-and-sonos-229102/limitations-of-voice-in-general-6792217

Let's see how the competition are doing? Oh yes there isn't any is there.
That's hardly relevant, and a poor argument. We're commenting on beta software, giving valuable feedback, in the official place for that. To be met with this kind of comeback isn't necessary or welcome, IMHO.
Radio stations calling works a treat too.
No, it doesn't. Not at all.

Lol; I expected that to be called out soon. I did not do so because I have no personal experience of this, but it is easy to see why it can be an issue, more so than among users of Amazon hardware because those using Sonos do so because they expect better sound quality. I don't see a quick fix, so a mixed use of controller+voice is indicated for the medium term.
Userlevel 5
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Still getting 5/5 from What HiFi (albeit with a caveat!)

https://www.whathifi.com/sonos/one/review

Bear in mind that the reviewers probably won't go near using the Sonos skill on an Echo, so won't see the other flaws, righlty so as that wouldn't be fair on the Sonos One.
From another review:
"Since the Sonos One has the same audio hardware as the Play:1, sound quality was essentially indistinguishable between the two, and that's a good thing."
I was looking for third party sound quality comparisons with the play 1 when I found this. The first part isn't true, but the latter is in line with what Sonos has said.
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I was looking for third party sound quality comparisons with the play 1 when I found this. The first part isn't true, but the latter is in line with what Sonos has said.


I suspect if anyone opened a Play:1 and Sonos One, the innards would be identical, speakers that is.
Userlevel 5
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Play 1 is a incredible speaker for it's size imho, hard to see how they could improve much hardware wise.
The two reviews in the OP are actually quite complementary, both giving the One a score of 8/10. They basically dinged it for lack of Spotify support. When that support arrives, these will no doubt rise to 9/10. Hardly the “bad” reviews implied by the OP.
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https://www.stuff.tv/sonos/one/review

This one is quite worrying, it suggests that you need to speak commands louder than when using the dot, will have to test that when the One arrives.
Yes; but the same review also says this!
"Over the years, though, the mobile app in particular has grown a little bloated with new features that make it harder to simply find a song and press play. Fortunately, a recent update has seen it drastically streamlined; it’s now a lot more usable and just generally faster, although adjusting to the new layout does take a bit of getting used to."
Userlevel 7
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These are reviews of Sonos One, right? So why are people focusing on the public beta aspect only?

I would expect a public beta to work better than it does. If I ask it 'play (song name) in the back room' it says ' I can't find (song-name-in-the-backroom)' which is pretty dumb. It should be able to separate the registered device name from the requested song title as a matter of basic operational function. If I ask just to play something by (artist) in the backroom it says 'ok' and then plays something completely different.


That sounds like a problem with Alexa, not with the Sonos side of things. Your echo (or Sonos One) takes your voice command to the Alexa cloud where it it's translated to text, and then interpreted. If it can't figure it out right there, it stops...right there. Sonos isn't given a command. to execute.

FYI, that's also why you can't play from your NAS or some other music service Alexa doesn't know about.


If I ask just to play something by (artist) in the backroom it says 'ok' and then plays something completely different.


Tell your echo to play that same artist without specifying 'in the backroom'. I bet your echo will play the same 'something completely different' as your first test case. So is that a problem with Sonos or with Alexa?



There's bugs and there's poorly implemented software . . .as it stands it's unuseable. Maybe my system has something wrong with it, I can't believe they'd release something this bad. It's a shame, the hardware is excellent but becoming redundant now with Alexa pairing to decent bluetooth speakers with multiroom abilities.


So do another test. Rename your 'backroom' Sonos zone to say 'zone 1' and try to play your song title in 'zone 1'. Does it work? Then rename one of your echo's to 'backroom' and tell Alexa to play the same song in the backroom again. I would be surprised if Alexa is able to complete that command all of a sudden.

To reiterate the point, before you make judgements about poorly implemented software on the Sonos side of things, it would be wise to consider if the fault really lies with Sonos or if it is an issue/limitation of Alexa itself. As a consumer, I can see why it's irrelevant, since you just want it to work. However, to imply you're going to get a better voice controlled, multi-room experience with echo'ss alone...I can't see the logic in that.
The only observation in these reviews that raises questions/is of interest is about Alexa in Sonos One not being quite as responsive as that in Echo.
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The first few reviews of the Sonos One are emerging.

https://www.engadget.com/2017/10/18/sonos-one-review/

Unfortunately, there were a few times I ran into some strange and frustrating bugs -- the speaker wasn't recognizing that it was playing music, so "pause" or "next track" requests didn't work. Amazon Music also occasionally got confused and told me it was playing on another device so it couldn't play on the speaker I asked for.

https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2017/10/18/16490866/sonos-one-speaker-review-alexa

The process of enabling Alexa was a different matter and left me, a tech reviewer, feeling pretty stupid. Alexa could answer general questions and control my smart lights just fine within minutes, but would give me a “Something went wrong” error when I asked for music (or podcasts) with voice commands.

https://www.wired.com/story/review-sonos-one/

Once you get things humming, the limitations of the voice controls become clear pretty quickly. The Sonos One can do most everything Alexa can do, but it can't do everything Sonos can do. So, when you ask it to play music, the Alexa living inside the One can only summon streams from the services Alexa supports. If you want to play something from your local MP3 library or one of the 80-odd services supported by Sonos (Apple Music, Google Play Music, Mixcloud, MLB.com), you have to pull out your phone and tap.

All are very complimentary about the hardware (it's a Play 1 after all) but have picked up on the unreliability of the software on several counts and the limited services that can be controlled by voice.

I'd be showing more empathy and urgency if I was Sonos as this will not go away and needs fixing quickly.

A dodgy public beta after so long since the announcement doesn't look good.


The only bug reported in your post is in the first review -- Engadget. The Verge talks about the process for setting up being difficult (not buggy); Wired talks about limitations, which aren't bugs, but known limitations (and leaves out the fact that ANY stream can be voice controlled for basic play back commands once initiated via the app -- you just can't initiate it via the app).

I think you post mischaracterizes the general tenor of the reviews. Which are all very positive.
Are you aware what Beta means? Of course it has bugs, that is why it is in public Beta to try and find the issues no amount of private testing would do. Have you used it yet? What is dodgy about it? It works great for what I suspect the majority, and if you already happen to have Amazon Unlimited it is a boon.
.


The shipping Sonos One is not supposed to be in beta only the Echo to Sonos connection.

I was looking for third party sound quality comparisons with the play 1 when I found this. The first part isn't true, but the latter is in line with what Sonos has said.

I suspect if anyone opened a Play:1 and Sonos One, the innards would be identical, speakers that is.


Sonos has stated publically many times that the innards are completely different.
Most of the reviews I have seen don't get into audio quality very much or comparison with the Play 1 except the gadgeteer review which says the One is clearer and more detailed. Sonos has also said the One has slightly more bass.
I suspect that sound differences are so small that if you kept one for a few days, then switched to another, after a few days you would not be able to express a preference for either. Human audio memory is such that only large differences are remembered - a good thing that, IMO, if understood and used wisely. It then stops equipment churn.
I suspect that sound differences are so small that if you kept one for a few days, then switched to another, after a few days you would not be able to express a preference for either. Human audio memory is such that only large differences are remembered - a good thing that, IMO, if understood and used wisely. It then stops equipment churn.

I got my Sonos One's today and they do sound a little cleaner, richer, and fuller.
My other powered speakers are Kef LS50 W which cost $2200 but these are fine for the bedroom.
Really liking them so far and I prefer the matte black over the Play 1.
Userlevel 6
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What HiFi (and most other places I've read) say they initially thought it sounded a bit better (at the launch event) but now say they sound pretty much identical.
FYI, that's also why you can't play from your NAS or some other music service Alexa doesn't know about.
At the point of asking for a track, I assume Alexa doesn't actually know if the request will succeed or fail as it doesn't know the entire contents of Amazon Unlimited. It then submits a request and either succeeds or fails. Why can't that be the case when requesting the same of the local index?
I can only go by my lying ears :-)
I've seen different comments on sound quality compared to the Play 1. They either say they sound the same or slightly better. They sound noticeably better to me but my ears are tuned to some pretty high end speakers.
Userlevel 7
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I got my Sonos One's today and they do sound a little cleaner, richer, and fuller.
My other powered speakers are Kef LS50 W which cost $2200 but these are fine for the bedroom.
Really liking them so far and I prefer the matte black over the Play 1.


Nice. I'm planning to pick up a couple of ONEs at my usual local audio store tomorrow. Looking forward to it.

Should I audition the LS50W speakers while I'm there? Or would that just suck more money out of my wallet? I'm curious to see how they'd compare to my PLAY:5 pair + SUB, which I'm rather enamoured with.
The Kef's are quite a bit better than anything from Sonos but also a lot more expensive. Of course you should listen to them 🙂

At the point of asking for a track, I assume Alexa doesn't actually know if the request will succeed or fail as it doesn't know the entire contents of Amazon Unlimited. It then submits a request and either succeeds or fails. Why can't that be the case when requesting the same of the local index?


Because has built-in functionality to query the services it is already configured for, there is no need to interface with an external entity. External queries require the development of an API to allow the communication between the two. These APIs do not exist today (at least to the public), and are beholden to the technical (as well as financial, political, and legal) influence of all parties involved. Oh, and do not take the fact that "financial, political, and legal" is in parenthesis to mean it has a lesser impact; the opposite is more often true.

Should I audition the LS50W speakers while I'm there? Or would that just suck more money out of my wallet? I'm curious to see how they'd compare to my PLAY:5 pair + SUB, which I'm rather enamoured with.

The only thing for certain is the money they would suck out if you fell for them.

The problem with all such comparisons is how to set these up to be as objective as possible by ruling out well known and universally caused psychological biases in favour of the better looking, the better known in HiFi circles and the more expensive. At a minimum they need to be done with both speakers kept in the same place in the same space, with the same music, at instrument matched sound levels for both and with the tested speakers not being seen by the tester. In laboratory terms, what is called a blind test, preferably one that is double blind.

With this in mind, auditions can be entertaining and have a better chance of being financially harmless.

I have a KEF pair that uses the same drivers as the LS50 and I have also compared a play 1 pair + Sub against speakers more expensive than the LS50, so this isn't just theorising. But I will also agree that if there is any audio component where the claims for better sound quality may be valid is where speakers are the component in question. Here again, though sound quality differences are more likely to be identified, it is also possible for preferences to still be for the cheaper pair if it is not known to be so.