Sonos One + 2 Play 1's or Play 5 with Echo Dot?

  • 2 February 2018
  • 31 replies
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I've had a single Play 1 for about 8 months now and despite it frustrating the hell out of me, I'm very eager to expand the system. I'm not an audiophile (in a sense that I have a terrible technical understanding of sound), but I'm a fanatic of awesome sound with perfect base and like it much louder than most. The Play 1 has been a tease!

I also think the Echo is really cool but the sound quality does not make my ears happy. On a budget my first thought was a Play 5 and Echo Dot ($550). I want to see what that Play 5 feels like at all volumes...something tells me if I bought it I'd have a very hard time returning it. I also really like the Line-n feature because it would allow me to play my old school Ipod through it directly, bypassing that horrific app. Without question, my Ipod sounds way better than any of my iPhones ever have (both using auxiliary input in my car...no idea how it would sound with Play 5). The ability to have Alexa using a Dot really seemed to tip the scale, I'd have all the cool features of Alexa, plus I can use her instead of the app. I've lost sleep imagining that sound in my living room.

Then I picked up that Echo Dot had to be connected using Line-in, and that (in addition to command issues, and others) the sound quality was slightly diminished when Echo was the source. If that's accurate, then it's a deal breaker for me on the Play 5 with Dot.

Now I'm thinking that on the cheap side I could just pick up a Sonos One and a Play 1 for $350. That way I have Alexa as a useful speaker and with no diminished sound, plus I now have another Play 1 that I could pair up and have Play 1 in stereo in my living room. I've never heard them in stereo. I expect to be pretty impressed, but there's no way to know how good it's going to sound loud until its set up. I KNOW the Play 5 will have very impressive sound at satisfyingly high volume. I've READ that pairing Play 1's in one room really kicks up the volume and the base, but I'm not sure if it's true. If the paired Play 1's fall short of what I need, I still have that shiny new Sonos One to add to the mix, which should make it even better. Plus I've just saved $200 that I can put toward my PLAYBAR and eventual SUB. Oh yeah...that day's comin.

Sorry for rambling but I didn't want to just say "sound quality is important to me". As cool and fun as I think it would be to have Alexa, I would end up in a padded room if I had no better luck with her than with Siri.

To Anyone who reads this:

What's your Alexa setup?
What are the limitations on her abilities?
Are you happy with it?
How do Play 1's sound in stereo compared to Play 5?
If I want quality sound and decent Alexa, what's a better value, Play 5 with Dot, or Sonos 1 and 2 Play 1's?

Thanks for listening!

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31 replies

Userlevel 7
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I am always puzzled at the comments re the app being "horrific". It's by no means perfect but have people never used Apple Music or the devils spawn that is iTunes? :D

But on the question. My experience was I was bought a Play5 gen 1. Loved it and soon added a Play 1 for our kitchen, which turned into two to get stereo. I soon realized this was superior to the Play 5 for my preferences (separated stereo).

So the Play5 is now a general device and the two Play 1's, now one Flexon stands, are in my garden room. I then bought a sub to add to the play 1s. This was on the basis that I was curious about what it would add and intended to return under the 100 day Sonos return pledge.

Well let's just say after the first listen I knew the damn thing was saying and I had some excuses to make to my wife!

I also have Alexa controlling lights, heaters and Sonos, and went for the separate Dots, a Show, and now a spot too, as I want to be able to add a video doorbell, which the spot is perfect for. We also use the drop in and calling functions between rooms so the Sonos One was never even considered.
Awesome stuff everyone. I’m sold on 2 Ones for 350 + another play 1. Alexa in kitchen and bath and stereo 1’s in the living room. The PLAYBAR and SUB can wait an extra couple months. Amazing input guys thank you so much!
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welcome to the addiction.

I got a playbar and sub a while back and had it on a TV on my third floor that really I never use a lot. Sounded good and worked well.

My sunroom downstairs all I had was a Play:1 in the room for music. Well after getting the Sonos One for my bathroom I then had an extra play:1 (which had been in bathroom). I thought may as well make a stereo pair out of the sunroom speaker - then thought - well that is where I watch tv a lot of the time I should bring the Playbar down.

REally the first time I have spent with my playbar, sub, play:1s all setup in 5.1. I had done it before just to test out on my third floor but never consistently had it that way.

Talk about room filling. Especially on music (set to full mode where the 1s Play as stereo too). Its one heck of a setup.

of course then - that left me no Sonos speaker on the 3rd floor .... so I had to buy another (I actually went with another play:5 up there). I would eventually like to get rid of the legacy amplifier/speaker system in my living room (currently running with a Sonos Connect) and take the 2 Play:5 gen 2's I have and make them a Stereo pair. I have yet to listen to two Play:5s set as stereo pair and I bet the sound incredible.

See how the speakers just keep adding up!
I suggest getting a One, a Dot and then playing with those with the play 1 you have already. A few weeks of actual use will give you a better sense of next steps.
Assuming the Sonos/Alexa integration is available to you - US/UK/Germany - I suggest a Dot with a 1 pair. And start saving for a Sub. Even a 1 pair will do better than a single 5.

You have the advantage in this approach of having the Dot kept some distance away from loud sound sources; that can only help the mic response to voice commands. The one con is no line in; so you can't use the old iPod. But the app is nowhere as bad as you think; and at this time in the development of voice control, it is still a better way to control compared to voice control that is gimmicky at this time.
Thanks for that thoughtful response Kumar. How does the functionality of the Dot compare with that of Sonos One? I’m ok with the extra $ for Sonos One since I expect to add several speakers of that size as well. Does the One’s Alexa fall short of the Dot’s?
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There are a number of features Amazon doesn't push out to Alexa enable devices like the Sonos One. You can not to phone/intercom/calling to a Sonos One as an example. Also currently no timers or alarms. They have added reminders.
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The Sonos one though is more streamlined for music. Not having to say the room name for one is great with the Sonos One.
Thanks for the reply Chris. I don’t need the gimmicky stuff but it would be cool to ask trivia questions, or say , “hey Alexa, play “Alive she cried” by the Doors”. And have it work. Can the One do those things?
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Yes the one can do all that. Most all skills etc. work its just a few proprietary things Amazon isn't pushing out to the enable devices right now.

With the Sonos one you would say "Alexa, Play "Alive she Cried" by the Doors"

With a Dot you would have to say "Alexa, Play Alive she cried" by the Doors in Kitchen" ... where Kitchen is the name of your Sonos speaker.

A big negative to the current implementation with the Dot. Say you have 5 Sonos speakers in your house. Your wife is playing music upstairs in the bedroom and your in the kitchen. You ask the Dot "Alexa play the doors in kitchen". It will lower the music across the house (even in your bedroom upstairs interrupting your wife) in order to best listen to your Alexa question.

The Sonos One will not do that as it knows the unit you are speaking to and only lowers volume on the Sonos One. So asking an Alexa query of "Alexa what is the weather" in the kitchen won't lower the volume on your wife upstairs in the bedroom.
Userlevel 7
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another advantage of the Sonos One is that later this year you can also make it a Google Home device so your not locked in to Alexa/Echo.
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The 2 Sonos Ones for $350 deal right now is also hard to pass up.
I’m amazed at how helpful this has been...seriously. So say my setup is 2 Play 1’s in living room and a One in nearby kitchen. The One can play the 2 1’s in stereo and play itself as a 3rd right?...do I have to tell it to do all that every time or will it know to do that?
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The good:-
Yes you can play the same music to all three (with 2 being in stereo). It can be the same syncronised music or different music in each room.

The bad:-
At the moment you will have to do this through the app... sorry. Grouping of speakers via Alexa does not yet, and no indication of when or if it will be a feature with Sonos.

BUT:-

You can start Music on the one, in any room via Alexa or Spotify, and then add the other Sonos speakers via the Sonos App.

Hope that helps. Maybe you'll learn to love the app 😉
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I'm not certain, as I tend to group speakers and ungroup as I stop listening, but I think the grouping stays until you change it.
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bockersjv is correct.

So in your situation if you have 2 Play:1s in Living Room and a One in the Kitchen.

You can say to the One - "Alexa play the Doors" the doors will start playing in kitchen
Alternatively you could say "Alexa play the doors in Living Room" the doors will start playing on the Living Room Play:1s (I don't think mentioned previously that the One can also voice control the other Sonos speakers too just like a dot).

Now if you start playing in one room - as bockersjv says.... right now you have no way of grouping both zones together via voice control (that is supposed to be coming). You have to go into app and group the two zones as you normally would to get them playing together in sync.
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Also with the 2 Sonos Ones for $350 deal going on now I would pick up 2 Sonos Ones vs. a Sonos One and a Play:1.

Caviat - if you want to stereo pair 2 in the living room you can't do it with the Sonos app. (Sonos considers them 2 different speakers). You have to stereo pair them using the ios app called Sonosequencr to force pair them. May be a consideration that makes you want to stick with buying a second Play:1 instead.

or if you get the addiction like me get the 2 Sonos One deal and also buy another Play:1

In my opinion every system should have a Sonos One in Kitchen and a Sonos One in bathroom. To me those are the two areas of the house where the voice control aspect shines.

I have a Sonos One in bathroom. But my kitchen is an Amazon Show and Play:5 (so I still have voice control there I just have to do the Alexa play Doors in Kitchen thing).
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Sonos one is great in bathroom in the morning. Especially say "Alexa whats the news" and you will get your pre-set flash briefing in morning with weather, news, sports, etc.

Plus the Sonos One and Play:1 are the only humidity resistant Sonos speakers making them perfect in bathroom.

In the shower - Alexa play the doors.
Bockersjv: I just noticed your comment about your own setup and the base you added. I’m literally excited for you to have that added to your two 1’s and can’t wait to feel what it does...and to explain to my wife how necessary it is as well! It’s also great to hear that the stereo sound of two 1’s makes enough difference to place it ahead of the 5.

My app comment: I agree with you on iTunes but find the Sonos app equally frustrating. About half the time I open it on my phone, it can’t find my speaker 5 feet away. I can eventually get it to work by turning wifi on and off or unplugging my router...to which everything in my living room and all devices are connected. It’s even worse on my pc...I’ve downloaded it countless times and sometimes it will work but is generally unable to even open. I listen to it far less than I would if it worked as intended, but since it usually doesn’t work right away I often don’t even bother. I have a real way with technology! Yet here I am about to buy three more...what a glutton!! By the way my wife and two teenage daughters love it too, which definitely helps!
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I love the Sonos app. If your having trouble connecting to the app (not finding system) it is some kind of network issue. We can help you troubleshoot it or you can always call Sonos. I wouldn't put issues on this thread but you may want to start a new thread regarding Sonos app not finding Sonos reliably - and I would post a diagnostic number (run under settings..advanced..submit diagnostic). I can tell you once you get any network kinks worked out they work reliably all the time. I do recommend though you go to Sonosnet from just wifi only (this means hooking one of the speakers or a boost/bridge to your router). Sonosnet is what makes Sonos as robust as it is (I consider the wifi only just entry level - and prone to more issues).

Kumar has a good handle on everything Sonos - I just respectfully disagree regarding the Dot and Sonos. I just like the Sonos One experience so much better then with my Dots. Now I do have a Dot in about every room in my house because I use them as intercoms (especially to kids rooms). But for Sonos I mean it works but I don't like them causing ducking of sonos sound across house and having to say the room name after my play command (hopefully Sonos is able to get the linking of dot to speaker going so I don't have to do that and then it will be much more like the Sonos One experience.

Kumar has a good handle on everything Sonos - I just respectfully disagree regarding the Dot and Sonos. I just like the Sonos One experience so much better then with my Dots. Now I do have a Dot in about every room in my house because I use them as intercoms (especially to kids rooms). But for Sonos I mean it works but I don't like them causing ducking of sonos sound across house and having to say the room name after my play command (hopefully Sonos is able to get the linking of dot to speaker going so I don't have to do that and then it will be much more like the Sonos One experience.


The reason I disagree with you is because I use my Dots wired to Sonos. That way I too don't have to specify the room where to play the music, the distance of the Dot mics from the speakers gives me better responses to voice commands than one Echo that I have or from a Dot placed on top of a speaker; all that you don't like about the Sonos Alexa integration or is missing at this point in it are non issues for me because these things do not arise in wired mode. Even if and when Sonos releases Alexa integration in India, I will not spend money on a Sonos One - because by that time I may probably want to change my Dots for Spots for the video UI.

PS: Is the ducking everywhere issue not there with the Ones?
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I used to have my Dot hooked to my Play:5 in kitchen. Biggest issue I had was the play:5 would take to long to switch to line-in and I would miss the first word or so Alexa said. I think there was workaround in having Alexa play a tone before talking but I switched to regular sonos integrations by then and never hooked the two back together again wired.

Ducking - yes Kumar if you have a Sonos one and ask it a command it only ducks the sound on that Sonos One. It doesn't duck the whole system. The same goes for if I issue a command to a dot. The dot won't duck the sound of the Sonos One. Ducking wise the Sonos One works like you would think it should - like a regular Amazon Echo speaker does.
I think there was workaround in having Alexa play a tone before talking

The dot won't duck the sound of the Sonos One. Ducking wise the Sonos One works like you would think it should - like a regular Amazon Echo speaker does.


Yes, one needs to know that little trick about turning that option on in Alexa of having to play a tone - once that is done, line in works very well. It ought to - there is none of the Amazon Cloud Server to Sonos Cloud Server comms involved there.

So the only thing missing in the One compared to an Echo are some features that are only present in the latter, and not the ducking nuisance that is presently an issue with other Sonos speakers.
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Yea - I have to say I really like the Sonos One. And I'm not that big on voice control. LIke I said earlier it is real handy in bathroom and kitchen but I'll pull out the controller if I want to do anything serious.

I also have a lot of home automation and the Sonos works well with all of that. Example: I have my smartthings do my morning alarm where it says "Good Morning Chris" tells the time, tells the weather, tells me it has deactivated my security system etc. It does this through my Sonos One every morning - like it did my Play:1 in bathroom prior.

I actually have voice control turned off on all my Sonos speaker except the Sonos One and the Kitchen Play:5. So since only the one standard Sonos speaker on voice control it is the only one that ducks with Alexa commands issued to my Dots around the house.

Hopefully Sonos soon gets that linking thing working (which essentially will make a Dot and a Sonos speaker exactly the same as a Sonos One) so that I can link my Play:5 in Kitchen to my Kitchen Echo Show and then the Echo show will be the only one that Ducks the sound.
Hello.
Thanks for this very interesting topic. One thing I still don't know about connecting Echo dot and Play:5 1st gen : does it have to be through the rear jack and turn sonos app on line-in, or could it be wirelss ?
Thanks