Which? Magazine give the Sonos ONE (Gen2) only 44% and add it to the 'Dont Buy' list (along with the Sonos Beam)


Userlevel 1
Badge
Which? Magazine adds the Sonos ONE (Gen 2) the the smart speaker 'Dont Buy' list together with the Sonos Beam.

Note to Sonos Moderators: Please publish this post-its a genuine review of your product and I think potential Sonos customers have the right to make an informed decision.

Please note that this review is only the personal opinion of the Which? panel and not necessarily the opinion of the many satisfied Sonos customers out there of which I am one..

This is a direct copy of the review and hasn't been altered in any way by me. This information is for Which? members only but I thought it should be made more accessible so customers can make a more informed decision before buying.
Read on......

Sonos may be a popular brand in multi-room audio, but they're well behind the smart speaker competition with the Sonos One, and this second generation version hasn't closed the gap. It's a pain to set up, and the sound quality is bass heavy with a harsh quality, lacking warmth - it's nowhere near the standard of one of our Best Buy speakers.

What is it?
A wi-fi smart speaker with Alexa voice control built-in, which allows you to control the wireless speaker hands-free using your voice. The choice of Google Assistant voice control is due to be added after launch. There's also Apple Airplay 2 for complete compatibility with the latest iPhones and iPads (for audio playback, those supporting iOS 11.4 or later).
Controls on the speaker housing allow you to play/pause music, change volume, skip to next/previous track and turn the microphone on or off. There is also a status indicator light.
TuneIn internet radio is pre-installed, and Sonos systems support a vast range of music and audio streaming services, including Spotify, Apple Music, Audible, Deezer, iHeartRadio, Radioplayer, SoundCloud, Tidal, and YouTube Music (may require subscriptions). See here for the full list.
As you'd expect from Sonos, the Sonos One has full multi-room support, so you can connect it to another Sonos One for stereo sound or to other Sonos speakers for a wider audio setup.
There's also the option of an Ethernet socket for a stable wired internet connection rather than using wi-fi.
What's the sound like?
Really disappointing. We had hoped the second-generation Sonos One would have improved on the original, which our expert panel weren't impressed by. So this time, our expert panel listened to the Sonos One (Gen 2) and the original Sonos One (Gen 1) side-by-side to see how different they sound.
Remarkably, both now sound even worse than when we first tested the Sonos One (Gen 1) back in late 2017. The Sonos One (Gen 1) is now on updated firmware compared with its original test, as is the smartphone app. All panel members were unanimous that the audio quality has declined following these updates.
Our expert panel did rate the sound of the Sonos One (Gen 2) slightly higher than the Sonos One (Gen 1), but the scores are still worse than the mediocre scores the Sonos One (Gen 1) originally received by the same panel in 2017.
Our expert panel found the Sonos One (Gen 2) has a rough tone, and the bass is quite heavy, grumbly, boomy, slightly late to the beat and poorly integrated with the rest of the sound.
Overall, there's a lack of detail to the sound, the sound is uneven and speech has a slight nasal quality. More positively, otherwise speech is clear and fairly natural, and easy to understand.
Music has energy and drive, and is spread evenly around the room in all directions. At time of testing, the treble and bass sliders are jerky with no numeric figures to guide you. This is also buried in the app settings and difficult to find - go into 'room settings', find your room, then select 'equaliser'. The 'loudness' sound option is on by default - our expert panel turned this off to improve the sound as much as they could.
There's a sound equaliser in the app that allows you to adjust it to your personal preferences, but you won't be able to work miracles.
What's it like to use?
Setting up the wi-fi internet connection is much more difficult than on rival smart speakers. There's no voice guidance when you first set up the speaker - the only help given is in the quick-start guide where you're directed to download the app. Without the app (and the necessity to set up an account), you can't use this speaker.
Setup via the app is quite cumbersome and we would've liked some spoken guidance about what you can do with the speaker to help the user get started.
You're encouraged to custom tune the speaker's sound to the shape of your room during setup, which required you to move your smartphone in a circular motion around your room to the speaker can offer the best sound for its local environment.
Only after you have completed all these setup instructions and have Alexa running (for which you need to sign in separately) does the speaker make any audible communication to the user - a rather odd first experience for an audio system. Some may wonder whether it's actually working properly.
Alexa voice control works reasonably well, but we did find on occasion that it didn't catch our instructions. Like many things in the app, setting up multi-room is also rather buried and takes some patience.
Is there anything I should watch out for?
This wireless speaker doesn't support Bluetooth, only wi-fi. This makes the experience of using this speaker much more tied to the Sonos Controller app on your smartphone than other wireless speakers. Bluetooth can act as a backdoor route to get some services for free, whereas sometimes you have to pay to connect using wi-fi, and so this speaker can be limiting in connecting to some services for free.
If you haven't signed up to one of the supported music streaming services, you can't use the app to control your music. Using an Apple device, we used AirPlay to play local music files which then appeared as playing in the app.
Is there anything else I should know?
The touch-control panel on the top of the device is a fingerprint magnet and produces smears if used regularly.
Should I buy it?
No. It's so disappointing we've made it a Don't Buy. There's nothing here that the competition don't do better

14 replies

a) I'm not sure that you should be quoting their reviews verbatim
b) wasn't this deleted before? You're coming across as a troll, now
Userlevel 1
Badge
I dont really know what a troll is - sorry...They can delete it if they want to.
Instead of commenting on the way I post on the forum why can't someone give me their views on the report and if they have issues with the sound quality too and if so can it be improved etc.
Thats what I was hoping for and thats what this forum is for surely....?
What in tarnation is Which magazine and why should I care what they think?

Also, the OP is trying way too hard to push that (his) site. Subtlety is key when spamming.
Userlevel 1
Badge
I dont work for Which? Magazine, Im not trying to promote their site but I do trust their opinion as they are totally non biased and non profit. They have to pay for all the products they test and these days its quite rare to be able to trust a review (Im sure youve seen the news recently)

I think we have covered the troll / spamming thing now. What about some comments on the content e.g
Does anyone agree that Sonos can sound a bit flat?
Does the iPhone app improve the sound?
Do you find the first time setup / multiroom setup cumbersome?
What are users experiences with the 'ambient feature in the surround mode? - I know this isnt mentioned but I would like to know what it actually does?
etc.etc.

These were the sort of comments I was hoping for-not a load of negativity ....But I guess thats what happens these days, someone posts something and within 10 mins you just get a load of bad stuff and then others replying to the bad stuff with more bad stuff and then the whole thing goes totally off the original subject and comes to nothing. Oh well...
Userlevel 5
Badge +12
Since Sonos say the Gen 1 and Gen 2 are sonically identical - which is why they let them be mixed as a stereo pair - it’s odd the panel heard such significant differences. I’d like to know if the tests were blind, and whether they were reviewed on their own or compared with other speakers as a group test.

But it everyone is entitled to their opinion, even if some of us disagree with these opinions!
Ah, this may help to explain one, or two, things mentioned here...

Userlevel 7
Badge +19
I assume the OP had the permission of which to post their review?
I dont work for Which? Magazine, Im not trying to promote their site but I do trust their opinion as they are totally non biased and non profit. They have to pay for all the products they test and these days its quite rare to be able to trust a review (Im sure youve seen the news recently)

I think we have covered the troll / spamming thing now. What about some comments on the content e.g
Does anyone agree that Sonos can sound a bit flat?
Does the iPhone app improve the sound?
Do you find the first time setup / multiroom setup cumbersome?
What are users experiences with the 'ambient feature in the surround mode? - I know this isnt mentioned but I would like to know what it actually does?
etc.etc.

These were the sort of comments I was hoping for-not a load of negativity ....But I guess thats what happens these days, someone posts something and within 10 mins you just get a load of bad stuff and then others replying to the bad stuff with more bad stuff and then the whole thing goes totally off the original subject and comes to nothing. Oh well...



Ok let's discuss. Starting with you explaining why their "reviews" are in stark contrast to the vast majority of professional and amateur reviews of Sonos products. Sonos averages 4.5 stars on Amazon. I'll take actual users over some half-assed "review" site any day of the week. Consumer Reports is also non-profit and independent, not to mention well known and respected, and they have voted Sonos as the best multi-room system several times, as well as posting "Excellent" marks for individual Sonos units.

Regardless, posting entire articles without a link should not be done without permission of the site.
I’d like to know if the tests were blind
Of course they were not! No one in the media does this, if they did they would see a 90% reduction in things to write about.

Does anyone agree that Sonos can sound a bit flat?
Does the iPhone app improve the sound?
Do you find the first time setup / multiroom setup cumbersome?


These were the sort of comments I was hoping for-not a load of negativity

You ought to have said - having experienced the quoted yourself - what do others think; instead you just copy/pasted an external review of unknown provenance, and earned the resultant flak.
For what it is worth, based on play 1 experiences:
  1. No, I don't think it is flat. And this is borne out by measured frequency response curves that show the usual mild bass boost that is common in HiFi speakers for the home - as opposed to some studio monitors that are designed to be flat. Note here that this is based on proper for sound speaker placement, something that is easily achieved with the small footprint of the unit, but still needs to be done with as much care as one would lavish on a "HiFi" speaker. Placement changes will have a significant bearing on how the speaker sounds and can make it sound flat or bloated as the case may be.
  2. Yes, the Trueplay tuning makes a difference, but this is significant only where speaker placement is not good to begin with. In my case, little impact on the 1 units, but a very noticeable tightening up of the response from the Sub that takes some time getting used to. Now that I am used to this more accurate bass, the sound with true play toggled off sounds bloated.
  3. I have found that set up works out of the box. Keeping it so needs some router interventions like reserving IP addresses, and once in while, channel changes.
Also for what it is worth, backing my assessment is many years of use of the BBC spec thin wall speakers - Spendor LS3/5, followed by Harbeth C7, with those as a benchmark for sound quality. I found that I was able to replace the C7 pair with a 1 pair + Sub set up, with the consequent benefits of smaller footprint that allowed for better placement, elimination of boxes and cables, with surprisingly little audible downside. Hewing as it does to the well understood small satellite speakers+Sub approach, the last bit isn't really surprising.
So no, I haven't used Rogers, but the referred ones that I have, for many years, are equivalents.
Of course, there are some here that will jump in and call me uneducated in these matters, but that doesn't bother me. I could not be on the internet if it did.
I don't use Sonos for TV, so I have nothing to say about Beam etc.
Userlevel 1
Badge
Sorry I'm so busy I can't keep up with comments.
I should never have bothered but thanks in particular to Kumar.
When one enters a discussion forum, one should be prepared for discussion.

---

We don't know the methodology used while making the observations for the article. When comparing speakers, placement is critical. If I set you up in a blind testing situation with a single pair of speakers and the only difference between 'A' and 'B' is placement in the room, you will have a different opinion about the goodness of 'A' and 'B'.

If you would like to explore how gross these placement differences can be, start playing a track with a thumping bass line, then walk around the perimeter of the room with a hand full of Post-it notes. Stay within a few inches of the walls as you walk. When you discover a spot where the bass seems to pile up, mark it with a Post-it and move on. When you discover a spot where the bass is much more prominent than other spots, mark it with (!). I discovered one of these spots in my college apartment and placed a chair on that spot. Bass notes seemed to explode from within one's body. This was a favorite spot for male listeners. If I moved the chair a few inches the "explosion" was gone.

This effect is symmetric. By this I mean that if one places a speaker at one of the Post-it locations it will be more efficient at delivering bass into the room -- especially at the (!) locations. A Post-it location is known as a "peak". About midway between peaks, you'll discover a "null" where bass will be minimal.

During an A/B testing session where the speakers are not moved to the same location, if 'A' is at a Post-it location and 'B' is not, 'A' will have more bass. This disparity will be worse if 'B' is accidentally placed at a null while 'A' is at a peak.

I have some very techie friends. While we don't generally prefer the same speakers and can express ourselves in a tech way, it's not a big issue and we respect the other's preference. In many cases the speakers are used for different purposes. A speaker that would be very useful for sound re-enforcement in an outdoor concert would not, in my opinion, be appropriate in a living room.
When comparing speakers, placement is critical.
I remember a friend who moved his system to another room and only then realised that he possessed a HiFi set up, that sounded very good. Nothing had changed except speaker placement and room acoustics.
PS: and while Trueplay tuning can compensate to some extent for poor placement, nothing beats getting things as close to right as possible - for both speaker placement and room acoustics.
Sorry I'm so busy I can't keep up with comments.

When you sow the wind...😀
Seriously though, if you have the space to achieve good placement for the Rogers units given their size and bass response, stick with them where music is concerned, using a Connect as a source to get almost all Sonos benefits as well. But if you are constrained for space, the smaller footprint play 1 pair + Sub, with true play tuning employed for the final tweaking can take you a long way in getting the same listening pleasure.
PS: And no personal experience, but by all accounts, the Sonos One - both generations - sound the same as the play 1. Put down any heard difference to location differences.

Reply