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.
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