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The Sonos One Just Might Be the Best Smart Home Speaker Yet

By adding always-on microphones and Alexa, Sonos just made themselves much more competitive with the Amazon Echo and Google Home.

Last year, Sonos announced a preview of Alexa compatibility, which would allow users to control Sonos speakers using Alexa speakers like an Echo or Dot. Cool and all, but it’d be a whole lot more straightforward if Alexa was just on your Sonos speaker to begin with. That’s exactly where Sonos is headed with the announcement of the Sonos One, the company’s first smart home speaker.

The Sonos One is an adapted version of the Sonos Play:1, the smallest of their three classic speakers. It should still have the same level of audio quality, but the speaker is now outfitted with an always-listening far-field microphone array, which lets you issue voice commands from anywhere in the room. With the Sonos One, you’ll be giving Alexa voice commands, but Sonos doesn’t intend to stop there — they plan to add support for Google Assistant and Apple AirPlay 2 (Apple’s multi-room speaker system) next year. With the new Cortana-Alexa partnership between Microsoft and Amazon, that means this new Sonos speaker should work with just about every major voice assistant besides Siri by next year. That could make it the only sensible choice for anyone who relies on more than one voice assistant.

There are some bummers in the announcement. While Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, Pandora, SiriusXM, and TuneIn will all get the full complement of voice controls, Alexa controls for Spotify will not be available at launch — Sonos says it’s coming, but they didn’t provide a timetable. In the meantime, the speaker can still be controlled by either the Sonos or Spotify apps, as with every other Sonos speaker.

For the many current owners of Sonos speakers, Alexa voice control is coming out of preview. Sonos pushed out an update today that will allow anyone with an Alexa-enabled speaker to control their Sonos speakers with voice controls. It’s the kind of circuitous process that the Sonos One eliminates, but it’s nice to see Alexa compatibility in some form come to people who have already bought into the Sonos system.

But, the price might make even those customers spring for a new speaker. The Sonos One costs $200, which compares favorably with the upcoming Apple HomePod and Google Home Max. Those two will sell for $350 and $400 respectively, and unlike the Sonos One, they’ll likely only ever support Apple’s and Google’s own voice assistants. Apple adherents will still want to gravitate toward the HomePod because of Siri support, but there’s good reason for Google to be a little nervous. Meanwhile, the Amazon Echo (2nd gen) and Echo Plus are cheaper at $100 and $150, but hey, when does Amazon ever not have the cheapest option?

The Sonos One looks like it’s found a happy medium with a reasonable price tag and compatibility with multiple voice assistants, but we won’t know how it stacks up until the HomePod, the Google Home Max, and the Sonos One are all on the market. We won’t need to wait long for the latter — the Sonos One is available for preorder now and will be in stores on October 24.