Just to clarify, the new Sonos One speaker will not have any voice support when it goes on sale in Australia UPDATE - We gather Google is promising Alexa to launch in Australia in "early 2018".
The Sonos One launches globally on October 24, and will be priced at $299 in Australia.
In the US, where the pre-tax RRP is US$199, plus in the UK (UK199), and Germany, all countries where Alexa is already available, purchasers will be able to ask Amazon Alexa to control Sonos One out of the box, with full voice support for Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, Pandora (where available), SiriusXM (where available), and TuneIn. Alexa voice control for Spotify will also follow.
Most impressive is that Sonos hasn’t picked a single voice-control option – it aims to make the Sonos One controllable also from Google Assistant in 2018, and via Apple’s Siri with AirPlay 2 as well. We imagine other Sonos units will eventually play along too -- the Play:5 had a microphone in there when the new design launched last year, unused then and designated “for future purposes”!
But in Australia, where Alexa is not officially supported by Amazon (though plenty of people have imported one), the Sonos One will not have voice support, the company’s local PR confirming to us, “Sonos One's voice services will not be available until Alexa is available in Australia. As Amazon makes Alexa available in other countries, Sonos will work closely with them to enable the functionality on Sonos as soon as possible. This will be delivered to Sonos owners as a free software update.”
While you’re waiting, as Sonos notes, “Customers outside of the US, UK, and Germany will enjoy everything you’d expect from a Sonos speaker – great sound, multi-room listening, and access to multiple music services – which makes Sonos One future-ready for when Sonos and a voice service launch together in new regions.”
In some ways this announcement represents a wholesale change for Sonos, opening its formerly walled garden to allow its speakers to be controlled via a number of key third-party apps, including Tidal, Audible, iHeartRadio and Kuke Music (this last a Chinese digital music library that is focused on the development of non-pop music; the app is in Mandarin). Again this appears to be a plan for the future, with Tidal control to be available “in the coming months” with Audible, iHeartRadio and Kuke Music “in 2018”.
Key details of the Sonos One, then:
- it can play as a standalone mono speaker, with a single tweeter and one mid-woofer driven by two Class-D ‘digital’ amplifiers;
- two Sonos Ones can be digitally paired for stereo sound;
- two Sonos Ones can be paired with a PLAYBASE or PLAYBAR to act as rears for surround sound;
- the Trueplay tuning system can be used with Sonos One;
- a six-microphone array and an adaptive noise suppression algorithm is used to focus on voice instructions;
- voice capture technology with echo cancellation allows the speaker to hear you over the music, although as with Google Home the volume ‘ducks’ when you speak to it;
- those concerned about “always listening” privacy can disable the microphones, and this status is clear from a light on the speaker which will be illuminated if the microphones are active.
If you're now wondering what is different between the current Play:1 and the new Sonos One, well, so were we, so we checked the published specs. Here are the specs for the current Play:1:
and here are the specs from the new Sonos One
So the control system and microphones seem the main changes here.
Sonos One is available in all-white and all-black matte finishes, and pre-orders are being taken online (though we’re sure Sonos dealers would like you to buy it from them) at www.sonos.com.au
Sonos was recently recognised as one of Sound+Image's Ultimate 30, as part of our 30th anniversary celebrations.