Sonos, one of originators of the whole multi-room, multi-zone audio genre, is launching the Sonos One, a voice controlled smart speaker that will let you skip tracks and control your music, just by speaking.
Available from 24 October 2017 and priced at $299, the speaker is loaded with the Amazon Alexa system. If that’s not enough, next year it will be upgraded (via automatic firmware update, so at no additional expense) to also support Google Assistant, the more advanced voice interaction system available on many Android phones.
From launch, you can use spoken commands with Alexa – the Sonos One automatically lowers the volume when you speak so you don’t have yell at it – to pause, skip and change the volume and ask what’s playing. At launch, there’s full voice support Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, Pandora, SiriusXM and TuneIn*. And “soon after launch” voice control will be added for Spotify.
All up, the Sonos One is capable of “playing music, podcasts, audiobooks, and other sonic content from more than 80 streaming services.”
Already have a Sonos distributed audio system? By adding the Sonos One, you can control the whole system with spoken word. In addition, a pair of Sonos One smart speakers can be joined to act as a stereo pair, or joined with the Sonos Playbar sound bars or Playbase TV base to create a full home theatre surround system. The Sonos Trueplay system available through the Sonos app can be used to tune the system’s sound. Each Sonos One is fitted with two Class D amplifiers, a tweeter and a bass/midrange driver.
When Google Assistant arrives to the system, it will offer its full “personal assistant” capabilities. Given than it integrates with the Google Home control system, you’ll also be able to do things like control lights, switch on devices with smart switches and so on.
Will it be snooping on you? That’s an ever present concern with all these voice control systems. If so, you’ll be able to see. Sonos has put the “microphone on” light on the same circuit as the six microphone array (used for the adaptive noise suppression), so if the microphones are on, the light is on.
Finally, with all this Alexa and Google Assistant stuff, what about iPhone people? Well, Siri is not available of course. But next year Apple AirPlay 2 – Apple’s multiroom enhancement to AirPlay – will be fitted to the Sonos One via automatic firmware update.
* Amazon Music requires a subscription. Pandora is no longer available in Australia; SiriusXM is a North American thing and gives Australians a rather unfriendly “This request was blocked by the security rules” message if we try to access it.