The initial set up of your Sonos speaker is designed to be painless for most smartphone natives. Once plugged in, download the Sonos app. You’ll need to create an account and pair your smartphone with your new Sonos over your Wi-Fi network.
Sonos is able to play music stored on your smartphone or tablet, but is mainly for playing using streaming services. In the app you can link to almost any music service, including Amazon Music, Apple Music, Tidal, Google Play Music and Spotify, although this is Spotify Premium only. You can listen to most radio stations through TuneIn Radio.
From here you will probably want to enable Alexa, a big new part of the Sonos ecosystem. To do this you will have to download the Alexa app and enable your Sonos through it. I’ve never been much of a smart speaker lover, but I have found myself using Alexa on the Sonos for listening to the news, turning the volume up or down when my hands are tied down cooking or making breakfast.
There are some issues with Alexa on Sonos. Not deal breakers, and if you are an Amazon Prime user you needn’t worry. Alexa can’t work with services like Apple Music or Google Play Music, meaning it can’t search for tracks it doesn’t know.
Annoyingly, if it can’t find a song, it will prompt you to “find the song on Amazon Music”. It would be nice to cut out the marketing. Alexa is also not that good at finding UK radio stations even if they are on the app, often redirecting to random US local radio stations that share similar names to Capital FM, for example.
Sonos is known for its multi-room and surround sound speaker offering and the Sonos One adds to that system. You can link up multiple Sonos speakers to the Sonos One from its app. These can then be named for your “living room” or “bedroom” and Alexa can pick up these signals – such as “play BBC Radio 2 in the bedroom”.
The Sonos One is arguably now the ideal starting point for a multi-room audio system. Given it can link up with Sonos soundbars such as the Sonos Playbar, and with other Sonos speakers or even connect to Amazon’s Echo speakers.
A major part of Sonos’ appeal is its simple app and multi-room set up. Adding new speakers and assigning them rooms is a doddle with Sonos, meaning you can build up a multi-room setting with speakers set to the living room or bedroom.
From within the app you can search for music from a range of streaming or radio sources. You can find individual songs or artists quickly across a range of apps and music services, although personally I find the implementation of Spotify on Sonos less intuitive than when using the regular app.