Sonos has built out a large collection of smart speakers, soundbars, subwoofers, portable devices, and more. And we can’t forget about the many Symfonisk speakers that the company has released in partnership with Ikea. 2023 has seen the company introduce major new products including the Era 100 and Era 300, and more are on the way.
With such a broad portfolio of hardware at prices ranging anywhere from $120 to $899, picking the best Sonos speaker for your needs isn’t always as straightforward as it might seem. You probably have some idea of the category of speaker you want — soundbar, desk speaker, or something portable — but even then, it takes some narrowing down to land on the right product.
I’m The Verge’s audio reviewer and have closely followed Sonos over the last several years. I’ve also spent many, many hours listening to each of these devices, so I’ve got you covered when it comes to the right recommendations.
Best speaker for getting started with Sonos
Sonos’ Era 100 smart speaker is a replacement for the older Sonos One, utilizing two tweeters (left and right) and one larger woofer. In addition to Wi-Fi, the Era 100 also supports Bluetooth audio and line-in playback via an optional 3.5mm to USB-C adapter.
Sonos landed on a successful formula for a smart speaker with the Sonos One. And with the Era 100, the company has improved upon the One in numerous ways. It’s very similar in size — still perfect for any desk, bedside table, or countertop — but the newer speaker is capable of stereo playback, while the One could only do mono (unless you had two of them in a stereo pair). The enhanced bass response is also instantly noticeable. Despite its relatively compact size, the Era 100 produces a full, nicely balanced sound signature.
Aside from better sound, the Era adds support for Bluetooth playback and line-in audio. The former makes it easier for friends to play music from their own devices when visiting, and the latter allows you to run a turntable through your Sonos system. That was previously a much pricier proposition and required either the Sonos Five or something like the Amp. It’s great to see it come to the entry-level tier.
The Era 100 retains the One’s hands-free voice controls and smart assistant capabilities, but unfortunately, Google Assistant isn’t available on this speaker. Instead you’re left with Amazon Alexa and Sonos Voice Control. Sonos revamped the topside controls, so you get dedicated track controls and an indented bar for volume adjustments. The new entry-level Sonos speaker is slightly more expensive than the Sonos One was, but it adds enough new functionality to easily justify a price increase.
If you move around the house a lot throughout the day or find yourself outside, it might be worth considering the Sonos Move portable speaker as your starting point. It doesn’t sound quite as rich as the Era 100, but it packs plenty of volume and good overall audio quality into a speaker that you can carry wherever you need it.
Best budget Sonos speaker
The versatile Symfonisk bookshelf speaker costs less than any other Sonos speaker and delivers sound quality similar to a Sonos One. It’s a great starting point for a new Sonos user.
The Symfonisk lineup of speakers is jointly developed by Sonos and Ikea, and they can be a great entry point to the world of Sonos. There’s perhaps no better deal in the entire portfolio than the versatile bookshelf speaker, which sells for under $120. This stylish unit is great for so many different use cases: it’s a great option for anyone getting started with Sonos, delivering sound quality that’s basically on par with a Sonos One in a different form factor that some people might prefer. Remember that you can pair two bookshelf speakers together for stereo audio (or to use as surround speakers). Ikea sells plenty of accessories for it, including a floor stand and wall bracket.
Best sounding Sonos speaker
As the flagship desk speaker in Sonos’ lineup, the Sonos Five provides superb sound quality that outperforms any other smart speaker in its price range. It also has an auxiliary input for playing other audio sources through your Sonos system.
What the Sonos Five lacks in smarts (there are no integrated mics on this product), it makes up for with pristine sound. Excluding soundbars, the Sonos Five is Sonos’ largest, most powerful speaker. Play some of your favorite tracks through the Five, and you’ll quickly come to understand why it ranks above the rest of the lineup in audio fidelity, detail, and overall performance. It’s among the very best standalone speakers on the market at its price point and will outclass any HomePod, Echo, or Nest Audio speaker you test alongside it. Pair two of them together in stereo, and your music will sound sublime; a pair of Fives can also be used as rear surrounds, though there are more affordable options for that scenario.
It also outperforms the Era 300 — at least when it comes to stereo playback. The newer speaker has a unique advantage with spatial audio music; the Five isn’t capable of playing Atmos mixes since it’s a traditional, stereo unit. But it still sounds better overall and especially when you crank the volume. If you care about lossless audio and getting the highest level of fidelity from your Sonos system, this is the company’s very best option.
Aside from its powerful, enveloping sound, the Five has one relatively unique hardware feature among the Sonos lineup: there’s a 3.5mm aux input that can be used for plugging in a record player or another audio device of your choosing. The only other Sonos devices with line-in functionality are the Amp and Port.
Best portable Sonos speaker
The Sonos Move is a large wireless speaker that you can easily move around the house or to the backyard for a party. The integrated handle makes it easier to carry, and when away from Wi-Fi, you can listen to the Move in Bluetooth mode.
Sonos’ original Bluetooth speaker isn’t “portable” in the same sense as the much smaller Roam, but it’s easy enough to lug around different rooms of your home or haul out to the backyard for a party. It’s a hefty little thing at 6.6 pounds, but at least there’s a handle molded into the back of the speaker for easier carrying.
Sonos advertises up to 10 hours of continuous playback when the Move is off its wireless charging base. Like the company’s other speakers, you can stream music over Wi-Fi using the Sonos app. But with the Move, you can also flip the switch on the back to Bluetooth mode and pair a phone, laptop, or any other audio source to listen that way.
Sound-wise, the Move might very well be Sonos’ best speaker dollar for dollar. It’s fuller and bassier than the outgoing Sonos One, which can’t be used unplugged, and is more than powerful enough to fill an outdoor patio area with sound. The Era 100’s switch to stereo puts it above the Move for me; it’s got greater clarity and sounds more dynamic as a result. But with the Move, you’re still getting very good audio and total freedom for where you put it. And best of all, Sonos’ portable speakers have automatic Trueplay, meaning they use their own built-in mics to produce the best possible audio for whatever environment you’re using them in. Whenever the Move (or Roam) is picked up and put somewhere new, this process automatically happens in the background while you listen. One last thing: Sonos has made efforts to help the Move last long into the future by offering a battery replacement kit that can be purchased when the included battery no longer holds a satisfactory charge.
Best Sonos speaker for travel
The tiny, portable Sonos Roam can be used like any Bluetooth speaker when you’re on the go. But at home, it plays music over Wi-Fi like other Sonos products. The integrated mics make it easy to use Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Sonos Voice Control.
The Sonos Roam is a small, lightweight Bluetooth speaker that’s easy to toss into your bag and bring anywhere or travel with. It also makes for a great bathroom speaker and can be placed throughout the home in areas that might be lacking audio coverage from your other Sonos devices. When used around the house, the Roam will play music over Wi-Fi just like your other Sonos speakers — and it has built-in mics for voice controls. Take it on the road, and it works like any Bluetooth speaker. And if you happen to own a turntable that supports Bluetooth, you can play your vinyl collection across your entire Sonos system by pairing the turntable with the Roam.
You can only expect so much from the tiny Roam in terms of sound quality. It outputs clean, detailed audio and can fill small rooms, but the bass and overall presence are no match for something like the Sonos Move or the Era 100. You can always link two Roams together for a more immersive stereo listening experience.
Best Sonos speaker for spatial audio
The hourglass-shaped Sonos Era 300 is designed from the ground up for spatial audio and Dolby Atmos. It supports the same Bluetooth and line-in features as the Era 100. If you pair two 300s together with an Arc or Beam (Ge 2), you can get truly immersive home theater surround sound.
The Sonos Era 300 is a promising glimpse into the future of music. With six drivers inside (including an upward-firing speaker), it’s built to showcase spatial audio. Find the right Dolby Atmos track from Apple Music or Amazon Music and it can be a mind-blowing experience: you’ll really feel like music is coming from beyond the speaker’s relatively small footprint. The Era 300 bounces sound off your walls and ceiling to heighten immersion and give songs more dimensionality.
The Era 300 is also the only Sonos speaker that can deliver full Dolby Atmos audio — including height effects — when you use a stereo pair as rear surrounds for an Arc or Beam (Gen 2) soundbar. If you’re a home theater enthusiast, that perk alone could be enough to choose this speaker over the Sonos One SL, which would otherwise be my recommendation for rear surrounds.
But we’re still in the early days of spatial audio from streaming music services, and the quality of Atmos mixes can vary wildly from album to album. If you want to experience the best of what’s out there, the Era 300 is a worthwhile investment. But if you’re still mostly listening to stereo in 2023, the Five remains the way to go.
Best Sonos soundbar
The Sonos Arc is the company’s flagship soundbar, offering a plethora of drivers including upward-firing Dolby Atmos speakers. This soundbar provides immersive, powerful sound, whether you’re watching movies or enjoying music.
At $899, the Sonos Arc soundbar doesn’t come cheap. But this Dolby Atmos soundbar is a true powerhouse that will bring out the most from the latest Hollywood blockbusters or your Netflix streams. With 11 drivers in all (including two up-firing height speakers), the Arc delivers truly immersive home theater audio. The company has continued to improve its flagship soundbar with firmware updates that have focused on clearer dialogue and other enhancements.
The Arc includes mics for voice assistants and smart speaker functionality, but you can optionally purchase the Arc SL from Costco if you’d prefer to go without them. If you’re serious about your home theater system and want the best, most powerful soundbar that Sonos offers, the Arc is the move. You’ll quickly get over the steep price once you hear it.
Best budget Sonos soundbar with Dolby Atmos
The latest Sonos Beam fits into the middle of Sonos’ soundbar lineup. It supports Dolby Atmos through virtualized surround sound and offers eARC compatibility with newer TVs.
Stepping down to the mid-level Sonos Beam doesn’t mean you’ll be settling for lackluster sound. While it lacks proper up-firing height speakers for Dolby Atmos content, the second-gen Beam does an impressive job of virtualizing those channels in a way that’s convincing to your ears — especially in small- to mid-size rooms. The inclusion of eARC means you don’t have to worry about any lip sync issues when watching movies or audio delay while gaming.
While the second-gen Beam is similar in size and weight to the first, it features a perforated plastic grille instead of the hard-to-clean fabric of the original model. And priced at $449, it’s certainly easier on your wallet than the flagship Arc.
Best Sonos soundbar for a bedroom
The Ray is Sonos’ entry-level soundbar that’s best for bedrooms and smaller apartments. It only connects to TVs via optical cable, thus missing out on HDMI-CEC functionality. But despite its cheaper price and reduced size, the Ray still produces balanced, dynamic sound that beats any TV speakers.
With its optical-only design and no HDMI connection, the entry-level Sonos Ray is best suited for smaller rooms or secondary TVs. You don’t get any Dolby Atmos support with this $279 soundbar, and it doesn’t have a dedicated center channel for dialogue. Still, the Ray provides balanced, crisp audio and surprisingly big sound for its relatively small size.
Bass output is limited compared to Sonos’ pricier soundbars, but if you’re looking for a simple solution that sounds good for both movies and music, the Ray isn’t a bad purchase. I’d recommend saving a bit more for the Beam if you have any plans to build out your home theater system with additional Sonos speakers, however.
Best Sonos subwoofer
Sonos’ premium Sub subwoofer can add a new level of depth and powerful bass response to your home theater setup. It’s compatible with all Sonos soundbars and many speakers, including the Sonos One and Sonos Five.
If you want to unleash the full potential of any Sonos home theater setup, the Sub is an essential piece of kit. It’s got plenty of boom and floor-shaking power (if you want it) for those blockbuster action sequences, and the Sub also adds another layer of depth when you’re playing music through your system.
The Sub can either be positioned upright or laid flat on the floor; you can conveniently hide it under a couch, which can’t be said of the cylindrical Sub Mini. But there’s no denying that the best low-end rumble that Sonos offers comes at a stiff premium: the Sub costs $799, and sales on the subwoofer are rare to come by.
Best budget Sonos subwoofer
It can’t fully match the loudness and sheer power of the flagship Sub, but the more compact Sub Mini still kicks out plenty of boom that will make you feel the low-end bass from your couch.
The Sub Mini can’t fully match the loudness of the full-size Sub, but it gets you surprisingly close — and for substantially less money. It’s also arguably more stylish, trading the dust-magnet glossy finish for a matte design. The Sub Mini’s reduced size makes it easy to place discreetly somewhere near your TV without calling much attention to the hardware itself.
Most stylish Sonos speaker
Symfonisk Picture Frame Speaker
Ikea’s Symfonisk Picture Frame Speaker conceals a great-sounding Sonos speaker behind a piece of art. It’s an excellent choice for people who don’t like the way most speakers look.
The Symfonisk bookshelf speaker is a great deal, but it still looks like a speaker. If you’re looking to camouflage tech in your home so that it blends in with other decor, that’s where the Symfonisk picture frame speaker shines. When mounted on your wall, it looks like a piece of artwork — albeit with a power cord coming out of the bottom. If you don’t love the default pattern, Ikea sells a rotating variety of replacement art panels, including these colorful limited-edition ones.
Behind the front piece of art are Sonos drivers and waveguides that help distribute sound from the picture frame speaker throughout a room. There are many possibilities and potential use cases for this thing: you can mount two picture frame speakers together on the same wall for surround sound with any Sonos soundbar. And when the TV’s off, they fit into the room better than any traditional speaker can.
The best time to buy Sonos products
One unfortunate thing about Sonos gear is that it rarely goes on sale. Occasionally the company will discount some products, but if you want to save money, your best bet is to shop the Sonos certified refurbished store. I also recommend checking your closest Best Buy(s) for open box speakers; you can land some excellent deals this way, and the products often look brand new.
Is it worth buying older Sonos speakers?
In general, I advise people to stick to the current lineup of Sonos hardware. But there are exceptions. For example, the second-generation Play:5 and Sonos Five sound identical and offer the exact same features. The newer model has more processing power, but that’s not going to matter to your ears, is it? If you can find the older speaker for the right price, go for it. You might also want to hunt down past products if you’re trying to form a stereo pair. But when it comes to other devices like the Beam soundbar, the second-gen model offers substantially better sound. There’s ample reason to pick the latest revision.
What about the Amp and Port?
If you want to retrofit your existing passive speakers and bring them into your whole-home Sonos system, that’s where the $699 Amp comes in. Sonos also sells the cheaper $449 Port that you can link to a receiver or other audio equipment for the same end result. The big difference between them is power: the Amp offers 125 watts per channel, so it’s able to power floor-standing or bookshelf speakers that lack their own amplification.
Sonos and privacy
While Sonos offers a selection of voice-enabled smart speakers, the company is very privacy conscious. The new Era 300 and 100 both include two ways of turning off the built-in microphones: there’s a button on top that temporarily mutes them, and if you want to fully disable the mics, there’s a physical switch on the back of each speaker for doing so. Sonos also sells “SL” models of its Arc soundbar (a Costco exclusive), Sonos One, and Roam that do not include microphones. When using Sonos Voice Control, all requests are processed locally on-device and not sent to the cloud.