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Play:1 Is Sonos’ Smallest, Cheapest (and Best Sounding?) System Yet

Sections: Audio, Multiroom audio, Streaming

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Sonos Play:1Sonos certainly has its fair share of competition these days, with Samsung entering the wireless multiroom music market and Bose bowing its SoundTouch system last week. Not content to give up a bit of primacy in its arena, Sonos has just introduced the Play:1 — the company’s smallest, most affordable wireless system to date.

At just $199, Sonos PLAY:1 measures a little over six inches tall by a little less than five inches wide, and features two Class D amps to drive its 3.5-inch woofer and tweeter. Of course, ease of control and ease of setup are the key messages from Sonos, and although it certainly features the same app control of its bigger brothers, Sonos touts the fact that Play:1 is easy enough to control without an app. Its Play/Pause button also serves as a track skip button.

You may have noticed that I only mentioned one woofer and one tweeter in the Play:1′s specs. And yes, it is a mono speaker. But that’s actually a good thing. You can pair two Play:1s wirelessly, and the system knows to treat them as stereo pairs. You can even add a Sonos SUB for a tidy 2.1 system. Or you can use a pair of Play:1s as the surround channels in a completely wireless Sonos Playbar system.

So, how could could such a tiny speaker possibly sound? Apparently pretty awesome. About.com Stereos Guide Brent Butterworth already got a Play:1 system in for review, and he describes it as not only “the product I always hoped Sonos would make,” but goes on to say in his measurements that “This is performance that the designer of a $3,000/pair speaker could be proud of.”

Although I think anybody would be impressed with the clarity and natural tonal balance of the Play:1, the bass is what blows me away. I can’t recall hearing another box of this size produce so much boom. Even the deep, deep bass notes that start Holly Cole’s recording of Tom Waits’ “Train Song” come through loud and clear, with desktop-shaking power.

But it’s not boom, really. I expected that Sonos would have had to employ a highly resonant, one-notey, “high-Q” tuning to get so much bass from this little thing. No: It’s nice, tight, well-defined bass. It’s a little bit boosted, but not much, and the overall tonal balance is so natural and even that it’s hard to imagine a better bass tuning for a device like this.

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