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New Sonos One Voice Controlled Smart Speaker is a Better Sounding Amazon Echo

By Chris Boylan

I've been a fan of Sonos for some time. In terms of whole home music systems, it's hard to get simpler -- or more inclusive -- than Sonos. Whether your music is in Amazon, iTunes, network drives or coming from one of 80 different streaming services like Pandora, Spotify or Deezer, the Sonos app can access it and play it anywhere in your home. Well, anywhere that there's a Sonos speaker, that is.

But once Amazon Echo showed up at our door (and the Tap and Echo Dots that followed it), we found our usage of Sonos speakers dropped significantly. The Amazon Echo, Tap and Dot may not have the sound quality of a Sonos, but being able to control music by voice is addictive. And this is not to mention Alexa's smart home controls like adjusting your thermostat, turning on and off your lights, even controlling a TV or home entertainment system.

Sonos has previously announced plans for Alexa control and integration, but today  the company has gone one better. At a press event in New York City this morning, Sonos debuted the Sonos One Voice-Controlled Smart Speaker. The Sonos One is basically the love child of a Sonos Play:1 and an Echo Dot, with the sound quality of a Sonos, but the voice control and integration capabilities of the Alexa voice assistant at your command.

Sonos One looks (and sounds) a lot like the Sonos Play:1, but now it has a built-in microphone to enable voice control.

Anything the Echo can do, Sonos One can do, including control your home automation products, play music from your favorite streaming service, order cat food, even play "Jeopardy." But as a Sonos, the One can do more. You can pair up two Sonos Ones for more immersive stereo sound, synchronize music across multiple rooms, or play different music in different rooms. A pair of Sonos Ones can even handle rear channel duties in a 5.1 surround sound system when matched up with a PlayBase or PlayBar for the front channels.

And while Amazon is clearly a dominant force in the voice-controlled home automation market, it's not the only player. As an open platform, Sonos also plans to support the Google Assistant some time next year. Support for other platforms could be added in the future, as the market demands.

Also, existing Sonos owners aren't being left out in the cold. A new software update, delivered today, allows any existing Sonos speaker to be controlled via Alexa from an Amazon Echo, Dot or Tap. Just update your Sonos software, install the Sonos skill for Alexa and you're ready to rock (or play jazz or classical... whatever you're into).

The Sonos One is priced at $199.99 and is expected to begin shipping on October 24. It's available to pre-order on the Sonos web site and will be coming to other sites and stores soon.

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