Although numerous rumours these past few months haven’t exactly allowed Sonos the element of surprise here, the famed electronics company best known for their high quality speakers have now officially announced that their newest product will be a smart speaker with support for multiple voice-activated services. Dubbed Sonos One the device, which launches around the world later this month, will be completely voice-controlled and capable of supporting multiple voice assistant services to perform audio functions like playing music, listening to podcasts and audio books, and others. Yep, that means competing services like Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri (through support for Apple’s Airplay 2), and Amazon’s Alexa will work on this thing – although the latter, Alexa, comes built-in with the speaker and will be the only voice service supported by the device until the others come on board in 2018.
More than 80 different streaming services, including the big ones like Apple Music and Spotify, can be accessed through the device which has pretty much the same audio internals as Sonos’ mega-successful Play:1 – that is, two Class-D digital amplifiers, one tweeter, and one mid-woofer. This positions the Sonos One as an important step forward for the company and for smart-home technology in general, with possibilities extending to Alexa’s other uses, like checking the weather, setting timers, listening to news and traffic reports, and getting the latest sports scores.
“We live in a golden age of streaming entertainment but so much of this great content is being pushed through smart speakers that aren’t designed with sound quality in mind”, explained Sonos CEO Patrick Spence. “With our open approach to collaboration, agnostic approach to voice services, the strength of our many innovative partners, and a sound platform designed for the whole home, we’re helping people listen more and listen better”.
Like all other Sonos products, the One can also integrate with other Sonos devices so users can continue building their own audio ecosystem throughout their home. The true benefit here is that once that ecosystem is built, it can be voice-controlled through the Sonos One adding a huge array of possibilities, like telling the speaker to move a specific song playing in one room to another. Voice transport controls include pause, skip, volume, and even a song recognition function.
Included in the One are six far-field microphones as well as an adaptive noise suppression algorithm so the speaker can focus on the right person and ensure their voice is heard and understood clearly, even over the music which slightly lowers when listening to a command so users don’t have to shout from across the room. A light on the device will be illuminated when the microphones are active.
In addition to the product, Sonos have also announced some substantial improvements to their current smartphone app, and free software updates which will enable existing Sonos speakers to work with Amazon’s Echo and Dot devices. And while it’s true that Amazon Alexa for us Aussies just yet, it’s expected to launch quite quickly after the Sonos One releases on 24th October.
Like with everything Sonos does, the Sonos One will be tinkered, tweaked and improved over time with the roll out of various software updates. So far they’ve only announced Google Assistant and Apple Airplay 2 support as roll outs for next year, but who knows what they have up their sleeve for this progressive piece of tech, especially seeing as its their first ever device with built-in microphones.
The Sonos One retails for $299 AUD and can be pre-ordered now at sonos.com. It will launch globally on October 24th and be available in black or white.