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Smart assistants, multiroom music playback, and support for all the main streaming providers are all features of Sonos audio equipment. On top of that, of course, it offers quality performance. That’s why when it comes to speakers, many trust the brand so much.
Sonos is recognized for its extensive streaming selection. It supports Audible, Stitcher, SiriusXM, Tidal, Pandora, Spotify, and Pandora. The top podcast, audiobook, and music apps can all be found on Sonos, but that’s not all.
In addition, Sonos offers Sonos Radio, a free, ad-supported streaming radio service that connects your sound system to 60,000 international stations. The Sonos Radio playlist is hand-selected by a team of curators, DJs, and musicians, in contrast to algorithm-based radio apps.
The Sonos S2 app is a key component of the Sonos experience. Sonos has made a huge push to increase the variety of soundbars it offers, introducing the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) in 2021 and the Sonos Ray, which was released early this month.
Sonos speakers can also be used outside the house. The Roam, for instance, is the first and cheapest ultra-portable speaker from Sonos.
Additionally, Sonos is the brand that, in many ways, has mastered the whole-home audio experience. It has the capability of syncing music across many rooms of the house and controlling everything from your phone. You can even control your Sonos system hands-free with the Sonos Voice Assistant or other third-party voice assistant platforms (Alexa and Google Assistant).
However, it’s not as perfect as you think. One of its biggest weak points is its price, which leads to many looking for other alternatives. If you’re also looking for one, here are the best Sonos alternatives for you.
In the multi-room speaker market, Audio Pro is a leader. By taking the Audio Pro T3 and reimagining it as a brilliant-sounding multi-room alternative to Sonos, the Audio Pro Addon T3 definitely gives its competitors a tough challenge. The C3 from Audio Pro lives up to its reputation for having excellent wireless speakers. It is quite surprising how much sophistication can fit into such a small package. Although it has a concentrated sound, it is also open and spacious. The C3 is more direct in its delivery and doesn’t have a fancy 360-degree spread of sound, but it has no trouble filling a respectably sized room with high-quality sound. The speaker performs well at both high and low volumes, sounding powerful and forceful when the track requires it while also being able to calm down and communicate more subtly when necessary. The Addon C3 captures the rhythmic essence of every recording played to it, and the music sounds natural. The C3 is able to produce a heavy sound by going deep and accurately portraying each note’s richness and detail. By the standards of multi-room speakers, this is a wonderfully polished performance. What’s more, it has good battery life. This means you can play all your favorite jams for hours without worrying about Audio Pro Addon C3’s battery. One weak point of the Audio Pro Addon C3, though, is its control app. It could use some upgrades, especially its interface, for a better user experience.
The Pulse 2i fell a little short of expectations as the Bluesounds flagship wireless speaker; however, it still fares well against Sonos. A startling initial impression is created by the Pulse 2i’s more robust character. This is by no means a small device, and it produces sound that is substantial and large enough to readily fill our listening space. It doesn’t hold back when it comes to its dramatic and incredibly intricate low end. This new model emits more noticeable detail throughout the frequency range, and the Pulse 2i uses its newly installed tweeters to provide music with Bluesound’s signature body and warmth without sacrificing any treble. On the other hand, its failure seems much more human. This updated version has a more slow and subdued feel generally, although having a lot of lean muscle in some parts.
The Bose Home Speaker 500 offers voice help from Amazon Alexa and wireless audio over Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, although it is fairly pricey for the sound quality it produces. The Home Speaker 500 is only 8.0 x 6.7 x 4.3 inches in size and comes in black or silver (HWD). The speaker has an almost flat top surface, a rounded, oval-like form, and a rubberized bottom panel to prevent it from rolling around on tables and countertops. But, its design isn’t the only thing that’s worth talking about. The Home Speaker 500 currently supports Amazon’s Alexa, but Bose intends to add support for Apple AirPlay 2 and “additional speech assistants” in the not-too-distant future. The Home Speaker 500 works just like an Amazon Echo as an Alexa device. Direct setup for Alexa is possible via the Bose app. Once configured, the microphones reliably take up commands from a distance of several feet. In terms of performance, the Home Speaker 500 delivers the widest stereo sound of any smart speaker. For a speaker this tiny, the drivers produce a remarkably rich, low-frequency response with strong bass. The lows and highs are well-balanced, and according to Bose, no digital frequency boosting or reduction is taking place. However, there are a few weak points that we noticed. One is its price, which is noticeable even at first glance. It’s too expensive for its features. Also, the speakers’ WiFi setup sometimes fails, so you might need some patience for that.
Setting up Google Home is simple, even for beginners. Connect the Nest Audio, download the Google Home app, and then proceed as directed. The speaker carefully finds our wi-fi, accepts our Spotify Premium subscription, moves inside our “house,” assuming its “lounge” location, and adopts a new moniker to minimize confusion in our listening space. The voice pick-up for the google assistant is perfect, and Google responded quickly, clearly, and even with loud music. In terms of design, the Nest Audio is about the size of a house brick turned upright, though it has a much more serene appearance. A little switch on the device’s rear that disables voice pick-up is the only discernible branding or control. The speaker is so simple that it practically blends into your home’s decor, that is, until you say “Hey Google” to activate its creators’ AI calling card, a quartet of horizontal LED lights that protrude from the speaker’s underside. Another considerate detail is the enclosure’s use of 70% recycled plastic. However, when it comes to sound, even at this relatively low price point, the Google Nest Audio isn’t quite the serious audio proposition we’d hoped for, but it is rather likable as a source of background music and for listening to podcasts in the kitchen. It is also both entertaining and dependable when responding to our requests.
The Denon Home 150 is an intriguing attempt at a hi-fi smart speaker, but it doesn’t deliver quite as well as expected. However, it’s still a good Sonos alternative. The Home 150 produces amazing low-frequency depth for a speaker this size. Thanks to DSP (digital signal processing), which engages and somewhat thins out the sound at high volumes, it doesn’t distort. As a result, at a volume of about 75%, the bass sound is more robust. In any case, the lows are solid; they are not subwoofer-like, but they are solid. At medium volume levels, the bass drum sounds strong, but at maximum volume, we can hear the DSP’s compression squashing everything that may otherwise produce distortion, specifically, the drums. The irony is that the drums wouldn’t need the dynamic squashing at maximum volume levels if they hadn’t already been massively overboosted in the lows. Therefore, at 50 to 75 percent loudness, the Home 150 tends to sound a little more rich, vibrant, and full. At these volumes, bright acoustic guitar strumming and higher-register percussive beats counterbalance the bass-boosted drumming. The essential thing to keep in mind regarding the Denon Home 150 is that the DSP significantly changes the sound signature of the speaker at various volumes. At one volume level, bass can seem strong, but thin at another. That kind of uncertain performance, at a price of about $249, seems a little too expensive, so you might want to think twice about this.
Apple, of course, also has something that can replace Sonos on your wishlist: the Apple HomePod Mini. The HomePod Mini is much smaller and more affordable than anticipated, but what will really surprise you is how great the sound is. The HomePod Mini easily outperforms its size and cost from the moment you start playing music. Even at 75% volume, it is louder than you may anticipate. However, the HomePod Mini never exhibits any signs of strain no matter how hard you drive it. All volume levels are clear and composed. The HomePod Mini does pretty well when it comes to bass; however, a larger speaker, like the Amazon Echo, will provide deeper bass. In fact, it is more powerful and forceful than a speaker this size should be, and its bass blends in well with the rest of the mix. There is good overall sound consistency and balance, with no frequencies being overemphasized. The Mini, like the first HomePod, has the natural capacity to reproduce a piece of music as faithfully as its size will allow. That’s a unique skill, especially for a smart speaker of this cost. However, it offers limited third-party service support. You also won’t have a full control app, but for a speaker this small and inexpensive, its audio performance is startling. Naturally, for a speaker of its size and price, the HomePod Mini has its limits, though. Despite that, it quite frankly embarrasses its direct competition with the sophistication and maturity of its sound. It gets to the core of your music, ensuring everything it plays is engaging and interesting.
Of course, Amazon is not the first company to think about spherical audio. Others, like Bowers & Wilkins’ Nautilus or Vivid Audio’s Giya, have also boldly championed the merits of gastropod forms for sonic delivery. Cabasse’s Pearl and Devialet’s Phantom range embraced the design many moons ago. But, it can still deliver impressive performance. If you frequently listen to music or podcasts at your desk, the Echo Dot represents a significant improvement in audio quality over the previous generation. It offers well-fleshed-out keys and strings aided by clear and refined treble when playing songs. For its price and overall design, its sound quality is surprisingly good. In addition to that, it has a good mic that can clearly pick up voice commands. Even if you’re playing audio at high volume, the Amazon Echo Dot will still be able to hear you as you give your commands. It can also do all of the things that Alexa does. For its price, it’s amazing that we haven’t encountered a con yet. If you’re on a tight budget, it sure is one of the best Sonos alternatives that you should consider.
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