Sonos One v Sonos One SL: what's the difference?

Sonos' entry level speakers compared and contrasted

Sonos One v Sonos One SL
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Last year, Sonos announced a new version of its Sonos One smart speaker, the Sonos One SL.

The main difference between the two is that One is a smart speaker (quite literally) and the One SL isn't.

If you're not quite sure what that means, or you're trying to work out if the Sonos One or the Sonos One SL is the right speaker for your Sonos setup, you then read on as we explain exactly how they compare to one another.

Sonos One vs One SL: Design and build

The Sonos One first came out in 2017 and was the multi-room speaker brand's first smart speaker. The One SL arrived in late 2019, keeping every aspect of the One's looks, with its all-over grille and squat shape.

Measuring it at 6.36 x 4.69 x 4.69 inches (161.45 x 119.7 x 119.7mm) and weighing 1.78kg, the One and the One SL are small speakers - not HomePod Mini small - more on a par with the likes of the latest Echo and Nest Audio.

They are pretty much identical, save for the panel on the top which differs very slightly. There's no microphone array or mic icon with the One SL.

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You'll still get capacitative buttons on the top, to control volume, track skipping, play and pause, in case you don't want to use your phone and the Sonos app.

Like the Sonos One, the SL comes in either black or white.

Sonos One top

Sonos One versus Sonos One SL: Smart assistants

The original One, which was the natural successor to the now-discontinued Play:1, featured Amazon's Alexa voice assistant built right in. The Google Assistant was also added to the mix soon after launch.

The Sonos One boasts a six microphone array to enable users to control their Sonos system. Just like on an Amazon Echo or a Google Home speaker, sound levels will dip on hearing the "Alexa" or "Hey Google" command, enabling you to bark commands to the on-board assistant.

Be aware that you have to choose one voice assistant to live on your Sonos One - you can't have Alexa and the Google Assistant being stablemates.

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In the most basic of classifications and, as mentioned up top, the One SL isn't technically a smart speaker as it doesn't have a voice assistant baked in. Let's be honest, that's the whole point of its existence. It's a Sonos One for people that don't want Big Tech eavesdropping in their homes.

But that's not to say it's a dumb speaker either. Obviously both speakers sync up seamlessly within a Sonos multi-room system but they also both boast AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect as well.

Sonos One SL white and black

Sonos One or Sonos One SL: Sound quality

In terms of sound quality and audio performance, again, you are getting an identical story with whichever One you choose.

For a speaker of its size the One range sounds truly fantastic. Clear at every frequency, wonderfully balanced. Punchy bass that doesn’t dominate and so, so loud. Its design also enables it to deliver sound evenly across 360 degrees and it can truly fill a room.

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Obviously, as a bookshelf speaker, both versions of the One also lend themselves perfectly to being hooked up as a stereo pair - and yes, you can mix and match One and One SL speakers as stereo pairs.

Sonos One v One SL: Which is best?

The original One may have been the first nail in the Play:1's coffin but it's the Sonos One SL that essentially replaced the Play:1 as the core speaker in the Sonos ecosystem.

If you already have a Sonos One, for example, you might not need another microphone-enabled speaker, in which case the One SL will be a logical choice.

If you're looking to get Alexa or the Google Assistant involved in your Sonos system then the One is the speaker for you, of course.

Either way, you're getting Sonos' entry-level-but-still-great audio performance at a decent price point.

Sonos One (2nd-gen)
Sonos One (2nd-gen)

TAGGED    sonos    smart speakers

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