When I was 10 years old, my parents built a new house that was chock full of bells and whistles. Among them? Built-in intercoms in every room. Yes, it was the 90s. And yes, I felt like I was the Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
What I loved about that system, as dated as it sounds, was that music was always playing in our house. I knew my mom was in her room folding laundry if I heard Whitney Houston blaring in the master bedroom. My older sister was always avoiding me and dancing to Bell Biv Devoe behind her locked door, while my baby sister could be heard belting out Hakuna Matata in her nursery down the hall.
Trying to replicate that in my own home decades later took a lot of trial and error. I have enough Bluetooth speakers to last me until the end of my days — my favorite is still this emoji one in my kids' playroom — but what my husband and I were really looking for was a total home entertainment system that linked everything from our TVs to our streaming services. You know, like the ones that celebrities and Kardashians probably have. Enter: Sonos.
We dipped our toes into the Sonos pond about a year ago when we bought the Playbar to go with our new TV and got a Play:1 for our family room. Why Sonos? Well, if you walk into any Best Buy in the United States, every sales person on the floor is going to tell you it’s the best speaker you can get. But beyond that, the brand’s multiroom speaker capability had me feeling like my tween self, envisioning music in every nook and cranny of my home again — this time though, connected wirelessly via an app.
Basically, the way it works is that you can play your music simultaneously on all of the Sonos devices scattered around your house, or you can opt to play different music in each space. (Because I’m all about Kendrick Lamar, but really, my 5-year-old should be dancing to her Pandora Disney station upstairs!) And it's all managed via a few swipes on the Sonos app.
Just recently we added to our Sonos collection with the Sonos One. Right now, everyone is talking about Sonos One, so I will, too. This is Sonos’ latest speaker and the reason it’s innovative is because it’s smart — meaning it has voice-control capabilities. Compatible with Amazon Alexa, Sonos One essentially works like an Echo device — except the sound is way, way better. Making meatballs in the kitchen and want some tunes on in the background? Simply say, “Alexa, play Kesha in kitchen.” Or, if you're a glutton for punishment, “Alexa, tell me the news.”
The selling point for me, however, is that you can manage your whole home system via the Sonos One. So now, instead of opening your app to adjust each room’s volume or music stream, you can holler, “Alexa, turn down the living room music.” Or: “Alexa, play Beyoncé Spotify playlist in the basement.” Yup, your house just got a whole lot smarter.
Not a fan of Alexa? Great news: Sonos is set to bring both Google Assistant and Apple AirPlay 2 on board this year. While both of those services have their own smart speakers (the Google Home Max and the Apple HomePod, respectively), Sonos will be the only one to offer both supreme sound quality AND access to all three voice-control home services (not to mention more than 80 music streaming services). Need more enticement? A Sonos One speaker is priced at $199, which is roughly half the cost of the Home Max ($399) or the HomePod ($349.99) devices.
If you’re like me and the sight of assembly instructions gives you hives, fear not. I truly thought that embarking on this Sonos journey would require me hiring an independent installation company to come hook everything up for us. And, ya know, get it to work. But guess who set up all of the Sonos products we have? Moi! From the Playbar to the SUB (Side note: Most soundbar brands don’t also make a subwoofer, but Sonos does and in addition to adding incredible bass to all the Sonos speakers, it looks like something Darth Vader would definitely own), the installation was a two out of a 10 in terms of stress and difficulty. The instructions are written in a big font that didn’t have me reaching for a glass of wine, and they pretty much just tell you to plug the speaker in and connect to the app. At one point in my journey, the app said it couldn’t find my speaker and I thought, “Here we f--king go.” But alas, the second attempt to locate the speaker was successful within a minute or so and I was fully immersed in Camilla Cabello another minute after that. (Still freaked by the installation? If you live in one Sonos' 17 "up&running" cities, a technician will deliver and set up your speaker ... for free! On the same day!)
So, while the buzz right now is all about the Sonos One and how it’s the best smart speaker on the market (it is!) and the Playbase and how we can now have an incredible soundbar for our unmounted TVs (hallelujah!), what I want to impart is that Sonos’ whole package is something that every home should comprise. Whether you’re in a sprawling mansion or a two-bedroom apartment, Sonos fits every space and can grow with you over the years as you continue to expand your speaker collection throughout the home. And thanks to the ever-updating app and clouds the speakers work off of, the products are constantly improving and growing, rather than quickly decaying and becoming a legit tech dinosaur. Now that's something to dance about.
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