Sonos has (finally) unveiled an Alexa-connected speaker. Along with the ability to access Amazon's fast-evolving voice assistant, the new speaker will be compatible with Google Assistant and the latest Apple AirPlay standards from next year, making it one of the first devices to (potentially) pull together the disparate digital assistants from various companies.
The software is significant on the One, but it's still a speaker, and that means the hardware is important as well. It's driven by two Class-D digital amplifiers, one tweeter and one mid-woofer. Sound is described as "surprisingly rich" by the company. The same Trueplay tech found in other Sonos speakers is present here, too, which means it will automatically tune the sound to suit its environment.
Voice recognition is handled by a six-microphone array and a custom noise suppression system designed to make sure the speaker isn't spooked by background chatter. Like the Google Home, it will automatically drop the volume so owners don't need to shout over their music to be heard when giving voice commands. There's a light depicting when the microphones are active and it's hardwired to the circuit powering the mic array, so there's no way for the speaker to be listening without the light being active.
The smart Amazon functions will be active from launch in the US, UK and Germany. Full support will be offered for Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, Pandora, SiriusXM and TuneIn. It shouldn't be long before Spotify is supported, too. Things like weather, sports scores, news and traffic updates are all available out of the box, but users will need to wait for voice control over volume and track skipping.
Although the rest of the current Sonos range lacks the microphone hardware to work as smart speakers on their own, a software update means they can now be plugged into an Echo or Dot for voice control. The functionality will only be available when listening to music through Amazon's streaming service, though. Speaking of software updates, the Sonos app has been treated to an overhaul for easier navigation.
"We live in a golden age of streaming entertainment," says Sonos CEO Patrick Spence. "But so much of this great content is being pushed through smart speakers that aren't designed with sound quality in mind. With out 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."
The Sonos One will be priced from US$199 and will be available in black or white. Along with regular outlets, it'll be available at Sonos stores – there's one in New York at the moment, with London and Berlin locations soon to follow.
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