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November 7, 2018

Amazon Echo Plus (2nd gen) vs. Sonos Play:1 — Which should you buy?

by John_A

I listen to a lot of music — and control a lot of connected devices — so I know the ropes when it comes to smart speakers.

Amazon Echo Plus

Alexa’s got skills

echo-plus-render.png?itok=N6UFpruC

$149 at Amazon

Pros

  • Powered by Alexa
  • Built-in smart home hub
  • Multiroom audio with other Echo devices

Cons

  • Can’t stream all music services
  • Sound doesn’t match Sonos quality

The Echo Plus is a great sounding speaker at the center of your smart home, with plenty of smart features right out of the box.

Sonos Play:1

Sonos lacks smarts

sonos-play-1-product.jpeg?itok=HHQERuMV

$149 at Amazon

Pros

  • Amazing sound for its size
  • Can stream all the top music services
  • Plays nicely with other Sonos speakers

Cons

  • No native Alexa support
  • No built-in smart home controls

The Sonos Play:1 is a great sounding speaker that checks all the right boxes. It’s not a “smart” speaker, but it can still get the job done.

Unless you are already deep in the Sonos ecosystem or you’re only looking to just play music, the Amazon Echo Plus edges out the Sonos Play:1 in a few key areas. Sonos can’t be beaten when it comes to sound quality, but the native Alexa support and smart home hub capabilities give the Echo Plus the winning combo.

Audio Lowdown

There are tons of options these days when it comes to smart speakers. While you, of course, want to get the best sound you can, you’ll also want to keep things simple at the same time. The Echo Plus has the advantage of having much to offer in a compact package.

Multiroom Audio Yes Yes
Native Alexa Support Yes No
Smart Home Hub Yes No
Bluetooth Yes No

Sounding Off

sonos-play-1-speakers.jpg?itok=rcXX8a6v

The battle for space in your connected home is an ongoing one — and won’t be stopping anytime soon. Adding smart devices like lights, locks, cameras, and speakers most often require adding a hub of some sort as well. The Echo Plus is dual-duty in that it can act as a hub for many of your smart devices — freeing you from additional hardware — and also sounds great at the same time.

Unfortunately, the Play:1 doesn’t have anything smart about it. It works with other Sonos speakers to play music from wherever you choose, but making it “smart” requires adding … wait for it … a separate Amazon Echo device.

Multi-room audio is something that both of the speakers offer, toting the ability to easily stream to other devices in their respective families. Sonos, known for their ease of use and seemingly endless networking, can easily stream pretty much any music service under the sun. The Echo Plus, however, is limited to a smaller set of services, Amazon Music obviously being the top dog. This is where the Play:1 steals some thunder from the Echo Plus — it’s first and foremost a speaker. Anything beyond that is just an afterthought.

Echo Has Smarts

amazon-echo-plus-heather-2.jpg?itok=Ah8w

Alexa support is becoming more and more of a selling feature for devices, and here it’s no different. Buying an Echo product from Amazon, you get Alexa support right out of the box, which means you can ask it questions, add things to your shopping list, play music, request something be played on your Fire TV — the list goes on. While the Sonos isn’t completely lacking in this area, you will need to add an Echo of some sort (Plus, Dot or Show) to your smart home in order to take full advantage of these features on the Play:1. Even then, you can just control music on your speakers — and only if you’re in earshot of your Echo device.

Where the Sonos does salvage a few points is from the dead-simple setup and great networking features. Your Sonos speakers all play well together if you’re looking to spread the listening love across your entire home. While the Echo’s multiroom audio works well, it’s not nearly straightforward as Sonos. Sonos does what it does very well — playing music from nearly any service whenever and wherever you want it — and it’s hard to see that changing anytime in the near future.

Let’s not forget that the Echo Plus also sports Bluetooth, so unlike Sonos, you can connect your phone directly to it to stream rather than routing through the cloud.

Listen Up

If you’re aiming solely to listen to music and don’t need any smart features, Sonos wins almost every time. But in the connected home where you’re looking to do more with less, the Echo Plus is the slight winner here as it adds Alexa support, Bluetooth, and smart home hub features that you won’t find in the Sonos Play:1.

Amazon Echo Plus

Alexa’s got skills

echo-plus-render.png?itok=N6UFpruC

$149 at Amazon

Sweet spot of smarts and sound.

While the Echo Plus may not sound as great as the Sonos Play:1, the built-in smarts and Alexa integration make it our top pick.

Sonos Play:1

Sonos lacks smarts

sonos-play-1-product.jpeg?itok=HHQERuMV

Lacks features for the smart home.

$149 at Amazon

The Sonos Play:1 does what it does extremely well. It sounds amazing but lacks any smart features out of the box.

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