If you’re like me, Amazon’s Echo plays a central role in your kitchen. Player of music, answerer of questions, setter of timers, forecaster of weather. The Echo is super convenient, but the sound quality is definitely lacking.
Since it was announced last year, I’ve eagerly anticipated the marriage of Alexa’s voice control with the room-filling sound of Sonos Play speakers. Today, Sonos announced that Alexa integration is finally here, along with a new Sonos One speaker with Alexa built in — as well as forthcoming Google Assistant and Siri support.
For existing Sonos and Alexa owners, the Amazon connected assistant is available via a Sonos app beta update available today. With it, you’ll be able to control your Sonos speakers with your voice via the Echo and Echo Dot.
With the Sonos One (available October 24), Sonos is vying to become Switzerland of connected home assistants. The $199 speaker sports Alex integration out of the box, with support for Google Assistant and Siri (via iOS) coming in 2018.
This is probably the best position for Sonos to take as it feels the squeeze between cumbersome traditional high-end audio and the more convenient but lower fidelity smart home devices like the Echo. The timing is good too, given that today Google unveiled its beefy Google Home Max smart speaker and the upcoming Apple Homepod bills itself as having superior audio. Being agnostic to your assistant ecosystem of choice could give Sonos an edge and a chance to regain some lustre.
We had three Sonos speakers in our house, and almost immediately stopped using all of them once we got an Amazon Echo. Despite having worse sound, the device was in the kitchen, so it was more convenient to where our family mostly congregates. It’s such a high-class problem, but after experiencing Alexa’s voice control, running to get my phone to control my speaker felt like so much… work.
But was we played more music in the kitchen — whether to cook to, do homework by, or just throw an impromptu dance party — sound quality became more important. My pre-Sonos One solution was to plug an Echo Dot into a Sonos Play:5, but that takes up a lot of counter space, has dangling cords and can make it harder for Alexa to hear my voice. With its smaller footprint and newer technology, the Sonos One becomes an interesting proposition.