Review: Sonos One with Apple AirPlay 2 and Apple Homekit Support

The Sonos One with Apple AirPlay 2

By Paul Riegler on 18 July 2018
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Sonos became the first third-party company last week to support Apple’s AirPlay 2 standard when it issued an update for its Sonos One, Beam, Play:5, and Playbase speakers.

AirPlay 2 support means that it’s possible to speak to Siri (via an iPhone or iPad presumably) in order to control the Sonos device and adds support for multi-room playback as well as control by the iPhone’s Control Center.

While the Sonos One and Beam speakers already offer support for Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant via built-in microphones in the devices, they do not offer this (yet) for Google Assistant and this kind of support for Siri has not yet been announced.

What this means in practice is that these Sonos devices appear in the Apple Home app although curiously not in other Homekit Apps such as the excellent Elgato Eve app.

Adding AirPlay 2 support to my Sonos One was simple. Because older devices such as my Sonos Playbar don’t have enough processor power to support Siri or Alexa, it could only be added to the Sonos One speaker but by grouping the speakers I can control all Sonos devices within my home via Siri.

Installing the functionality wasn’t the most straight forward thing but it was nonetheless relatively simple. I first had to upgrade the app to Version 9, currently the latest. Once that was done, I had to add the Sonos One speaker to the Apple Home app by pressing the + button, clicking Add Accessory, and then the aptly named “Don’t have a code or Can’t Scan.” option. The speaker appeared in Nearby Accessories and it took one more click to add it to the Home app.

Since up until this point I had only been able to control any of my Sonos devices from the Sonos app, it was a revelation to see Siri controlling the device and sending music to the speaker.

Multi-room playback generally works well although I’ve noticed that the speakers lose sync with one another for short periods several times a day but quickly resync. Given that the Sonos system by itself works quite well in multi-room playback mode, I can’t help but blame the first iteration of AirPlay 2 for this although I’m reasonably confident it will be resolved over time.

The only other downside I have discovered thus far is that playing music directly from the iPhone drained the battery on my iPhone 8 Plus much faster than normal, whereas playing music via the Sonos app uses very little power.

It was then that I fortuitously stumbled upon a solution.

What I didn’t realize is that my MacBook Pro would see the Sonos One, allowing me to play music from that device on all Sonos devices grouped together (or just on the Sonos One if I so desired). Because my downloaded music library on my Mac is identical to that on my phone, even though the Mac lacks Siri, I found it far more desirable to use the Mac for specific albums than the iPhone. Otherwise, for playing the occasional song, the iPhone and Siri more than sufficed.

BOTTOM LINE

The addition of AirPlay 2 puts the Sonos on a more or less equal footing with the much maligned Apple Homepod. While the Homepod has the edge with Siri and the sound quality is slightly better, the Homepod is limited in its sources while the Soros is virtually open to anything.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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