Entry-level Sonos speakers pack a punch

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Sonos make stylish, high-quality wireless speakers at prices that have generally restricted them to people with large wallets.

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The new Play:1 hopes to change that.

It’s an entry-level model that, at $299 a pop, provides the Sonos system for hundreds of dollars cheaper than ever before.

The system works like this: you plug a gadget called the Bridge ($75) into your internet router and then plug-in the speakers anywhere you have a power point, creating a wireless link throughout.

You then download the Sonos app on your smartphone, tablet or computer, and play your music through any or all of the speakers.

You can play a single track throughout your entire house – great if you’re hosting a party – or choose to play, for example, one track in your bedroom, another in your kitchen and loungeroom, and another in the bathroom.

The Play:1 speakers are simple to set up and though they are the smallest Sonos have offered, manage to pump out excellent sound.

Put one on your bookshelf and it will displace only four or five small books, while filling all but the biggest rooms with rich sound.

The minimalist design – wrap-around silver mesh capped with black or white plastic – means it will blend in nicely around the home.

The Play:1 is, however, a mono speaker, meaning that if you want true stereo sound in a given room, you’ll need a pair.

You can choose to play music from your own library, or choose from Sonos’ impressive line-up of supported streaming services, which includes Spotify, Pandora, Rdio, Songl, and several others.

One slight niggle is that the system can only be controlled via the Sonos app. You can’t, for example, open a podcasting app and tell it to play via Sonos speakers, as you can with some Bluetooth speakers.

Another is that Sonos speakers do not offer a battery option, meaning you can only place them where you have a spare powerpoint.

It’s a trade-off, however. Competing Bluetooth speakers have less range and generally weaker sound, and are liable to drop out mid-song.

If you’re after entry-level wireless speakers that provide good, solid sound for casual listening, the Play:1 is a reliable and stylish option.

But they only make sense if you’re planning a broader wireless system for your home, incorporating several of the Play:1 speakers or other speakers in the Sonos range.

If you’re after a single wireless speaker for one room, a Bluetooth option such as the $200 JBL Charge is probably a better option.

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