When it comes to connected speakers for the home, Sonos is likely a brand that comes to mind. The Sonos One SL is one of the company’s more affordably priced connected speakers that gets you into the Sonos ecosystem of devices – although it’s still not cheap.
The One SL, unlike the One, features no microphones or native voice assistants and undercuts the One by £20, costing £179. Aside from the lack of microphone and voice assistants, the One SL shares the same functionality so if you don’t need or plan to use voice assistants in your Sonos device, you can save a bit of cash.
Sonos One SL
The One SL is available in white and black and features a matte plastic and metal design that looks modern and minimal. The metal speaker grille surrounds the entire speaker, and both protects and hides the two forward-facing speaker drivers, whilst the top has a plastic finish. I do really like how the One SL looks, it’s clean and understated and works and blends into the home with ease and has a fairly compact size, at just over 6 inches tall and just over 4.5 inches deep and wide.
The top plastic area of the One SL is home to the only physical way to interface with the speakers. Three touch buttons can be found on the top of the speaker, these allow you to control the volume, skip tracks and also play/pause. A swiping gesture across all three buttons is used to skip tracks, this is fairly intuitive and does keep the top of the speaker looking clean and tidy. The top also has a status light that can let you know if the speaker is turned on and connected or on mute – although there are a variety of other status colours and patterns outlined on the Sonos website.
The back of the speaker has an Ethernet port for a physical network connection which you can use instead of connecting the speaker to your Wi-Fi network and there’s a Join button for resetting the speaker. The figure-eight power cable plugs into the bottom of the device and is right-angled.
The rest of the speaker is otherwise fairly bare, as the rest of the speaker is set up and managed using the Sonos app. One thing you’ll notice is that there is no power button on the One SL, it is designed to be on and connected all the time. Nor is there an AUX input, one of which can be found on the far pricier Sonos Five – I would’ve liked to have seen an AUX input as this would give users such as those who have a turntable the flexibility to listen to it using their Sonos as the speaker output without the need for any additional hardware.
One fun design element I like about the One SL, and the rest of Sonos’ products, is that their logo reads both upright and upside down, so if you mount the speaker to your ceiling it will still be readable. In our case, we have the One SL wall mounted in the kitchen using a third-party mount but Sonos themselves do also sell a “Shelf” and stand, although they are quite pricey.
For the compact size of the device, the One SL provides a very impressive listening experience. During my time with the speaker, it has been tuned to the room using Sonos’ Trueplay feature, which is unfortunately available only on the iOS version of the Sonos app. Trueplay measures how the sound emitted from the speaker reflects around the room and then uses this information to tune the speaker to ensure it sounds good for the space – it’s well worth making use of this feature.
The One SL features two Class-D digital amplifiers which power the device’s tweeter and woofer. The treble is clear and offers good clarity, whether you be listening to music or spoken word content such as a podcast or the radio. There can be some sibilance occasionally if you turn up the volume – but from my experience of listening to this speaker daily for almost two years, this is an uncommon occurrence. Bass performance is solid and impressive and can really pack a punch when needed, sounding great for music with a prominent kick or bassline. Mid-range for vocals is clear and sounds great, vocals sound natural and good to listen to.
Aside from frequency performance, the One SL also offers a good range of volume. Playback can be very quiet on its lowest settings, but it can also handle the volume if you decide to turn it up and fill a room with sound. Considering that this is only a single speaker offering a mono sound, the soundstage is impressive, and I think that Trueplay does have an important part to play with this, but you can pair two One or One SL speakers together to have a stereo pair if you wish.
Of course, you can tweak the EQ if you wish to from the Sonos app to fine-tune how you like your music to sound and make it tailored for you – but I didn’t find the need to do that as I was happy with how it sounded out of the box.
The main feature and attraction of a Sonos device is its smart and connected functionality and the overall Sonos ecosystem of devices. If you’re new to Sonos, it is worth noting that the One SL is not a Bluetooth speaker, it is an internet-connected speaker that connects to your network – so you’ll want to ensure that you have decent network coverage to where you plan to use your Sonos and if you have multiple Sonos devices they will mesh together which is quite useful if you plan to have them in different rooms throughout the house.
The Sonos app is the main port of call for controlling the One SL, the app is straightforward to use and can be a one-stop-shop for all your music streaming needs (if you wish) as the app can have direct integration with streaming services, such as Spotify, TuneIn Radio, Sonos Radio as well as media servers or shared folders on your network. Unfortunately, a Sonos device can’t be shared with multiple accounts across a household, so you all need to use the same account on your devices, or you can be a guest user – although that forfeits some functionality.
Of course, you’re not bound to the Sonos app for playback – the speakers support other ways to connect such as Spotify Connect, which I find far more convenient for playback as I’m in the Spotify app more than the Sonos app, or you can use AirPlay 2 to stream to the speaker if you have an iOS device. Unfortunately, like Trueplay, the Sonos system appears very iOS centric as there is no support for Google Cast, so if you are an Android user and can see yourself using Google Cast a lot you may want to look at alternative connected speakers that offer this functionality.
Although this isn’t specific to the One SL, some other nice features come with the Sonos ecosystem, such as multi-room grouping so you can play the same thing, perfectly in sync, throughout multiple rooms. If you have a Sonos soundbar, such as the Beam, you can even have what’s playing on the TV playing throughout the house and I’ve not noticed any sync issues.
The main thing that stands out to me from my experience with the One SL and the Sonos smart connected features is that they just work. Once the initial configuration is done and it’s all running, it’s pretty much effortless to use and it all blends into the background.
The Sonos One SL is a fantastic connected speaker for your home, it both looks and sounds great. The audio performance of the speaker for the compact design and form-factor that it is in is very impressive and it fits well into the home without standing out.
iOS centric features such as Trueplay not supporting any Android devices and Google Cast not being supported may alienate Android users towards a different ecosystem of devices but if that does not worry you and you’re looking for something that works once it is all set up – the One SL is a great way to get into the world of Sonos.
The Sonos One SL is available to purchase on Amazon.
The SummarySonos One SL
- Great sound for the size.
- Compact and pleasant design.
- Sonos app is feature-rich.
- Android users left behind.
- No AUX input.
- No Google Cast support.