If you’re reading reviews for home speaker systems, chances are, you’re someone who is concerned with high-quality sound. But with so many different speakers on the market, how do you know which one to buy?
In this article, we’ll compare two of these companies’ most popular stand-alone wireless speakers (the Sonos Play:1 and the Bose SoundTouch 10), as well as two of their soundbar systems (Sonos PLAYBAR and Bose SoundTouch 300) meant for use with your TV and home theater.
Two of the most popular brands in the wireless home speaker game are Sonos and Bose. Each offers wireless speaker units designed to play both your own library as well as stream music from major streaming services. Both brands can also be expanded to include speakers throughout your home, playing either the same or different music.
Bottom Line Up Front:
If you’re in a rush, here are the main reasons to purchase one product over the other.
Sonos Play 1
Bose SoundTouch 10
Bose SoundTouch 300
Key Features - Original Sonos Play 1 Review
Sonos Play 1
About: The Sonos Play:1 is a compact, sturdily designed wireless speaker designed to play either your library or from streaming services.
Setup for WiFi rather than Bluetooth, and controlled through the Sonos mobile app, the Play:1 is has become one of the most popular wireless speakers on the market.
The setup for the Sonos Play:1 could hardly be simpler. Once you’ve got the speaker out of the box and chosen which room you want to set up in, plug your speaker into an electrical outlet, download the Sonos app to a device that’s connected to your home wifi, select “Setup New System,” and follow the on-screen instructions.
Your speaker will be ready for action in under ten minutes.
Like most of Sonos’ products, the design of the Play:1 is simple, yet elegant. Small and sturdy, the Play:1 looks at home in any room of the house and is available in white with a light metallic grille or black with a graphite grille.
As far as controls, the unit is equipped with top-panel pause/play buttons, as well as volume rocker so you can adjust the volume or skip tracks (by hitting the play button twice) right from the unit itself.
The Sonos:1 is powered by Class-D amplifiers and custom-built drivers, with a 3.5” woofer and a high-end tweeter, giving it ample sound for indoor use.
For a speaker of this size, the Sonos Play:1’s sound quality is higher than you would expect. Each Play:1 has two drivers, one for mid-range/bass, and a smaller one for the tweeter, giving it deep, rich bass as well as round tones in the mid-range. You’ll be happy to find that as the volume increases, the Play:1 holds it together, with little to no distortion.
The Sonos app is well-designed and easy to use, making it easy to scroll through your different streaming services and libraries to choose the music you want to hear. For years, users took issue with the fact that all of their services had to work exclusively through the Sonos App. Sonos seems to have listened though because now you can also play Spotify directly through your Sonos without using the app.
If your music service of choice isn’t Spotify, though, then you’ll be restricted to using the Sonos app.
Because the Sonos Play:1 isn’t equipped with a battery, it must be plugged into a power outlet, which limits mobility throughout the house.
If you decide to add one or more speakers, Sonos has designed their systems to easily convert from mono to stereo, allowing you to designate speakers as left and right. You can also wirelessly add a subwoofer to handle your deeper bass needs.
Unlike some of Sonos’ other models, the Play:1 doesn’t come equipped with Alexa, but can be paired with an Amazon Echo or Dot for Alexa capability. At present, Sonos Play:1 is not compatible with Google Home nor Chromecast.
The Next Level
If you love the look and feel of the Sonos Play:1 but are ready for something with more oomph, be sure to check out the Sonos Play:3 and the Sonos Play:5.
These premium models feature the same connectivity and ease of use as the Play:1, but have more powerful drivers for fuller sound and richer bass.
Key Features - Bose SoundTouch 10 Wireless Speaker Review
Bose SoundTouch 10
About: For a veteran in the wireless speaker game, Bose’s speakers are still surprisingly underdeveloped. Their SoundTouch 10 wireless speaker has many of the same features of the Sonos Play:1, but operates only in mono mode and its mobile app is less intuitive and easy-to-use than Sonos’.
SoundTouch 10 is compatible with Spotify, Pandora, iTunes and Sirius XM radio and the SoundTouch is equipped with built-in wifi as well as Bluetooth capability.
To begin setup of your Bose SoundTouch, simply plug the unit into a wall socket and install the SoundTouch app on your device. To set up your SoundTouch account, open the app, enter your WiFi password, register with Bose and you’re ready to go.
Users will find the SoundTouch app easy to use. Spotify fans can also play Spotify directly.
This is the smallest of Bose’s wireless speakers, which makes it convenient to place around the house, as long as there is an outlet nearby.
To turn power on and off, pause tracks or skip tracks, users have their choice of controlling SoundTouch within the app, or with the remote control included with the unit. Status LEDs across the front panel will tell you if your speaker is connected to wifi and whether it’s playing music from auxiliary, Bluetooth, or WiFi sources.
The sound quality of the SoundTouch is good, able to fill a room with sound. The bass is full and deep, but at higher volumes, we noticed that the midrange tightens up a little. The treble can have a bit of coarseness to it but still maintains high fidelity.
One of the most surprising shortcomings of the SoundTouch is that the sound is mono rather than stereo. Incredibly enough, even with multiple speakers, there’s no option to set them as left and right, so a stereo option is not possible, no matter how many speakers you add.
Despite the ease of use, there seem to be a few oversights in the SoundTouch app design, although these are balanced with a few solid features. Two noticeable blind spots are that there is no way to add tracks to a playlist on the fly nor is there a universal search function.
Instead of these, there are six handy pre-set buttons, both within the app and on the unit itself, which, once they’re programmed, give you one-button access to your favorite services and playlists.
Unlike the Sonos Play:1, the Bose SoundTouch has Bluetooth capability as well as WiFi. When you connect your device with Bluetooth, it will bypass the SoundTouch software altogether. This allows you to control it like you would any other Bluetooth speaker.
Bose lets you add as many speakers as you want to your system, and once you’re connected, you can choose to play either the same or different tracks through your multiple speakers.
For those with Amazon echo or dot, SoundTouch can easily be used with Alexa voice control and the same is true for connect with Chromecast. On the other hand, the SoundTouch is not easily compatible with Google Home.
The Next Level
For fans of Bose products who want even higher quality sound with more power, skip the SoundTouch 10 and head right for the SoundTouch 20 or SoundTouch 30.
The trade-off with these is that with increased power and dimension in the sound, the units themselves become larger and less mobile, but also have added design features like the OLED display, which scrolls Artist Name, Track Name, and Album information as you listen.
Key Features - Sonos PLAYBAR TV Soundbar Review
Sonos PLAYBAR TV Soundbar
About: For those who are looking to enhance their home TV and movie-watching experiences with superior audio, the Sonos PLAYBAR is an excellent option, especially if you’re already a fan of Sonos products.
The PLAYBAR syncs wirelessly with other Sonos speakers, and if you’re looking for a home theater experience, you can pair PLAYBAR with two Sonos Play:1s and a Subwoofer for a 5.1 surround system.
To get set up, PLAYBAR must be connected to your home’s wifi, initially connecting through your router with an Ethernet cable. Once that’s done, you have to download the Sonos app, and if you plan on operating PLAYBAR from your TV remote, programming that as well.
There are a few steps to it, but the installation only needs to happen once, and the benefit is that you’ll be able to operate your PLAYBAR without an extra remote. If you prefer being able just to plug and play, there are other soundbars with simpler setup processes.
Sleek, slim, and elegantly designed, PLAYBAR can be used either lying flat or standing. It is also constructed of aluminum rather than plastic, making it more durable than other soundbars.
The unit has adjustable bass, treble, and loudness controls.
Most users will be connecting PLAYBAR to their television, but it is also designed to be connected to Amazon Alexa through your Echo or Dot. The App is available for either iOS or Android devices. PLAYBAR does not connect to Google Home nor with Chromecast.
Rather than having an HDMI input, PLAYBAR uses your TV’s optical output, so before purchasing, you should make sure your TV or short throw projector has one of these.
PLAYBAR works by streaming from your wifi rather than your Bluetooth, so you don’t have to worry about your experience being interrupted by phone calls, etc.
Sonos has been happy to tout the audio features of their PLAYBAR, which has nine speakers in a phased array, giving you “directionality” (explosions on the left side of your screen are heard on your left). The PLAYBAR features nine Class-D digital amplifiers with drivers, three tweeters, and six mid-woofers.
The sound quality is crisp and detailed, whether you’re listening to music or dialogue. That said, the lowest tones do seem to drop off a bit, but the mid-bass tones are quite impressive for this type of unit.
For those who want the full surround sound experience, PLAYBAR is designed to be expanded to either a 3.1 or 5.1 surround system with, of course, other Sonos products, including the Sonos Subwoofer.
Key Features - Bose SoundTouch 300 Soundbar Review
Bose SoundTouch 300
About: If you’re looking for a soundbar to enhance your viewing experiences, you can hardly do better than the Bose SoundTouch 300. With a sleek design, wide soundstage, and crisp detail, it’s at the top of its class.
Not only can you connect to your TV for enriched viewing, but you can listen to streaming services including Amazon, Spotify, Pandora or your library. The SoundTouch is equipped with Bluetooth with NFC pairing and wifi connectivity.
To connect Soundtouch 300 with your television, you have several options including ARC HDMI or optical input.
To use with streaming services, the SoundTouch app available for download and works with either iOS or Android devices.
For optimized acoustic performance, you’ll want to use the ADAPTIQ room calibration system, which tunes the output to your listening room using an unusual (but pretty fun) technique.
ADAPTIQ’s microphone is situated on a headband, which you wear, calibrating the sound as close to where your ears will be as possible. Sitting in five different locations, you’ll hear five different audio prompts. When the process is complete, your SoundTouch 300 is tuned specifically to your viewing room.
This Bose soundbar has a beautiful, minimalist design, featuring a glass and metal grille, tempered black glass top plate, and two non-slip rubber mats underneath. The SoundTouch 300 can either be placed on a table or wall-mounted.
The SoundTouch is also designed with aesthetics in mind, to the degree that it has no controls on the unit itself, residing instead on the remote control. This makes for a very handsome unit, which is available in either black or white.
Bose SoundTouch has HDMI connectivity with 4K pass-through. The connections, recessed at the back, include HDMI with ARC (Audio Return Channel), plus HDMI loop-through, optical digital audio input, Ethernet, Acoustimass jack, Adaptiq microphone input and micro USB connection.
At present, SoundTouch 300 does not connect to Google Home nor Chromecast.
Bose gets points here for producing an incredibly wide sound field, with crisp, clear mid-range and great detail. To get down into the depths of your bass range, though, you’ll need to add the Acoustimass 300 Subwoofer. In the meantime, the mid and higher bass range performs quite well.
Conclusion: Wrapping It Up
VERDICT: For those looking for an easy-to-use wireless speaker with high-quality sound, no remote to lose and the ability to stream from multiple services, the Sonos Play:1 is the winner in this showdown. Although the Bose SoundTouch 10 has many of the same features, the boxy design, remote control and mono output place it just behind the Sonos in a close race.
For home viewing experiences, we give the trophy to Bose SoundTouch 300 over the Sonos PLAYBAR. With added connectivity, flawless design, and competitive sound quality, the SoundTouch is hard to beat.
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