After we accidentally sacrified our trusty-ancient-unwieldy speakers trying to counteract the bed vibration that woke us up each morning, we went on the hunt for great sounding wireless speakers. We ended up getting two variations because music is so essential to us. It fuels our work when energy levels are low, helps us chill out, and even gives us inspiration. Here’s what we found and how.
Along with reading reviews on Amazon, we read The Wirecutter’s careful analysis of various speaker offerings, with all the logic carefully explains. Their reviews are LONG. It is the BEST site we know of for reliable evaluation of just about anything practical you’d want to buy. As our main speaker, we opted for the SONOS PLAY:1, which has truly beautiful sound for the size and price.
What we love:
It’s sound is SO great that friends who come by routinely remark on it.
It’s 4.7 x 4.7 x 6.4-inch footprint is small and good-looking for a serious speaker.
The single speaker’s sound fills our 30 x 30 foot room.
Sonos has components that can vastly expand the system into other rooms. The Wirecutter’s review lays it out here.
What we don’t love:
Sonos HAS to be plugged in to an outlet to work, so we’ve made it our dedicated main room speaker.
Sono steams via your wireless network, so if you turn your network off, you’re out of luck.
AND it is meant to only stream music, that is, what you can play is limited to your music library, the usual music services like Pandora (you have to have a premium subscription to use Spotify), and radio selections you select via Sonos’ software. UPDATE: And lately, we find we can’t play any music we downloaded from iTunes. Shoot.
In other words, you can’t just play just anything coming out of your device, like a YouTube video or music streamed from a random website.
UPDATE/WARNING: After almost three years of enjoying my Sonos Play, I can no longer recommend it. I have discovered that Sonos will not work with my older (not THAT old) Apple Operating System that keeps my iMac running smoothly. So the Sonos controller will no longer work on it. And Sono forces you to update without telling you how they might impact your system, and without any possibility of reverting back. It is a longer story than this but suffice to say: I consider Sonos’ policies untenable and can not recommend them any longer, UNLESS you are certain of having very current technology.
Further, as of January, 2020, Sonos as announced the planned obsolescence of some of their older hardware. Terrible despite the fact that the sound is great. Had I to do it over, I would go with a wireless speaker that has a jack for a wired option.
For that reason, we also wanted a speaker that we could play anywhere we took a device …say, if we wanted to watch a movie in bed or on the terrace on our old 17″ MacBook Pro, or listen to music while taking a bath, or take music to the park and stream through our phone. We went with Wirecutter’s recommendation. The UE MINI BOOM Wireless Bluetooth Speaker has a truly portable 3.8 x 3.3 x 6.3-inch footprint, costs under $100, and doesn’t need its own dock to charge itself. We opted for minimalist black, though the orange version is pretty snappy.
The sound is REALLY good, though not as great as the Sonos: all in all a great small package of virtues.
For the money, we figure we did great between the two. The Wirecutter did it again.
UPDATE: A speaker that bridges that gap between the two: not as great sound as Sonos (but will play anthing you stream), and a bit better sound (but with a BIGGER footprint) than the MiniBoom is Bose SoundLink Mini Bluetooth Speaker II: