The Sonos One SL is a perfect fit if you want a packing speaker on a budget. This speaker is the identical twin to the Sonos One Gen 2 but without microphones.
Every brand aims to pack as much as possible in such small devices in the quickly evolving wireless speakers’ scene. But why did Sonos make a speaker identical to the celebrated Sonos One without some smart features like an inbuilt voice assistant?
I tested the Sonos One SL to help answer these questions and give an accurate review.
Sonos One SL Design
If you’ve seen the Sonos One Gen 2, you already know what the SL speaker looks like. The speaker retains an almost identical look and feel to the One Gen 2.
It has the same dimensions as the One Gen 2 (161.45 x 119.7 x 119.7: HWD, mm). Also, the One SL comes in the same weight (1.85 kg) and is available in the same color finishes as the One Gen 2 (white and black). These color options offer the speaker aesthetic versatility, matching any space or décor.
Despite its compact size, the Sonos One SL isn’t particularly portable. Although you can easily carry it with one hand, you must hook it to a power source for it to function.
Tip: If you want a speaker on the go, check out other options on the Sonos lineup, like the Roam and Roam SL!
Sonos’ latest design language has leaned toward simplicity, and the One SL follows suit.
There are responsive touch controls for playback, track skipping, and volume on the top surface panel and an LED showing the speaker’s status.
However, the top side of the speaker is the significant difference between the One Gen 2 and One SL. Although the capacitive touch controls remain, the One SL loses the microphone button and the holes that encompass the controls.
The speakers feature a color-matched metal grille with plastic trim at the rear and top. A pairing button and ethernet port are on the bottom of the speakers’ rear side, discreetly hidden underneath the power port.
Finally, the Sonos One SL offers a minimalistic yet seamless monochromatic design.
Sonos One SL Features
The Sonos One SL is built for Sonos’ integration system and solo use – you don’t have to pair it with another device to use it. Therefore, for this review, I tested the speaker on its own.
The absence of built-in microphones distinguishes the One from the One SL. While you may silence the mics on the One for privacy reasons, the One SL does not have this option.
However, it’s not all doom; the Sonos One SL offers voice control via Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant-enabled devices such as the Echo Dot or Google Nest Mini.
Nonetheless, this does not imply that One SL is not smart! You can access many features by setting up the speaker and linking it to the Sonos ecosystem.
The One SL supports various audio formats, including AAC, FLAC, MP3, WMA, and Apple Lossless. It’s also compatible with many streaming services, from Spotify to Apple Play, Pandora, and Amazon Music. This connectivity offers you options to enjoy your favorite music on its studio-quality high-resolution audio up to 24-bit/96 kHz.
TruePlay and the Loudness toggle in the EQ settings are two notable aural features inside the app’s sound tab. TruePlay analyzes the One SL’s settings and adjusts the audio balance as needed, especially the mids.
To set up the TruePlay feature, ensure your One SL(s) are placed at the spot where you intend to use them. Then, using the Sonos app, proceed to systems in settings and start tuning the TruePlay.
Your Sonos One SL will be tailored to the acoustics of your space after completing the tuning process. However, TruePlay tuning is only available on iOS devices running iOS 11 or later operating system versions.
Other Features to Take Note Of
Another standout feature of the Sonos One SL that explains its existence is stereo pairing. Like many other wireless speakers, the One SL can be daisy-chained to it, each operating on the stereo soundscape’s right or left channel.
The soundstage is easy to set up, and if that’s what you seek to do with your Sonos One SL, you’ll appreciate why the voice control isn’t in-built. You can also integrate the One Gen 2 and One SL with the Sonos Arc or Beam to serve as back speakers in a home theater setup.
I’ve got my One SLs set up as a rear stereo pairing with a Beam at the front in my basement and love the setup!
Finally, a notable addition to the Sonos One SL is AirPlay 2. However, the smart Sonos app neatly corrals your audio streaming providers under its ‘Browse’ tab for quick access. You may not need the software unless you’re well-invested in Apple’s ecosystem.
The Sonos app will also search for songs on your local network. My only concern is that the speaker lacks Bluetooth, which means if your WiFi goes down you’re out of luck.
You can disable the Sonos touch control via app settings and switch off the status light if you find it annoying – both modest but important features on the One SL.
Sonos One SL Sound Quality
One and One SL have similar sound and acoustic qualities. Two Class-D digital amplifiers, one mid-woofer, and one tweeter, work together to provide a pleasant, warm, and crisp soundscape.
This speaker boasts a fair share of bass but not too much. The Sonos One SL has enough power for high-volume, high-octane music without distortions. It also handles spoken word quite effectively, making the One SL a perfect all-rounder.
With Trueplay tuning, the One SL prioritizes clarity and detail with a wide, clean middle. The clarity of vocals shines out, removed from the hustle and bustle of music and given room to breathe so that every utterance can be heard.
After setting all EQ presets to neutral, deploying Trueplay, and keeping Loudness toggled, I cued Jay-Z and Kanye West on Tidal. I was delighted by the nimble rumbling bass at the outset, which was powerful and surprisingly weighty for One SL’s compact size.
Also, strings and vocals in the treble and midrange frequencies were well-placed, evocative of Sonos’s signature elegance on the One Gen 2.
I set up “A Milli” by Lil Wayne to dig deeper into Sonos’ low end. The vocals were prominent and center, standing out from the low bass tones, which were audible and musically harmonious connected to the high hat. Bass-wise, it delivers just as dynamic, punchy, and precise performance as the One Gen 2.
The speaker has a well-balanced soundstage and is thus suitable for everyday use. The correct balance of bass and treble allows users to get the most out of music and movies while maintaining the clarity required for podcasts and audiobooks.
Is it comparable to a full stereo system?
No. However, it certainly outperforms the average smart speaker.
How To Set Up the Sonos One SL
The One SL, like the One, lacks a Bluetooth connection. It is not entirely correct. It has Bluetooth Low Energy, much like the One, but solely for setup.
The initial setup is simple, but you can connect the One SL to your home network through the wired Ethernet connector or over WiFi.
The notion of a network-only speaker is not without risk; what if your network fails? It would render the Sonos One SL completely useless.
Unless a network crisis arises, the following steps (only available on iOS devices) follow a painless process to get your new Sonos One SL on your home network, determine where you want to install the One SL, and activate TruePlay.
What I Didn’t Like About the Sonos One SL
Although a great speaker, the SL’s one significant downside is that it is not a fully smart speaker.
It connects via WiFi, streams over Apple Airplay 2, can be coupled with your audio devices, and is controlled by a convenient app, but it is missing one crucial smart feature: a microphone.
Since it doesn’t feature any mic array, the One SL doesn’t support voice assistant forms, so it can’t be considered a smart speaker. While the lack of a mic isn’t a crucial downside, I had concerns with it because of the speaker’s pricing.
A built-in microphone allows for voice control on the Sonos One, a comparable priced speaker. Certainly, this may appear to be a little detail, but in a world where more is frequently more, obtaining the most for your cash is always a plus point.
Even though you don’t currently use a voice assistant-enabled speaker, having a mic ensures you can do so if needed.
Remember, the presence of a mic could be the determining factor between the Sonos One and One SL, considering their similar pricing!
Verdict: Sonos One SL Review
The Sonos One SL is relatively affordable and boasts a slightly higher customer rating than most speakers of comparable quality and price.
The only drawback is lacking an in-built mic. But if you don’t fancy having any voice-controlled gadgets with mic arrays in your house, the One SL is a great match.
After all, the price difference between the One and One SL is negligible, and the two are excellent starter speakers for anybody looking to explore the quality of Sonos speakers. So it all boils down to preferences!
If you found this article helpful, make sure to take a look at some of my other Sonos articles linked below.