Sonos One vs Sonos One SL: Difference and Which is Better?

sonos one vs sonos one sl

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The Sonos One and the Sonos One SL are two of the finest sounding small wireless home speakers on the market today – in fact, for the price, lots and lots of people think they are the best you can get, and we here at Speakergy recommend them with all enthusiasm.

But which one should you get? What are the differences between the Sonos One and the One SL, and which is right for you?

That’s exactly what we’ll talk about here, in this article outlining the key differences between the Sonos One and the Sonos One SL.

This isn’t a long article, and you may want to peruse it anyway, but if you really want to get straight to the point:

How Are the Sonos One and Sonos One SL Different? The Executive Summary

  • The Sonos One speaker has built-in microphones, making it fully compatible with voice assistants like Google, Alexa, Siri and Sonos Assistant.
  • The Sonos One SL, which is a bit less expensive, does not have any microphones, and so is not compatible with voice assistants.

They are both fully integratable with the Sonos wireless network and work perfectly with the Sonos S2 app and Apple Airplay, they both look good and sound great, and in fact there are a lot more similarities than differences, but the real difference is the microphones.

And now let’s look a bit more closely at all of those similarities and differences between the One and the One SL.

What Is a Sonos One?

sonos one

The Sonos One and Sonos One SL are small wireless smart speakers designed to be used on your wifi network with the Sonos S1 app and/or Apple Airplay.

Before we go into the differences between the two, I will spend a moment describing them both together in a bit more detail – because, as it turns out, there are a lot more similarities than differences between the two.

The Sonos One and One SL are compact speakers with the same dimensions and the same basic look, fit and finish. They measure a bit less than 6.5 inches tall, and about 4.5 inches across, so they are really pretty darn small, but big enough to have a full, clear, powerful and energetic sound that can easily fill even a larger room.

The Sonos One and the One SL are both also available in either black or white, and have identical levels of fit and finish – surprisingly premium level considering their low price.

So the two speakers are the same size, look almost identical and have the same big and beautiful sound – so what’s the difference between the Sonos One SL and the original Sonos One?

What’s the Difference Between Sonos One and One SL?

It’s actually really simple – the Sonos One has a built-in microphone array, and the Sonos One SL has no microphones at all.

Because of this, the Sonos One is compatible with voice assistants like Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri and even Sonos Assistant.

The Sonos One SL, on the other hand, does not have a microphone, and so is not compatible with any voice assistant systems.

This also means that the top panels of the two speakers are very slightly different – they are, in fact, almost identical, with the absolutely brilliant Sonos touch and swipe control panel, but the original Sonos One also has a touch switch to turn the microphones on and off.

As a result of this one basic difference, the Sonos One is a bit more expensive than the Sonos One SL – about twenty dollars as I’m writing this article – though they are both affordable products and great values.

So, is the Sonos One SL a Smart Speaker?

Sonos One vs Sonos One SL: Difference and Which is Better?

“Smart Speaker” is a bit of an ambiguous term, which different people use in different ways, and many will say the Sonos One SL is not a smart speaker because it does not have voice controls. But keep in mind that the SL is, just like the Sonos One, fully integratable with the Sonos wireless network, the Sonos S1 app and Apple Airplay.

The Sonos One SL is also pairable, just like the One, meaning you can easily pair two Sonos One wireless speakers for true stereo sound, or two Sonos One SL speakers, or even a Sonos One and a Sonos One SL.

So yes, in its way pretty smart… But with these last points we’re actually getting back to the similarities, rather than the differences – mainly because there is only the one key difference between the two Ones: the Sonos One has microphones and the Sonos One SL doesn’t.

Sonos One SL vs Sonos One Gen 2

I should also briefly talk about the question of the Sonos One SL vs the Sonos One Generation 2 or V2.

This is a bit confusing, because the current Sonos One is actually an improved generation 2 product, but the Sonos One SL is also sometimes called a V2 or gen 2, since it replaced the now discontinued Sonos Play 1.

But to simplify the matter, in this article I am only talking about the new and current Sonos models – which are the only ones I myself would consider purchasing anyway – the newest Sonos One wireless speaker, which is currently in its 2nd version or generation, and the newest Sonos One SL speaker.

Conclusion: The Sonos One or the Sonos One SL: Which Should You Get?

Lots of people these days are a bit leery of having microphones all around their houses and internet-connected assistants listening and monitoring their conversations, and this is a key reason why many of them would prefer a Sonos One SL over the original Sonos One.

Another good reason to choose the slightly less expensive Sonos One SL is if you already have a Sonos One, and so can use it for voice commands, and just want a second speaker for a different location or room, or to pair with your existing One for true stereo sound.

And, of course, as it is that little bit less expensive, you might choose the One SL solely based on budget considerations.

On the other hand, if you are starting fresh, or if you are purchasing an additional speaker for your Sonos network, and you want voice commandability on all of your speakers, the original Sonos One is not that much more expensive, and the natural choice. 

But whichever you choose, you are going to get a great speaker, with excellent material and build quality, intuitive controls and flawless functionality, and absolutely amazing sound – either way, you really can’t go wrong!