Sonos debuts Play:1 speaker to bring cloud-based wireless speakers to the masses

For a long time, Sonos was one of those companies people heard about but never quite understood. Their products were often too expensive, and the technology too advanced despite the platform’s simplicity, to appear to solve the problems of the connected home.

While the company has done much to assuage that opinion in recent years, offering a sound bar for movie aficionados, it’s today’s announcement of the Play:1 that is going to lob this company safely into the mainstream.

Sonos Play:1 is coming to Canada on October 29th for $219, and will offer a wireless bridge — the brain of the operation — at no charge for a limited time.

So what is Sonos? In a word: music. It’s an ecosystem of speakers of various sizes — the company already offers the Play:3, Play:5, along with a subwoofer and aforementioned Playbar. A Play:1 speaker, which is smaller in size but only minimally lower in sound quality than its peers, connects to a WiFi network via the bridge module and can stream music from any number of sources, including Rdio, Sirius XM, Songza, Deezer, TuneIn and Slacker Radio.

The beauty of Sonos comes from its flexibility. Using the official Android or iOS apps (or any number of third-party alternatives for Windows Phone and BlackBerry), users can adjust volume and playback sources, bringing varieties of sound to different speakers in the house. Two Play:1’s can be combined to make a stereo pair, which can then be combined with two Play:3’s and a Playbar, for example, to make a 5-speaker surround home theatre.

Because this is Sonos’ most inexpensive speaker, it will likely be the gateway to the rest of the home for many consumers. Thanks to its extremely high-quality sound and technological complexity, existing Play speakers range from $329 to $449 depending on size. That the Play:1 manages to approach the quality of the Play:3 for $120 less is astounding, and it is also nearly half the size, able to fit in areas like bedrooms and kitchens that previous models could not.

The Sonos Play:1 will be available in Canada at retailers like The Source, Best Buy, Future Shop and, in Toronto, Bay Bloor Radio.