I am a huge fan of SONOS speakers. They look great, sound amazing and they fit in with the decor of my house. But they are rather expensive, too expensive for some, which begs the question: are there cheaper alternatives out there?
The short answer: yes – there are loads.
The longer answer, however, goes a little something like this: speakers are fairly technical pieces of equipment, so when you go cheap, you often lose quite a bit of functionality and clarity.
There are some excellent SONOS alternatives out there, of course, but as with everything: you need to know which one’s are worth your time and money. There are plenty of duff, cheap knock-offs that aren’t worth bothering with.
Today, we will not be concerning ourselves with these.
No, today we’ll be looking at the best SONOS alternatives you can buy right now that offer excellent value for money and well-above-average sound performance. These units are still relatively pricey, good things always are, but compared to SONOS they are significantly cheaper.
So what’s out there right now that’s worth a look?
Sony HT-XT100 Sound Base
Best Price: Amazon – $109
This unit is a beast and you can pick it up via Amazon (with Prime) for $109. The bass response is impressive and the overall sound produced by it is crystal clear.
It also has all the ports you could wish for including HDMI ARC as well as cinema-quality surround sound that is achieved with virtual sound processing. Beyond this you can connect a phone to it via NFC or Bluetooth and you can also hook-up manually via the USB port.
This system offers HUGE value for money.
PYLE Sound Base
Best Price: Amazon – $99.99
If you want a unit that delivers HUGE sound for under $100, then you need to check out the PYLE Sound Base. Haven’t heard of PYLE? I hadn’t either until I saw one of these in action round a friend’s house, but it made enough of an impact on me to be included in this list.
The speaker is designed for use under an HDTV; 32in and up are supported. It features Bluetooth connectivity, as well as HDMI, and while it lacks Sony’s technical stuff it still delivers razor-sharp sound, which, for its price, is a massive USP in and of itself.
Best Price: Amazon – $299.99
I got sent one of these a while back and it always impresses me whenever I use it. The design is unusual and eye-catching, but this is nothing compared to the sound it kicks out – it is enormous.
Libratone has developed a system for its speakers too, meaning, like SONOS, you can connect them and assign them to different rooms. But unlike SONOS, once you have paired more than one speaker, you can start doing some pretty crazy things with the sound settings inside the app.
The ZIPP also features Spotify's proprietary streaming technology, Spotify Connect, as well as Bluetooth and DLNA for Android or AirPlay. Basically, this is one feature-rich ecosystem and best of all acquiring one will cost you significantly less than a SONOS speaker.
The big USPs here are as follows: design, sound, and features – the ZIPP is an excellent, all-round solution for any home. I love mine and I reckon you will too. Even more so when you factor in the price – $299.
Denon HEOS 1
Best Price: Amazon – $399 (For A Pair)
I first stumbled across this little gem inside Richer Sounds when I was shopping for a new pair of headphones. The sound these speakers kick out is immensely impressive. Even more so when you consider the price – you can get two for under $400.
The Denon HEOS 1 comes with Bluetooth as standard, but it also features dual-band Wi-Fi capabilities, allowing for connection to standard home wireless networks, which is a neat little trick.
They’re also humidity resistant, meaning you can use them in the bathroom, or, if you’re really posh, the pool house.
Denon has a free app that you can download to set up the system and the speakers themselves pack in A LOT of awesome, technical features: custom dual drivers, including a wide range mid-woofer and a precision dome tweeter, advanced DSP (Digital Signal Processing) has been incorporated to deliver full range sound, boasting custom EQ sound tailoring for smooth and natural tonal balance, as well as dual channel Class-D digital audio amplification.
Epic stuff all round, basically.