Amazon Echo (4th Gen) vs. Sonos One: Which should you buy?

Both the Amazon Echo (4th Gen) and Sonos One are excellent smart speakers that came out several years ago but still hold their own against newer competition. So how do they compare to one another? Sonos gives you more versatility in choosing your smart home and assistant and offers fantastic audio quality, but the Amazon Echo costs much less and offers proper Bluetooth support. We'll help you decide which device fits your needs more.

Amazon Echo vs Sonos One: Specs and features

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Sonos One

(Image credit: Android Central)

Without beating around the bush, we list the Sonos One and Echo (4th Gen) as the first and second-best smart speakers available today, beating out any other competition. That should tell you, at least, that you're not making a bad purchase whichever you choose. But stacked up against one another, these two smart speakers have very different traits.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Amazon Echo (4th Gen)Sonos One
List Price$100$200
Dimensions5.7" x 5.7" x 5.2", 2.14 lb4.69" x 4.69" x 6.36", 4.08 lb
ColorsCharcoal, Glacier White, Twilight BlueWhite, Black
ProcessorAZ1 Neural EdgeUnknown
Speakers3" woofer, dual front-firing 0.8" tweetersTwo Class-D digital amplifiers, one tweeter, one mid-woofer
MicrophonesSix-microphone arraySix-microphone array
"Mic on" indicatorLED ring around the baseSingle light on top
BluetoothA2DP, AVRCP, and BLE MeshNo, only BLE for setup
Wi-Fi802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 / 5 GHz)802.11 b/g, 2.4 GHz
Ethernet portNoYes
3.5mm line in-outYesNo
Pair Multiple for Stereo SoundYesYes
Voice assistant supportBuilt-in AlexaBuilt-in Google Assistant, built-in Alexa
Smart home techZigbee smart home hub, Sidewalk BridgeCan control Alexa or Google Assistant-compatible devices
Smart TV compatibilityPairs with newest Fire TV devices for audio outputPairs with Apple TV via AirPlay 2
Dolby ProcessingYesNo
Room calibrationYes, automatically adapts to room sizeYes (TruePlay, iOS only)

Amazon Echo vs Sonos One: Sound quality showdown

Sonos One

(Image credit: Android Central)

The Sonos One was re-released in 2019 with an updated processor, memory, and connectivity, but its speakers remained untouched. Our original 2017 Sonos One review called the audio "really good considering the size and the price" and that it is "able to crank out a surprising amount of sound" that works for a small living room or kitchen space. 

In other words, it still has an impressive volume and clarity of sound that hasn't been overtaken years later.

The Amazon Echo has twice the tweeters as the Sonos One for half the price.

That said, the Amazon Echo (4th Gen) has proven that you can squeeze more drivers into a smart speaker for quality sound without requiring a luxury price. The Amazon Echo has two dual-firing tweeters and a large woofer — compared to one tweeter, one woofer, and two digital amplifiers in the Sonos One — for half the price. 

In our Echo (4th Gen) review, we praised the speaker's audio quality as well: "The Echo kicks out a ton of bass, but it never gets to the point where it sounds too muddy. You get a nice thump on the low end, but the mid and high end still sounds good to my ears."

That being said, our reviewer, who "used to rely on the Sonos One" as his office speaker, said that "it's impressive just how well the Echo holds up to it," though "Sonos still delivers audio that's more well-rounded."

Both speakers give you EQ controls for fixing the audio settings to fit the shape of the room or your own tastes. Sonos has a TruePlay app that uses the microphones in your iPhone to manually calibrate the room settings; unfortunately, Sonos has not made an Android TruePlay app, so you'll need to adjust the One EQ settings manually. Amazon has both iOS and Android apps for adjustments, and it promises to automatically adapt its EQ settings to the layout of your living room.

Amazon Echo vs Sonos One: Connectivity clash

Close-up of the Amazon Echo 4th Gen

(Image credit: Joe Maring / Android Central)

Sonos works with more smart home ecosystems, giving you more flexibility if you want to switch. Specifically, it works with both Alexa and Google Assistant, though you must pick one to be your default listener. It also lets you stream content from your iOS devices to the One through AirPlay 2. 

The Sonos One works with both Alexa and Google Assistant, but not both at the same time.

Sonos also has robust multi-room controls, so if you want to pair the Sonos One with other Sonos speakers like the Arc soundbar for your TV or Sonos Move in another room in the house, you can connect all of them via the Sonos S2 app.

The S2 app is the focal point of your One experience. You can easily add third-party music streaming apps to the S2 app so you can direct your speaker to stream music over 2.4GHz Wi-Fi without having to use Bluetooth. 

That makes sense since the speaker doesn't support Bluetooth streaming at all. That makes it impossible, for example, for a friend to connect their phone to take over the party playlist. But outside of that scenario, you can stream music apps like Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible, Deezer, Pandora, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and YouTube Music directly on the speaker.

The Sonos S2 app and AirPlay 2 support are convenient, if restrictive, alternatives to Bluetooth support.

With the Amazon Echo (4th Gen), you have a more traditional smart streaming experience. It has the latest Bluetooth and Wi-Fi protocols, so you can connect any iOS or Android app and stream content from it. It can easily pair with another Echo speaker for stereo sound, or you can connect another speaker or headphones to it with the rear 3.5mm jack (which the Sonos One lacks).

Both smart speakers can pair with specific TV brands to upgrade your TV audio. Fire TV owners can turn their Echos into surround sound speakers, while the Sonos One can connect to an Apple TV using AirPlay 2. It's safe to say that buying two Echos is more reasonable for your budget than two Sonos Ones, however.

Amazon Echo vs Sonos One: Voice assistants and smart home tech

Amazon Echo 4th Gen and Alexa app showing device settings

(Image credit: Joe Maring / Android Central)

If you want a smart speaker to use for Alexa commands, you'll want to choose the new Amazon Echo. Our Sonos One reviewer found that Echo devices picked up Alexa commands far better than the Sonos One. That was in 2017, and Amazon's subsequent Echo devices have only improved by then. Specifically, the speaker has a new processing chip that Amazon claims can respond to your Alexa commands twice as fast.

The Sonos One (2nd Gen) also got a processor update in 2019, but we suspect that Amazon's newest device is optimized for Alexa commands better than the Sonos One, which must also save memory for Google Assistant.

Zigbee compatibility, a Bridge-expanded smart home, and Guard Plus security features are all useful, exclusive Echo features.

Also, only Echo devices can use some of Amazon's exclusive smart home services like Amazon Sidewalk and Alexa Guard Plus. The latter service turns your Echo into a security hub that can alert your phone if a fire alarm goes off or emit a siren to scare off intruders if your Blink or Ring security cams detect an intruder.

Amazon also made the Echo a Zigbee hub, which allows you to control any Zigbee-compatible smart home tech like switches, thermostats, and smart locks using Alexa commands. Even with the Alexa app, the Sonos One can't do the same.

However, if you want to use Google Assistant or Siri, the Sonos One is the no-brainer choice. You can control your Sonos One through Siri commands and the Apple Home app — you'll just have to speak your commands into your iOS device, as the speaker's mics will ignore them.

Amazon Echo vs Sonos One: Which should you buy?

Sonos One

(Image credit: Android Central)

Die-hard Sonos speaker users aside, it's hard to justify the high cost of the Sonos One in 2020, with the latest Amazon Echo and the Nest Audio making big additions to their smart assistant features at a lower price. 

You may prefer Sonos thanks to its S2 app serving as a one-stop library for all your music streaming platforms, so you don't need to worry about connecting your phone via Bluetooth. If you use iOS devices, AirPlay 2 is an effective alternative to Bluetooth, but Android users will likely miss having that Bluetooth option, and the Sonos One just doesn't pick up voice commands as effectively as an Echo.

Unless you have a specific device like a Sonos soundbar, iPhone, Apple TV, or Google Assistant-compatible tech that makes the Sonos One the better choice, we'd recommend the Echo as a more affordable choice.

Michael L Hicks
Senior Editor, VR/AR and fitness

Michael is Android Central's resident expert on fitness tech and wearables, with an enthusiast's love of VR tech on the side. After years freelancing for Techradar, Wareable, Windows Central, Digital Trends, and other sites on a variety of tech topics, AC has given him the chance to really dive into the topics he's passionate about. He's also a semi-reformed Apple-to-Android user who loves D&D, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings.

For wearables, Michael has tested dozens of smartwatches from Garmin, Fitbit, Samsung, Apple, COROS, Polar, Amazfit, and other brands, and will always focus on recommending the best product over the best brand. He's also completed marathons like NYC, SF, Marine Corps, Big Sur, and California International — though he's still trying to break that 4-hour barrier.