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

Sonos One lifestyle
Sonos One lifestyle (Image credit: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central)

Amazon Echo (4th Gen)

Amazon Echo 4th Gen Render

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The latest generation of the Amazon Echo gives you a stylish sphere-shaped speaker with enhanced audio, new Zigbee smart home compatibility, and rapid-fire Alexa commands for half the price of its older sibling.

Amazon Echo (4th Gen)

All the Alexa upgrades

Faster Alexa commands
Half the price of Sonos One
Dual tweeters
More color options & unique design
Zigbee and Sidewalk smart hub
Bluetooth support
No Ethernet port
Only works with Alexa

Sonos One

Sonos One Smart Speaker

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The Sonos One is built to handle either Alexa or Google Assistant commands, and can connect to your iOS devices and Apple TV via AirPlay 2, but it's not a Bluetooth-compatible speaker. Despite its years-old design, its internal speakers make it sound just as great as ever.

Sonos One

Still sounds sweet

Still-excellent sound profile
Google Assistant, AirPlay 2 support
Ethernet port
TruePlay calibration
Multi-room Sonos audio
No Bluetooth support
Twice the price of Echo

When we weighed the Amazon Echo vs Sonos One last year, we judged the Amazon Echo (3rd Gen) to be the better choice, but it was a close race thanks to the Sonos One's superior audio and Google Assistant support. Sonos hasn't updated its One speaker since then, while the new Amazon Echo (4th Gen) will ship out this month with better speakers and Alexa tech. Will Amazon's new smart speaker upgrades help the Echo remain as the superior smart speaker to buy? We lay out the facts below.

Amazon Echo vs Sonos One: Specs and features

Sonos One Lifestyle Black

Source: Sonos (Image credit: Source: Sonos)

The Sonos One is the best Sonos speakeron the market, while the Echo (4th Gen) is highly likely to top our best Alexa speaker list once we get ahold of one for an official review. Stacked up against one another, though, these two smart speakers have very different traits.

Amazon Echo (4th Gen)Sonos One
Price$100 (opens in new tab)$199 (opens in new tab)
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
MicrophonesUnknown (3rd Gen Echo has seven-mic array)Six-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

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

The Sonos One recently had its third birthday, but there was a second generation Sonos One re-release in 2019 with updated proocessor, memory and connectivity. Luckily, its speakers remained untouched, which is a testament to Sonos' technology. It still has an impressive volume and clarity of sound that other speakers are only just now starting to approach.

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. Sonos doesn't openly state the level of wattage in its speakers, so we can't directly compare which of the two has more physical power, but the Echo has raised the audio bar in 2020.

The new Amazon Echo reportedly will "automatically" adapt its EQ settings to the layout of your living room, though you can adjust the EQ settings in the Alexa app yourself. 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 Echo vs Sonos One: Connectivity clash

Amazon Echo 4th Gen

Source: Amazon (Image credit: Source: Amazon)

While the Sonos One is still worth buying in 2020, it has a unique approach to connectivity with other devices, sometimes convenient and sometimes frustrating.

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

Let's start with the positives. Sonos 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. Thus, whatever smart home ecosystem you rely on, Sonos should support it, which makes it a safe purchase for most shoppers.

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.

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

Source: Amazon (Image credit: Source: Amazon)

If you want a smart speaker to use for Alexa commands, you'll want to choose the new Amazon Echo. In our Sonos One review, we 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 will 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?

Die-hard Sonos speaker users aside, it's become harder 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. The new Echo's second tweeter makes us hope that it'll be the best-sounding Echo yet, particularly for high-pitch audio.

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.

Ultimately, the latest additions to the Amazon Echo has only made the Amazon Echo vs Sonos One choice easier compared to last year. Unless you have a specific device like a Sonos soundbar, iPhone, Apple TV or Google Assistant-compatible tech, the Echo should be your first choice.

Michael spent years freelancing on every tech topic under the sun before settling down on the real exciting stuff: virtual reality, fitness wearables, gaming, and how tech intersects with our world. He's a semi-reformed Apple-to-Android user who loves running, D&D, and Star Wars. Find him on Twitter at @Michael_L_Hicks.