Sonos is, by its very nature, a smart, connected audio system. But what if you want Sonos, but not Alexa or Google Assistant, Samsung Bixby, or anything like that?
Alexa, Built In
Sonos makes fun-to-use, high-quality audio products, but investing their products might be something you want to do without getting into Alexa and other connected tools that you might find to be invasive, or possibly just annoying.
If you have a Sonos Arc, Beam, One, Move, or Roam you’ll know that each of these products has Alexa built in and an included microphone in order to pick up your voice. Whenever you want to change the track or lower the volume you can ask Alexa or Google Assistant to do the task. It’s pretty convenient.
This all started with the Sonos One around 2017, which was interesting at the time, but now the challenge is finding a Sonos device without a digital assistant built into it. In fact, Sonos is so tightly integrated with these services that it is said to have given up its own digital assistant/smart home ambitions in order to focus on Amazon and Google’s solutions.
Sonos Without A Microphone
In response to conflicts with Google and Amazon, as well as, presumably, to address privacy concerns. Sonos does sell the One SL, a speaker without a built-in microphone or any digital assistants. The company even bills it as the “microphone-free” speaker.
First released in Q3 2019, this wireless bookshelf speaker is a simple, microphone-free audio device that you can control with the Sonos app or Airplay 2, so it’s not like you need to walk over to it to make changes (but you can because there are built-in controls).
While it’s just a single speaker, you can pair One SL speakers together for stereo sound and creating the rich audio environment you’d expect from Sonos.
The Sonos One SL does have Airplay 2 which works via WiFi, which is built in, but the speaker doesn’t even have Bluetooth, so it’s really locked down for a connected device. It does, in a refreshing change, have built-in ethernet.
If you are a current Sonos owner, you’ll be happy to hear that the One SL, which really is just the Sonos One without the microphone or assistants, can pair with a standard One. You can even connect your One SL to Amazon Echo or Google Home if you want to add an assistant later on.
Each speaker sells for about $180 and is nice and compact at 6.4 x 4.7 x 4.7 inches (161 x 120 x 120 mm) and 4 pounds in weight.