Sonos Beam vs. Sonos One: Which should you buy?

Sonos Beam
Sonos Beam (Image credit: Sonos)

The Sonos One is an amazing, Alexa-enabled speaker, but when it comes to getting the most from both streaming music and TV audio, the Sonos Beam is the true champion.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Sonos BeamSonos One
AlexaYesYes
BluetoothNoNo
HDMI ControlYesNo
InputHDMI ARCNone
AirPlayYesYes

Beam Me Up

When you're buying a Sonos speaker — any Sonos speaker — you know what you're getting into. You're going to get amazing sound with dead-simple setup and the ability to stream pretty much any music service there is. When you take things one step further and purchase a Sonos as a soundbar for your TV, you're really going all-in.

Unlike comparing two speakers that have much the same application, the glaring difference here is that the Sonos Beam is a soundbar made to bring the best out of your TV audio in addition to streaming music — while the Sonos One is just another stellar wireless speaker in the Sonos lineup. You'll get the same Alexa support from both, along with ease of setup and ability to stream from tons of services. What you won't get in the Sonos One is the ability to hook up to your TV for immersive audio or utilize voice controls over HDMI.

With the Sonos Beam and Sonos One both offering Alexa and AirPlay support, you'll be able to use voice commands and control your smart home devices right out of the box. They both have capacitive buttons as well for easily controlling your audio. There's no learning curve here either — plug it in, download the Sonos app, and you're up and running. The small footprint of the Sonos One allows you to place it in nearly any corner of any room, while the longer Beam can be placed perfectly under your TV or even mounted to the wall.

Sounding Off

Where the Beam excels is in the multi-purpose use of streaming all of your audio services in addition to making your TV audio sound amazing. You can use Alexa commands, the Sonos app, the Beam's capacitive buttons, and even AirPlay to have it do thy bidding. Add in a Fire TV device and you'll have nearly full voice control over your entire entertainment system. Want to go even bigger? Add two more Sonos speakers and a Sonos Sub to create the ultimate surround system. All that and you'll continue to get software updates as Sonos is always adding new features to its devices.

The Beam is perfect for small or mid-size rooms given its smaller footprint. If you have a larger space or you're looking for much more sound, other options like the Playbar (opens in new tab) or Playbase (opens in new tab) may be a better bet — albeit at a larger cost.

Both the Sonos Beam and Sonos One are amazing speakers, but what it comes down to there is whether or not you'll be using the speaker for your TV audio as well as normal listening — and there's a very concrete answer. If you want TV audio, then it's the Beam all the way. If not, then you'll get the same functionality from the Sonos One for much less.

Adam Zeis
Editorial Director - High Yield

After getting his start writing about BlackBerry in 2008, Adam is now the Editorial Director of High-Yield content at Future. Leading an outstanding team, he oversees many of the articles the publisher produces about VPN, TV streaming, and antivirus software — from buying guides and how to watch content, to deal news and in-depth reviews. Adam's work can be seen on numerous Future brands including TechRadar, Tom's Guide, T3, TTR, Android Central, iMore and Real Homes.