sonos play 1 vs play 3

Sonos Play:1 vs. Play:3: Comparing Sound Quality, Value & Design

After a month of testing, I determined Sonos Play:1 is the best Sonos speaker because of its better portability and sound quality compared to Play:3. Sonos Play:3 is a fine speaker and you’ll enjoy it, but it’s outdated and overpriced.

I’ll compare and contrast two Sonos speakers (Sonos Play:1 vs. Sonos Play:3) by evaluating four categories: sound quality, design, price, and other notes.

Sonos Play:1 & One (Quick Points):

  • Sound Quality: It has two Class-D amplifiers and custom-built drivers. The bass is deeper than you’d expect from a small speaker and it has more depth than Play:3. Play:1 stays consistently crisp at all volume levels and has brilliant sound for its size.
  • Design: They’re four pounds, easily transportable and unobtrusive.
  • Price: Play:1 is $150. Sonos One is $200.
  • Note: Sonos One sounds the same as Play:1, but it has a better design, Alexa powers and works with AirPlay.
  • Note: They’re humidity-resistant, so you can keep them in your bathroom.

Best for you if…

You want the best sound and portability. Play:1 and One are just four pounds and sound terrific. Should you go with Play:1 or One? Sonos One feels like it’s in beta because Alexa isn’t fully baked, but it’s still worth $50 more than Play:1 because it works with AirPlay 2, has a nicer design, and Alexa will improve with software updates. Two together will overpower one Play:3.

Sonos Play:3 (Quick Points):

  • Sound Quality: It has three Class-D amplifiers and three custom-built drivers. It has a bit more bass and volume than Play:1, but the sound quality isn’t as good. The sound on Play:3 gets distorted at the higher volume levels.
  • Design: It weighs eight pounds and can stand tall or lie horizontally.
  • Price: Play:3 is $250 on Amazon.
  • Note: It hasn’t been updated since 2011 and probably should be cut from the lineup because it’s overpriced and has no place.
  • Note: It can sit on a stand or be mounted to a wall.

Best for you if…

You want an overpriced, ugly speaker with great sound quality. Play:3 can get louder than Play:1 and has more bass, but Play:1 sounds better overall and has more depth. If you’re looking for a better music-listening experience, go with Play:5. Play:5 is three times heavier than Play:1 but with the extra weight comes a ton of extra power. It’s the best sounding speaker in the $500 range.

play 1

Grade: A+

Sonos Play:1 & One

Sound Quality:

  • Sonos One & Sonos Play:1 sound solid when used independently, but you can use multiple speakers for surround-sound, too.
  • The bass is much deeper than I expected for a small speaker. And surprisingly, the sound on One has more depth than Play:3.


  • Sonos Play:1 looks solid and has physical buttons on the top.
  • Sonos One looks similar to Play:1, but the design was improved slightly. There are no physical buttons and the all-black color is gorgeous. The only downside to the Sonos One design is that it isn’t wall mountable.
  • Both weigh four pounds, making them easily transportable.

Other Notes:

  • They’re humidity resistant, so you can keep them in your bathroom.
  • Sonos One sounds the same as Play:1 and is the same internally. The difference is that One has built-in Alexa (with Google Assistant coming soon). There are a few issues with Alexa:
    • Alexa doesn’t work with a multi-room setup with other Sonos speakers. Apple Music doesn’t work natively. These are annoying constraints, but they’ll be fixed via software updates.
    • The Amazon setup process is tedious.
    • It’s hard to see if it’s is listening because it’s only signified by a tiny white light.
  • Play:1s and Play:3s need to be connected to WiFi at all times because there are no 3.5mm in ports.
play 3

Grade: B

Sonos Play:3

Sound Quality:

  • It has three Class-D amplifiers and three custom-built drivers (compared to the Play:1’s two drivers). It has a bit more bass than Play:1.
  • While Play:3 gets louder than Play:1, the quality of the sound isn’t up to par with the Sonos One and Play:1, while Play:1 is $100 cheaper. You’re better off with a Play:5 or a pair of Play:1’s.
  • It sounds great overall, though it’s no match for the Play:5.


  • It’s not as aesthetically pleasing as Play:1, One, and Play:5 due to its strange shape and multiple colors.
  • It weighs eight pounds and has control buttons on the top.

Other Notes:

  • Play:3 can be used as a standalone speaker or as part of your surround-sound setup with the Playbar.
  • It hasn’t been updated since 2011 and probably should be cut from the lineup.
  • It can sit on a stand or be mounted to a wall.
  • It can sit horizontally or vertically and will optimize the sound as you change (stereo sound for horizontal, mono sound when vertical).