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Sonos vs Bose – Detailed Comparison

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Sonos and Bose are two renowned and well respected brands in the audio industry that produces high quality speakers, headphones, soundbars, and subwoofers. 

In this article, we will cover a general overview of both brands, looking specifically at sound quality, durability, price and so on. Of course, each brand has different devices at different price points, however we will compare them as closely as we can.

Quick History

Sonos Quick History

Sonos, Inc. is an American company that specializes in the development and manufacture of audio devices. They are best known for their quality multi-room audio products. The company was co-founded in 2002 by John MacFarlane, Craig Shelburne, Tom Cullen, and Trung Mai.

The company displayed its first prototype at an industry event in 2004 and started shipping in early 2005. The company is always expanding its services internationally, for example to the UK in 2005 and Japan in 2018.

In January 2015, Sonos was rebranded by Bruce Mau Design, with a new visual identity and improved logotype.

Bose Quick History

Bose is an American audio equipment company established by Amar Bose in early 1964. It is well-known for making high-end speakers, headphones, car sound systems, and other professional audio equipment.

Amar Bose started Bose because he was unhappy with the sound quality of a stereo he had bought. He did this to try to make sound systems better than they were at the time. Amar had taken the time to find out how important sound reverberation was to the sound system‌.

As a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Amar Bose knew how important research was to making excellent products. Therefore, he had made this the driving force for the company’s growth over the past few decades.

Sound Quality

Sonos Sound Quality

One of the most distinctive features of all Sonos speakers is their superb audio quality. The sound output is rich and clean, with deep bass and clear mid-tones.

Sonos has a team of seasoned musicians such as Grammy-winning music producer Giles Martin that assist in fine-tuning their speakers to ensure a natural and superior sound. Each Sonos speaker sounds really great on its own but you can connect two or more speakers together for a really immersive experience.

Bose Sound Quality

There is a lot of criticism about Bose speakers as it relates to sound quality. Many people believe Bose is an overhyped company that focuses too much on marketing and not enough on R&D to improve the quality of their speakers.

Many audiophiles for example lament the fact that Bose speakers tend to not have clearly defined highs and lows (bass). This is where the phrase – no highs, no lows, must be Bose came from.

While the above may be true, to Bose’s credit, some psychoacoustics has been a primary focus in the development of Bose audio equipment. This focuses on the effect of the reflected sound arriving at the listener’s head and thus tries to mimic a live performance with all their speakers.

This psychoacoustic design began with the Bose model 901, which was manufactured in 1968, and as a result of its success, it is still in production to this day.

But because Bose’s psychoacoustic approach is unusual and most audiophiles criticize it, but that doesn’t make it sound any less impressive. The sound fills the room, making it seem like a live performance without losing any of the high, mid, or low frequencies.

Features

Sonos Features

Sonos is very popular for the suite of features that are incorporated into their products to ensure that you get the best out of your gadget. Most of the features ensure versatility in the speakers, which allows you to use them throughout the house, or outside.

Here are some features you can expect from your Sonos device:

Sonos App: The Sonos app is available for both iOS and Android to bring additional functionality to all your Sonos devices. Apart from functioning as a remote control for your speakers, it has a lot of other features such as the Calm app that plays relaxing music if you’re going to sleep, or you can set your alarm so that you wake up to your favorite music. It also has a sound equalizer feature to tweak the sound of your speaker to your taste.

Sonos Trueplay: To produce the best sound effect wherever you are, Sonos has a tuning feature known as Trueplay. Trueplay optimizes the sound of the speaker based on the acoustics of the room they are placed in.

Support For Multiple Music Platforms: Sonos has partnered with over 100 music service companies around the world such as Spotify, Pandora, Tidal, and Amazon Music to ensure that you can listen to your favorite music, podcasts, or TV shows regardless of the platform you use.

Surround Sound: Sonos speakers can be connected to each other for a truly immersive stereo or surround sound experience.

  • Support for Bluetooth, WiFi, Airplay 2 streaming
  • Voice control support for Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Siri, and in-house Snips SAS
  • Multiple input and output ports such as HDMI and optical audio input for TVs and type C to charge the battery-powered

Bose Features

Bose has features for expressive audio, intuitive controls, and modern components for better use. It is pretty easy to identify a Bose product when you see one. Some of the most common features of Bose devices are patented and device-specific.

Most Bose speakers support all audio formats, like Flac and Wav. They also have voice support, like Amazon Alexa, built-in music streaming platforms, like Deezer and Spotify, and seamless wireless connectivity for listening to music in multiple rooms through the Sonos set up and SoundTouch.

You can also expect to find a micro USB port and a 3.5mm headphone jack/aux cable on a typical Bose device.

Most Bose headphones also have a background noise canceling feature that blocks out all the surrounding noise and allows you to focus on the sound from the headset. Because of this feature, Bose headsets are a great choice for professional uses like conference calls.

Build Quality

Sonos Build Quality

Sonos uses sturdy materials like polycarbonate for the grille and a mixture of ABS and 10% glass fiber for the chassis to ensure a solid build, though this makes their speakers bulky. But if you prefer durability to portability, Sonos is the way to go.

Sonos devices

Some of their speakers have IP ratings, which means they are water-resistant and dust-resistant, therefore allowing for outdoor use.

Bose Build Quality

Bose products are not something you can rely entirely on when it comes to build quality. The build quality can be divided into the internal build and the external structure.

However, for a brand that has been a big player in the audio equipment industry, Bose seems to focus more on the internal build quality at the expense of the structural delivery. Therefore, this leads to a great-sounding device that has a poor structure.

Although, another factor that might be worthy of note is the fact that the build quality varies from device to device. While some Bose products fall short of expectations, others are extremely durable.

For example, while most Bose speakers are usually reviewed to be of below-standard build quality, the headphones have enjoyed excellent reviews. An example of this is the Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones, which most users have reported to have one of the best build quality.

Ease of Use

Sonos Ease Of Use

Sonos products have a minimalistic design and a clean look without a clutter of buttons, which makes the products easy to operate.

Older Sonos speakers have a pause/play button that can mute if you press and hold or skip a track if you double click. Newer speakers have a touch-sensitive button that skips to the next or previous track if you slide from left-to-right or right-to-left, respectively.

Multiple speaker connectivity is easy to set up across different rooms using WiFi, Bluetooth, or connection to a single router.

Bose Ease Of Use

A great number of Bose products are easy to use. This means that even without technical know-how, you can operate them without stress.

For example, the QuietComfort 35 II headphone has a design that can be turned 360 degrees, adjusted to an angle, and can be folded easily.

The Soundlink Micro is another Bose portable Bluetooth speaker that is designed with a freestanding mount which makes it ideal for use anywhere including the bedside, bookshelf and other places. This includes poolside too since the Bose Soundlink Micro is waterproof and can stand easily.

Cost

Sonos Cost

Sonos products are quite expensive, but they are known to always deliver quality regardless of their price tag.

Sonos products are known for always delivering excellent performance, build quality, and strong connections compared to other brands in the same price range. In short, Sonos makes products that give great value for money.

Here is a price range for some Sonos products:

Soundbars: $150 – $850

Smart speakers: $150 – $500

Premium speakers: $200 – $900

Amplifier: From $600

Subwoofer: From $700

Bose Cost

One of the most important pieces of information you need to understand before choosing a Bose product is the fact that they are quite expensive. However, most people will unconsciously prefer to buy Bose products. This is basically for two reasons:

  1. Bose has a brilliant marketing strategy which makes them one of the most popular brands in the world.
  2. Bose speakers have a sound that makes your brain mimic the feeling of being in a live show. This is because of the tremendous investment by Bose in research and development.

Unfortunately, there are so many brands in the audio equipment industry with less prestige than Bose but which offer similar quality products at a lower price.

Check out the price tags for their most common products:

  • Bose earbuds: $180 – $450
  • Bose headphones: $100 – $550
  • Bose bass module speakers: $400 – $850
  • Bose Soundbar: $300 – $850

Space Requirements

Sonos Space Requirements

Sonos speakers tend to be bulky, so they require ample space to use. Though this doesn’t mean that it cannot be used on your desk or placed on a bookshelf.

Some Sonos speakers, like the Sonos Roam and Sonos Move, focus on portability. Therefore, they produce the excellent audio output that Sonos is well-known for at a reduced weight and size.

Bose Space Requirements

Most Bose products, including the home theater, AV receiver, and speakers, do not require too much space as they aren’t normally large and bulk. They include shelf speakers, minimal home theaters, and AV receivers with pretty sleek designs.

Bose speakers such as SoundLink Color Bluetooth speakers can be used on the bookshelf without disturbing the arrangement of books.

Remote Controls

Sonos Remote Controls

There are several universal remote controls supported by Sonos products. There are some custom-made Sonos remote controls for easy operation of your devices. Sonos devices can also be remotely controlled with the Sonos app which allows you to control each device connected to the network individually.

Sonos gadgets also have Snips SAS, Sono’s custom AI technology for connected devices with the purpose of bringing a music-specific voice assistant to all its devices.

Bose Remote Controls

Bose has invested a great deal in ensuring that its users get the best audio experience. The Bose remote control is a sleek gadget that allows you to control your home entertainment without stress. They add this remote to almost all Bose products except for the headphones.

A pretty interesting factor to admire about the Bose remote control is the fewer buttons. The remote control adds usability to its delicate design. It allows you to perform all the desired tasks with a few clicks of the buttons.

Connectivity Options

Sonos Connectivity Options

Multiple Sonos gadgets in a single household can be connected to each other wirelessly, through a wired Ethernet network, or a mixture of both. Wireless connectivity includes Bluetooth, WiFi, and LAN network for Internet connectivity.

Wired connections include HDMI for connecting to TVs and Ethernet connection to connect to multiple devices. Sonos devices can also be connected using Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, or Snips SAS.

Sonos gadgets can be connected to any device with Bluetooth or WiFi connection such as your smartphones, digital TVs, and other Sonos devices over the same network.

Power Range

Sonos Power Range

Sonos devices have different power ranges depending on the device’s performance. An average Sonos speaker consumes from 55 Watts to 125 Watts per channel.

Most Sonos devices do not have power buttons but have an idle/standby mode, consuming from 4-8 Watts in this standby mode.

All the information on the power range of a device is included in the product manual, so you can get information on the power range for your particular device.

Bose Power Range

The power rating of Bose devices is not shown on most of their devices. But, according to different reviews from their users, the power range depends on the kind of device.

For example, the power range of an average mini home speaker like the Bose SoundLink Mini 2 is around 30 to 50 watts. The wattage of a larger speaker, such as the Bose Soundbar 300, is around 65 watts.

Frequency Response

Sonos Frequency Response

Sonos speakers have pleasing frequency ranges to suit the various types of usage scenarios. The Sonos five, for example, has a -3 dB bass response frequency of 88 hertz, which is excellent for a speaker of its size.

Bose Frequency Response

Most Bose speakers have a frequency response of around 25Hz to 20kHz. However, for most Bose headphones, the frequency range is between 100 Hz and 10 kHz.

Conclusion

Sonos is a company that’s dedicated to manufacturing products with premium quality for a decent price. Their products have a wide range of features to suit each person’s needs. As said above, Sonos is a company that produces devices that give good value for money. For those looking for a sound system that can simulate a live performance, Bose products are the best option. However, most audiophiles feel this is not a natural sound and it is hence heavily criticized amongst audiophiles.

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