Sonos unveils first voice-controlled speaker, with Amazon's help

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The company also announced that existing Sonos owners are now able to control their systems using Alexa via a free software update made available today.

Today in New York, Sonos spoke to us in the audience about a lovely replacement to the Play: 1 but also provided an update for those who've invested into the Sonos ecosystem already.

Voice recognition is handled by a six-microphone array and a custom noise suppression system created to make sure the speaker isn't spooked by background chatter.

But once Amazon Echo showed up at our door (and the Tap and Echo Dots that followed it), we found our usage of Sonos speakers dropped significantly.

In addition to the introduction of the Sonos One, the company is also opening up its Alexa beta test, which allows Sonos owners to control their existing speakers with voice commands spoken to an Echo or Echo Dot.

Sonos, in short, is fully abandoning its original, walled garden approach so its largely excellent speakers can act as the output for all the key music services. In 2018, Google Assistant will gain a new home in the Sonos One; while Siri will squeeze in later on via AirPlay so all three AIs coexist in one device.

Sonos CEO Patrick Spence said it comes down to sound quality. "But so much of this great content is being pushed through smart speakers that aren't designed with sound quality in mind". After opening a flagship store in NY last year, the company is now getting ready to open a London store later this year, and a Berlin location next year.

Alexa can speak in multiple languages depending on the customer's market. Alexa is a cloud-based voice service that can answer questions, control the lights, check the weather, provide score updates and more.

Sonos has previously announced plans for Alexa control and integration, but today the company has gone one better.

The Sonos One can be pre-ordered at the Sonos website for $199. If you're an Apple Music user, you can't use Alexa on any platform to select or start playing your Apple Music library. You can use the built-in speaker to talk with Alexa and listen to music, or Echo Dot can directly connect to speakers through Bluetooth or by using a 3.5mm stereo cable, enabling you to add Alexa to any home entertainment system. Users can also fine tune the sound of the Sonos One through the Trueplay settings on the Sonos app. Sonos is also adding more in-app integrations with other music services like Pandora and Tidal, much like they launched for the Spotify mobile app previous year. Still, sticking a song on should only take the words, 'Alexa play...', so you're unlikely to suffer greatly.

The $199 Sonos One is slated to launch globally on October 24 with support for Alexa.

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