Sonos vs Bose: comparing the speaker offerings of two audio giants

Sonos and Bose may be the biggest names in home cinema, but which is better for you? From its sound to how it looks, Livingetc picks a side

Bose Smart Soundbar 300
(Image credit: Bose)

When it comes to kitting out your home audio system, two names come immediately to mind. Sonos and Bose are leaders in the market and household names for a reason, with ranges that span home cinema speakers like soundbars, in-built surround speakers, outdoor options and Bluetooth speakers.

But with so much noise, it can be hard to determine which brand actually makes the superior product and - perhaps more importantly - which would be the best fit for your home. We all listen to music and watch TV differently, and so home speakers aren't one size fits all.

Keep reading to see which brand wins out, from sounding good to looking even better. And if you want more like this, take a look at our guide to the best surround sound systems.

Sonos Ray Soundbar on a white tv cabinet

Sonos Ray Soundbar

(Image credit: Sonos)

Sonos vs Bose: Design

Out of the two, Sonos is the more designed-focused. While Bose's speakers have become sleeker over the years, Sonos is more interested in projecting a luxury vibe with the curved edges of its soundbars and speakers against the harder edges of Bose's offerings. Curves are in, organic shapes make rooms feel more inviting, and even help soften the feeling of having a piece of tech on display. 

As for connections, Bose is the winner, with far more choice for the user. While Bose the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 has Bluetooth,  HDMI, Toslink optical, Ethernet, and USB connections, the Sonos Arc only has HDMI. The absence of Bluetooth from the bulk of Sonos home cinema products could be a dealbreaker for some.

Bose: Pricing and Choice

Bose Smart Soundbar 900: $899 | read our review of the Bose Smart Soundbar 900
Bose Smart Soundbar 700:
Bose Smart Soundbar 600:
Bose Smart Soundbar 300:
Bose TV Speaker:
Bose Solo 5 TV sound system:

Bose Premium Home Theater System: $2,347
Bose Bass Module 700:
Bose Surround Speakers 700:
Bose Bass Module 500:
Bose Surround Speakers:

Bose Portable Smart Speaker: $399
Bose Smart Speaker 500:

Bose S1 Pro Portable Bluetooth speaker system: $699
Bose SoundLink Revolve+ II:
Bose SoundLink Revolve II:
Bose SoundLink Mini II:
Bose SoundLink Flex:
Bose SoundLink Color II:
Bose SoundLink Micro:

Sonos: Pricing and Choice

Sonos One on a walnut cabinet

Sonos One

(Image credit: Sonos)

Sonos Arc: $899
Sonos Beam (Gen 2):
$449 | read our review of the Sonos Beam (Gen 2)
Sonos Ray: $279

Sonos Surround Set with Arc: $1,297
Sonos Surround Set with Beam:
Sonos Sub (Gen 3):
Sonos Surround Set with Ray: $677
Sonos Sub Mini:

Sonos Move: $399
Sonos One: $219
Sonos Roam:
$179 | read our review of the Sonos Roam

Sonos Five: $549
Sonos One SL:
$199 | read our comparison of the Sonos One vs. One SL
Sonos Roam SL:
$159 | read our comparison of the Sonos Roam vs. Roam SL

  • Verdict: Bose definitely has the most choice, but there's also something to be said of the more streamlined offering from Sonos. The top-end soundbars from both brands are the same price, and while Sonos is more focused on home cinema with multiple speaker sets, Bose has a more substantial Bluetooth speaker range.

Bose speaker on a white wall

(Image credit: Bose)

Sonos vs Bose: Smart speakers

Both Sonos and Bose have smart speaker offerings designed for indoor and outdoor use, with the Bose Portable Smart Speaker, Sonos Move, and much-cheaper Sonos Roam all offering Alexa and Google Assistant on the go. While the Bose Portable and Roam are both designed to be taken with you in a bag or similar, the Move is an option more suitable for at-home outdoor use in the backyard.

The Bose Smart Speaker 500 and Sonos One are the brands' flagship smart speakers, respectively. Similarly to the portable options, Sonos has the cheaper speaker, and most won't notice a huge difference between the two. Both have Bluetooth, WiFi and AirPlay 2 connectivity and offer speaker pairing. If you want to connect via an AUX cable, however, you will want to opt for the Bose Smart Speaker 500.

  • Verdict: Sonos gets our vote here due to the price difference between its offerings and Bose's. We would argue that the Sonos Roam is the most portable of the bunch, and it's also the cheapest, and the Sonos One is an excellent choice for less cash than the similarly-specced Bose Smart Speaker 500.

Bose Premium Home Theater System

(Image credit: Bose)

Sonos vs Bose: Home cinema

On top of the standalone soundbar and surround speaker offerings, both Bose and Sonos offer home cinema speaker sets for an all-in-one solution.

Bose has just one set available to buy as a package - the Bose Premium Home Theater System - which includes the Bose Smart Soundbar 900, Bose Bass Module 700, and a pair of Bose Surround Speakers 700 and is available for around $2,347.

The most affordable equivalent from Sonos is the Immersive Set with Ray ($1,106), which includes a Sonos Ray, Sonos Mini, and a pair of One SL speakers. The options go all the way up to the Premium Immersive Set with Arc, which includes a Sonos Arc, Sub, and pair of One SL speakers ($2,046).

  • Verdict: Again, the difference here comes down to pricing, with even Sonos's most expensive package coming up cheaper than Bose's equivalent. Despite not having as many soundbars to offer, the choice of home cinema packages from Sonos is more varied, with two, three, and four sets all available from the site.

Sonos Premium Immersive Set with Arc

(Image credit: Sonos)

Sonos vs Bose: Our verdict

Sonos has edged to the top for a few key reasons, though Bose is certainly a good choice for those who aren't as worried about how their home audio equipment looks on the outside. Sonos speakers tend to come a little cheaper than Bose's equivalents, though Bose offers a greater choice for both soundbars and Bluetooth speakers. 

Both brands include both Alexa and Google Assistant in their smart speakers, as well as portable weather-proof options, but the sleeker design of Sonos' range may sway people.

Caroline Preece
Smart Homes Ecommerce Editor

Caroline is the smart homes ecommerce editor for Livingetc, covering everything tech for the home, from smart speakers to air purifiers and everything in between. She is passionate about the role that technology and smart devices can play in daily life, enhancing the home without sacrificing personal style and carefully chosen interiors. In her spare time, she can be found tinkering with bulbs, soundbars, and video doorbells in an effort to automate every part of her small home. Previously, she lent her expertise to the likes of Expert Reviews, IT Pro, Coach, The Week, and more.