Review: Sonos Outdoor

Too expensive

Sonos Outdoor works for the most part, and does little harm. Unfortunately, it sounds boring, and the price tag is a bit steep.

Sonos outdoor
Karakter
Sonos Outdoor
We think
Pleasant midrange on vocals, and the sound is rich enough. It is also clear enough at the top for it to work well.
It sounds pretty flat and tame. It's especially dynamics that are missing, it simply sounds too boring. The price tag is also galimatias.
Specifications
  • Type: 2-way closed
  • Recommended amplifier power: 5-100 W
  • Sensitivity / impedance: approx. 90 dB / 6-8 ohms
  • Dimensions: 19.1 x 32.9 x 19.9 cm (W x H x D)
  • Weight: 4 kg
  • Colors: white
  • Waterproof: not specified
  • Other: Rotatable wall bracket
  • Web: sonos.com
Ad
forfatter

Sonos is on a somewhat unfamiliar ground when they have for the first time embarked on the art of making passive speakers. They are active, wireless multi-room speakers they can. But because many customers who want multi-room at the same time want to keep the existing stereo speakers in the living room, Sonos has also always offered an amplifier with built-in streaming, in one form or another. The person who got the job there is simply called Amp.

But then someone must have thought: “Why not become a total supplier?” What is missing from the menu are then passive speakers, which can be operated by Amp. The choice then fell on speakers for wall and ceiling mounting, since multi-room customers like hidden installations.

And then Sonos has done something clever. Instead of trying to make their own speakers, something many people probably do better than them, they have chosen a manufacturer to work with. Specifically, Sonance, which is widely known for recessed and outdoor speakers in all shapes, with high quality.

Mariner-based

Sonos Outdoor is based on the Mariner series from Sonance, and fits in size between the two largest models, 66 and 86. In terms of appearance, they are almost identical, with the same type of swivel stand solution and with cable clamps at the front, hidden behind a cover.

But where Sonance’s own speakers use bass membranes lined with Kevlar / Nomex to reduce distortion, there is no such thing on Sonos speakers. Here it is cheap polypropylene membrane that applies.

The speakers are weatherproof, but without any official IP certification. We still see that the Sonance Mariner series is IP66, which means that they are completely dustproof and also can withstand strong water flushing against enclosure from all sides.

It should also be mentioned that where Sonance offers its speakers in black or white, Sonos has chosen to offer only white color. Which will probably exclude some potential customers.

Sonos Outdoor
Sonos Outdoor is only available in white. Photo: Sonos

No obvious benefits with Sonos Amp

Where Sonos’ In-Wall and In-Ceiling wall and ceiling recessed speakers enable automatic room correction (TruePlay) in the Amp amplifier, you get no such benefits with Outdoor. The only thing that happens when the amplifier detects that it is connected to this is that you are told that a Sonos Architectural speaker is connected, but no additional user functions appear in the app. But there is an impedance detection there, which connects an overvoltage protection and also allows the amplifier to drive three pairs of speakers instead of just two, as it is otherwise specified for. But acoustically, there are no benefits to pairing Outdoor with Amp.

The sound of Sonos Outdoor

That the Sonos speaker is more expensive than Sonance’s similar speakers is not so easy to understand when you see that you have used cheaper bass elements. And it’s even harder to understand when you listen to them.

So, it’s not that the speakers are doing anything particularly wrong. The music sounds clear enough, singing voices sound about as expected and it is not the case that the bass rumbles and drowns out the midrange, and adds a discoloration to the music.

The problem with Sonos is that they are so anonymous. Mac Miller’s voice is clear, but lacks punch and physique. It’s not the same touch and drive in the midrange here as with Monitor Audio Climate 60, and Sonos does not have the great spread and gigantic sound image of the Focal 100 OM 8. Violins never bite properly, there is nothing that engages.

The bass is so far full enough, and well balanced. But where is the control? Ariana Grande’s bass rhythms make the speakers flatten if you turn up the volume a bit, and a chamber orchestra does not get enough dynamics to engage. Sonos is beaten by Focal and simply crushed by B&W.

– Flat and boring, exclaims editor Lasse Svendsen. It’s hard to disagree.

Conclusion

Sonos Outdoor is a slightly twisted nut to crack. On the one hand, the speakers make little mistake, there are no unnotes here. But where is the dynamic? There is simply too little going on here, it never swings, we do not feel like dancing. The bass is tame, the midrange as well, and honestly there is also a lack of resolution in the treble.

Everything could have been forgiven, and we would probably have given Sonos Outdoor four straight stars in this field, if they then also cost about the same as the rest. But with a price increase of 50 percent, it can not be defended. Then we are instead down on a half-cheap 3-er. Sorry, not sorry.

Also in this test

Monitor Audio Climate 60

The joy of playing weighs up

Monitor Audio Climate 60 has an energetic playing style that works for the most part.

Clear sound, good with life and rhythm.
Slightly dark tone on strings, the midrange sounds colored.

Klipsch AW-525

High party factor

Don't let size fool you. The Klipsch AW-525 speakers love to play loud.

Super efficient and easy to operate, potent bass for the size, and sparkling dynamics.
A little too woolly and grained sound for our taste.

Focal 100 OD 8

Speakers for outdoor parties

The Focal speaker is the best choice if you need a speaker with impact.

Bouncy dynamics and plenty of bass. High party factor.
The size can be a drawback and the sound lacks sophistication.

Canton Pro XL.3

Anonymous and unengaging

Canton follows an old speaker recipe with the Canton Pro XL.3, but here there is something gurgling.

Fuller sound than the size suggests. Compact dimensions blend nicely with the facade.
Trapped sound, twists in the bass when you turn up the volume. Flat dynamics.

Bowers & Wilkins AM-1

The best outdoor speaker

The Bowers & Wilkins outdoor speaker is very elaborate, and so is the sound.

Beautifully balanced, refined and resolved soundscape, plenty of bass and sound pressure.
Requires a potent amplifier to perform at its best.

Also check out

JBL Bar 5.0 is a simple and joyful soundbar, which does not need a subwoofer to provide enough bass.

The first active wireless speakers from Q Acoustics are easy to fit in the smart home. In terms of sound, they leave room for improvement.

Iron has polished up the concept, and an even better speaker has come out of it.

From Polk Audio comes the Magnifi Mini; a tiny soundbar that sounds like it was much bigger.

Bang & Olufsen has borrowed inspiration from the 1970s and created a convincing music machine that you can take with you.

With absolutely all the features you need, the Marantz NR1711 provides great home cinema experiences in a slim and sleek form package.

This is the modern surround receiver for those who want really good sound in the home cinema, but who are sober with their use of money.

Philips ultra-wide screen puts you in the middle of the action, whether it's games, movies or spreadsheets.

JBL Bar 5.0 is a simple and joyful soundbar, which does not need a subwoofer to provide enough bass.

DJI Mavic Air 2 is a flying camera that gives you a whole new perspective.

The first active wireless speakers from Q Acoustics are easy to fit in the smart home. In terms of sound, they leave room for improvement.

Samsung's new earbuds have all the same features as Apple's - and are just as locked to the manufacturer's own mobiles.

Samsung Galaxy S21 5G is the mobile you should buy if you want the most value your money.

Hard work or hard fun? This screen can give you a (nearly) invisible home office.

Forget the cheap mesh solutions! You will not be satisfied until you take the step up to the Orbi AX4200.

Samsung Galaxy S21 + 5G is an excellent mobile that is hard to love.