Are expensive speakers worth it?
Audiophle speakers

Low Price, Good Value, or Both?

When you shop for expensive speakers and audio gear, what is most important to you?

There isn’t any right or wrong answer. Features, price, good value are all reasonable choices.

But we can all admit, price is very important. The funny thing is that we have pre-conceived ideas of what the right price for something may be.

Psychology, not budget comes into play here. We are more than willing to spend $500 or $1000 for some products we don’t need but want.

At the same moment, we might feel that $50 is too high a price for something we think is worth only twenty bucks and sells for $35.

Is Sonos a premium brand?

There is no denying that the incredible sounding Sonos multi-room wireless speakers, amplifiers, and sound bars sound great, but what about the price?

When I speak with some clients, especially those that have grown up with inexpensive wired earphones plugged into a mp3 player or mobile phone, price is the first thing mentioned.

Now I understand when you can buy a pair of wired earphones at the neighborhood dollar store for, well, a dollar, and small portable wireless bluetooth speakers are sold everywhere, including drug stores and gas stations, for as little as $15, Sonos can seem expensive.

Does it make sense to spend $179, for a Sonos SL, or $499 for a Sonos Move or Sonos Five? Yes!

Everything is relative

With audio gear, there is a wide range of price where you really do “get what you pay for”.

The sound from a $15 gas station speaker simply has no comparison to a Sonos or other high quality speaker.

Funny thing is that self-proclaimed audiophiles have a completely different reaction.

They believe Sonos is the cheap/mass market brand that simply can’t compare to their properly expensive $5,000 handcrafted speakers in painstakingly hand-rubbed wooden cabinets.

Can we hear the difference between a $500 and a $5,000 speaker? I dunno if you can, but I can’t.

Can we hear the difference between a $15 portable Bluetooth speaker and a $100 to $500 wireless speaker? I definitely can and everyone I’ve had comparison test them can, too.

The real question – Do you need good speakers?

Instead of fake arguments about all speakers sounding the same, let’s be honest with ourselves and ask the real question:

Within the budget that we can afford, should we buy a better speaker?

Once again, I feel the proper answer is “it depends”.

How is the speaker going to be used? How do you feel about listening to music? What kind of music do you like? Where is the speaker going to be placed? What is important to you?

A speaker in the bathroom to listen to podcasts while getting ready in the morning might be purchased with “anything is better than nothing” criteria.

Speakers purchased for our media room or home theater when we want to kick back and truly enjoy a blockbuster movie in full surround sound glory, might be worth serious comparison shopping and a larger investment.

A speaker or speakers in other rooms of our house for casual or ambient music while working from home, relaxing, or just hanging out will probably be somewhere in between.

Sonos is the safe choice

For a mid-range, good-bang-for-the-buck speaker choice, you really can’t go wrong with Sonos.

All their products are extremely well built and very reliable. Of all the smarthome gear I install or support, Sonos is one of only two brands of equipment that simply works and almost never has any problems.

Software and firmware is high quality and tech support is always helpful.

Wireless, multi-room music is not easy. There are other products from both known and unknown companies, but none work as well.

Sonos is one of the few products that work with everything. It is not proprietary to Apple, Amazon, or Google so particularly in the real world where there is a mix of brands and equipment it plays nice.

Kids with Android phones, adults with iPhones, a mixture of PCs, iPads, and iMacs – not a problem.

And when it comes to subscription music – often the real ongoing expense for music listening, Sonos works with Apple, Spotify, Tidal, and more services than just about any other product.

It simply isn’t worth my time or my client’s money to futz around with other solutions that are difficult to setup and hard to keep running.

So from my perspective as both a customer and installer, Sonos has provided rock solid value that is well worth the price.


Automation technologist and problem solver

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