Smart Speaker

May be looking to gracefully retire the SB Boom in the kitchen as the VU display is on its last legs and Ali finds searching for music a bit clunky beyond using the presets. It still sounds great, but consumerism must win.

Our kids have Alexas and they seem pretty reliable on the voice control and I was thinking about the Echo Studio which at sub £200 looks ideal for a kitchen.

Keen to get your o-pinions on the others, particularly Sonos. Is it worth the hifi tax? Does it have Alexa built in?
Also Google; Apple et al.

Main requirements are reasonably basic in order of importance:

  • Internet radio, which I assume they all do
  • Qobuz integration preferred, but will accept Spotify on pain of death.
  • Play a local FLAC library (transcoded is fine)

Spotify is going hi res this year…

Don’t really care about that for a kitchen speaker. The Qobuz preference is more to do with that’s where my favourites are. I pay for a Spotify account for my son, but other than for that I don’t use it.

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I use my son’s one of these:

It doesn’t do Qobuz but it has remarkable sound. We have another Bluetooth speaker but it doesn’t come close sq wise.

You probably know that I swear by Sonos bits.

The “One” has all the services (Qobuz, Alexa, FLAC, internet radio) you’ve listed and kicks out a surprising amount of noise for something the shape and size of a fat beer can.

It’s £200, or the “One SL” is the mic-free version for £20 less.

Oh, and the app and general reliability are very good.

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phone and portable Bluetooth speaker?


Can they also do regular Alexa-type shenanigans or are they limited to music control functions.

I want to eliminate all the steps that involve getting a phone out, unlocking it, opening an app and searching. Hence the voice control.

No clue sorry. I deliberately bought the mic-less ones (and I don’t know what facilities these voice control things offer - I’ve never tried one / them).

Good luck. With Alexa, playing radio is fine, but complex album names or tracks is a bit hit and miss. More trouble than using a phone.

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One thing to watch out for is that I believe hi res material on Qobuz will be downsampled at source to 24/48, however if you have local files over 24/48 Sonos kit will simply refuse to play them.

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I’ve got one of those. Very durable for garden and holidays, too.

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Sonos fan here. Can’t comment about Alexa functions, had to switch it off as Erica kept whispering. She was convinced Putin was interested in our conversations about Aldi prices etc.

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“Alexa, tell Vladimir he can kiss my hairy arse cheeks.”


I think that the Echo can be accessed via Bluetooth (which is always handy), or via DLNA, which you could use with your Squeezebox server via the UPNP plugin, if you wanted your own music.

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Another Sonos one fan.
Have them all over the house, garage, outbuilding.
Move 2 or 3 or 4 on to the terrace for a BBQ etc and you have a thumping outdoor venue.
Easy to have 2 or more play the same thing or all of them, what they call ‘party mode’.
Can roam the house etc and keep listening. No sync issues.

Own mesh network works really well.

Stereo pairing gives decent sound.
A Beam and two Play 1’s as surround are all we need for the TV / lounge radio and music.
The ability to voice control our favourite overseas (Swedish Radio P4) radio was what decided it.

BT phone faff for one device at a time didn’t cut it

I even use them for pink noise for sleep!
Spotify has a 12 hour brown noise play too. Like pink only even deeper.

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