A new filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has revealed some details of a new Sonos product. The edited documents show that a new model number S18 smart speaker will act as satellites for the company's audio beams to create a surround sound system and will also include built-in microphones for external voice control. If what is said FCC filing is true, this could be an interesting feature of Sonos. And honestly, that's probably true.
First reported by Variety, the filing refers to a new configuration of Sonos speakers, where Playbar is the "master device" and the new S18 models are "wireless smart speakers" that can be used as the left and right channels. In particular, archiving indicates that the new speakers were tested with Sonos Playbar, the company's original audio bar from 2013, which does not have smart speaker features. The new speakers will also include touch controls that appear to be almost identical to those found on the Sonos Beam smart soundbar and Sonos One smart speakers. So, based on this test detail, we're left to assume that the new speakers will be a new way to add smart speaker functionality to the non-clear Sonos Playbar.
According to the filing New Sonos speakers also includes both Bluetooth Low Energy and wifi connection. That the Bluetooth details would be a remarkable departure from Sono's tradition of sticking to Wi-Fi connections and avoiding Bluetooth. (Seriously, people have complained about the lack of Bluetooth on Sonos speakers for many years.) However, the Bluetooth support on the new speakers is more likely to be designed to help with the setup process and not to stream music. This is how it works with the Sonos Beam soundbar, which is equipped with Bluetooth, but does not support audio playback via Bluetooth.
Based on the charts sent to the FCC, the new Sonos surround sound system with smart speakers looks very familiar. In fact, the layout looks just like the 5.1 surround set package that Sonos sells with a Playbar for nearly $ 1,700 on its website. (You can also get this set of a Beam instead of a Playbar for $ 1400.) The main differences are that the existing package includes a Sonos Sub and two Sonos One left and right channel speakers. Sonos will even sell you who stand to mount the speakers behind your sofa or anywhere. Presumably, the new smart speakers will offer customers an alternative to using the large Sonos One speakers as satellites.
All this asks why Sonos wants to make these new speakers. Are they smaller than the Sonos One and therefore more versatile when building a home console system? It's almost impossible to know since the FCC archives contain only a few basic details about the device at the top of pages and pages of test results. Maybe it's the addition of Bluetooth. Does the new S18 model make sense better than other Sonos smart speakers? Again, hard to know.
We know that this FCC filing is real and Sonos has a story about leaking new products through FCC archives. So gadget enthusiasts learned about Sonos One, the company's smart speaker, back in 2017. That filing referred to the "product model S13" as "a high-quality all-in-one wireless smart speaker." It is worth pointing out that the new filing lacks the "all-in-one" language that may indicate that the new Sonos speaker is just a way to add smart features to the Sonos Playbar. Now that the company's original soundbar is six years old and faces competition from the newer, cheaper Beam soundbar, Sonos can only try to push a little more life out of the aging Playbar by adding more modern features through new satellite speakers. Then again you can do this by adding Sonos One speakers as satellites. The new smart speakers can only be a slimmer alternative.
So based on these different details, we do not know what Sonos does. We do not know how much the new speakers will cost, and we do not know how to look. But the very nature of an FCC filing like this suggests that Sonos has actually built a new product, and there is a good chance that it will hit the market ever in the coming months. The FCC is just a reliable source of rumors. Heck, even Apple, leaked the new gold iPhone XS into an FCC filing nearly six months before its first release. So it seems that upon the arrival of this new filing, there is something on Sonos.
We have come out to Sonos to comment on the FCC filing and the company refused to comment. Meanwhile, Sonos told us a few weeks ago that there would be no revealing new products in the next week's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Who knows. Maybe we'll get a surprise.
[FCC via Variety]