After spending 2022 focused on midrange products like the Ray and the rollout of its own voice service, Sonos is about to shift its attention back to upscale devices. Aside from the upcoming, delayed Sub Mini, the company is also at work on a completely new high-end speaker codenamed Optimo 2.
The Verge has viewed early, work-in-progress images of Optimo 2, and it marks a substantial evolution in design compared to Sonos’ existing products, such as the Sonos One, Five, Arc, Beam, and Roam. Encased in a funky, dual-angled shell, the new device will be positioned as the best-sounding speaker that Sonos has ever produced. It includes an arsenal of drivers, including several that fire in different directions from beneath the shell between the front speaker grille and backplate. The 3D recreation above is bronze-colored, but Optimo 2 will likely stick to Sonos’ traditional white and black color choices. The device’s frontside is shown in our image, with the vertical rectangle indicating where the Sonos logo will be.
Size-wise, it looks to resemble something like the Sonos Five / Play:5. According to people familiar with the product, Optimo 2 includes twice as much RAM and as much as eight times more flash memory than any previous Sonos speaker. It’s a powerhouse clearly designed with a long road of software support ahead.
If current plans stay on track, Optimo 2 will become the swiss army knife of Sonos speakers. It’ll support music playback over Wi-Fi like all of the company’s products but also Bluetooth audio. So far, Bluetooth playback has been limited to portable hardware like the Move and Roam. Intriguingly, the company is also considering USB-C line-in playback for the device. That would make it the only other modern Sonos speaker aside from the Five to offer line-in capabilities. (The Sonos Five has a more traditional 3.5mm aux input.) With the help of built-in microphones, Optimo 2 will feature automatic sound tuning to optimize its performance in various settings. Those mics will also support Sonos Voice Control. As always, some of these features may be scrapped and absent from the final, shipping product.
With its array of drivers (including one that appears to be upward-firing), Optimo 2 will be a showcase for Dolby Atmos audio. But it’s just one piece of the puzzle. The Verge can report that Optimo 2 is the lead product in a trio of in-the-works devices, which will also include an Optimo 1 and Optimo 1 SL. “SL” designates that the latter will not include built-in microphones. The three products are intertwined with a major forthcoming update to Sonos’ software platform that will unlock new functionality.
Mics aside, specific differences between the three Optimo devices could not yet be learned. Theoretically, Optimo 2 could serve as a successor to the Sonos Five, which hasn’t seen a meaningful redesign in years. That would leave Optimo 1 and 1 SL to fill the role of smaller smart speakers or satellite speakers in Sonos surround sound systems. Home theater has become a critical part of the company’s business.
Earlier this month, Sonos reported rocky third-quarter earnings, blaming rampant inflation and the dollar’s appreciation for a miss on revenue. The company also revealed that it had pushed back the planned release of a new product — almost certainly the Sub Mini — until the first fiscal quarter of 2023, which falls between October and December of this calendar year.
“Softening consumer demand across our product categories had an outsized impact on Roam,” CEO Patrick Spence said on the quarterly investor call, also noting that the $279.99 Sonos Ray soundbar “is significantly missing our expectations for the year” due to the same weakened demand.
But Spence maintained an optimistic outlook. “We’re focusing on what we can control at this point. We are investing in a tremendous amount of new innovation and new products that we think are going to help us come out of these macroeconomic headwinds in an even stronger position.” Optimo 2, Optimo 1, and Optimo 1 SL will be central to that innovation and steady product pipeline.
During its fiscal 2022, Sonos released the second-gen Beam, Roam SL (plus new Roam colors), the Sonos Ray, and Sonos Voice Control. It also made acquisitions, including that of Mayht Holding BV, a company that Sonos claims “has invented a new, revolutionary approach to audio transducers” that allows them to be smaller and lighter without affecting quality.
The Verge has reached out to Sonos for comment.