Sonos Play:5 Review

Sonos Play:5 Smart Speaker
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The Sonos Play:5 speaker has received an update after a long wait of 6 years. Has the wait been worth it? Has Sonos delivered what it calls an ‘ultimate listening experience’?

The Play:5 Looks, Elegant and understated.

The Sonos Play:5 has a contemporary look with smooth edges and modest colours. The external case is made with high quality plastic and houses a graphite grille in the front. The Play:5 is available in a matte finish in black or white colour. If you are looking for a speaker that stands out with bold designs or colours, then the Play:5 is sure to disappoint. It is interesting to note that the Play:5 was designed entirely in-house at Sonos.

sonos play:5 smart speaker (new 2015)

The Play:5 can be installed in three orientations – horizontally or vertically on either side. Sonos has used a touchscreen in lieu of physical control buttons on the new Play:5. An orientation sensor determines if the Play:5 is vertical or upside down and automatically adjusts the touchscreen so that the ‘volume up’ button stays above the ‘volume down’ button. The touchscreen is also gesture sensitive. A forward swipe moves to the next song in the playlist while a reverse swipe moves to the previous song.

The rear of the speaker houses a power port, an ethernet port and a 3.5mm stereo line-in port. In addition, there is a pairing button at the back of the speaker which is used to pair the Play:5 to the controller software. It is difficult to access these ports if the speaker is wall-mounted. The newer Play:5 also misses a headphone jack which makes it impossible to listen to music without disturbing others.

The Play:5 can be used in any room within the house, even in the bathroom! The speakers are designed to withstand humidity but are not water resistant. The best audio performance with the Play:5 is possible when used within the house. However, nothing prevents you from using the speakers outside, in the lawn or in the porch. However, take care not to expose the speakers to water or rain.

A look at the Sonos Play:5 Hardware and the Aural Performance

The Sonos Play:5 is a powerhouse on the hardware front with a whopping 6 speakers!, a maximum for any Sonos product. Each speaker is powered by a separate class-D audio amplifier and driver. The amplifiers are powerful, light weight and energy-efficient. Three of these speakers are tweeters for generating high frequency sounds. The remaining three speakers are mid-woofers that handle vocal playback and bass.

The Play:5 can produce loud and deep sounds without any audible distortion, even at high volumes. The music is balanced and does not overshadow the vocal sounds. The speakers produce a deep, loud and rich bass. In fact, the bass performance is so stellar that one does not feel the need for a separate sub-woofer.

sonos play 5 speaker internals

As mentioned earlier, the Play:5 can be installed in either a vertical or a horizontal orientation depending on the user’s preference. A vertical installation focuses the sound onto a point in the room. This provides a deep and rich audio experience to a single user. In the horizontal orientation, the Play:5 spreads the sound across the room. This orientation is preferred when there are multiple listeners in a room.

As with most audio systems, the Sonos Play:5 uses an all digital architecture. The Digital Signal Processor (DSP) supports high-fidelity audio reproduction without any loss of audio energy. Audio enhancements such as adjustment of filter settings, active equalization and time-alignment settings are performed by the DSP.

Does your speaker’s performance depend on where it is installed? Sonos provides the Trueplay utility to calibrate out audio imperfections caused by the speaker location and other audio impediments in the room. This functionality is normally found in professional setups and kudos to Sonos for bringing this technology to the retail customer. Unfortunately, the Trueplay software is currently only available on the iOS platform.

sonos trueplay

Setting up a home audio-net

When you buy a Sonos product, you invest in the Sonos ecosystem. The ability to mesh various products together into an integrated audio ecosystem separates Sonos from other discrete audio hardware providers. Connect two Play:5 speakers, or alternatively two Play:1 or Play:3 speakers, for a true stereo experience. Creating a 5.1 surround sound home theatre system is as simple as pairing 2 Play:5 speakers with a Sonos PLAYBAR. Throw in a Sonos SUB if you require a high performance sub-woofer.

The Sonos Play:5 speaker can be installed in multiple rooms and remotely controlled with a controller software. It is possible to play a single song in all these rooms with near-perfect synchronization. Each speaker can be configured with separate audio customizations such as balance, volume, bass and treble settings.

Connectivity Options on the Play:5

The Play:5 can connect to the internet using the ethernet port or the integrated WiFi. The Play:5 includes 6 integrated antennas that provides a strong connection to the home WiFi router or the SonosNet. The SonosNet is a wireless connectivity solution used to connects various Sonos products together using a Sonos BOOST or BRIDGE. An advantage of the SonosNet is that it can work even if the home WiFi signal is not strong enough or if the router lacks sufficient bandwidth.

sonos boost

The Sonos Controller software

The controller software is easy to use and is available free of charge with every Sonos product. The software runs on iOS or Android and supports up to 16 computers or Network Access Storage (NAS) devices. In order to pair a Play:5 to a device, press the pairing button on the back of the speaker and follow the instructions on the screen. The software can also be configured to setup the Play:5 in a stereo or surround sound mode. Upgrades to the controller software are frequent and free.

sonos app

Music and audio codec support

The Play:5 can stream music directly from music streaming sites without the need for a computer. Over 100,000 free radio stations, shows and podcasts are available. The list of supported sites is long – Spotify, Pandora, Tidal and Rhapsody to name a few. Further, music can be streamed to the Play:5 directly over wireless from the iTunes or Google Play Music software. In addition, you can play DRM-free music obtained from any site on the Play:5.

The Sonos Play:5 supports CD quality audio at a native 44.1kHz and other popular frequencies. In addition, the Play:5 supports MP3, iTunes Plus, WMA, AAC, WAV and other popular audio codecs.

Final impressions

Sonos play:5 speaker from above

The Sonos Play:5 doesn’t disappoint and is the best speaker offering from Sonos. The casual user may find the $499 price tag expensive for a stand alone speaker and prefer the cost-effective Play:1 or Play:3 speakers instead. The Play:5 will appeal to users who like the deep bass performance and to those who value the Sonos ecosystem.

Note: The Play:5 is the only speaker from Sonos that has an 3.5mm line in.

  • Dimensions (H x W x D): 8.03 x 14.33 x 6.06 in. (203 x 364 x 154 mm)
  • Weight: 14lbs (6.36kg)
  • Accessories: Power cord, Ethernet cable
  • Power Supply: AC 100-240V, 50-60Hz, universal input
  • Storage Temperature: 4ºF – 158ºF (-20ºC to 70ºC)
  • Operating Temperature: 32ºF – 104ºF (0ºC to 40ºC)
  • Controls: Touch interface with volume up/down, previous/next track and play/pause.
  • Connectivity: 10/100 Ethernet, wireless
  • Speaker Finish: White matte or black matte with graphite grille.
  • Multi-language support: System software supports Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Swedish and Brazilian Portuguese
Sonos Play:5 Smart Speaker
Sonos Play:5
The Play:5 is a good sounding speaker and is worth a buy for its bass performance and the Sonos ecosystem.
Sound quality
Worth it?
Reader Rating6 Votes
Best sounding Sonos speaker.
Deep and rich bass performance.
Trueplay software facilitates good audio quality irrespective of speaker location.
Sonos software provides the ability to link all Sonos devices into a home network.
The power port and all additional ports are present at the rear of the speaker and are difficult to access if the speaker is wall-mounted.
No headphone jack port.
Software for the Android OS lags behind the software for the iOS version.
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