KEF ls50 vs Sonos play5: review and side by side comparison

There is a perfect speaker for every consumer situation. Some speakers are best for large spaces; others are ideal for small rooms. In this article, I will demonstrate some of the best speakers both unique in their own way.

Comparing KEF LS50 Wireless vs Sonos Five, we see that the difference lies in features and flexibility. The KEF LS50 Wireless speakers are inspired by KEF LS3/5a by BBC and follow the same technology as Blade. It is packed with several features including a critical engineering approach in designing the speaker as well as tuning. These are best for small to medium spaces and would be good even without a sub.

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Sonos Five is the new speaker that came from its predecessor Sonos Play 5.  Compared to Play 5 it has increased processor and memory while maintaining a sturdy design. a total of six drivers produce enhanced bass, broad soundstage, and detailed audio.

In a hurry? Here is our verdict:

Sonos Five is famous for its powerful and undistorted audio that fills up a large room. You can buy a single speaker for listening to music and a pair of Fives if you want them as TV speakers. Although it doesn’t support Bluetooth, it can stream a wide range of music services like Spotify, Deezer, AirPlay 2, etc.

The bass of Five is tight and can get very low without being muddy. Even the heavy-bass lovers will not need a sub with it.

For small to medium rooms, KEF LS50 Wireless will be a pair of powerful speakers. It supports Bluetooth but not AirPlay 2.  The placement is a crucial factor for these speakers and they are well-known to be audiophile products.

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Comparison chart of KEF LS50 Wireless vs Sonos Play 5

 KEF LS50 WirelessSonos Play 5
AmplifierOne Class A/B
One Class D
Six class-D amplifiers
DriverOne 1" vented aluminium tweeter
One magnesium-aluminium 5.25" mid-woofer
2 20mm tweeters(L/R)
1 23mm tweeter(center)
3 3.93" mid-woofers
Driver orientationTweeter in the center of mid-range driver2 angled tweeters, one in center
Frequency response45Hz – 28kHz (More bass extension)
50Hz – 28kHz (Standard)
61Hz – 28kHz (Less bass extension)
Unknown
Sensitivity (2.83V/1m)85dBUnknown
Mobile appKEF Control and Stream app
Remote
Sonos S2
No remote
Bluetooth4.0 version with aptXNo
AirPlay 2No Yes
Controls Touch buttonsCapacitive touch buttons
ConnectivityAux, optical, PC, subwooferEthernet, Wi-Fi, line-in
Smart stereo soundnoyes
Humidity resistantnoyes
DimensionH11.9 x W7.9 x D10.9inH8.03 x W14.33 x D6.06 in
Sold in pairsingle
PriceCheck Price on AmazonCheck Price on Amazon

What makes KEF LS50 Wireless so special?

The LS50 Wireless follows the trend of the famous BBC LS3/5a monitors. It has 3 unique technologies responsible for powerful and spacious sound, they are constrained layer damping, curved baffle, and elliptical reflex port. The first technology eliminates the enclosure from vibrating and as a result, prevents the coloration of the mid-range.

To reduce reflections and vibrations, the curved baffle is designed with a special shape. The 3rd one is a port that has a flexible inner surface that stops longitudinal vibrations. While conventional port tubes suffer from turbulence, the flared port eliminates this issue as well.

The new Sonos Play 5: Sonos Five

There isn’t any speaker named Sonos Play 5 anymore, the new Sonos speaker which is released this year is known as Sonos Five.

It has Class-D amplifiers that have two ‘force-canceling’ drivers responsible to minimize enclosure vibration. Compared to Sonos Play 5 (original version), this Sonos Five has increased memory and better processing power provide that enhances the overall performance.

The speakers also have smart stereo sound with ‘smart orientation sense’ which means you can put the speaker horizontally and vertically and the speaker will adjust the sound. You can use this speaker for multi-room listening across the house.

KEF LS50 Wireless vs Sonos Five:

Aesthetics

The new Sonos Five has a monochromatic exterior with a graphite grille. The logo is embedded into the shape and it is also humidity resistant so you can put in on the bathroom or out in the front porch.

It has capacitive controls on the top side which means you can swipe across the controls for play/pause, Vol up/down or to change the track to previous or the next one.

KEF LS50 Wireless is compact in size with the sturdy build quality. The ‘FEA-designed’ cabinet with MDF is built such as it will not allow any resonance or vibrations. The front side is curved and is made of polyester resin with fiberglass and calcium carbonate. It has touch-sensitive controls but doesn’t come with a grille.

Performance

One of the biggest differences in the audio quality of the Sonos Play 5 vs Sonos Five is the bass. While the bass of Play 5 wasn’t too bad, it wasn’t too impressive either. But with Sonos Five, even the heavy-bass enthusiasts will be satisfied without adding a subwoofer but you can add a Sonos sub if you want.

Despite its size, the Five is built to be ideal for large open spaces. The audio quality is something you can’t question about. It has extremely-well tuned treble, bass, and clear mid-range. The left and right angled-tweeters are responsible for a wider soundstage and clear highs.

The audio is rich and well-balanced and isn’t harsh. You can play music at a very high volume without any distortion. You can adjust the EQ settings in the S2 app for treble and bass. If you shift to wireless stereo pairing to pair two Five’s, the cost will increase but you will get immersive full surround sound ideal for movies.

The KEF LS50 Wireless is known for its outstanding performance. It has detailed and crystal clear audio which is not bright or harsh but very neutral. The dome tweeter has a ‘Tangerine waveguide’ that delivers a broader soundstage.

The patented Uni-Q drivers deliver a wider sweet spot with detailed sound and these speakers are ideal for small to medium-sized rooms. The audio will not be muffled or you will not hear any chuffing noise due to air turbulence because of its special design of tubes.

The midrange drivers are designed in such a way that the audio is fully dispersed without any distortion at high volume. It has a rear bass port and the bass is remarkably punchy and tighter which is enough to fill up the room.

Set-up

Setting up Sonos Five was a breeze.

  • Find an ideal place for the Five, you can put them on open shelves, countertops, desktops, etc.
  • Power the speaker and download the Sonos S2 app in your iOS or Android.
  • Use the S2 app to complete the set-up.
  • You can use the 3.5mm port to connect mobile, CD, turntables, etc.
  • Once setup is complete, you can use the Trueplay (only in iOS) to adjust the audio regardless of room acoustics.

The setup of the KEF LS50 Wireless is easy and straightforward. It allows you to connect to a wide range of devices including PC, analog and optical sources, and subwoofer.

  • Plugin the speakers to the power supply
  • Connect the inter-speaker cable to pair the left and right speakers.
  • Press the power button to turn it on.
  • On the rear side of the speaker choose desk/stand, free space/wall so the speaker will adjust EQ
  • You can download the LS50 Wireless App to set up or adjust EQ as well
  • The app allows connecting via Bluetooth.

How to control the speakers?

Once you have a pair of speakers in your home, the next task is playing and controlling them. The easier to control the speakers, the better its flexibility to use. The upgraded version of Sonos Play 5 has capacitive control rather than push buttons.

You can also control the Five with the Sonos S2 app. The treble or bass can be adjusted, multiple speakers can be grouped together and give a name like ‘Bedroom’. Along with that, you can access all the music streaming services on one platform like Spotify, Deezer, Tidal, etc.

KEF LS50 Wireless comes with two apps for both Android and iOS which some people might find confusing or annoying. The KEF Control App is used for set up that comes with easy steps where you can select the source. You can also adjust the EQ with this app. There are options like Basic, Expert where you need to choose your preferences.

The KEF Stream app, as the name suggests, is used for streaming. It supports 192kHz/24bit resolution audio which you can play from your smartphone or NAS drive. It will also allow you to play tracks from Tidal, Roon, and Spotify.

What are the available streaming services?

Between KEF LS50 Wireless vs Sonos Five, KEF has Bluetooth features so you can play a wide number of streaming services. It supports Tidal, Spotify, and Roon. KEF doesn’t support Apple music services or AirPlay, but you can download them on your phone and then play.

It allows you to play DLNA media servers. You can use Tidal as an online streaming service, and Spotify, KKBox, Pandora, Apple Music, etc via Bluetooth connection.

Sonos Five is versatile in terms of streaming sources. It supports Internet Radio such as Sonos Radio, iHeart, Pandora, SiriusXM, TuneIn, etc. The following music services are also available in Sonos Five: Apple Music, Amazon Music, Deezer, Napster, YouTube Music, Qobuz, Spotify, Tidal, etc. it also works with AirPlay 2.

How to find the perfect spot?

For LS50 Wireless, it is recommended to have 2.5 to 3m separation between the two speakers. The distance should also be the same for the speaker and the listening position of the user. To make sure placement has less effect on the audio, on the backside, it has EQ with options desk/stand or wall/free space.

The left speaker has a balance control to adjust the stereo image which is useful in case the sitting position is not ideal. The app also helps to tune audio according to the placement where you need to give the distance from the wall to the speaker or from the edge of the table.

You can also choose the condition of your room (damped, moderate, lively). For best results, you can place them on Performance speaker stands.

Sonos Five is more flexible to place but they recommend to go by the rules: that is to make an equilateral triangle with the speakers. Since the speakers have sealed enclosure you can place them near walls, on tables, shelves, TV stands, etc.

The Five has a Trueplay feature (only in iOS) that helps to tune the sound by analyzing the surrounding of the room. The Flexson floor stands can be used to place the Sonos Five.

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Parting words

Between KEF LS50 Wireless vs Sonos Five, the differences begin with the price. The LS50 Wireless has a pair of speakers and is costly compared to Five (single). If you buy a pair of Fives, the cost would increase. Compared to others, the price might be on a higher scale, but both these speakers are full of features, streaming services, adjustments for room acoustics, or placement. So the price is justified.

If you read the article, then you have a clear understanding of which speaker is best. If you think you have space constraints, but you don’t want to compromise audio and deep bass, then the LS50 Wireless is perfect for you. What you have with these, you will not get it with its other competitors.

The Fives are flexible in terms of streaming; they even support AirPlay 2 but don’t have Bluetooth like LS50 Wireless. You can place it in Bathrooms because it is humidity-resistant. It gives you the flexibility to choose a single or pair.

While LS50 Wireless is placement-sensitive, the Five is more flexible. Both these speakers will undoubtedly deliver detailed and rich audio while focusing on the immersive soundstage. You can pair the speakers with a sub but in most cases, a subwoofer is not required.

FAQ

Q: How to connect Spotify with KEF LS50 Wireless?

Answer: To connect the LS50 Wireless with Spotify follow these instructions:

  • Make sure the speakers are connected to the Wi-Fi.
  • Go to the Spotify app on a smartphone or PC but within the same network.
  • Choose a song to play then select ‘Devices Available’
  • Press and select the LS50 Wireless.
  • The song will start playing in the speakers.

Q: How to connect Sonos Five wirelessly?

Answer: There are two ways to connect the Sonos Five wirelessly.

  • Wi-Fi Wireless Network: Connect Sonos to the existing Wi-Fi (11 b/g; 2.4GHz).) network at your home.
  • SonosNet Wireless Mesh Network: use Sonos Boost with the Wi-Fi router by an Ethernet cable. It will allow the propriety technology of Sonos, known as SonosNet to deliver a strong wireless range in the house. It ensures smooth playback without any interference.

Q: What should I do to connect the KEF LS50 Wireless to a new Wi-Fi network?

Answer: to connect the LS50 Wireless to a new Wi-Fi follow these steps

  • Perform ‘Factory reset’
  • Insert paperclip on the ‘Reset’ option at the back of the speaker
  • Press and hold the clip
  • Let go of the clip when the green light goes from flashing to ‘solid’
  • The Wi-Fi light will flash red and white
  • The speaker is ready to connect to a new network

Read more about Bluetooth speakers by visiting Kef LSX and Kef LS50W comparison or Wooden Bluetooth Speakers for music.