Sonos is a major company in the field of home audio, and the newest model has been branded “superior sound” as a luxury room-full speaker. Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t come cheap, so we’ve put it in front of our professional listening panel to see if its money well invested. In their popular lineup of multi-room speakers, Sonos doesn’t always launch new hardware. When they do it, it’s a big deal — mainly because of the amount of wireless driven speeches and components our customers enjoy.
We can often forget what the original Sonos Play 5 was, a significant product at that time, for Sonos and for audio as a whole. The Play 5 was the company’s first all-in-one unit since it was formerly focused on devices intended to link computers and speakers made by other companies. It was so popular that Sonos remains first and foremost a wireless speaker company today, spawning a host of rivals and competitors seeking to replicate the Sonos concept.
Sonos also announced a substitute for its Play: five multi-room speakers that will leave the “Play” out of its name. The Sonos Five has been revamped, incorporating updated hardware, and has been launched in June 2020, in order to further leverage its new capabilities in Sonos S2 applications.
Sonos Play 5 vs Sonos 5 Comparison Chart
|Sonos Play 5||Sonos 5|
|Product Finish||matte exposure||matte exposure|
|Color||Black, White||Black, White|
|Tweeter||Three tweeters||Three tweeters|
|Mid-Woofer||Three mid-woofers||Three mid-woofers|
|Wireless Connectivity||Connects to your home WiFi network with any 802.11 b/g/n, 3×3 MIMO,
dual-band (2.4GHz/5GHz) router.
|Connects to your home WiFi network with any 802.11b/g router.
You can either change the router settings to 802.11b/g or connect a Sonos product to your router.
|Power Supply||Auto-switching 100 – 240 V ~ 50-60 Hz 2.3 A AC universal input.||Auto-switching 100 – 240 V ~ 50-60 Hz 2.3 A AC universal input.|
|Dimensions (W x H x D)||14.33 x 8.03 x 6.06 in. (364 x 203 x 154 mm)||14.33 x 8.03 x 6.06 in. (364 x 203 x 154 mm)|
|Package Contents||PLAY:5, power cord, Ethernet cable, QuickStart Guide, and Legal booklet||Five, power cord, and Quickstart Guide.|
- Excellent sound quality
- Great volume
- Easy multi-speaker management
- Airplay compatible.
- Somewhat large
- No Bluetooth
Sonos Play 5
- Powerful audio performance with seriously deep bass and accurate highs.
- Easy setup.
- Expandable to multiple rooms.
- Can be used as part of a stereo pair.
- No Bluetooth
- Somewhat large
Design and Build Quality
The redesigned Sonos 5 has a more streamlined and curved appearance. But the latest one certainly looks sleeker, I’m not a style professional. It is available in black and white as the original, except in all models, the grill is black.
While these two speakers in size and weight are nearly equal, the visual variations between the two speakers are obvious. Both speakers are available in black or white but a monochromatic exterior is available on the newest Sonos Five edition (below, left).
Therefore, the white edition is white everywhere (including the mesh cover on the front), making it ideal for a contemporary living room.
The initial Play 5 was built with a lower wall at the back to help boost the bottom and make it slimmest. This, though, also meant sacrifices-it did not go as far as Sonos desired, and at some frequencies was at risk of port chuffing.
Sonos missed the port for the replacement and opted for a sealed construction, which improved the acoustic volume to make the bass more loudly and lower. Sonos says the Sonos 5 is able to get a deeper and cleaner bass than even the Playbar – a success for one-third of the size of the product.
The front grille is made of plastic and not metal – a method that prolongs production by one year. In the initial Play 5 antennas were on the plastic base so this could not be used for their substitution.
Thus, six antennas had to be installed in the main body (positioned for every conceivable orientation). The design team has therefore developed an Audiofoil polycarbonate grill without impacting wireless performance.
The older Sonos Play 5 (below, right) uses an additional dual color. Each speaker can be mounted horizontally or vertically according to where you want it in your house. You can choose to put them on either side of your TV or on a bookshelf nearby. In both speakers, there are three mid-woofers and three tweeters.
Sonos 5 is still their iconic durability, one of the greatest selling points in the world. Music is never imperfect, syncing performs so well that you take it all for granted. I’m sure that there’s no better way to stream music all over your house.
Sonos 5’s redesign interface remains the same as the original – you can wirelessly play music from a number of music services and locally saved music files through the free Sonos App from the speaker on your smartphone, tablet, or device. The new Sonos 5 is slightly different onboard controls, though.
An intelligent touch interface has replaced the original Play-5 control button(left). The new edition features touch controls, even though there are control buttons on the top of the top screen. To start or stop music, tap the play/pause strip at the end.
Swipe your left-to-right finger over the top to skip songs, or right-to-left. Taping of the sensors on the right or left is as simple as volume controls. The major advantage is that you would never look at them again until you use them a few times. Rather than trying to make sure you’re hitting the right button, you just tap and swipe.
The new Sonos 5 adds the original five with a sixth motor and amplifier. It should mean enhanced sound and more strength. The current version weighs about five pounds more than the previous version.
With the Sonos Five, you can gain more memory and maximize computing speed. This upgrade will allow you to handle upcoming tech upgrades that will evolve as part of Sonos S2, the operating system that controls the next wave of gadgets for the company.
The operating system Sonos S2 can accommodate high-level audio and more state-of-the-art features, so you can lean over the player into Sonos Five 5 if your wish list is high for your new features.
Help for Sonos applications is a very contentious subject. The audio giant has not been launched long ago and it has reported that some of its older devices will no longer get up-to-date apps from May 2020.
In this sense, is it time to upgrade to Sonos Five while you already have one of the oldest speakers in the brand? In the end, it depends on how much you feel for Sonos S2, which supports higher audio and functionality.
If you own the first-generation Sonos Play 5 (launched in 2009), you’ll need to upgrade for access to Sonos S2. You have nothing to worry about if you’re using the second-generation Play 5. Sonos S2 required it’s also worth noting that products released after May 2020, such as the Sonos Arc, Five, and Sub (3rd Gen), will not be compatible with the S1 Controller app.
It’s as simple as plug and play if you want to physically connect a computer to the Five through the 3.5mm audio port. The method is very easy if you want the speakers to connect to the internet (which is more like a Sonos speaker), as the Sonos program direct you step by step. We never had problems with networking when we built our speaker and linked it to Wi-Fi.
However, in some situations, the speaker had trouble with the initial implementation when far from the Wi-Fi router, which required that we moved them closer to this router or linked them to the Ethernet port.
The app will also prompt you to change a speaker at this setup point, which effectively ensures that your phone is pushed across the room, while the speaker sounds like a collapsing in underwater.
If you have wired the speaker to Wi-Fi, you can log in to whatever music provider you use in the Sonos app, so that you can select from the services offered by the speaker. The Sonos App offers a reasonably simple platform for accessing all these resources.
Moreover, since music streams directly to a speaker via Wi-Fi and does not use the computer as a broker, stuff like phone calls and text messages will not disrupt the music.
Both of Play 5’s models provide nearly every way to connect to other than Bluetooth. The speaker can be attached to Wi-Fi, wired hard to the net via Ethernet cord, linked to a 3.5 mm audio cord, or wirelessly streamed via Airplay on an Apple device.
It does seem a little glaring to exclude Bluetooth, but there are enough other ways that you can typically find another way to communicate, even if it’s less easy. You do have the luxury of buying a third-party Bluetooth receiver and plugging it into the 3.5mm auxiliary port if you just want Bluetooth.
There is no question that the Sonos5 is an important step up from the original, listening to both speakers side by side.
The first thing I found was a lot of darker bass and more punch. This speaker has the capacity to be a party machine immediately which was surprising. You must hear the sound system Sonos 5 if you believe a single-box speaker system cannot supply the products of low frequency.
The revamped version provides a sound stage with a larger width and breadth in contrast with the original. The Play 5 sounds more like a flat sound aircraft, while the current one is even larger. It provides greater isolation of instruments so that you can listen more to the songs. The knowledge with stereo speakers certainly gets closer.
A constant strength of the revamped speaker was the potential to render vocal in this combination. The Sonos 5 is cleaner than the original, tonally speaking. High frequencies were never as high as those with portable speakers at noisy levels often.
I have found how the current edition sounds like a lower level of noise. The new edition did a great thing by sampling more calm music, including acoustic blues. The sparse devices were put against a silent backdrop. Think about it as the audio of a TV with deep blacks in order to generate more image contrast.
A little quieter than the original is the latest edition. But how much louder it sounds as you drive the volume higher and higher is truly more important. The Sonos 5 preserves smoothness, while the original gets rough as the upper limit of its production approaches.
The customers were delighted by the simple, vibrant tone of the stereo playback pairing of the Sonos 5 speakers. This arrangement rivaled some very good configurations of stereo speakers in the same room.
You can rest on the latest Play 5 speakers for vertical orientation if you set up a stereo pair. The speaker senses this configuration automatically and changes the sound. You will get the best stereo picture by moving these speakers on a shelf or stand in small spaces.
Still the largest and the boldest speaker for the Sonos range, but with a price of $499 the Sonos 5 is no longer the best in its class. The superlative nature of its voice, however, deserves extra money if you want to pay for those luxuries. On the other hand, you can pay just $99 on the older Sonos Play 5 at a lower price.
The bottom line
If you want a comprehensive and significant multi-room sound system, the old hand over the legacy to the young man is a good example. Yet Sonos took a big move ahead with its flagship speaker with the re-designed Sonos 5.
Its presentation is more sleek and new, it’s easy to use onboard controls and the sound quality is as good as any single box wireless talker. You’ve got as good a base for a multi-room music device as you can find when you pair it with the excellent app experience and quick configuration that Sonos provides.
The Sonos Five is our highest recommendation for music lovers who are ready to spend the highest dollar on quality sounds, especially to those wishing to grow in a multi-speaker setup, providing the finest, most room-filling sound from all the speakers I reviewed.