The new SONOS PLAY:5 at vowe's magic flying circus

by Volker Weber

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If you don't have any money to spend, close the browser and leave. Seriously. Because you will want to buy something when this is over.

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Last chance. You have been warned.

We always had these discussions: do I buy two PLAY:3 instead of one PLAY:5? How about two PLAY:1 and a SUB? Or two PLAY:5 and a SUB? This ends now. I just tested one 2nd gen PLAY:5 against a stereo pair of 1st gen PLAY:5. You read that right: one against two. And the single 2nd gen PLAY:5 won, hands down. It sounds just as wide, but way better than the two 1st gen players. And to give the old players a fighting chance I had already applied Trueplay Tuning to both setups.

This is by far the best speaker that Sonos ever built. And it is better than anything I ever had in my house.

Yes, I heard it before. I listened to it at IFA for an hour. I listened to it while I was at Sonos in the listening room. But I never had the chance to compare. Now I did, and the verdict is clear. This speaker goes to eleven.

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Then I went all the way. Add a second player, apply Trueplay. Add a SUB. Apply Trueplay once more. It does get better. Of course. But not as much better as you add money. The law of diminishing returns. You want one PLAY:5. One in every room. For small rooms like a bathroom or kitchen, one PLAY:1 is good. But if you sit down to listen to music, you want one new PLAY:5. A PLAYBAR still needs a SUB, the new PLAY:5 doesn't.

This is what innovation feels like. You start with something really great. And then you relentlessly make it better. It's been five years since the 1st gen PLAY:5 came out. It improved continuously over those five years as Sonos learned. They downsized to the PLAY:3. It wasn't better. But it was more affordable. Then they built the SUB with it's earth shaking bass. PLAYBAR brought great sound to the TV. PLAYBAR and SUB made a decent 3.1 system, adding two PLAY:3 gave you true 5.1 surround. While playing music you could listen to all speakers filling the room with sound. Better than a stereo setup could. And then SONOS hit it out of the park with the wonderful PLAY:1, a speaker that sounded at least twice as large as it was.

Now the new PLAY:5. This looks like the pinnacle. The very top. But it isn't. Sonos is investing big time. And this speaker will get better. With each update, year after year. The speaker has two microphones that aren't even used yet. You can only imagine what Sonos will be able to do. Discover changes in the room and adjust the speaker profile? Sense the presence of people?

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The attention to detail in the design of the new PLAY:5 matches Apple. The designers wanted the logo front and center, exactly where the audio people placed one of the tweeters. So they drilled hundreds of tiny holes into it until you could no longer hear the difference. Even the packaging design is outstanding. Keep the box. It opens and locks with two sliders and you can always use it to safely ship the speaker.

There is only one question left: black or white? I like white better, because it brings out the form. Only if you want to hide it, you should go for black.

Sonos does not want you to replace 1st gen PLAY:5 with the new one. After all, those are really good speakers. If you ask me, go for it.

Comments

Aaaargh! Need to convince my minister of finance NOW! :)

Ingo Seifert, 2015-12-19

Can't wait to get mine. Good thing I proactively sold my "old' Play:5's.
"Vorfreude ist die schönste Freude". I still remember wehen I did the shootout between a pair of Play:5's and my Canton speakers a couple year back. Both setups sounded very similar from a sound quality point. With what you have been writing I think the new Play:5's will blow my mind. Let's see. Thomas promised to ship before to Christmas...
Many reviews of Sonos products complain about steep Sonos prices. I always have a hard time to follow that train of thought since you get stunning quality that, as you said, even improves over time. Plus Sonos products don't really loose in value (I can tell from first-hand experience). A great company making great products which make me happy. Money well spend from my point of view. And no, I'm not being paid making statements like this ;-)

Markus Dierker, 2015-12-19

And yes Volker, there is a Santa Claus! Great summary review of a fantastic product. I have two of the Play:5 and when moving them to another room I could not bring myself to separate them from the stereo pair. I found myself listening to them more than my PSB Imagine B speakers which are also great. This to me shows how good the Play:5 are out the box and TruePlay tuned with just their current software revision. Highly listenable. So when yours arrive set aside time and throw all your favorite music and mixes at these fantastic speakers! Enjoy the music.

Leo Wiggins, 2015-12-19

The microphones inside made me think. If i should guess there are some nice ideas, what to do with these. Since they build them in, they know exactly what they sound and i bet every single microphone is in a databse mith a meauringe line.
So at first it will be a great opportunity to adjust the iphone microphone with the help of these to get a better measurement for true play.
Then yes, sense people in the room and sense changes, but most excited got me the thaught, they could use ist as a noise cancelling system, so the music sounds the same, what ever goes on in the room or outside to disturb sound.

Kai Schmalenbach, 2015-12-19

Don't think I'll need those. I have what I need; not only Sonos.

But ... @Volker: Your text is just brilliant. Nobody writes better about stuff like that.

Happy Christmas! Enjoy a few hours in perfect silence :)

Stephan Perthes, 2015-12-19

...habe heute Morgen deine Seite besucht mit dem Ziel, dein aktuelles Sonos-setup zu "googeln". Erster Artikel dann gleich das hier, mit dem Erfolg: einen PLAY:5 bestellt zu haben.

Jetzt bin ich sehr gespannt. Erster Sonos Artikel; loest eine Technics-Anlage von 1988 ab.

Norbert Wigbels, 2015-12-20

Can I pair the PLAY:5 with PLAYBAR like you can with the PLAY:1?

So that I get better bass without having to buy a SUB (WAF=nil)

Andy Mell, 2015-12-21

Yes you can. But it will not help you. The base is not on the back channel.

Volker Weber, 2015-12-21

I have a NAD amplifier and a pair of Castle Trent II speakers, which I bought 20 years ago. At the time they were considered excellent speakers and I still like the sound they produce. But reading your impressions on the new PLAY:5 I get the feeling that it would sound better than my current setup (with all the advantages of being a SONOS system). What's your opinion on this? Would you trade a traditional good quality stereo system with a SONOS PLAY:5?

Pedro Meireles, 2015-12-21

Speakers don't age well. I would give it a try.

Volker Weber, 2015-12-21

Great reading about the new Play:5!

In the living room i have a single Play:5 (old). General sound is great (even base is absolutely sufficient). But from the normal listening distance (4,5m) it sounds way too narrow (actually it sounds more like Mono than Stereo...). Trueplay didn't make a difference.
As there's no space for a second Play:5, what would be the best option to get a wider sound? A Playbar or a new Play:5?

Manfred Wiktorin, 2015-12-21

You only buy Playbar to support a TV. The new PLAY:5 is better for music. They both provide a big soundstage.

Volker Weber, 2015-12-21

@Pedro

Don't do that! I have a quadral Vulkan MKII loudspeakers with a marantz amplifier, both about 15-20 years old.

you still get spareparts from quadral and so I changed the crimp (I'm not shure if this is the correct english word for german: Sicke, die Lautsprechersicke). And so they sound like new. And my sonos had no chance against them.


Karl Heindel, 2015-12-22

Karl, you already have a new Play:5? That's cool!

Volker Weber, 2015-12-22

Just for two days.

Karl Heindel, 2015-12-22

Now, that I have gotten the PLAY:5 I understand picture #1 :-) Simple setup, works perfectly for me - and rest of the family is happy as well, as the CD player linked to audio input starts playing immediately.

I am really impressed.

Thank you for continuously bringing the Sonos system to my mind!

...up to now I wasn't sure how many rooms the house has:-)

Norbert Wigbels, 2015-12-23

i would like sonos to use the mics to enable some siri/siri-alike voice recognition for choosing/changing music and everything siri (with home kit)/cortana/google now can do. as they know which soundwaves leave the speakers exactly when in which room and they know the room-variables they should be able to come up with an algorithm to let you talk to siri/who ever you like even while listening to music loudly. so sonos could deliver the very much needed mic-infrastructure for homekit equipped houses so i can talk to siri from everywhere without having to touch a button ever.
so maybe a sonos-easter-present?

lukas praml, 2015-12-26

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