Sonos PLAY:5 (2015) Review


Drivers3x Tweeter, 3x Mid/Woofers
Amplifier6x Class D
Streaming ServicesSpotify, Tidal, Pandora, Rdio, TuneIn, Amazon Prime, over 50 more
Dimensions8.0" x 14.3" x 6.1"
Weight14 lbs.
Review DateNovember 14, 2015

Despite holding a commanding lead in the whole home audio market, Sonos has not been content to rest on its laurels. This is good for them, as the recent CEDIA Expo showed that everyone is out to try to take over a piece of this market. Everyone from DTS to Yamaha and Denon has their own solution coming out to challenge Sonos. The newly updated Sonos PLAY:5 shows what they are going to do to stay on top of the market.

From the packaging to setup and listening, the Sonos experience is as elegant an experience as you’ll find in home audio. The PLAY:5 is impeccably designed, feeling both incredibly rugged while looking stylish on a shelf. The new Trueplay room correction technology makes it easy to eliminate excessive bass often caused by speaker placement and improves the overall sound. While $500 for a speaker is getting to be expensive for many people, the Sonos PLAY:5 is the best sounding wireless speaker I’ve used to date.

Same Name, New Game

Despite being an all-new design, Sonos carried over the PLAY:5 name from the previous speaker. The original speaker had five drivers (hence, PLAY:5) but the new one now has six drivers (three tweeters, three mid/woofers) to provide better coverage. It also enables the PLAY:5 to do something the previous model could not: work ideally in a vertical or a horizontal configuration.

Looking closely as the design, you’ll see that you can put the PLAY:5 on either side vertically and the look remains the same. The Sonos logo even looks the same flipped. The PLAY:5 will know which orientation it is in and will adjust the sound accordingly. Place it flat on a table or shelf and it has a wider, more disperse sound. Place it vertically in a stereo pair and it behaves more like a traditional speaker. Not only does the sound change, the controls do as well. I’m usually in favor of hard buttons over touch sensitive controls, but the ones in the PLAY:5 work perfectly.

The build quality of the PLAY:5 is top notch. Everything feels solid, and little details down to the tiny holes drilled in the logo for sound quality help to set it apart. Depending on the orientation, the volume up and down buttons will change what they control. The one on top is always volume up, whether the speaker is placed on its left side or its right side. Doing a swipe across the buttons, a new feature, will skip tracks forward or back. No more digging out your phone and launching the app just to skip ahead or to hear that song again. A reassuring beep lets you know that your tap was registered, and the controls worked perfectly in my time with them. After using them I had no desire to go back to the hard buttons of the original PLAY:5 or other Sonos speakers around the house.

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Even more important to me is the implementation of Trueplay. Trueplay uses your iPhone microphone (Android support isn’t there yet, since each phone uses a different microphone) to measure the frequency response of the PLAY:5 inside your room. A speaker can sound perfect during design, where you measure it in an anechoic chamber, but then awful in a room. Most of us don’t have ideal rooms and a speaker like a PLAY:5 is more likely to be placed out of the way in a corner than a traditional bookshelf.

Trueplay has you walk around the room with your phone for around a minute, gathering data on how the room impacts the speaker. The speaker then collects this data and applies an EQ to correct the issues. With the PLAY:5 I setup a stereo pair on shelves in my living room. It’s a relatively