The Bose Soundtouch 30 and Sonos Five are the flagship speakers of Bose and Sonos for under $1000. They've gained immense traction for their extensive features despite changing times. The Soundtouch 30 is perfect for audio and movie lovers who need a reliable speaker at home. Meanwhile, the Sonos Five offers far more functionality for people who want more from their speakers. But what makes them different?
In summary, the Bose Soundtouch 30 offers WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity to let you enjoy rich audio quality at home. However, you can get better multi-stream functionality with the Sonos Five as it connects to more streaming services and devices.
Now, let's dive into the differences between the two flagship speakers.
Sound Quality & Loudness
Let me tell you something right off the bat.
The sound quality performance you'll end up getting from a speaker will always depend on your room acoustics - particularly room dimensions and speaker positions.
The impact of the combination of these two is actually so strong that in most cases, it doesn't even make sense to utter a single word on sound quality without speaking of them.
This is also why it's not unusual to see completely different reviews of the same speaker.
In one case the speaker might be placed in a sweet spot inside the room and hence the user might be satisfied. In other cases the same speaker might be ill placed and hence user might even have returned it.
The point most people miss here is that it mostly isn't even about the engineering behind the speaker itself. It's about where you place the speaker inside which room.
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So, in order to solve this problem, I've partnered with an Acoustics and Audio Engineering PhD and created Soundton - a simple, 2D, browser accessible online speaker placement calculator.
With Soundton, now there's a way to figure the sound quality of most speakers before you buy them.
Read more about its working principles at soundton.com.
The end colormap provides you the locations with the best (green) and worst (red) acoustics.
ASAP Science also made a video on the loudest and quietest rooms in the world. A mind blowing example of the importance of acoustics (play time adjusted video below).
Other parameters such as the age/materials of the building, the furniture & carpets in place, etc can and will, of course, have an effect on room acoustics, too. But it's much less compared to other parameters mentioned above.
Also, while you're at it, blast my Hidden Electronic Gems list to test the speakers:
Both Bose Soundtouch 30 and Sonos Five have spectacular sound quality and loudness. However, I did notice a slight difference between the two after listening to some music. So for this round, my top pick would be the Sonos Five.
The Bose Soundtouch 30 has fewer woofers and drivers than the Sonos Five. It only has one woofer and two drivers compared to Sonos' extensive components. The latter consists of three woofers, mid-woofers and tweeters, and six Class-D amplifiers. Because of this powerful combination, the Sonos Five can handle intense lows and better acoustics, vocals, and mids.
In addition to that, I also loved the unique adjustable bass and treble control on the Sonos speaker. It also has a well-structured design to eliminate echoes and distortions, giving us a rich 360° listening experience. Unfortunately, I didn't see such features on the Bose Soundtouch 30.
Learn how to set up, use, and care for Sonos Five, and get a comprehensive look at all the product’s features.
The next thing I compared between the Bose Soundtouch 30 and Sonos Five was their connectivity. Again, the Sonos Five still outperformed the Bose Soundtouch 30 in this aspect.
Although the Bose Soundtouch 30 had an additional Bluetooth connection, it offered poor compatibility with streaming service providers. It was only capable of connecting to popular media sites like Spotify and Apple Music. However, the Sonos Five was compatible with more than 80 streaming services. That means I can access almost any media content online!
Additionally, I discovered that TruePlay works perfectly well with the Sonos Five. I almost felt like I was in a music video because I could adjust the tone of my music based on my mood and the environment.
Check out the product guide and manual of Bose Soundtouch 30 here.
The Sonos Five has again captured my heart because of its excellent expandability options, unlike the Bose Soundtouch 30. I can easily pair it with other Sonos speakers and listen to louder and richer sounds. The Soundtouch 30, on the other hand, doesn’t have the option to be paired with other Bose speakers so you won’t be able to have the best streaming experience.
I know some of you may want a portable and lightweight speaker at hand. Fortunately, the Sonos Five offers more flexibility than the Bose Soundtouch 30. You can position this speaker vertically or horizontally and still get the same sound quality. Sadly, you won't experience this with the Bose Soundtouch 30, which is 4.24 kg heavier (8.39 kg vs 4.15 kg) and 29.4 mm taller (246 mm vs 217 mm) than the Sonos Five.
Finally, I brought my Bose Soundtouch 30 and Sonos Five in a damp environment to test whether they could withstand humidity. Again, the Sonos Five proved to be humidity-resistant compared to the Bose Soundtouch 30.
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The Sonos Five outperformed the Bose Soundtouch 30 in all the aspects we've discussed. It has adjustable bass control and excellent connectivity to many streaming services. But that doesn't mean the Bose Soundtouch 30 is out of the picture. You can still enjoy decent sound quality for a lesser price if you're only looking for a speaker or two.