Meet the new boss; same as the old boss. These are Sonos speakers; no matter the model, you're assured of immersive, dynamic sound with bright highs and punchy basses.
The main differences between the Sonos Play:1 versus Five are the updated S2 app (required for Five and optional for Play:1), power and price.
For a more varied soundstage reproduction at a lower cost, we prefer a two Sonos Play:1 speaker configuration over a single Five.
While Sonos no longer manufactures Play:1, the product is still supported.
Let me tell you something right off the bat.
Room acoustics, particularly room dimensions and speaker positioning, will have an immense effect on sound quality.
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 why I'd hiiiiiiighly recommend you to check out this simple, 2D, online speaker placement calculator.
It's GOOOOLLLDDDDD. I've had an Acoustics & Audio PhD build this tool specifically for this purpose:
- Ceiling height: 106 inches or 8 feet 10 inches or 2.70 meters
- Most standard ceiling height
- Listener's height: 32 inches or 2 feet 8 inches or 0.80 meters
- Average height of a sitting person
Central heights of speakers (measured from the ground) and examples to them:
- Soundbars: 30 inches or 2 feet 6 inches or 0.75 meters
- 8", 10" or 12" Subwoofers: 8 inches or 0.20 meters
- 360 degree speakers: 32 inches or 2 feet 8 inches or 0.80 meters
- Horizontal speakers: 32 inches or 2 feet 8 inches or 0.80 meters
- Floor standing speakers: 20 inches or 1 feet 8 inches or 0.50 meters
- Bookshelf speakers: 32 inches or 2 feet 8 inches or 0.80 meters
- Center speakers: 32 inches or 2 feet 8 inches or 0.80 meters
Side note: This tool can and will return inaccurate results for small, portable Bluetooth speakers such as JBL's Go Series. It will, however, deliver just fine for more powerful, packed bluetooth speakers such as this one.
ASAP Science made a video on the loudest and quietest rooms in the world. A mind blowing example of the importance of acoustics (time adjusted video).
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 much less.
Did you know you could also virtually hear any speaker online?
Crutchfield had recently created a tool that virtually simulates the sounds of many different speakers; such as those of SVS, Klipsch, KEF and B&W. Nothing will, of course, beat hearing the speakers in reality. But I'd still recommend you to give it a shot.
While you're at it, blast my Hidden Electronic Gems list to test them:
Ideal for relatively small rooms (e.g., bedroom, office, kitchen), both models deliver rich, bold sound from a bookshelf-sized speaker. Note that to receive stereo sound from Play:1, two speakers must be deployed. The horizontal placement of a single Five speaker achieves the same effect.
Compression artifacts would seem to impact Sonos Play:1 more than Five. The latter is Sonos' latest and greatest, unleashed in early June 2020, with more memory, faster processing power and a new-generation radio.
Using either with a TV "will result in some latency or lip-sync issues while the audio is converted from analog to digital."
Loudness & Power
How loud is Sonos Play:1? CNN found that "you’d likely need two Amazon Echos to reach the sound level (of one Play:1 speaker)."
Sonos Five is even louder, outputting 120 watts of sound. It features three high-excursion woofers within a sealed architecture, eliminating echo and reverb.
In contrast, Sonos Play:1 has only a single mid-woofer, providing 55 watts of sound per channel.
Both models require an auto-switchable 100 - 240 VAC, 50/60 Hz power supply. To prevent degradation of the WiFi signal feeding the speakers, Sonos recommends that they not be placed on surfaces like concrete, metal, brick or marble.
Sonos Play:1 weighs 4.08 lbs (1.85 kg) and measures 6.36 x 4.69 x 4.69 (in) / 161.45 x 119.7 X 119.7 (mm). It comes with two Class-D digital amplifiers, a tweeter and a mid-woofer. Top panel buttons control volume and play/pause. It also has an LED to indicate status.
Sonos Five, on the other hand, is a heftier speaker. It weighs more—14 lb (6.36 kg)—with larger dimensions, measuring 14.33 x 8 x 6 in (364 x 203 x 154 mm). It's powered by 10 Class-D digital amplifiers and 10 amplified speaker drivers (6 midrange, 3 tweeters and 1 woofer).
Both models feature a 10/100 Mbps Ethernet port to connect with a router or a network-attached storage (NAS) device. Also, while Play:1 requires an 802.11 b/g/n (2.4 GHz) 3x3 MIMO WiFi network connection, Five can operate on both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies. As mentioned above, Five is compatible with the Sonos S2 controller app only; Play:1 can utilize both the obsolete S1 app and the S2 app. Both models require an app for user operation. Either app can be downloaded from the Play Store (Android) or the App Store (iOS).
Alas, both models lack an HDMI interface. Too, Sonos Play:1 has no 3.5 mm or RCA input connectors, and cannot be paired with devices via Bluetooth (BT). Thankfully, Five features a 3.5 mm audio port and can use BT for initial setup. Both can be placed on walls with adjustable swivels and tilts (mounts not included with the speaker).
Check out the User Guide for Sonos Five.
Both Sonos Five and Playbase are available in either white or black matte exposure, and Five comes with a graphite grille. As a rule, Sonos products have a minimalist aesthetic since controls are usually performed through the Sonos app. For example, the app adjusts EQ settings such as loudness, bass and treble.
As the "tale of the tape" above indicates, Sonos Play:1 is a modernistic block-shaped speaker while Five has a greater girth. Both are available in white or black, and Five features a graphite grille. Both speakers feature touch controls for play/pause and volume control. However, users will need the Sonos controller app to adjust speaker controls, such as EQ settings for treble and bass.
Those with iOS devices can use Sonos Trueplay to tune their speakers.
In a two-speaker configuration, we prefer the flexibility of Play:1 with speakers spaced at least 10 feet (3 meters) apart. On the other hand, those who believe that "if it's too loud, you're too old" will want the audio onslaught of Five. Just one of these speakers will saturate your den or bedroom with sound.
If price is a consideration (of course it is), or if you're unfamiliar with Sonos products, Play:1 is a great introduction to Sonos speakers. While discontinued, Play:1 is still available from Amazon. Those willing to pay a premium for the latest and greatest from Sonos will want Five. Either way, you're assured of outstanding sound from the world's premier manufacturer of wireless speakers.
Watch a video review here: