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.
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:
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: