Sonos is a well-regarded brand known for creating some of the best multi-room home speaker setups, and in late 2015, the company debuted its latest product, a second-generation Play:5. The original Play:5 (once called the S5) came out in 2009, so the new Play:5 marks a long overdue update that brings a new design and better sound.

As someone new to the Sonos ecosystem, the Play:5 (paired with a set of Play:1 speakers) is the first Sonos speaker I've tested in my home. After a month breaking it in, I finally understand why Sonos is such a popular brand and is regarded as the best system for iPhone-compatible whole house audio.

sonoscolors
Priced at $499, the new Play:5 isn't cheap, but that price point includes a hassle-free user experience and impressive audio. As covered in the review below, there are some downsides to buying into the Sonos line, but its ease of use, sound, and multi-speaker pairing capabilities make it largely a win for those ready to shell out the cash for a quality sound system.

Design

The second-generation Sonos Play:5 has a more modern look than the original Play:5, bringing it in line with the Sonos Play:1 and the Sonos Play:3. It's less boxy, wider, and has been designed in a way that lets it be positioned either horizontally or vertically. There's no integrated stand.

sonoscables
It's available with either a black or white outer shell, both of which come with a black mesh front panel that hides the interior components. Design wise, the Play:5 is unobtrusive enough to blend well into any room or decor style, but it might be more difficult decorating around the white version, which stands out more.

sonosplay5
Visually, the Play:5 is most similar to the Play:3, only quite a bit larger. I have a decent-sized two bedroom apartment with a large living room and I felt like the Sonos Play:5 was too much speaker for the room, just based on its size alone. It measures in at just over 14 inches wide, eight inches tall and six inches wide and it weighs just about 14 pounds.

This is a hefty speaker that you're going to want to station in one spot and not move around a lot. It's not easy to carry and there's no handle or anything for transporting it. There's also no battery, so it always needs a power source.

sonosplay5iphonecomparison
At the top of the Play:5, there are capacitive LED-lit buttons that respond to different gestures to perform functions like upping the volume, pausing a song, and switching to the next song, so there's no need to have access to a device for making quick music alterations.

sonosplay5back
The back of the Play:5 houses a port for the cable that powers it, a 3.5mm jack, an optional Ethernet port that can be used if you have a house without strong Wi-Fi, and a button for syncing the speaker to the Sonos app.

Sonos Setup and App

Sonos' line of speakers connect to your devices through your home Wi-Fi network rather than via Bluetooth, and for that reason, you have to use the Sonos apps to listen to music rather than playing music directly from your device. There are apps for Mac, Windows, Android, and iOS.

Being restricted to the Sonos apps for music playback is something of a negative because you're locked into the Sonos ecosystem and can't use a music app of your choosing. It also makes it more difficult for guests to connect to your home music system because connecting over Bluetooth is not an option (but there is an audio line-in).

sonosapplemusic

Sonos for iOS

On the plus side, the Sonos apps and the Wi-Fi connection are convenient. Setup was beyond simple - about five minutes passed from the time I unboxed the Play:5 to the time I had it up and running -- and I never had to reconnect or deal with connection issues.

The Play:5 is always ready to play music as long as it's powered on and there's decent Wi-Fi available, plus it can do things like play different songs from the same music service in different rooms (or the same song in multiple rooms) if you have more than one speaker. Ease of use was one of the things I loved most about the Play:5 -- it just worked and did what I wanted it to do.

sonosmac

Sonos for Mac

Since this is a Wi-Fi system, it's also expandable. You can start with one speaker and then add on additional speakers in other rooms for a whole home audio system that's all connected.

I tried the Sonos apps for Mac and iOS, but I primarily used my iPhone for music playback. All of the Sonos apps support playback from more than 40 streaming music services like Spotify and Apple Music or from music stored directly on a device. A wide range of file formats can be played.


The Sonos apps aren't the most straightforward and there were some annoyances I ran into, like being unable to shuffle directly from my Apple Music playlists without adding them to a Sonos playlist and not being able to pause music for an incoming phone call, but for the most part, using the Sonos app to manage my music (from Apple Music) was fine.

If I could choose, I'd probably opt to use Apple Music, but the Sonos app wasn't a deal breaker. It might even be a preferable control method if you subscribe to multiple music services.

Sound

Sound wise, the Sonos Play:5 is fantastic. I live in an apartment so I don't have a lot of experience with professional audio equipment or speakers of this size (I mostly use headphones) and listening to music on the Play:5 was a revelation - with some songs, there was a level of detail and crispness I've never heard before. Vocals are always at the forefront and the bass is deep and rich.

sonossideview
The Play:5 is a speaker that costs $499, so I expect nothing less than amazing sound, and it lived up to my expectations. Behind the grille, there are six drivers (three tweeters and three mid-woofers) with dedicated amplifiers, and let me tell you, this speaker puts out some serious sound. It's a speaker you can feel. It's more than loud enough to fill a large room, and even at top volume levels playing songs with a lot of bass, there was never any distortion.

I never had issues with the connection, which I do sometimes run into with Bluetooth speakers, and there were never any points where the sound dropped out or was interrupted. The Play:5 and the Sonos app always offered smooth playback.

The Play:5 comes with a built-in Trueplay dynamic tuning system that's designed to calibrate the speakers based on their position in the room to account for room shape and objects within the room. I expected this to be little more than a gimmick, but the adjustments that were made with Trueplay seemed to slightly improve the sound of the Play:5, which I had positioned on a desk.

sonostrueplay
In addition to dynamic tuning, there are settings for adjusting bass, treble, and balance to your taste, which you may need to do after tuning with Trueplay to reach the ideal sound.

Bottom Line

The Sonos Play:5 is too much speaker for my apartment, but if you have a house or a larger space and want to start making purchases towards a whole-home audio system, Sonos is the way to go and the Play:5 is the best sounding speaker the company offers.

At $499, the Play:5 is a serious investment (and you can even argue that it's overpriced), but it's incredibly easy to use, sounds amazing, and supports almost every audio service in existence. On the downside, you're locked into the Sonos app and the Sonos ecosystem once you make a purchase, but the tradeoff seems worth it to those looking for the best multi-room audio experience.

sonosplay5play1
After using the Sonos Play:5 and the Sonos system for a few weeks, I'm hooked. A WiFi audio system that doesn't allow the flexibility of a Bluetooth connection isn't going to be for everyone, but I was a fan of the simplicity and the sound quality. This is one review product that I am sorry to send back.

As a side note, I didn't own the original Play:5 and so I can't compare this new version to the original version. I highly recommend anyone who is considering a purchase read through multiple reviews to get a clear picture from both those who are new to the Sonos system and those who have used it for years.

Pros:

  • Excellent sound
  • Connects over WiFi
  • Almost all music services available in Sonos app
  • Can group multiple speakers together
  • Can play different songs on different speakers via same device
  • Easy to set up and control
  • Expandable system for whole home audio
  • Can use horizontally or vertically

Cons:

  • Needs Wi-Fi
  • Locked into Sonos ecosystem
  • Have to use Sonos app
  • No Bluetooth
  • Expensive

How to Buy

The Sonos Play:5 can be purchased from the Sonos website for $499 with a 45-day return policy. It is also available from Amazon.com at the same price point.

Note: Sonos provided MacRumors with a Sonos Play:5 and a Sonos Play:1 for testing purposes, which were returned to Sonos at the conclusion of the review. No other compensation was received.

Tag: Sonos

Top Rated Comments

notjustjay Avatar
71 months ago
Some quick notes since this always seems to come up:

1. "Needs wifi" but if you hardwire at least one of your Sonos devices they will actually stand up their own proprietary mesh network that operates independently of your wifi, and even allows you to use them to bridge your LAN connection to your other devices. But this feature seems to confuse customers (and these days people like wifi much more than they like to use Ethernet cables) so they have downplayed it a lot in recent years. But if you can, you should hardwire at least one of your Sonos devices to take advantage of these features.

2. Remember Sonos are "pull" devices compared to AirPlay, Bluetooth which are "push" technologies. Can be a subtle distinction given how much overlap there is, but there's always people who say "but it doesn't even do Bluetooth!" You need to understand exactly what this thing WAS designed to be before you complain about what it doesn't do.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Trik Avatar
71 months ago
This fails on so many levels. Need to use Sonos app, no AirPlay support, can't use Apple Music

Yet MR calls it "perfect"
There is literally a picture of the Sonos App with Apple Music logo in this review and you still write this post? I get some people don't read the articles, but not even look at the pictures?! Why did you even post?!
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jacobh101 Avatar
71 months ago
This fails on so many levels. Need to use Sonos app, no AirPlay support, can't use Apple Music

Yet MR calls it "perfect"
You can use Apple Music and it works on AirPlay...
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
shevans Avatar
71 months ago
You can use Apple Music and it works on AirPlay...
Works with Apple Music but NOT Airplay or Bluetooth.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jacobh101 Avatar
71 months ago
I own a playbar, 2 play ones, & play 3...All are exceptional pieces that make listening to music extremely enjoyable. Christmas this year I would like to add a sub to our home entertainment system. They are the Apple of the speaker business!
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
peterdevries Avatar
71 months ago
I just bought a house that I will be moving into in September. I have been looking at Sonos and really have not seen a better option. I will have 3 floors (plus a basement) and it being built in 1910 there is no cabling in the house, so a multi room wifi system is what I am looking for. If anyone has anything they recommend I look at before buying, please let me know. Thanks.
I have played around with many systems, but Sonos is the only wireless systeem that is reliable and doesn't suffer from outages like with AirPlay, Bluetooth or systems such as the B&W a7. I have two Play1s and a Play5 and they are fantastic.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

intel vs m1 max chip purple

Benchmarks Confirm Intel's Latest Core i9 Chip Outperforms Apple's M1 Max With Several Caveats

Wednesday January 26, 2022 8:56 am PST by
Benchmark results have started to surface for MSI's new GE76 Raider, one of the first laptops to be powered by Intel's new 12th-generation Core i9 processor. Intel previously said that its new high-end Core i9 processor is faster than Apple's M1 Max chip in the 16-inch MacBook Pro and, as noted by Macworld, early Geekbench 5 results do appear to confirm this claim, but there are several...
General Dropbox Feature

macOS 12.3 Will Include Cloud Storage Changes Affecting Dropbox and OneDrive

Tuesday January 25, 2022 3:31 pm PST by
Dropbox today announced that users who update to macOS 12.3 once that software version becomes available may temporarily encounter issues with opening online-only files in some third-party apps on their Mac. In a support document and an email to customers, Dropbox said it is actively working on full support for online-only files on macOS 12.3 and will begin rolling out an updated version of...
Apple Watch Red Yellow Green Feature 1

Apple Launches Black Unity Braided Solo Loop With 'Unity Lights' Watch Face

Wednesday January 26, 2022 6:05 am PST by
Apple today announced the Black Unity Braided Solo Loop for the Apple Watch, as well as a new downloadable watch face, to celebrate Black History Month. Following the launch of the limited edition Black Unity Apple Watch Series 6 and Sport Band in 2021, Apple today launched the Black Unity Braided Solo Loop as part of its celebrations for Black History Month this year.Apple is launching a...
ios 15

Apple Releases iOS 15.3 and iPadOS 15.3 With Fix for Safari Bug That Leaks Browsing Activity

Wednesday January 26, 2022 10:00 am PST by
Apple today released iOS 15.3 and iPadOS 15.3, the third major updates to the iOS and iPadOS 15 operating systems that were released in September 2021. iOS and iPadOS 15.3 come almost two weeks after the release of iOS and iPadOS 15.2.1, minor bug fix updates. The iOS 15.3 and iPadOS 15.3 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in ...
iOS 15

Everything New in iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4: Face ID With a Mask, Emojis, Apple Card Widget, Universal Control and More

Thursday January 27, 2022 12:08 pm PST by
Apple today seeded the first betas of iOS 15.4, iPadOS 15.4 to developers for testing purposes, adding a slew of new features to the latest iOS operating systems. iOS 15.4 is the biggest update that we've had to iOS 15 to date, and it brings Universal Control, Face ID with a mask, new emojis, and tons more. Face ID With a Mask With iOS 15.4, there is now an option to unlock your iPhone...
mobeewave

Upcoming iOS Update Will Allow iPhones to Accept Credit Cards Directly Using NFC

Wednesday January 26, 2022 6:00 pm PST by
Apple is working on a new payments service that will allow iPhones to accept payments directly on device with no additional hardware, reports Bloomberg. Right now, iPhones can accept credit cards with add-ons like the Square Reader, but Apple's new technology will eliminate the need for a third-party product. Individuals and small businesses will be able to accept payments with the tap of a...
macOS Monterey on MBP Feature

Apple Releases macOS Monterey 12.2 With Safari Vulnerability Fix

Wednesday January 26, 2022 10:19 am PST by
Apple today released macOS Monterey 12.2, the second major update to the macOS Monterey update that launched in October. macOS Monterey 12.2 comes over a month after the release of the 12.1 update, which brought SharePlay support. The ‌‌‌macOS Monterey 12.2‌‌ update can be downloaded on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System Preferences. Apple has also...