When Sonos — maker of some of the finest wireless speaker systems on the market — offered to send me the all-new PLAY:5 to test before it was released to the public, I jumped at the chance. This is the mac daddy of their impressive lineup and I wanted to hear it in action in my own home.
After spending a week with it I can safely say the PLAY:5 rocks. Hard! This little bundle of joy is a must-have for music lovers and gadget geeks alike (it’s currently at the top of my Christmas wish list).
Here’s four reasons why the new PLAY:5 will blow you away.
Straight out of the box you will be impressed with the PLAY:5. Like an Apple product, it’s beautifully designed and extremely sleek. There are no buttons to clutter it up and from the front it looks just like a really slick speaker (not an entire stereo system).
Coming in either a white-black or grey-black finish, the tiny footprint (it’s about the size of a toaster) gives you the option of placing it anywhere in your home with an electrical outlet nearby. It can sit horizontal or vertical and because of its smaller design it’s quite easy to move around from room to room.
Ease of use
Setting up the PLAY:5 requires either the desktop or mobile controller app (available for Android and iOS) and a solid WiFi connection (there is an Ethernet port on the back but the point of the PLAY:5 is to be as wireless as possible). I initially used my Samsung Galaxy S4 and had the system up and running within minutes. Going through the process again with the iOS and desktop apps was just as easy.
Once the initial setup was done, playing music through the PLAY:5 was flawless. All services are controlled through the controller app so that there is no need to open individual apps to stream from different sources. And because the PLAY:5 handles the stream itself (not the device you are using to control it) there is no need for any cables to be plugged in or even for your phone, tablet or PC to be turned on once you start streaming something.
I used Spotify, Rdio, Songza and TuneIn Radio (there are many options available, although Apple Music is missing) during my test and was able to control and switch between each service from any device in my home that had the controller app installed. A good example of how this all works is when I got home one day and my son had They Might Be Giants streaming but was outside playing with his friends. I just pulled up the Sonos app on my phone and switched over to something I wanted to listen to instead.
You can also adjust the volume and skip songs via the PLAY:5 itself by touching or swiping the top of the unit (as there are no buttons this took me a little while to discover).
There are six speakers inside the PLAY:5 unit and everything I streamed on it sounded great. I went through a range of genres and artists (we’re talking Arcade Fire and Public Enemy to Adele and Bob Dylan) and they all came across as if I was listening to them on a huge stereo setup.
You can adjust settings like bass and treble via the controller app, and if you’re using an iOS device you can run Trueplay — a feature that helps tune the PLAY:5 to give you the best sound quality for the room you’re listening to it in.
The true test was when we had people over for a get together though and everyone was impressed the sound was coming from this small device and not my big Denon stereo setup I usually use.
One of the nicest things about the entire Sonos lineup of wireless speakers is being able to connect multiple units together to create an even larger system. You can have two PLAY:5 units connected (or a PLAY:5 and PLAY:1, etc.) or have the PLAY:5 connected to a PLAYBAR to use as a rear speaker in your home theatre setup.
There is also a line-in which allows you to connect to any device with a line-out (or headphone jack). This can be used to connect a turntable (if your turntable does not have a built-in preamp you will need a device like this) or a CD player to the PLAY:5.
The only real downside I found with the PLAY:5 is that it doesn’t have an optical input. While this is not a deal breaker it would be nice to have.
Do you use Sonos wireless speakers? Are you interested in the Sonos PLAY:5? Share your thoughts in the comments below.