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Sonos Play:3 and Play:5 wireless speakers review for Mac and iOS

Sonos

A little while ago I reviewed the Sonos Play:1 speaker. I was thrilled with how the speaker packed a real punch in sound, performance and design. Over the last few weeks I've had the addition of the the Sonos Play:3 (US$299) and Play:5 (US$399) to add to the Play:1, creating a truly wireless sound system for three rooms in my flat.

Design

The Play:3 and Play:5 take ques from the Play:1's design and appearance, but get respectively larger in size and sound performance. Like the Play:1, both the Play:3 and Play:5 come in black or white. The speakers have a minimalist appearance that allows either to settle into any room of the house, without looking out of place or intrusive.

The Play:3 has 3 speakers powered by 3 Class-D digital amplifiers. There's a single tweeter, two mid-range drivers and a novel bass radiator that uses energized air volume from within the Play:3 to generate low, bass frequencies. It really works, too. The Play:3 can also be placed horizontally or vertically, with rubber feet to suit either orientation. Better still, the Play:3 automatically adjusts its own EQ depending on its orientation, to make sure you're getting the best sound out of it.

The Play:5, on the other hand, ups the speaker count. There are 2 tweeters, 2 mid-range drivers and a dedicated sub-woofer handles the bass, each powered by a dedicated Class-D amplifier. The Play:5 also offers an analogue, 3.5mm input, something that the Play:1 and Play:3 are noticeably lacking.

Like the Play:1, the Play:3 and Play:5 can be paired with an additional, respective model to create a truly stereo sound-stage.

Performance

There's no doubt that, as much as I love the Play:1, placing the Play:3 alongside it revealed its weaker points. Compared with the Play:1, the Play:3's extra speakers and amplifiers add extra warmth, breadth and depth to whatever you put through it. Of course, the Play:3 is double the size of the Play:1. Also, the Play:3 costs $100 more than the Play:1, so it makes sense that the Play:3 sounds $100 better. I think it appropriately does.

I had a similar experience placing the Play:5 alongside the Play:3. Compared with the Play:3, the Play:5 has more subtlety and breadth in the higher-end as well as a natural warmth from that sub-woofer. With Sonos' Loudness feature turned off (simply put, a feature that lifts the lower end to compensate for low volume), it was even clearer that the Play:5 has more to deliver, thanks to that additional tweeter and sub-woofer. The Play:5 also has a much wider stereo sound-stage thanks to it's larger form factor. Once more, it stands to reason that for $100 more than the Play:3, the Play:5 comes out on top.

Teaming up all three speakers was a joy. Having perfectly synced music in three different rooms in the house was a pleasure. Likewise, to play different tracks in different rooms at the same time was also a real boon. The Sonos Bridge handled it all flawlessly, with no dropouts or stutters.

I discussed the Sonos iOS and Mac apps in my Play:1 review. After a few more weeks of using it, I still feel there are some frustrating niggles. A newly discovered frustration was that certain features are missing from the Sonos app that are standard in native music players. For example, with Spotify in the Sonos app, I missed features like recommendations, playlist and profile search results and Spotify Radio. To me, that illustrates how the Sonos app will always be slightly lacking in features that native music players will continually be adding. It's going to be impossible for Sonos to keep up with the addition of new features in every music player. However, the Sonos app does cover the basics and, for most, the essentials. Furthermore, the more I used the Sonos app, the more apt I became at getting what I wanted out of it.

Conclusion

Sonos offers rock solid wireless delivery of music in your home. For wireless music delivery, you need not look further than Sonos. Adding to the Sonos system is exceptionally easy, and for getting your music around your house, much better than independent systems in each room.

The only question is which Play speakers do you go for? I absolutely loved the Play:1 when I tested it, but it's clear that things improve with the Play:3 and and even more so with the Play:5. Naturally, at a price. Walking away from the Play speakers, I really felt each speaker delivered fantastic value for money in their respective class. Basically, you won't be disappointed, no matter which Play speaker you go for. However, if you can choose, I'd suggest that for everyday use, where you're looking for a soundtrack to what you're doing, the Play:1 and Play:3 will absolutely hit the spot. But for those moments, or rooms, where you want the best Sonos has to offer and the most from your music, the Play:5 is the speaker to go for.

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