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Sonos ZonePlayer S5 - Sonos ZonePlayer S5

By Riyad Emeran



  • Recommended by TR
Sonos ZonePlayer S5


Our Score:


Don't get me wrong, I don't think the ZP-S5 looks bad - it's finished in the same white and grey livery as every other bit of Sonos kit - but it's not going to be a highlight to your minimalist d├ęcor in the way that the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin is. To put this in perspective, my wife loves the way the Zeppelin looks, but thinks that the ZonePlayer S5 is ugly - I'm not sure I agree, but the fact remains that you can probably sneak a Zeppelin into your living room without argument, while a ZP-S5 might take some negotiation.

Face on, the ZP-S5 is dominated by a rectangular speaker grille, with a recessed white stand below it. Viewed from above, it takes on a trapezoid shape, showing that there's a reasonable amount of depth to the cabinet for housing the drivers.

Talking of drivers, you'll find no fewer than five inside the ZonePlayer S5 - you get two tweeters for high frequencies, two mid-range drivers and a single subwoofer to ensure that bass response is well taken care of. Each driver is powered by its own digital amplifier, while crossover duties are also kept in the digital domain thanks to Sonos' custom DSP technology. Presumably Sonos has included its active crossover DSP circuitry in the S5's DAC, making it the final stage of digital processing before the signal becomes analogue audio.

The results are very impressive, more so than I had expected in fact. Compared to almost any all-in-one speaker system or iPod dock, the ZonePlayer S5 is a cut above. Whether you're comparing to any number of iPod docks, or multi-room systems like Philips' Stremium, Sony's GigaJuke or Logitech's speaker equipped SqueezeBox products, the ZP-S5 sounds, simply better. However, Sonos still can't match the truly incredible sound quality produced by the Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelin, but then B&W is primarily a speaker manufacturer, so that's hardly surprising.

There's no doubt that the ZonePlayer S5 will convincingly fill a room - I found that I could happily listen to the music in the next room without pushing the volume past halfway. There's a surprising amount of bass, but it doesn't make the sound muddy as a result, and thankfully doesn't distort when the volume is pushed high. The bass is never overpowering either, no doubt thanks to the quartet of high and mid-range drivers, leaving you with a good degree of clarity.


November 17, 2009, 12:32 pm

I am an existing Sonos user - fantastic kit.

I was always looking for something like this - this is in effect, a zone player with built in amplifier and speakers. Ideal for the smaller room where you don't want the hassle of having an extra amp and speakers.

This has just opened up a whole host of possibilities for me. I don't think buying one is going to be enough.

I want one in the kitchen, bedroom, conservatory ....


November 17, 2009, 5:44 pm

Sonos might be as good as it gets, but fortunately for the rest of us you can get pretty close for far less money. A Squeezebox for example, or an AirPort with audio out, even an FM radio relay works fine unless you feel you need audiophile sound quality in your kitchen. Or, you know, just have a pair of active speakers standing around and connect your PMP to that. Even better, get a nice kitchen radio with audio in for 40 bucks; you don't even need a remote control to change a song or the volume, how awesome is that?


November 17, 2009, 11:14 pm

Sorry morsch,

I was not going to get into a debate about sonons vs squeezebox, etc. There are lots of forums out there discussing this topic.

I was trying to comment on the S5 which I think is a brilliant idea, especially for an existing sonos user.

My stance is everyone has different tastes, budgets, requirements.

The sonos does it for me. That does not mean it will for everyone.


November 18, 2009, 12:57 am

It would be pretty handy if there were to be a review if the airport express as it is the cheapest option for multiroom audio streaming it has its downfalls (tied to itunes) but has its positives too (print server and a proper wireless router)


November 18, 2009, 3:09 am

Oh, that wasn't intended as a dig at you. Just something that went through my head as I read through the review... I wasn't even aware that there are long forum discussions about Sonos vs. Squeezebox.


November 18, 2009, 3:13 am

I don't know how many other apps can do it, but apparently you can stream to an Airport Express using Pulseaudio, so it's certainly not 100% tied to iTunes. Add a media player with good remote control features -- such as Rhythmbox+Remuco on Linux -- to the mix and you've got a fairly rich feature set with a very low investment; basically just the Airport Express and some speakers.


November 18, 2009, 8:15 pm

I use an Airport Express and have just been advising a friend to try one before he launches straight into the world of Sonos. With the iPhone Remote application and iTunes the functionality is practically the same as with the Sonos plus you get to maintain all those playlists you've created.

If you have an Airport Express and wish to stream other audio to it rather than use iTunes then some very good software to use is called Airfoil,



May 13, 2011, 1:56 am

basically, this would be really great if it had a built-in battery....wireless an' all that.....? not quite living to the promise of wireless. sounds good tho - but not really wireless yet, is it.

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