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Sonos Play:5 (2015) review

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Awards

  • Recommended by TR

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Summary

Our Score:

9

Pros

  • Fantastic, warm sound
  • Looks the business
  • TruePlay generally helps in certain environments

Cons

  • TruePlay is tricky to set-up
  • Single app approach can be a pain

Key Features

  • TruePlay
  • Support for loads of streaming services
  • Capacitive buttons
  • Improved wireless
  • Manufacturer: Sonos
  • Review Price: £429.00

What is the Sonos Play:5 (2015)?

The Sonos Play:5 (2015) is the first total rethink of the brand’s original multi-room streaming speaker. It’s the most expensive, and largest, product in the Sonos line-up, but it’s also the best. It sits above the mid-range Play:3, and lower end Play:1.

Sonos says it has completely rebuilt the Play:5 this time around. It looks sleeker, sounds better and has a few future proofing tricks up its sleeve. If you’ve got £429 to burn, the Sonos Play:5 (2015) is probably the best multi-room speaker you can buy.

Sonos Play:5 – Design

The first Play:5's design has aged fantastically well. But the 2015 version makes it look outright archaic. Gone are the rough edges and the boxy, angular look. They've been replaced by smooth curves and matte plastic finish that akes some inspiration from the Play:3.

The physical buttons that used to sit on top of the first Play:5 speaker, have also been replaced with a gesture pad and capacitive buttons for altering the volume and performing a few other functions. Glide two fingers across and the song skips forward, swipe the other way and it’ll skip backward.

Related: Best Bluetooth speakers

Sonos Play: 5 (2015) 1

Ditching the buttons helps the system look a lot cleaner – there’s nothing jutting out anymore. The change will also let Sonos add further functionality to the speaker down the line through software updates. That’s important, as judging by the model this is replacing, it’s going to be on sale for a long time.

Around the back you’ve got a smattering of connections, including a power plug, line-in and ethernet port.

The design is simple, but it looks fantastic. Thanks to it, while the Play: 5’s on the large side, it still easily blends into a room.

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Sonos Play:5 – Set-up process, supported services and the app

If you’re currently a Sonos user, adding the new Play:5 to your set-up is a doddle. Just plug it in, open the app and it’ll connect. If it’s your first time, it’s not that much more difficult.

Sonos systems used to require a Bridge to connect to, but thanks to a software update that requirement is no more. The Play:5 (2015) has improved WiFi with five antennas, and it manages to keep a constant connection without issue.

My flat is a tad on the small side (London really is expensive) so I’m not expecting any struggles, but the improved antenna infrastructure should make it work flawlessly in anything but the largest country manors.

The Sonos app is the hub of everything. Unlike other wireless speakers, Sonos doesn’t use AirPlay, Spotify Connect, Google Cast or Bluetooth, instead requiring you use the proprietary Sonos system. It’s great, but it is quite limiting. If your music streaming service of choice isn’t available, then you’re out of luck.

Thankfully, all the big ones are here. Spotify, Deezer Elite, Tidal, SoundCloud and so on. There’s radio and podcasts from TuneIn, too. One notable omission is Apple Music, though that should be coming by the end of the year.

I love how the system lets you search across platforms without jumping from app to app, as it makes finding the song you want so much easier.

The single app approach isn’t perfect though. It’s a little restrictive, especially in a party situation when lots of people have to download the app and connect to just to pop a song on.

Nicks99

September 29, 2015, 7:03 am

Would be interesting to find out how it performs at low volume levels. The existing Play models have always been excellent with radio talk shows but underwhelming with music until turned up. The headphone out was also a great feature but in practise unusable due to interference which presumably came from the amp.

fleabane

October 29, 2015, 9:57 am

Is the ominous sound that follows you around the room whilst setting up trueplay perchance the howling of a wolf stalking the sub-editor?

Bob Monkhouse

October 29, 2015, 10:07 am

Just don't expect reliable connection with Spotify and no-one knows why it seems.

Greg

October 29, 2015, 10:29 am

That's odd because I've got a collection of Play 1 units around the house, and the app runs from multiple iOS devices - Spotify works fine with them.

Bob Monkhouse

October 29, 2015, 12:14 pm

Good I'm glad for you, my 10 Play 1 and 5 units used to work flawlessly with Spotify until recently then after a Sonos update stopped. The Sonos customer support forums are full of similar issues with Spotify. Other than that I have been very happy with Sonos.

TheMagnificentPedro

November 2, 2015, 10:13 pm

Sonos products seem fantastic initially. I was so taken back that I quickly got a few 1s and a Play 5
They sound great.
Everything's wonderful until you want to use features from various individual apps, because Sonos needs you to go through their antiquated and poorly functioning app.
Then you think , right, let's listen to some of my many podcasts. Sorry, Sonos doesn't think you should. No bluetooth or other functionality means you can use other podcast apps, but not the ones you want.
Want to use a new system like Apple Music? Not likely, until Sonos pulls their thumbs out.
Maybe you'd like to walk around feeling great about your expensive tech, so you decide to control things via your Apple watch. Sorry, no Apple watch app. You can buy a third party app, but Sonos is too busy making new hardware to bother fixing their awful software or adding features people are begging for. True play sounds nice, allowing users of a speaker system to listen to their podcasts or quickly integrating Apple Music would be miles miles miles better and more useful for their end users, if they cared even a little.
That's not even getting into the restrictions on inputs etc on their Playbar etc, yet those products get great reviews as well for some reason.
They seem great. They sound great. In certain use cases, they are great. But I'd very much argue they're not value for money, and I wish more reviews would give their products lower scores to reflect their insistence on using their awful app and associated restrictions. Maybe then they'd speed things up so we'd get some actual functionality, right now they seem to think they can coast without adding what most people would see as basic functionality.

b1tTrader$

November 24, 2015, 1:11 pm

just install airsonos on your laptop and airplay becomes supported :-) Then you can play anything from iTunes or iPhone directly to sonos speakers. Problem solved.

b1tTrader$

November 24, 2015, 1:11 pm

ust install airsonos on your laptop and airplay becomes supported :-) Then you can play anything from iTunes or iPhone directly to sonos speakers. Problem solved.

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