Note: At the time of the review the Sonos Play:5 was available for £429, but post-Brexit pricing has nudged that up to around £499 in most stores.
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 £499 to burn, the Sonos Play:5 (2015) is probably the best multi-room speaker you can buy.
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 They've been replaced by smooth curves and matte plastic finish that akes some inspiration from the Play:3.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.
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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.
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.