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.
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.
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.