The first thing you notice about the new Play5 is the shape, it’s a vastly improved design over the previous top end Sonos speaker. The new design can be mounted both vertically and horizontally.
And at $749 this product delivers excellent value for money.
As for pricing Sonos earlier today dropped their overall pricing of all Sonos products by 10% which pretty much puts them on parity with US pricing for Sonos gear.
With the new Sonos Play5 it not what you see that delivers the rich wireless audio experience that Sonos has become famous for.
It’s their software that differentiates this brand from a lot of other audio brands who are trying to break into the booming wireless audio market.
Sonos Chief Product Officer Marc Whitten recently said that software is driving the next wave of audio innovation and it’s making music sound better than ever imaginable.
He said in a recent blog “When file sharing exploded onto the Internet in the 90s, more than a century of recorded music was turned on its head. Our relationship with music has changed dramatically in the twenty plus years of innovation since.
“In the blink of an eye, the mixtape was replaced by the super-curated playlist, and social media superstars ushered in a new golden age of the live performance. The only constant has been change, and only one thing is sure – we are just getting started”.
He added “Innovators like Spotify, Pandora, SoundCloud and now Apple have embraced the streaming revolution, offering everyone from the 12-year-old down the street to the deepest vinyl connoisseur access to the entire history of recorded music, powered by software. Digital music is, simply music”.
Also released by Sonos is new speaker-tuning software called Trueplay, this software which can be accessed via the Sonos app allows a Play5 owner to tune their Sonos speaker to a room or ambient environment.
Both Trueplay and the new Sonos Play5 will go on sale at Australian stores shortly.
With Trueplay which I saw demonstrated at a Sydney Hotel recently one is able to place a speaker in any position and then tune the music stream to delivers studio-quality listening experiences in each room of the home.
The only problem at this stage is that the new Trueplay software is only available to Apple device owners which says a lot as to their commitment to the Android platform, which Sonos engineers believe delivers an inferior microphone capability.
This is despite products like the new Samsung Edge, Note 5 and the new HTC One M9 and LG G4 delivering excellent microphone recordings.
” Using the Sonos app, the microphone on an iPhone or iPad, and a special tone emitted by the Sonos speaker, the system analyses how sound reflects off walls, furnishings, glass and other surfaces in any given room. Sonos then smartly tunes that speaker so the music sounds its very best” said Niv Novak from Sonos Australia.
“Our remit at Sonos has evolved from constantly working to improve the general sound of all of our speakers to customizing them: first by room, and in the future, by person, activity and content,” said record producer, composer, and Sonos sound experience leader Giles Martin.
The new Sonos Play 5 speaker has been redesigned with six synchronized, custom-designed drivers, the speaker’s three mid-woofers create smooth mids and deep, powerful lows, and three tweeters deliver crystal clear highs at any volume.
The sound I heard from the new speaker was significantly superior to their current Play 5 speaker which was one of the first released by Sonos 10 years ago in Australia.
When paired they delivered a true value for money experience that is up there with some serious high priced audio gear.
The new array produces a soundstage that is much wider than expected in a single speaker, creating room-filling sound with precise separation of vocals and instruments.
In addition to horizontal orientation as a standalone speaker, two speakers paired together vertically deliver stereo sound with a focused and intense sweet spot.
Paired horizontally, they create a larger stereo image for an immersive, room-filling listening experience.
A closer look at the facing grill mesh reveals 60,000 individually drilled holes in the grill.
Sonos has also delivered a total redesign of the touch controls on the top of the speaker.
Smart sensors make these touch controls responsive to all orientations, so the volume-up is always facing up. All you have to do is stroke the controls manually or resort to your app to control the new speaker.
Breaking Sound Barriers
Whitten said “For a truly exceptional result, hardware and software must work in harmony. Our new Play5 brings together all of our learning from many years of hardware and software design and iteration. Smart to its core, its dipole array delivers an incredibly wide soundstage. An accelerometer recognizes which of its three orientations it’s in and adjusts the tuning to suit your listening style”
He added “Sonos’ ultimate goal for sound is to reproduce in your living room what the artists created in the studio, in the purest way possible. That’s why we work with artists like Rick Rubin, Giles Martin, Q-Tip, and many others.
“We believe software is the ultimate craftsman’s tool for our speaker’s sound as well. From the early days of recording, speaker makers have been trying to reproduce the exact sound of the original musical performance in your home. The last 100 years of innovation in the loud speaker were driven by design, materials and manufacturing techniques-primarily hardware innovations and improvements”
“At Sonos we realized with our first speakers that by controlling the custom-designed drivers, we could ensure that no matter how high you turn up the volume, the music will never distort. We realized that by using software, we could improve how our speakers sounded in just minutes, not months. We learned how to control multiple drivers into an array that delivers a previously unfeasibly wide soundstage for home theatre, and how to create deep bass with just a tiny unit. But that really was just the beginning”
He added “We are convinced that software can drive many more years of innovation in sound, making speakers sound better in any environment – smarter, more aware, and reactive to their environment. Which is why we’re so excited to be launching the first chapter of this innovation with Trueplay. It’s a major step in making sound itself smart.