In this review we look at four Sonos products, which you can use as a Sonos Play Set: PLAY:1, PLAY:5, SUB and Playbar. You can use the speakers in different setups, for example only the living room or several rooms in the house.
We have tested four different Sonos products: the Sonos PLAY:1, PLAY:5, SUB and Playbar. Of the PLAY:1 we got two models so that we could use them in combination with the SUB and the Playbar. That is why we have been able to make a home cinema system. The Sonos PLAY:5 has been in the bedroom, which is useful for example when you listen to music and do not want to miss a moment of your favorite songs. All speakers can be controlled with the Sonos app for Android and iOS.
These are the lowest prices at the time of writing;
- The Sonos PLAY:1 has a price of 189 euros.
- The Sonos PLAY:5 has a price of 549 euros.
- The Sonos Playbar has a price of 674 euros.
- The Sonos SUB has a price of 749 euros.
Sonos Play set installation
For all speakers applies that they can be easily connected. We can recommend that you connect and set up your speaker speaker so that you can see exactly which speaker the app has found. You can also connect and turn everything on at once, but then you will have to pay attention to what the app asks for during the installation. When you set up speaker for speaker, you notice that it will go almost effortlessly. We started with the PLAY:1 and then connected the Playbar and the SUB.
The Sonos app will recognize all speakers in the Wi-Fi network and immediately set it up correctly. Within that app you can indicate which speakers you want to group exactly. For example, you can choose to pair the two PLAY:1 models, so you can create a wireless stereo system. But you can also group those speakers with the Playbar and the SUB, in two different ways. You can set them as the speakers behind you, allowing you to create a surround sound in your home. But without the extra cables at home.
If you want to set the speakers differently, you can do that too. This is useful, for example, if you want to have a speaker in the bathroom or in the garden – play your music, so you hear your favorite songs everywhere in the house, where you have such a speaker. And grouping is very simple within the app (just like disconnecting the speaker groups): you type the app in the room of your choice and indicate whether you want to group a set or not. If you have grouped such a set, but you want to unlink them more, you press the same button within the app.
And the same applies to the separate speaker that we received, the PLAY:5. He stood in the bedroom for a while, so that we could listen to the music everywhere in the house. The speaker can be found in the same screen as the other speakers and can be grouped or disconnected there. If you have done the latter, you can use bluetooth, for example, to choose a different music source and play music that is not played in the living room. In terms of installation and basic use, it can not be much simpler.
Sonos Play set – design and connections
Especially the Sonos Playbar is very heavy – much heavier than any other soundbars that we have tested to date. That has no effect on the sound quality, but more on that later. The Playbar easily fits under a 37 “television (or larger) and fortunately is not very high. Check how high the space between your furniture and the screen is when you want to put the soundbar in front of your TV. The whole is finished with stylish black and easy gray, so the wide box will fit under many television. On the back are the connections: one for the optical cable and two openings for connecting internet cables. Furthermore, there are no connections: there are no HDMI connections for example, which for many people means that they may skip the Playbar – as a separate product. There is also an infrared sensor available, which can be used in combination with the remote control of your own television. The Sonos speakers are not supplied with their own remote control.
The SUB, the subwoofer that is connected to the Playbar, is the most elegant product of this set. It is reasonably wide and large and has a large hole in the middle. It takes some getting used to design, but when you hear the bass reproduction, then that design does not matter anymore. The subwoofer also only has a connection for an internet cable, but otherwise nothing at all. The PLAY:1 speakers are simple yet stylish and have the same black / gray color combination. The volume buttons are at the top. At the back there is still an opening for an internet cable and an opening for a screw, so you can fix it to the wall.
Furthermore, there is no mute button, but you can pause and play the music again. The same goes for the soundbar: it also has volume buttons and a button for pausing and playing. Finally there is the PLAY:5 and also the design of this speaker is of a high level. It is perhaps the most beautiful of the normal speakers from this move. It is quite big (the PLAY:1 fits in twice) and also has the aforementioned internet cable connection. The PLAY:5 only has a pause and play button.
Sonos Play set – use
The lack of extra connections and other possibilities, in this case means that the speakers are very easy to use. As mentioned earlier in this review, the speakers are quickly and easily connected and you can effortlessly create and disassemble groups, all by using the app on your smartphone or tablet. Within the app, the different speakers can also tweak and you can adjust how deep the bass and how high the higher tones should be. No default settings (presets) are available.
This means that you can not opt for the ‘film’ or ‘music’ mode, but always have to set it yourself, manually, if something is not to your liking. And that also needs to be reset when you want to listen to music after watching a movie. You can also choose to leave the values of the sound in the middle, because that sounds good too – whatever you are doing. What is nice is that you can use your own remote control in combination with the Playbar. That will also go through the application with you and set it up.
Although the Sonos app still lag behind the competition in terms of design (it feels very minimal), the software works well. You therefore only need the app on your smartphone or tablet to control the whole system. You do not need to install a PC program for this. Within the app you have access to a large number of music streaming services, which is very nice. The lesser known services are also supported; in any case you can find Apple Music, Google Play Music, Spotify, Deezer and Groove Music in it.
If you want to add a speaker to the network, after you have already set everything up, then that is fortunately no problem. Via the settings within the app you can indicate that you want to add another speaker, after which the same process is initiated. Then you can indicate what exactly you want to do with the new speaker by means of the process described earlier and everything works properly within five minutes after unpacking. Sonos really adds to the convenience with the addition of new speakers.
iOS owners still have access to Sonos TruePlay. That is a technique that allows the speakers to be properly tuned based on the location in which they are in the room. Also, the size of that room and the furniture in it is taken into account. TruePlay is currently only available in the iOS application. However, we tested the set with a Nexus 5X, so we could not try the technique. In any case, it should bring the sound to the ‘next level’.
Sonos Play set – audio quality
But the emphasis is on convenience, does not mean that you have to compromise on audio quality. No, there is no support for Ultra HD signals or high-res audio (no 24-bit support), but the sound reproduction is really of high quality. When you use the Playbar in combination with the SUB, there is already a dynamic and especially deep sound from the speakers. Room-wide stereo sound is what comes out – a sound that is not inferior to other soundbars of the same price (but for about 700 euros you can expect that too).
If you connect the PLAY:1 speakers via the app, the sound experience will only improve. Watching movies in surround sound also sounds (surprisingly) good. The soundbar itself is more than capable of distinguishing between the different tones and can also distinguish voice from a nice beat or hard metal album. The bass sound is penetratingly good – especially when you listen to a lot of dance or electronic music. It is the quality that you may – no, must – expect from such a bar.
If you only use one PLAY:1 speaker, there will still be something left to be desired. But that is not strange, because it is a small, compact speaker. You can compare the performance of this speaker with a reasonable bluetooth speaker from, for example, JBL. There is a bass sound present and also the highs are coming through, but do not expect too much. There are few nuances audible. But when you are in the garden and use this speaker, then this is more than just fine to listen to.
However, if you pair a second PLAY:1 and actually make stereo sound, it sounds much better and you probably do not even need the Playbar for an optimal sound experience. Both speakers work well together and deliver beautiful customers, so the negative characteristics of only a single PLAY:1 can be masked a bit. That said: if you only use the Playbar and the SUB, then you do not need the PLAY:1 speakers to get the most out of the sound experience in the field of music.
As a standalone product, the PLAY:5 also delivers an impressive sound. The sound is deep and dynamic and is not misplaced in a student or work room where music is often listened to. You could even use two PLAY:5 speakers in combination with the Playbar and the SUB, which should provide the best sound experience – unfortunately we only tested one PLAY:5 speaker, but we would like to believe that this is really the case. The PLAY:5 can display a lot more nuanced tones – both high and low – very beautifully.
Sonos Play set – conclusion
Sonos focuses on convenience and that is noticeable. That is what we mean both positively and negatively. The positive thing about this audio system is that you do not have to spend a lot of money on an expensive (complete) system, but can extend the Sonos network slowly with the speakers you have in mind – whether that’s PLAY:1- or PLAY:5 models. You can also add other Sonos speakers to the network, so that you can listen to the same music in other rooms. In the living room you can even set up a surround sound system with Sonos.
The disadvantage of this set is that there is little to find in new connections and standards. For example, there are no HDMI connections on the Playbar, so you can not let an Ultra HD signal pass through the soundbar, and there is no support for high-res music. You also have few options with regard to the sound reproduction (you can not choose different modes, such as ‘movie’ or ‘music’) and so you will have to set everything manually. The Sonos app is still somewhat frugal in terms of design, but offers users a huge number of options with regard to streaming services.
The biggest advantage is simply the convenience. The speakers are connected and can be grouped and disassembled with a tap on the screen of your smartphone. Anyone with the Sonos app on his smartphone can also control your set, allowing you to produce a nice row of your favorite music together. In addition, the app helps with all preparations and installations, so you never have to doubt what exactly you should do. Add to that the sound reproduction is of a high level and you keep a beautiful set.