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Sonos Five Smart Speaker Review

Rate this smart speaker:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 12 3.8%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 44 14.0%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 170 54.1%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 88 28.0%

  • Total voters
    314

amirm

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This is a review, listening tests, and detailed measurements of the SONOS Five streaming wired/wireless smart multi-room speaker. It was kindly drop shipped by a member and costs US $549.

Sonos Five smart speaker  stereo wireless streaming review.jpg

The Five is solidly built and feels rather substantial in hand. Packaging is always is apple-like. Usability however, is quite poor with cryptically labeled buttons with various icons. And blinking lights you are supposed to decode like a world war II Morse operator. Needless to say, the app is must have and this time unlike previous SONOS products I have tested, it found the Five quickly and proceeded to update its firmware. As with physical controls, I find the usability of the app quite poor, requiring me to fumble around to get things done. Touching a two bar icon for example, asked me if I want to "end a session." Say what?

Volume control jumps in big increments of 4 (or more?). Worst thing is the very long latency. Feed it analog audio which you think would play instantly and it takes it good 2+ seconds before it plays. Use airplay and the same long pipeline delay exists. The delay was so long that it confused Klippel standard measurement method, forcing me to opt for a longer scan using asynchronous mode. I wonder if they are using long FIR filters and hence the long latency.

Speaker has an impressive array of three woofers and three tweeters:
Sonos Five smart speaker  stereo wireless streaming teardown review.jpg


There is a forward firing tweeter which I used as the acoustic center when scanning using Klippel NFS. There are two side firing tweeters, likely designed to spread the sound and not having it sound like a focused mono speaker. The interference from all three tweeters made for a complicated soundfield. Using my standard measurement scan of 1000 points, I was not able to get high accuracy much beyond 10 kHz (see below). As it is, the scan took five+ hours so I was in mood to double it just to get more accuracy there.

SONOS Five Measurements
Let's start with our array of frequency response measurements per CEA-2034 standard:
Sonos Five smart speaker anechoic frequency response measurement.png

I must say, with all six drivers whaling, I didn't expect to see such a flattish on axis response. The listening window as indicated in green shows what it averages to which is pretty nice. Even nicer is the impressively low response. It goes deep to 30 Hz! It is boosted in that region but likely to compensate for non-declining high frequency energy due to extra side-firing two tweeters. We can see this effect in early window and predicted in-room responses:

Sonos Five smart speaker early window frequency response measurement.png


Sonos Five smart speaker Predicted-in-room frequency response measurement.png


We will have to listen to assess the tonality as our models don't fit this type of speaker well.

Horizontal directivity is rather chaotic but wide as you can imagine:
Sonos Five smart speaker Relative Horizontal beam width measurement.png


Sonos Five smart speaker Relative Horizontal directivity measurement.png


Vertically it looks more typical although we have tall excursions vertically:
Sonos Five smart speaker Relative Vertical directivity measurement.png



Distortion is quite high due to two areas of concern:
Sonos Five smart speaker Relative THD Distortion measurement.png


I could not hear them much though as I was listening to the sweep which was cleaner and deeper than many speakers.
Sonos Five smart speaker THD Distortion measurement.png


Note that the graph on the right represents the loudest I could get the unit to play. Bass is around 96 but the rest of the response is closer to 92 dBSPL.

Waterfall display shows a number of resonances:
Sonos Five smart speaker csd waterfall measurement.png


And step response shows the 2+ second latency:
Sonos Five smart speaker Relative Step Response measurement.png

A lot of post ringing which I could after the sweep was finished (this happens with a number of active speakers).

SONOS Five Listening Test
I chose to listen to the Five in near-field at about 2+ meters/5 feet. First impression was most impressive. We are talking almost the same accuracy of a studio monitor! Sound was clean, and tonality was right on the money. Bass notes were deep and so much so that they activated the room modes, sounding a bit tubby at times. I made an attempt to reduce that by lowering the hump at 180 Hz and that helped a bit. Forgot to save it though.

At moderate volume, sub-bass reproduction was excellent, way beyond any bookshelf speaker. At max level though, it got distorted. Outside of that region, the sound was extremely nice even when maxed out, producing not only accurate but very pleasing tonality.

I covered the two side firing tweeters with my hand and the sound was still quite good. Taking my hand off gave a wider sense of space without the highs getting bothersome.

Conclusions
What is the old pilot line? Any airplane landing that you can walk out of is a success? Applied here, any smart speaker that doesn't sound like garbage is a major accomplishment. SONOS however, goes way beyond that requirement and produced an excellent sounding speaker that is powerful with very deep bass. Its response is not perfect but comes close to being accurate especially for this class. Side-firing tweeters provide the spacious and wider dispersion that such a speaker needs to have. And triple woofers provide the impressive dynamics. Clearly strong engineering and acoustic design has been used in develop of the Five.

I am happy to recommend the Sonos Five smart speaker.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

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  • Sonos Five.zip
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amirm

amirm

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It’s a Smart Speaker and therefore the specifications are long and complex. In this situation a Link works best. We have no affiliation with Sonos commercial or otherwise. The link is for ease of access for our readers:


Scroll down for Specifications:
 
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Zim

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Volume control jumps in big increments of 4 (or more?). Worst thing is the very long latency. Feed it analog audio which you think would play instantly and it takes it good 2+ seconds before it plays. Use airplay and the same long pipeline delay exists. The delay was so long that it confused Klippel standard measurement method, forcing me to opt for a longer scan using asynchronous mode. I wonder if they are using long FIR filters and hence the long latency.
According to the product guide/manual, you should turn off WiFi to "improve connectivity, whatever that means. Maybe that would've gotten rid of the latency when plugged in?

Screenshot 2024-01-16 at 16.44.57.png
 

JSmith

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Taking a closer look;

1705383712612.png


1705383733749.png


1705383760939.png


1705383791345.png


1705383819905.png


1705383838819.png


1705383914574.png


1705383978261.png


Looks like they cheaped out on the caps a bit, using CapXon brand. Isn't that the brand Samsung and others used 8 - 10 years ago that all failed? Appears to be 5 x TI TPA3118's for amplification, SoC is a MediaTek MT8521PBAI.

Nice to see the results on this @amirm, cheers.


JSmith
 

Maiky76

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The Scores might not apply to omni-like of speaker
There are doubts about the HF validity

Here is my take on the EQ.

Please report your findings, positive or negative!

The following EQs are “anechoic” EQs to get the speaker right before room integration. If you able to implement these EQs you must add EQ at LF for room integration, that is usually not optional… see hints there: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...helf-speaker-review.11144/page-26#post-800725

The raw data with corrected ER and PIR:

Score no EQ: 2.9
With Sub: 4.6


Spinorama with no EQ:
Sonos Five No EQ Spinorama.png


Directivity:

Sonos Five LW data.png

Sonos Five 2D surface Directivity Contour Only Data.png


EQ design:

I have generated two EQs. The APO config files are attached.
  • The first one, labelled, LW is targeted at making the LW flat
  • The second, labelled Score, starts with the first one and adds the score as an optimization variable.
  • The EQs are designed in the context of regular stereo use i.e. domestic environment, no warranty is provided for a near field use in a studio environment although the LW might be better suited for this purpose.

Score EQ LW: 3.8
with sub: 5.6

Score EQ Score: 5.0
with sub: 6.0

Code:
Sonos Five APO EQ LW 96000Hz
January162024-162735

Preamp: -3.3 dB

Filter 1: ON PK Fc 184.29,    -1.93,    4.51
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 267.46,    1.63,    2.17
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 515.36,    3.08,    1.02

Sonos Five APO EQ Score 96000Hz
January162024-162735

Preamp: -2.4 dB

Filter 1: ON PK Fc 182.06,    -2.27,    4.51
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 263.93,    2.25,    1.83
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 609.91,    1.66,    1.28
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 12144.85,    -3.74,    0.82

Sonos Five EQ Design.png

Spinorama EQ LW
Sonos Five LW EQ Spinorama.png


Spinorama EQ Score
Sonos Five Score EQ Spinorama.png


Zoom PIR-LW-ON
Sonos Five Zoom.png


Regression - Tonal
Sonos Five Regression.png


Radar no EQ vs EQ score
Sonos Five Radar.png



The rest of the plots is attached.
 

Attachments

  • Sonos Five APO EQ Score 96000Hz.txt
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  • Sonos Five APO EQ LW 96000Hz.txt
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  • Sonos Five 2D surface Directivity Contour Data.png
    Sonos Five 2D surface Directivity Contour Data.png
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  • Sonos Five 3D surface Vertical Directivity Data.png
    Sonos Five 3D surface Vertical Directivity Data.png
    352.2 KB · Views: 41
  • Sonos Five 3D surface Horizontal Directivity Data.png
    Sonos Five 3D surface Horizontal Directivity Data.png
    354.9 KB · Views: 47
  • Sonos Five Normalized Directivity data.png
    Sonos Five Normalized Directivity data.png
    532.2 KB · Views: 39
  • Sonos Five Raw Directivity data.png
    Sonos Five Raw Directivity data.png
    701.5 KB · Views: 39
  • Sonos Five Reflexion data.png
    Sonos Five Reflexion data.png
    311.2 KB · Views: 55
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DanTheMan

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That’s a very cool speaker really. Sonos has been doing this for a while now and definitely getting better and better at it. I suspect that this is just going to be the trend in the industry. All the tech and understanding is there. If companies want to do it and there’s a market for it, it will happen. Convenience sells, but convenience with quality sells a lot. Those old Bose Acoustic wave yada yadas sold very well and were convenient and high quality for their time. People will hate me on here for saying it because that brand is polarizing to say the least, but it’s true. I’m listening to one as I type that my uncle left me. This Sonos should be a whole different level than this Bose but a similar sized package. I suspect this sells well.
 

thewas

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Not really a surprise that they perform well as Sonos has one of the largest anechoic chambers in the west coast



and do quite some signal processing and room correction

 

cbracer

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I ended up buying 2 of these after reading / watching some reviews on them. I wanted a lifestyle speaker set for the family room downstairs that was easy and functional for the rest of my family to enjoy without multiple pieces/amps/remotes. I used the not so specific equalizer on the app to decrease base by -1. The speaker sounds great and with little need for a sub. They completely sound better in stereo than playing the stereo infused mono playback you get with just one speaker. They are just filling in until I get a movie sound system setup in the family room but I'd love to use these are the main speakers somehow. Just don't think that's truly possible for movies. I purchased a Sonos soundbar to try and immediately returned it. Not sure how to integrate these properly with any 5.1 or higher system so my TV does not use them currently. But for now they are great in a stereo mode. I feel better now that a couple of my audio purchases made without reviews from ASR ended up measuring good :) I'm so nervous of such actions that it rarely happens.
Also on the plus side, they hold their resale value better than most speakers should I ever sell them!
 

pierre

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I don't really know how to optimise a quasi-omni speaker. When I optimise line-arrays for example which have similar dispersion pattern, I do it on in-room measurements. The speaker is already optimised very likely with a FIR filter (2s latency). That's a case where I would prefer to listen to the result first. The Harmann model works well on classical dipoles and DSP helps a lot.

Score is 2.9.

You can easily flatten the LW, does it improve the speaker? Possibly if you are straight in front of it but it could also be way to bright esp. in a small room.

1705400491017.png


If you flatten the PIR (possibly incorrect), then you get this where the high are going down in order to get a flatter PIR.
1705401028500.png



Scores go up but I do not know if they are valid:
- with flat LW: 4.3
- with flat PIR: 5.5
 
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flor

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I like the looks, build and sound quality of Sonos. I don’t like that they claim to be able to play DLNA content, but can’t. That’s really what kept me from going all in on Sonos.
 

CHNtentes

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Thanks for the review amir! Did you use Sonos's Trueplay to tune the speaker? Would like to see Era 300 reviewed as well. (It supports bluetooth so is better for movie use)
 

Toni Mas

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As an expensive boom box, seems to do Its job for casual listening... Probably too colored (too many resonances) for more serious listening... Dsp allows some tricks ( Deep bass) but no miracles...
 
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tktran303

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The long latency rules out any movie use.

Yes it’s a shame that’s the case. Neither this or the Era 300 can be connected directly to a TV or HT system. You need a Sonos soundbar for that…


IMG_0060.jpeg
IMG_0059.jpeg



Reference:
Sonos.com

Also interesting how the raggedy response, perhaps NOT due to resonances, but interference between multiple drivers doesn’t seem to detract much from the listening experience.

Perhaps the benefits of improved dynamics outweighs the downsides of comb filtering…

Also very interesting to see what the Preference score will be. The usefulness of CTA2034A or preference or tonality scoring might not be the same as that when measuring a traditional multi-way speaker.

This is one review where I would trust @amirm over the measurements.

For single person listening in a dorm/bedroom these are very impressive. For about the same size as a LS3/5a; this is a far more capable device. Thank you science/ modern technology.
 
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Paul E

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As I've recently bought a Sonos 5, I found this very interesting. Thanks as always to Amir.
I can report that it plays audio fine from my TV (an LG C3) via a cheap eARC HDMI extractor. The HDMI extractor has a headphone socket and I run a 3.5mm stereo cable from the extractor to the Sonos 5 line in.
You need to configure the volume level for the line in (and the autoconnnect default volume) on the Sonos App.
FWIW both the TV and the Sonos are connected to house LAN via Ethernet- not that I think it makes any difference.
Both the TV and the Sonos App have facilities to adjust the timing to sync up the sound with the video, but I have not needed to adjust at either end.
When connected using eARC from the TV, there are no sync issues - it just works.
As stated above, when used on iphones or Ipads, the Sonos app has the facility to do a form of DRC using the phone or tablet mic.
I have not yet tested this yet, so can't report.

Oh - just spotted the point about not playing DLNA content. I was nervous before getting mine as I have a large library of ripped tracks on my NAS, and I had heard horror stories of inability to reliably use various NAS boxes. Various contingency plans were prepared, but plugged it in, connected to NAS music library via DLNA and it works first time. YMMV.

Cheers

Paul E
 
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