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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

staticV3

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its kinda alot of money for the convenience of integrated box For the eco system.
the Kali lp unf is £299, just add a Wiim mini £89.
you have some money left over.
Different tools for a different purpose.

Sonos Five smart speaker Relative Horizontal directivity measurement.png
Untitled-1.png

Estimated In-Room Response.png


The Five is primarily designed as a Mono speaker for covering a large area with wildly different MLPs.

The LP-UNF is a nearfield desktop monitor.

The Kali wouldn't work very well as a living room system and neither would the Sonos as desktop monitor.
 
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Tim Link

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In theory, Klippel NFS doesn't care what the sound source looks like, nor does it make any assumptions about it. You can have a thousand drivers pointing in any direction and it could quantify it.

As a practical matter, the more complex the soundfield, the more samples you need to make to maintain high accuracy. I use about 1000 points which was sufficient to achieve high accuracy (less than 1% error) up to about 10 kHz. How do I know this? Klippel NFS makes redundant measurements which it then uses to compare those actual measurements against the computed ones. So the error is known. The actual error on axis is actually quite small above 10 kHz. It is the off axis which suffered more.
Quick question about the Klippel. When it gives us an "anechoic response" what exactly does that mean? I see it says on axis with the tweeter, but at what distance? One thing that's been on my mind is that more directional signals have a slower fall off rate with distance, so unless the directivity is the same across the spectrum, the on-axis will change with distance. With any changing directivity the speaker there will only be one distance with a flat anechoic response on-axis. I've been reminded of this as I attempt to move further from my CD horns and remove reflections with windowing, I see the response curve that was equalized perfectly flat at 1 meter on axis increasingly can be seen drooping on the low end with distance if the windowing is narrowed to minimize reflected energy in the room.

Edit: I think I just need to read CEA-2034 standard noted on the graph and that will probably answer everything. I found this already, which addresses my question and the concerns it raised as I try to adjust my speakers for my listening position. A speaker should state the distance where it's anechoic on-axis response is expected to be ideal. This leads me to wonder if it may be appropriate to re-equalize the speaker for various listening distances. It makes sense that the closer you get, the less it matters what's going on off axis, so it may be more prudent to eq to keep the on-axis anechoic flat at that distance.

"Ideally measurements should be made in the far field of the DUT and, for reasons of standardization the sensitivity should be referenced to a distance of 1 m. The far field for large diaphragm loudspeakers can be several meters away and listeners may sit in the near field of these loudspeakers."
 
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music_lover

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I have the Sonos era 100 and I like them. Pretty good sound for what they are . I actually prefer it to the HomePods. When I first tried them, I was disappointed because I was too used to the neutral sound. Now the sound has kinda grown on me and I have started liking it. They can be slightly bass heavy sometimes, or else they are fine .
 

Pritaudio

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Different tools for a different purpose.

View attachment 361902
View attachment 361901

View attachment 361900


The Five is primarily designed as a Mono speaker for covering a large area with wildly different MLPs.

The LP-UNF is a nearfield desktop monitor.

The Kali wouldn't work very well as a living room system and neither would the Sonos as desktop monitor.
How about the Kali in unf.
it has satellite tweeter/mids and the sub mains. So lots of positions to try.
it has been designed as ultra nearfield on desks. I’m not sure how effective the claims on the vibration concerns are.
 

staticV3

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How about the Kali in unf.
The IN-UNF is designed even more closely as a nearfield desktop setup.

Using it as a living room lifestyle system I really don't think would work out well.
 

Ellebob

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I tried the IN-UNF as a lifestyle system for fun and it might work in the right set up. Mine was placed next to a short throw projector and it didn't work well compared to other speakers I have tried there. It might be better if the short throw projector wasn't 6 inches from it. I didn't try it without the projector there. The bass unit is not a sub and has the equivalent bass of a bookshelf speaker with ~5" woofer.
 

Pritaudio

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Different tools for a different purpose.

View attachment 361902
View attachment 361901

View attachment 361900


The Five is primarily designed as a Mono speaker for covering a large area with wildly different MLPs.

The LP-UNF is a nearfield desktop monitor.

The Kali wouldn't work very well as a living room system and neither would the Sonos as desktop monitor.
Even though the Kali has eq option, and the Sonos five doesn’t?
 

carlcamper

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I've ordered a pair of these, anyone know the best way to use them as 2-channel speakers for my LG OLED TV, while being stereo paired, and taking advantage of TruePlay, with lip synced audio? Thanks!
 
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I've ordered a pair of these, anyone know the best way to use them as 2-channel speakers for my LG OLED TV,
These were not designed to be primary TV speakers. You’ll need an analog output from the TV, and you’ll likely experience lip sync issues. You can get around both limitations by Airplaying from an Apple TV, but it’s not an ideal setup.
 

carlcamper

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These were not designed to be primary TV speakers. You’ll need an analog output from the TV, and you’ll likely experience lip sync issues. You can get around both limitations by Airplaying from an Apple TV, but it’s not an ideal setup.
IMG_0877.png


I've managed to run my Sonos Fives in offline line-in mode, which gives zero latency in stereo. Here's how:

1. I first connected the optical line-out from my LG C2 OLED to an SMSL D-6 DAC, which is in PreAmp Mode Pr1 to allow volume changes via remote.
2. From the DAC, I then connected the ff: Left and Right RCA out to 3.5mm male, then to a 3.5mm-to-3.5mm female adapter, then to a Hosa 3.5mm Stereo-to-Mono breakout splitter (https://hosatech.com/products/analog-audio/stereo-breakouts/hosa-breakouts/ymp-137/), then finally 3.5mm cables from the Left and Right channels to the Left and Right Sonos Fives.
3. I followed this guide here (https://en.community.sonos.com/speakers-228992/sonos-5-line-only-no-delay-6872736) , then voila, excellent 2-channel sound with no latency and no dropouts due to being offline!
 
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fabtou14

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Hello,
First of all, thank you for this test, always very informative for newbies like me.
I am very interested in changing my Marantz PM6007+diamond 220 system with two sonos five or era 300.
Could anyone give me their opinion on this change?
Today I'm looking for something easier to use, possibly easier to move. My main uses are:
1 - Qobuz
2- connect my tv to the amplifier

Other points I am currently using Wiim Pro Plus which fully satisfies me both in terms of its sound and its interface.
Could I connect my streamer to the sonos five? Or is this an aberration?
Thank you for your informed responses and opinions.
Fabrice
 

Pritaudio

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how much does the Sonos dsp do to the Sonos five speaker measurement.
ie. Just the drivers and crossovers without software.
does the Sonos five still digitise the analogue signal?
 

Bob from Florida

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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.

View attachment 342206
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:
View attachment 342207

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:
View attachment 342208
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:

View attachment 342209

View attachment 342210

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:
View attachment 342211

View attachment 342212

Vertically it looks more typical although we have tall excursions vertically:
View attachment 342213


Distortion is quite high due to two areas of concern:
View attachment 342214

I could not hear them much though as I was listening to the sweep which was cleaner and deeper than many speakers.
View attachment 342215

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:
View attachment 342216

And step response shows the 2+ second latency:
View attachment 342217
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/
Thanks for the review. I purchased an ERA 300 based in part on how well the 5 did. Gave it to my wife for Mothers Day this morning. I preconfigured it for access to my NAS so she could hear tunes immediately. I don’t know how the sound quality compares to the 5, but it does an excellent job of filling a room with beautiful music. Only thing is a lot of IOS functionality is broken because of the current app release. Sonos claims to have full functionality back by mid summer. PC App works but mobile device is what’s most important. Why does any company release a software update that “breaks” a bunch of previously working features?
 

ScepticMatt

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It's nice to see how well the Sonos speakers perform. A major drawback (in my opinion) to the Five however, is the lack of bluetooth which forces the app to be used for everything (unless using airplay on an iOS device). They also appear to be somewhat v-shaped. Perhaps the directivity is too narrow to be used when moving around a lot?

Looking at RTINGS, the Era 300 appears to have a smoother response and better directivity though it doesn't get as loud and has less sub-bass: https://www.rtings.com/speaker/0-8/...graph/sonos-era-300-vs-sonos-five/34837/15253

A big plus for the Era 300 is bluetooth, though it seems limited to AAC unfortunately (is it really too much to add aptX HD at least?). I did hear that the stereo imaging can be odd with disjointed vocals in this video:

I'm thinking about getting an Era 300 for my kitchen. I can't find any other reasonably compact wireless speakers that provide decent tonality and wide directivity. The Atmos audio might be interesting to try out as a bonus (perhaps a bit overhyped). I think my main concern is the possibility of any weird unnatural stereo imaging. Not sure if there are any other good alternatives?
 
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staticV3

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Perhaps the directivity is too narrow to be used when moving around a lot?
It's extremely wide, damn near ±100°:
Sonos Five smart speaker Relative Horizontal directivity measurement (1).png

The Five basically covers everything in a 180° ARC in front. Place it at any wall or corner of a room and all listening positions with line of sight of the speaker will get solid treble response.

Looking at RTINGS, the Era 300 appears to have a smoother response and better directivity
Looking at rtings' graph, the Five may not have as low a directivity index as the Era 300 when averaged out, but if you compare the graphs one-by-one (30° vs 30°, 90° vs 90°, etc), then I think you can see how the Five has a smoother and more predictable off-axis response:

Remember: you want both wide and smooth.
 
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ScepticMatt

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Right, that's true. I suppose the Five or the Era 300 should both be acceptable on that front. The lack of bluetooth on the Five is a deal-breaker for me though. I will probably buy the Era 300.
 

ahofer

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I have a five in my kitchen, and I've tried the "Trueplay" a couple of times. Sounds ok for listening while making dinner, but super muffled and boomy compared to my main rig. Not sure the auto-adjustment is getting the modes - and since they ask you to wave the phone all around the room, I doubt they could.
 

vert

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Seriously considering the Fives as a best compromise, practical solution for my conditions : good dispersion, ideal for L-shaped living room combined with open kitchen, both possible listening areas, with just one best placement possibility (right and left from the TV); high WAF (no need for a sub; streaming from her own phone); room correction; Trueplay for low volume listening; good value: if I went for better speakers in a $700-$2000 range, I would maybe need to upgrade my amp as well (only ~30W of power) which I don't look forward to ; etc.​

The Fives tick many boxes, but:

- I'm still not clear about formats: is everything really limited to 48 kHz?
- Any good with Roon, any issues with conversion ?
- Are family members able stream from their Apple Music or Spotify apps, or do they have to use the Sonos app ?
- Is TV integration really impossible without a Sonos soundbar ?
- Many users and reviewers seem to think the Fives are the winner for stereo music listening compared to the Era 300s. Is that really the case?
 
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