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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 13.9%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 171 54.1%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 89 28.2%

  • Total voters
    316

ahofer

Master Contributor
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Jun 3, 2019
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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?
Works fine with Roon for me.
 
Joined
Dec 21, 2023
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- 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 ?
You can use Spotify Connect directly from the Spotify app, though would need to use the Sonos app to create groups of speakers if you wanted to play to more than one room. Apple Music can be Airplayed if you’re using the Music app, but in that case the phone is handling the streaming, not the speaker. For the speaker to stream Apple Music directly you’d need to use the Sonos app.

The Five is not designed to be a primary TV speaker. You can connect a TV to its analog input, but there is a minimum 75ms delay — so if you’re at all sensitive to lip sync issues it’s not an ideal setup.
 

Fahzz

Senior Member
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Joined
Nov 27, 2020
Messages
484
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483
Location
Outside Providence
FYI - There's been some negative chatter about the latest Sonos update going around. Maybe google it.
 

ScepticMatt

Member
Joined
Dec 2, 2023
Messages
14
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6
I received the Era 300 so I'll hijack this thread albeit with some relevance to the Five as well.

The Android app is truly terrible. I couldn't set up the speaker and had to use iOS instead. The app is buggy and doesn't always connect. Using bluetooth avoids using the app but I noticed occasional split-second cutouts which I need to investigate. It might be that others are having the same issue: https://en.community.sonos.com/speakers-229128/era-300-bluetooth-cutting-out-6890717 I'll need to have that resolved or I might have to return the speaker.

The directivity is good with music sounding good in multiple directions. There is some change in sound but that will largely be driven by room acoustics. I think the speaker is good for the purpose of omnidirectional sound. The stereo imaging is barely more than a general sense of left and right. The soundstage can expand outside the speakers somewhat, but it is hardly "immersive". I think it will depend on the room and how reflective the walls are.

The speaker sounded somewhat bright out of the box with lacklustre bass. The Trueplay tuning was awkward to do but it did remove the brightness and the bass is a lot fuller. It might have overcompensated a bit as the bass can sound a bit boomy, esp. in certain parts of the room. I might try the retuning with more focus on the bassier parts of the room. I also decided to turn up the treble EQ a couple points. Overall the sound is good and Trueplay certainly helped deal with a less than ideal room. Having manual access to the filters and parameters used would be a good feature so tweaks can be made.

The Dolby Atmos is hit and miss. Listening to Money on the 50th anniversary of The Dark Side of the Moon, the Atmos version has a slightly larger sense of soundstage and better sense of spacial separation of sounds but it's far from amazing. I got no sense of height. Increasing the "Height Level" made the top tweeter louder but it only sounded like it was coming from the top of the speaker and not from above. Using two speakers in the right room might be a lot more impressive and I imagine it might be better for movies than music. A problem with Atmos is it clearly depends on the mix. Some albums will sound terrible. I tried listening to Shanty by Slowdive and it sounded awful in Atmos. The vocals were recessed and the guitars sounded weirdly distorted in a bad way. The stereo version sounds massively superior.

Overall I think it's good for the kitchen as far as the sound is concerned. The software problems and bluetooth cutouts are not good though and I will need bluetooth to be working correctly.

Maybe the Five would be better if it had bluetooth. I wouldn't want to be tied to using the terrible app, though I might be forced to with the Era 300 if I keep having issues with bluetooth.
 

ScepticMatt

Member
Joined
Dec 2, 2023
Messages
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6
iOS setup worked for me. No luck with Android though. I don't know why Sonos doesn't just rollback the update.
 

ScepticMatt

Member
Joined
Dec 2, 2023
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6
I can give an update of my experience with the Era 300.

I've listened to more Dolby Atmos tracks and I find that when I sit with my head directly in front of the speaker the spacial effects can be quite good. I still get little to no sense of height but the left-right, depth and general sense of space and separation of instruments is good. As I mentioned, it does depend on the particular mix with some being underwhelming and some being downright bad. It might not be worth buying a single speaker just for Dolby Atmos but it's an interesting addition.

I'm still having issues with Bluetooth though. I got through to support which took me many days before a representative was available, most likely due to the app shambles. They remotely rebooted the speaker. It might concern some people that it's possible to access the speaker remotely like that. I already tried turning it off and on again, so I'm not sure how it would have been any different. The cutouts went away for a while, but now they have come back again.

I don't seem to have problems playing BT via an iPhone so it might be my Android phone, though my Android phone plays perfectly fine through my Bluetoooth headphones. It's some combination of the Era 300 and the Android that appears to be the problem. I think I could buy a Creative BT-W3 dongle to see if that can play through BT OK and if it does then the phone is probably to blame. I could continue to use the dongle but it adds bulk and would be limited to standard SBC unless there are any alternatives that support AAC or SBC-XQ?

So much for Bluetooth making connectivity easier.

The Sonos app is still buggy and will not always connect. I often have to close and re-open the app.
 

cap893

New Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2020
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0
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...
The Sonos five is anything but a boom box. Amir is correct with his evaluation - shocking sound quality from a powered bookshelf speaker.
 

Pritaudio

Active Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2020
Messages
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85
too bad it doesn't have eq feature.
the auto tuning doesn't do enough for specific placement and nulls too.
 
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