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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

Zensō

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Thanks for the review @amirm . Your impressions match up with mine. I have a pair of these in our dining room where they are only played at moderate volumes. They sound quite good in this scenario and visually blend in well with the decor.

I actually really like the Sonos app and find their ecosystem to be very reliable and easy to use. Overall a great system when high volumes and ultimate sound quality are not the highest priorities.
 
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Robbo99999

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Look no further than Sonos' product page: https://www.sonos.com/en/shop/five
So it's basically a one-stop-shop speaker. It can be used on it's own when horizontally located whereby it flips to output Stereo from just than one speaker, or you can buy two of them and then place them vertically so one speaker for each channel, and you can also combine them with some of their other products for a more surround sound system.....plus it links with your phone for streaming over wifi, and has a 3.5mm input cable if you want to attach for example a CD player or a turntable. So it's marketed as a no-hassle small almost all-in-one product for your audio needs. I suppose in that context it measures pretty well! (So now I understand it, I've voted!)

EDIT: it also has something sounding a little similar to RoomEQ whereby it measures the frequency response of your room using your phone (ha, ok, well it's not gonna be perfect!), and then applies EQ to the speaker to compensate.
 

A Surfer

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So it's basically a one-stop-shop speaker. It can be used on it's own when horizontally located whereby it flips to output Stereo from just than one speaker, or you can buy two of them and then place them vertically so one speaker for each channel, and you can also combine them with some of their other products for a more surround sound system.....plus it links with your phone for streaming over wifi, and has a 3.5mm input cable if you want to attach for example a CD player or a turntable. So it's marketed as a no-hassle small almost all-in-one product for your audio needs. I suppose in that context it measures pretty well! (So now I understand it, I've voted!)
Exactly, Sonos in general is all about balancing the users needs, so probably not those who will do extra work for that last 10% of absolute sound quality or output power, with ease of use. I went from a NAD M3 with a Gustard X16, with Monitor Audio PL200s supported by a pair of well integrated (thanks @thewas) SVS 2000 Pro Subs to my Sonos system, and it has been great. How I consumed music changed, and Sonos balances convenience and very good sound quality quite well in my experience. Yes absolute SPL is limited, but I knew that going in.
 

Robbo99999

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Exactly, Sonos in general is all about balancing the users needs, so probably not those who will do extra work for that last 10% of absolute sound quality or output power, with ease of use. I went from a NAD M3 with a Gustard X16, with Monitor Audio PL200s supported by a pair of well integrated (thanks @thewas) SVS 2000 Pro Subs to my Sonos system, and it has been great. How I consumed music changed, and Sonos balances convenience and very good sound quality quite well in my experience. Yes absolute SPL is limited, but I knew that going in.
Yeah, if you need that convenience and small unobtrusive form factor then why not, seems like a good choice if you've got to switch but then again we've not measured that many similar speakers that I'm aware of....but this one should be good enough for those types of needs by the looks of it.
 

Ellebob

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Working in this industry I have used and installed a lot of music systems suchs as Sonos, Heos, MusiCast, Bluesound, Kef's, Wiim, etc. For most people which excludes many on this forum, Sonos is the clear winner. All of the systems have a little bit of a learning curve for their interface. I have had to teach a lot of customers how to use their system. Sonos integrates their services the best. You don't have to come out of the Sonos App and go to your Apple Music and then use Airplay, or if your device doesn't support your music sevice switch over to BT. Sonos has a pretty comprehensive suite of music services, there is not many it doesn't have, and they integrate well in the Sonos App. Easily add your favorites (called My Sonos) from various sevices whether local radio, Apple music, Spotify, Pandora, stored music, etc in one location. Customers love it but they are not enthusiasts. We have also had ZERO falures with their equipment, which is rare among any manufacturer.

My second favorite is Wiim and I think it is a great value. Roon is good option for enthusiasts as it also integrates many higher quality services and works with a lot of different equipment but does add monthly cost on top of the services. Sonos is definitely not for everyone and we can debate the quality of its DACs, Amps, speakers, lack of inputs, etc. but for the average user it gets a lot right and has decent sound. Just sharing my experience with various streaming products.
 

A Surfer

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Reliability is important, and for me that speaks to how a consumer should evaluate the cost of goods. Yes Sonos isn't inexpensive, but evidence suggests they are quite reliable and as the poster above noted, easy to integrate and use. That is also my experience with Sonos.
 

Spocko

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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/
FINALLY, a speaker most people will likely buy! Bravo Sonos, and I'm hoping this wasn't pure coincidence one-hit-wonder but rather well thought out by their audio engineering team which means it will lead to consistency down the line for future products.
 

A Surfer

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I'm about to add a second pair of Five's to my system in the coming week. That will be fun.
 

palm

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Thanks for the review!

I don’t own this model, but I have the soundbar Arc and Ones as surrounds and I’m really happy with the system.
The “room correction” Trueplay works well, I find this remarkable given the difficulty of developing such a system for non experts, a lot of efforts were certainly put into this as well.
I also use an IKEA Symfonisk (which is a joint design) in the bedroom, encased in a shelf and Trueplay makes a big difference there.

Wireless, multi room works great, it’s actually more stable than Apple own HomePods.

I also have nice monitors so I guess I’m one of those who can enjoy both!

I would be curious to try their small subwoofer with two IKEA speakers.
 

A Surfer

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Thanks for the review!

I don’t own this model, but I have the soundbar Arc and Ones as surrounds and I’m really happy with the system.
The “room correction” Trueplay works well, I find this remarkable given the difficulty of developing such a system for non experts, a lot of efforts were certainly put into this as well.
I also use an IKEA Symfonisk (which is a joint design) in the bedroom, encased in a shelf and Trueplay makes a big difference there.

Wireless, multi room works great, it’s actually more stable than Apple own HomePods.

I also have nice monitors so I guess I’m one of those who can enjoy both!

I would be curious to try their small subwoofer with two IKEA speakers.
I have two Sonos Sub 3s, and they fatten up the bottom end, as does the new mini, friends of mine have that, but they don't give true sub bass, they can't, just more lowish bass. Still quite a nice addition, but as long as the expectations are realistic, you won't be disappointed. Not likely anyway.
 

AudioKC

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Impressive, with functionality and price point, it's quite a good pick for streaming effortless listening. Back in 2018 I had sonos 5, sold it in 2020.
 
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EGrunt

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I purchased two these (open box) on a military base (no sales tax) over 4 years ago for $150 each, they looked brand new and they still work great to this day.
sonos.jpg
 

Gwreck

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Impresive, with functionality and price point, it's quite a good pick for streaming effortless listening. Back in 2018 I had sonon 5, sold it in 2020.
I’m just glad that Sonos car
I purchased two these (open box) on a military base (no sales tax) over 4 years ago for $150 each, they looked brand new and they still work great to this day. View attachment 342983

I purchased two these (open box) on a military base (no sales tax) over 4 years ago for $150 each, they looked brand new and they still work great to this day. View attachment 342983
Awesome, having been active duty myself some of my most legendary audio deals were from the PX. I had a full Carver separates system bought in the mid 90’s for about 1/3 of retail there.
 

milosz

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Too much distortion for a $600 speaker. Hideous latency makes it useless for home theater.
 

staticV3

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A Surfer

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Plus, I do think the primary use will be for music and for non-serious HT clients. I must tell you that I would have found it very difficult to truly accommodate a genuine and traditional surround sound system. While the Sonos approach is still not completely wireless, there are power cables required, the space burden is quite minimal. And as a result I am now able to have a pretty decent little system that provides me with immersive audio all around me for the first time, and I love it.

In recent years I have fallen in love with electronic music, of which there is so much that is actually incredible (examples being Bluetech - Sines & Singularities; Phutureprimitive - Sub Conscious; Pitch Black - Third Light; Thievery Corporation - The Cosmic Game) and now with my Sonos system I can appreciate the soundscape effect. Prior with just my 2.2 system, as lovely and powerful as it was, it could not surround me. So yes I have given up quite a bit of SPL, and of course some absolute fidelity and resolution, but to this point anyway, no regrets at all. Now the longevity aspect is still an unanswered question, and if anywhere I am going to have some regrets, I do have my doubts that these type of products will have the staying power that good old passives and class A/B systems had. Up until recently, my brother was still rocking our Pioneer HPM 100s from the 80s.
 

Ellebob

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I am hoping your reliability will be good. As I said we haven't had a single failure with Sonos and we've been using them for probably close to 20 years. I still have some original Sonos products in my home and they're still running fine. Some people have had to upgrade their components but that was more about maintaining compatibility with their services than it was about the equipment failing. The old products still work you just have to use the S1 app and you won't have as many music services that are supported anymore on the older platform. So technology might force an upgrade before actual failure of a device.

I think the issue that many audiophiles like to state is that if my amplifier dies I can replace an amp, if my speaker dies I can replace a speaker, etc. So many of these products that are all in one they are not comfortable with having to replace or repair the whole product if it fails. From my experience this is way overblown. We have studio monitors that have been working for 20 plus years and even on the low end of things like somebody that had computer speakers that were powered, many are still working. We also take in a lot of older receivers in trade that still work fine but don't work with newer technologies. There will always be some failures but in general reliability has been good with audio products. YMMV.
 

JustCoolin‘

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Too much distortion for a $600 speaker. Hideous latency makes it useless for home theater.
It‘s an active speaker that‘s basically self-sufficient. You don’t necessarily need a second one, you don’t need a Dac, no pre-amp, no streamer. I am not sure what it would even compete with at that price.
 

darrellc

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I am hoping your reliability will be good. As I said we haven't had a single failure with Sonos and we've been using them for probably close to 20 years. I still have some original Sonos products in my home and they're still running fine. Some people have had to upgrade their components but that was more about maintaining compatibility with their services than it was about the equipment failing. The old products still work you just have to use the S1 app and you won't have as many music services that are supported anymore on the older platform. So technology might force an upgrade before actual failure of a device.

I think the issue that many audiophiles like to state is that if my amplifier dies I can replace an amp, if my speaker dies I can replace a speaker, etc. So many of these products that are all in one they are not comfortable with having to replace or repair the whole product if it fails. From my experience this is way overblown. We have studio monitors that have been working for 20 plus years and even on the low end of things like somebody that had computer speakers that were powered, many are still working. We also take in a lot of older receivers in trade that still work fine but don't work with newer technologies. There will always be some failures but in general reliability has been good with audio products. YMMV.
Anecdotal but likewise, I've got working Sonos products purchased earlier than the only products I've had fail in the last 20 years - a Rotel integrated amp, a NAD integrated amp and a set of active desktop speakers.
 

A Surfer

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I am hoping your reliability will be good. As I said we haven't had a single failure with Sonos and we've been using them for probably close to 20 years. I still have some original Sonos products in my home and they're still running fine. Some people have had to upgrade their components but that was more about maintaining compatibility with their services than it was about the equipment failing. The old products still work you just have to use the S1 app and you won't have as many music services that are supported anymore on the older platform. So technology might force an upgrade before actual failure of a device.

I think the issue that many audiophiles like to state is that if my amplifier dies I can replace an amp, if my speaker dies I can replace a speaker, etc. So many of these products that are all in one they are not comfortable with having to replace or repair the whole product if it fails. From my experience this is way overblown. We have studio monitors that have been working for 20 plus years and even on the low end of things like somebody that had computer speakers that were powered, many are still working. We also take in a lot of older receivers in trade that still work fine but don't work with newer technologies. There will always be some failures but in general reliability has been good with audio products. YMMV.
Thanks, that bodes well. I agree with you that technology of partner services like Tidal, Spotify etc are more likely to render a device inoperable than is hardware failure, but the law of large numbers will also apply. Some people will experience hardware failures. Hopefully I get 10 years without issue.

It would be nice to get more, but I try to keep my expectations modest and hope to be pleasantly surprised. Time will tell right? Cheers.
 
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