Sonos Five – superb Hi-Fi over Wi-Fi (review)

Sonos Five is part of its whole-of-home, multi-room speaker range. It is a stereo (3.0) standalone speaker and stereo pairable. It has Wi-Fi and a 3.5mm line-in AUX jack for direct [pre-amp] connection.

Let’s start by saying this speaker sounds incredible, either as a standalone stereo speaker (place it in landscape mode) or as a stereo pair (portrait mode). It is also a speaker you can push for high volume, room-filling sound. The harder you push, the sound gets even better.

Why? Because inside are six, yes, six speakers and amps. Three woofers give you solid bass-and-mids and three side-angled tweeters fill out the full and satisfying mid-and-high-treble. We will talk more about those speakers later as they make this a very special Wi-Fi/Hi-Fi speaker.

Sonos Five

WebsiteProduct page and Support Page
ReplacesPlay:5 Gen 2
ColourWhite matte or black matte case, graphite (Audiofoil polycarbonate) grille that also allows its six Wi-Fi antennae to get reception
SupportApple AirPlay 2 and inbuilt streaming services, Sonos Radio
ConnectsWi-Fi 2.4 or 5Ghz or Ethernet cable
Size364 x 203 x 154mm x 6.36kg
IP RatingNo, but being sealed helps withstand higher humidity like in a bathroom
What it is notVoice assistant compatible (needs another speaker).
No BT, but you can Wi-Fi stream to it as a multi-room speaker
or use the line in with a BT streaming dongle
Price$799 inc free delivery and 100-day return policy
Warranty12-months ACL
County of manufactureChina
AboutSonos is an American Audio company based in Santa Barbara, California [Est 2002]. It develops and manufactures smart speakers to play music simultaneously in multiple rooms.
MoreCyberShack Sonos news and reviews

First impression – Elegant yet solid

Beautifully boxed – Sonos style. Elegant yet solid. It is a heavy little speaker at 6.36kg. Use it horizontally for mono, vertically for stereo or place a pair vertically for a wider stereo sound stage. If you want to go overboard, you can add the Sonos Sub use it with the Sonos Beam Gen 2 or Arc soundbars as rear speakers.

They are not mic enabled (not voice assistant controlled), but you can as Google to play/stop X from Spotify on Sonos Five.

Those speakers – five more than expected

The Sonos 5 is a heavy little beast – and it should be as it houses six speakers and six D-Class amps. Inside is a 3.0 system – that means left, centre and right sounds and a wide sound stage.

  • Left-angled forward-firing 10cm woofer
  • Centre forward-firing – ditto
  • Right-angled forward-firing – ditto
  • Left-angled side 20mm tweeter
  • Right-angled side 20mm tweeter
  • Centre 23mm forward-firing tweeter for clear voice
  • And a sealed case – no passive faux bass radiators/ports – bass comes from the speaker!

This means that this speaker sounds excellent as a standalone stereo, But add another, and you have a very impressive whole-of-home Hi-Fi as your primary music speakers.

Setup the S2 app is fool-proof

The Sonos S2 app identifies the speaker and connects to 2.4 or 5GHz Wi-Fi. We suggest 2.4GHz as that is all you need for music streaming, and it can be further from the router (15-20m).

Name the speaker, e.g. lounge.

The app provides limited EQ – Bass/Treble, stereo balance and a loudness switch (probably best turned on).

You can also set up music sources and NAS libraries. You can add it to Google Assistant or Alexa via the app, but you need to use a different voice compatible speaker to play content to the ‘named’ speaker. Note that voice assistants support a far smaller number of content providers.

Or you can use the S2 app to stream content from any Sonos supported provider.

TruePlay auto-tuning (iOS only) will tune it to your room. If you don’t have an iPhone get someone who has to install the app and run TunePlay.

3.5mm jack

The line-in assumes a sufficient pre-amped signal and has a 3.5mm 3-pole (left and right) female jack.

We did not have a vinyl turntable to test. We did via a headphone jack on a PC and a USB-C to 3.5mm stereo DAC for a smartphone. In both cases, it offered its typical neutral frequency.

The Sonos app can stream a huge range of streaming services to this and other Sonos multi-room speakers.

Sound – superb

It reaches 85dB with minimal distortion, and you can push it higher with a line-in source. This is more than enough to fill a large open space lounge area.

The sound signature is almost perfect. Bass kicks in at around 50Hz and is very strong from 64Hz (quite impressive for a standalone desktop speaker), and it is flat pretty well to 5kHz. Then it dips a little to take the harshness of the upper-treble out and ramps up until 16kHz.

One of our test tracks – The Blues Brothers Peter Gunn theme – was superb. It was better than any desktop, BT or Google speaker ever tested!

We did not test as a stereo pair, but we understand that the bass enhancement and stereo separation are even more remarkable.

As we said in the Sonos Arc soundbar review, Sonos wants to present music as the makers intended. The neutral sound signature (that is good) means just that – it doesn’t produce artificial sounds. The EQ has bass and treble for minor adjustments – I would leave it flat! You can read more about sound signatures and our test tracks How to tell if you have good music (sound signature is the key – guide.

Power

Mains powered – no plug pack. It has negligible power use on standby.

CyberShack’s view – If you can only have one speaker, it should be the Sonos Five

This is a perfect 3.0 speaker capable of filling a large room with a reasonably wide sound stage. At $799, it is not cheap, but when you consider it is stereo, has six speakers and passive bass, it is very price competitive.

You could not ask for better. But audiophiles will ask about high-res music. As the Sonos S2 App supports 24-bit, 44.1/48kHz, and FLAC/ALAC 1536kbps, you should be able to stream from high-res sources.

The Sonos Five is the speaker you could use every day – regardless of whether you have a multi-room setup.

PS – DxO Mark gave this a 147 rating placing it first for an advanced speaker and second for the premium class speaker (Bowers and Wilkins Formation Wedge at $1300 was top with 160 points). LG XBoom RP4   was 15th with 135 points. The Apple Home Pod scores 113 and the mini 98 – not as good as Apple reviewers state. Even the mini Sonos Roam beats these at 114.

Studio-quality sound with deep bass, crisp high-end response, and an ultra-wide sound stage.

DxO Mark

Rating

It is a premium stereo (3.0) desktop speaker that is stereo pairable and multi-room compatible. There are few comparable speakers. As there are no downsides in buying this it is almost a perfect 10/10.

Sonos Five

$799
9.6

Features

9.0/10

Value

9.0/10

Performance

10.0/10

Ease of Use

10.0/10

Design

10.0/10

Pros

  • Room filling volume, low distortion, dynamic sound and wide sound stage
  • Wi-Fi and 3.5MM stereo AUX jack
  • Sonos S2 App is fool-proof and offers so many streaming options
  • Put it near a power point and in Wi-Fi range, and you are good to go
  • Multi-room capable

Cons

  • It is time to get TruePlay tuning to Android!!!
  • No Bluetooth connection
  • Meant to be heard – can be muddy at low volume
  • I want two!


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