I had a double dose of excitement this week; installation of NBN to my house and the delivery of the Sonos Play:5 unit for review. The timing of the Sonos delivery seemed to compliment the extra bandwidth I now have at my disposal and gives me the opportunity to really give this thing a workout.
For anyone who is not familiar with the Sonos name, they are the undisputed kings of the streaming music speaker systems. They’ve been around good while, they have support for all of the major streaming music suppliers, the expandability of their systems is pretty close to infinite and frankly the quality of product they offer is as close to perfect as you’re going to get. The biggest draw back that anyone who has investigated Sonos gear has is almost certainly going to be the price and the question I’ve had thrown at me repeatedly in the couple of days since the Play:5 arrived is: Is it worth the money?
That simple question actually raises half a dozen more which I hope to explore as I spend more time with the Play:5 speaker
- What is the hardware; drivers, cones, electronics etc
- Sound… no brainer right?
- The overall quality of the product
- How does it stack up in comparison to competitors
- Value Proposition
Whether or not the Play:5 hits all of the marks above or not, the first impression it makes is a big one before you even open the box. The packaging is an engineering feat in itself, with locking clips that once open allow you to lift the top of the box off to reveal the hardware inside. There are multiple layers of packaging on the speaker itself: a bag around the speaker, a layer of shrink wrap and finally another protective skin over the speaker itself. While in some respects if feels perhaps a little over the top, if you’ve just spent a whopping $749 on this hardware you want it to be well protected.
Once you unpack the speaker and grab the app the process to setup your speaker is (while a touch on the long side) as close to being idiot proof as you’re doing to get. There are on-screen instructions as simple as:
- Set up a new Sonos System/Connect to an existing system
- Connect the power
- Choose the room where you will use your speaker
Once you’ve got the speaker connected you’re not ready to rock yet, pretty good odds you’re going to be up for a quick firmware update on the speaker and there’s still the little matter of connecting your streaming content accounts. They really don’t mess around either, there is 38 to choose from with all the major players in there except for one and Apple Music will be added as a Beta program in the next couple of weeks. So it really doesn’t matter if you’re on Play Music, Spotify, JB Hifi Now or maybe you’re partial to something like SoundCloud or Pandora, perhaps you may even be after some radio from your favourite local station – they’re all there and only a couple of clicks away from being accessible on your new speaker.
After a total of 25 minutes (which included taking photos and a lot of screenshots through the process) of setting up, it is time. A if the general look and feel to the Play:5 wasn’t enough, the sound that came of of the Play:5 left me under no illusions as to where the extra, yes EXTRA $500 in cost over the streaming speakers I have at home (and am very happy with) goes. Even at low volume, there is a definite sense of power but when as the volume goes up so does the user experience.
Having been well into the car audio scene for a while, I have seen first hand that not only users but some manufacturers can easily become distracted by Volume and Power over providing the best listening experience. Even at maximum volume to the delight of my daughter; there was not even the slightest hint of clipping which is where the output can remove the peaks of the audio wave, or any audio distortion which we’ve all heard when you turn a speaker up beyond the volume its capable of.
I’ll be spending some quality time with the Play:5 over Christmas and will have a full review, aiming to answer my earlier questions when I publish the full review.
What would you like to know about the Sonos system or the Play:5 speaker?