Sonos products, placement and volume

  • 28 January 2017
  • 6 replies

This is my first post. I have a large open floor plan (700 sq feet) and I'm trying to create an equally high quality soundstage around the room. My setup sounds good however I find that the volume of grouped speakers is not consistent (probably due to using different speakers). By this I mean, that when sitting in the middle of the space, volume has to be adjusted for specific speakers in the group so that it sounds even. As a result, I have to adjust the volume on individual speakers in the group so that volume from one side of the room isn't noticeably louder than the other.

All speakers sound good. I've taken advice from the Sonos Community in choosing my setup. I currently have the highly recommended play 1 pair and sub on one end of the room (living room area) and a single play 5 gen 2 on the other end (kitchen). The play 5 volume always needs to be increased so that it is not over powered by the play 1 pair and sub. This is true although I am sitting slightly closer to the play 5 than the play 1 pair with sub.

My questions are:
1) would getting another play 5 for the kitchen and pairing increase the volume on that end of the space to be even with the play 1 pair & sub?
2) would I be better off getting another sub for the kitchen to add to the play5 allowing the play 5 to play at a slightly higher volume as sub takes on lower frequencies?
3) do I really need another play 1 pair sub combo for the kitchen in order to have more consistent volume?

Other suggestions or is this something I can't avoid? I also have 2 play 3s and a play 5 gen 1.

Thank you

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6 replies

To be clear the 2 play 3s and gen1 play5 are currently in other rooms.
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I'm interested in some of the feedback you will receive on here as well. I have a room with more than one speaker group in it and find variance in volume as well. Here are a few comments I'd add to the discussion:

Perhaps very obviously, wherever you are in the space will result in a shift in balance - but also things like solid walls or larger open spaces, or sound absorbing material, and other room characteristics may shift that balance away from a physical centre.

I personally find... but don't know any technical details in the implementation... that the Play5 stereo pair that I have seem to have a broader volume... range that the Play1 sets I have... what I mean is that the softer end of the volume slider is softer and the louder end of the volume slider is louder... so that changes the dynamics of interfacing with the room sets... I also believe, based only on my listening and subjective feel with no technical details, that it seems to me that the shape of the volume adjustment clearly isn't linear. Say I'm using an iPhone to adjust volume... one "click" on a button does very little at the low end of the P5s... it is a gentle adjustment at the lower end, but one at the higher end seems to have a much more noticable impact (which makes perfect sense to me as to how I think it likely should be designed). SO each step isn't linear. I think the P1s may do the same, but again it doesn't, subjectively, seem to be the same shape of curve??

All that to say, I think you are adjusting volume... but perhaps a set of the same speakers with the same characteristics may enable a more consistent response on the interface... but that isn't backed up with technical specs... any of the audiophile genius gang want to chime in here? I'd like to know if I'm completely wrong or if my subjective ears are picking up on how volume dynamics are set and adjusted....🆒
any of the audiophile genius gang want to chime in here?
No longer an audiophile, but I know that each play unit model has a different volume control architecture and are not designed or claimed to deliver the same sound level as other models for the same slider position of the volume control..which is why in grouped mode, there are also individual sliders for each speaker. Set the sliders for each unit in the group to yield the desired sound levels in the part of the room that each is addressing, and then use the group volume slider to change the overall levels without changing the relative levels. At times, a tweak to the individual sliders may still be needed thereafter.

If this reply does not answer the "problem", please post again.
I agree with the non linear volume comment from SHARKB8T as well as Kumar's comment "that each play unit model has a different volume control architecture". Clearly, the size of the space and speaker placement has an impact on perceived sound quality and volume. I have also found that increases in volume are hard to predict when you add speakers (stereo pair) or more significantly a Sub. I did not take this into consideration when developing my plan to cover the 700 sq ft space.

I was addressing the volume issue the way Kumar recommended in terms of setting the individual sliders to desired volume level then controlling the group so that the individual sliders stay in their relative position. Because the music I listen to varies widely among genres and recording time period, where recordings from 40 years ago tend to be quieter than those recorded today, I change the volume frequently. I find that when I move the group volume slider toward the low volume levels the relative volume of individual play speaker sliders narrows. This requires frequent adjustments on my part. I think I'm OCD about my Sonos system so this was driving me crazy.

Today I purchased another play 5 gen2 and paired it to my existing play 5 gen 2 in the kitchen. This seems to have resolved the issue. While the play 1 pair with sub still appears to be slightly louder the difference is only noticeable occasionally. Overall, the quality of sound from both the play 5 pair and play 1 + sub pair is exceptional for a non-audiophile. I'm happy with this setup although it was more costly than I intended.

I would recommend that Sonos add a relative volume setting for individual speakers in a group and that, in the meantime, Sonos fans like me choose the same Sonos speakers across large spaces. Ideally, I would have been better off with 4 play 1s and 2 subs or 4 play 5s. However, experiments like this are fun. At risk of messing up a great setup I may swap the play 1 pair for my play 3 pair and deploy the play 1s in smaller spaces assuming this doesn't change my perfect balance in the large space.

Thank you both for your thoughts and recommendations.
Because the music I listen to varies widely among genres and recording time period, where recordings from 40 years ago tend to be quieter than those recorded today, I change the volume frequently.

Today I purchased another play 5 gen2

The first is an area for improvement that I have pointed out in the past, but there seems to be little Sonos interest expressed: volume normalisation across tracks and albums, particularly in shuffled playlist mode where sound level changes caused by different mastering approaches can be enough to be very distracting. I have even found that in general, Apple Music streams tend to deliver lower sound levels than NAS contained music, at the same volume control settings. Maybe one day Sonos will look at this instead of endlessly tweaking controller cosmetics.

As to the latter, one can always find use for more Sonos kit!
Overall, the quality of sound from both the play 5 pair and play 1 + sub pair is exceptional for a non-audiophile.
Correction; as a one time audiophile, I would delete the last three words from the quoted sentence; there is nothing very special about audiophiles that a well set up Sonos installation cannot successfully address, except perhaps their psychological compulsions.