Is it worth it to add a Sonos SUB to a GEN 2 PLAY:5 stereo pair?

  • 14 January 2016
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Does anyone see the value in adding a SONOS SUB to a stereo pair of GEN 2 PLAY: 5's?

I've been told that the DSP / crossover functionality of adding the sub to this set would lighten the low end load of the PLAY: 5's, allowing them to more powerfully and clearly produce the mids and highs.

My specific questions:

1. Are there really high and mid frequency benefits to be gained from allowing the sub to handle the low end? Or would the sub just handle the low end, while the highs and mids on the PLAY: 5's sound exactly as they did without the SUB?

2. The pair of PLAY: 5's already deliver substantial bass, so are there even more substantial / noticeable gains to be had from adding the SUB? Or do 2 PLAY: 5's roughly equal the low end output of 1 SUB?

I consider myself a very lightweight audiophile, so I would love to gain more clarity and power if adding the SUB can achieve this, but I do not want to waste the money, if the stereo pair can provide roughly the same clarity and high / mid range power as it already does, while also handling similar low end to the sub?

Many thanks in advance to anyone, who may have input.

Best,

Patrick

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66 replies

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Just the read through the thread. Nice input everyone! The Sonos userbase seems very helpful and friendly 🙂
Im very pleased to hear you like the setup Patrick. I will give your EQ settings a try later today and see how i like them. One thing i seem to have forgotten - which you even point out yourself - is how the sub adds a lot of sound to the system when its playing on low volume settings. I enjoy this a lot, since i live in an apartment and cannot crank up the sub when its getting late :)


Rune:

Thank you for helping to get this thread started with the first replies to my question. Everyone has definitely been quite positive and helpful.

I'm interested to hear what you have to say about my EQ settings. It could be TRUEPLAY is better for you, but it limited the range of my speakers in my room.
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Runedk,

"Loudness" is a human condition. Here is a thread that explains some details. A Wikipedia article has more detail.

In most situations I prefer not to use Loudness, but the SONOS Loudness function is one of the best available because SONOS knows the efficiency of their speakers. Unfortunately, SONOS cannot know the room size.

A subwoofer tends to improve the overall system sound by minimizing system intermodulation distortion because the job presented to the main speaker and subwoofer is simplified. Here is a quick tutorial on distortion.


BUZZ:

Thank you for your input. I will read the article, but I would have to say I already agree with your observation because the highs and mids sound noticeably cleaner when pairing the 5's with the SUB. Until I did that, there was always a little pinch of muddiness in the 5's that bothered me. It's gone now. Now the highs and mids float cleanly on a fuller cloud of bass--I LOVE IT.
Earlier today - before I read this thread, I posted in the wireless speaker section relating to pairinf two 2nd gen Play 5's with the sub .... I am not anywhere near the technical skills and understanding of you guys, but I know what I heard and my response to it! Having read through this thread I have to admit to being tempted to unbox the 5's again and have another go - particularly with the suggested EQ settings.

As an aside I also have the Connect in my sitting room hooked up to an old Sony TV all in one stand with built in speakers (RHT-G900) which I bought in 2009 for 199 GBP a little more than a play 1 costs today!! I keep trying to justify getting rid of it, but it keeps delivering awesome sound from 450w of speakers! I tried the 5's against it yesterday and still could't justify the change!!

So here is my earlier post....

Hi there - I have only recently invested in Sonos kit replacing a mish, mash of bluetooth and AirPlay stuff!

Anyway - I have a pair of Play 1's and a pair of Play 5's and a sub... I bought the 5's from Amazon with the intention of putting them in my kitchen as a stereo pair with the sub.. I set it all up and waited to be blown away! In the end after much faffing around, I decided I preferred the pair of Play 1's with the sub to the Play 5's either on their own or with the sub... I was very surprised by this and did some further testing and found that I most liked the sound of the 5's when used stand alone as a single speaker. I'm no audiophile and so can't explain why I came to this conclusion - but the 1's with the sub are just more lively, defined - more fun I guess!!

I am now facing the prospect of returning the two Play 5's to Amazon and buying an additional two play 1's for my study and bathroom. I do love the play 5 in my bedroom, its ideal as a single speaker - but I'm not convinced of it's qualities as in a stereo pair config! Also I'm interested in others opinion of the Sub - the jury is out on this one at the moment - I will probably keep it but it hasn't blown me away...

PS I also have a single Play 3 and am keen to try a pair of these together and see how these compare to the Play 1's?

Nick
I most liked the sound of the 5's when used stand alone as a single speaker. I'm no audiophile and so can't explain why I came to this conclusion - but the 1's with the sub are just more lively, defined - more fun I guess!!

The reasons don't matter that much - what you like is what is right for you in these cases. The play 1 pair + Sub remains an excellent system where it isn't asked to deliver more sound levels that it can honestly deliver.
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Thanks for the reply. The reason I asked is because I was thinking about getting th Sonos connect amp and just hook up the Logitech sub with the play 5s. However, I'm not entirely sure that it will work.
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Got the sub on Wednesday, my first impression is not good. Tuned it with the play 5s(gen 2), however, the base sounds so flat and dull, most of the time it's not even noticeable! I really like using true play and always listen using it. When I crank the sub's bass to max, you can hear the bass but it seems like it's not the full potential. When I turned true play off, the bass came alive and really rock the house. So seems like I have two choices, turn off true play and have bass or turn on true play and have very tiny bass. I will test EQ settings noted here and see if it makes a difference, especially with true play turned on.
When I turned true play off, the bass came alive and really rock the house. So seems like I have two choices, turn off true play and have bass or turn on true play and have very tiny bass. I will test EQ settings noted here and see if it makes a difference, especially with true play turned on.
If you like the way music sounds with true play off, why do you not play it that way? True play conforms to what Sonos thinks good sound should be like; not everyone has to agree with that!
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When I turned true play off, the bass came alive and really rock the house. So seems like I have two choices, turn off true play and have bass or turn on true play and have very tiny bass. I will test EQ settings noted here and see if it makes a difference, especially with true play turned on.
If you like the way music sounds with true play off, why do you not play it that way? True play conforms to what Sonos thinks good sound should be like; not everyone has to agree with that!


I refuse to defer to TRUEPLAY when it comes to my PLAY: 5 (gen2) stereo + SUB combo; the bass is anemic when Trueplay is ON. I've read reviews that say the right custom EQ is preferable to Trueplay, if you have the time. I agree with that. I believe the pics of the EQ that worked for me are somewhere in this thread, but those are obviously for my specific room.

ALSO, KUMAR, I have not forgotten about the PLAY:5 vs PLAY: 1 stereo + SUB combo comparison. I've just been busy at work, but I will try to do it this weekend...
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Interestingly enough, just last night I got a SUB to add to my pair of gen2 Play:5s. I am happy with it so far. It makes a small difference on some songs and a huge difference on other songs. I have my tv plugged into the line-in on one of my 5s and it really pops there. I found the setting the SUB to half way between the max and mid setting worked best.

Tonight I will follow the suggestions from earlier in the thread and turn off the loudness and trueplay and see what happens.
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I have 4 gen 2 play 5s and a SUB among various other sonos. I tried the sub with the pair and found it offers only about 5% more bass then the play:2 pair-only noticeable on Some songs not all. True there is more bass-but not a lot more. I decided the SUB was much better used with other play units where the effect was more pronounced. For 750 dollar it didn't add that value for me to a pair of play5 2nd gen
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I reset the controller and reconnect my speakers and sub. Surprisingly, it made a difference. Now when I switch the sub on and off while using trueplay, (keeping all levels at halfway mark)I can tell the difference. The play 5s are starting to sound flatter without the sub now. I also adjusted the bass and treble along with the sub and finally the Sonos sub has blown my 12 year old Logitech z-5500 away, I can finally let it go now. The sub along with the play 5s are just so clear sounding and heart pounding! I usually don't listen to song with a lot of bass, but when the bass comes in on those songs, the sub delivers, and that's what matter most. Also, the sub does seem like it expands the sound stage a bit more.
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Hi there,

This thread is quite old but but I find myself in the same situation as some of you guys and ptsmith77 in particular where i own a pair of play5 2ng gen, and consider the option to upgrade my existing system with a play sub.
I'm not looking at a massive increase of bass but rather get more "presence" and/or depth when the volume is low(ish). I'm actually happy with my existing setup when I crank up the volume but I think the overall audio experience could be improved when the sound is played at "normal" level (when you can still talk and not scream at one another).
Also my musical taste are ranging from rock blue to heavy metal with some few exception of good old hip hop/electronics.

Can you please share your experience : would the sub really add its real value only when volume is set high up - ie.for big party... Alternatively does the sub justifiy the cost more for electronic music than rock music?

Thanks in advance,
Nico.
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Short answer-no.
Can it improve it-yes.
Is the improvement of a Sub to Gen 2 play:5s worth almost $1000? In my opinion definetly not.
The Sub does add a welcome extra layer of depth/richness at low volumes to a play 1 pair regardless of music genre - my tastes run to jazz and acoustic music, and this applies just as much to that. I bought the Sub and have zero regrets with what it does for a play 1.

I can't say how much extra this layer will be for a next gen 5 pair which has significant bass delivery capability on its own, and even less on whether this would be worth the price because this gets to be a very subjective assessment of value for money. The other thing is the clean up of the mid range once bass delivery is moved across to the Sub. Even with as good a bass device as a 5, the small size of its enclosure relative to bass delivery needs suggests that this ought to be significant. In theory.

The best thing to do would be to get one on a returnable basis and see for yourself. For a 1 pair, it is a no brainer.
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Btw, I've got the SUB and 4 play5s (2nd gen) so I've heard with and without. So although it does add some low end across a larger area it is not a huge change and there is very little is any at all change in the mids or the volume or any other sound qualities. So if the listener wanted to have a dance party in a large house-maybe it would be worth around 800 to add to the 5 pair in that scenario....
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Thanks guys for your answer.
I have to say, reading your feedback, im cold feet to splurge so much money if the added value is not significant. I was considering to order it, test it for a while and potentially return im not convinced it but Im pretty sure that that i would end up keeping it maybe for the wrong reasons (cost+hassle to return such a heavy beast).

@ Chirosono, how are your 4 play5s (2nd gen) connected : 2xLeft and 2 Right in the same room or 4 Play 5 spread around your place? If its the former, how does that sound compared to 1xLeft + 1xRight ?!?

N.
On the Sub question, I don't think it would be worth the money to add it to a play 5 pair to have it sound better at low volumes. Leaving loudness turned on all the time should do the trick, because the loudness toggle boosts bass only at low volumes, an effect that works for most people/rooms, and the new 5 units have excellent low frequency response in the first place.

With the next gen 5 pair, I expect a Sub to add value only where the pair cannot go loud enough for the room, to obtain the bass energy required.
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I have 2 stereo pairs in separate rooms
In my opinion, if you are extremely sensitive to midrange clarity, adding SUB is a plus. This is a matter of personal preference. To some extent it is a "The Princess and the Pea" situation. As always the goodness of sound is in the ear of the listener and we are all different -- and we are all correct in the end.
Awesome thread. Exactly what I wanted to hear. I have two of the new play 5s in stereo and was thinking about getting the sub in the future. Coming from a Logitech Z‑5500 5.1 setup, I feel that the new play 5 is lacking the bass that my Logitech easily pumps out. On the plus side, the Logitech can not compete with stereo separation and clarity of the play 5s. So, does anyone know if the Sonos Sub as good if not, better than the Logitech Z‑5500?

I'm six months late to reply but I just received my Sub today and I own some Logitech Z-5500s. (couple sets actually because I liked them so much)
It's actually been several years since I've used the Logitechs, but I feel the Sonos sub is at least as good, most likely much better than the Logitech sub.
Of course, one's definition of better various between people.

FWIW, I listen to a lot of electronic type music. For myself, I feel the Sonos Sub absolutely improved my Play 5 G2s. (Stereo Pair in vertical position)

I just purchased another Play 5 G1 tonight to pair with another one I have here and plan to put them in the same room with the bass turned way down and at low volume. One stereo set in front of me and one behind. Yeah I know, it's probably not the "right" way to set them up, but I enjoy the way it sounds.

EDIT: I noticed after I posted that Lyzheng now had the Sub. 🙂
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Great to hear! 😃 Sounds like a nice enveloping setup you are building 🙂
Interestingly enough, just last night I got a SUB to add to my pair of gen2 Play:5s. I am happy with it so far. It makes a small difference on some songs and a huge difference on other songs. I have my tv plugged into the line-in on one of my 5s and it really pops there. I found the setting the SUB to half way between the max and mid setting worked best.
the suggestions from earlier in the thread and turn off the loudness and trueplay and see what happens.


I joined the community just to participate in this thread.
I had picked up 2 Play 5:Gen 2 few months back, but never really figured out what to do with them, as my main TV system was a Bose Accoustimass 10 paired with an Onkyo receiver. I finally decided to get rid of all the wired stuff, and replaced it all with the Play 5's. The first question I asked was whether it was now worth to invest in a SUB, as I have the TV also hooked through the Line-IN.
I am definitely going to buy the SUB and see if it makes any difference.
Having already been impressed with my Play:5, I wanted to get another and the ideal opportunity came-up with the 15% anniversary offer and I picked-up a Sub at the same time. I figured that I'd use it for music and then if I ever get a TV setup I'd use the Sub for that instead (with whatever system Sonos were selling at the time).

Anyway, while this is an old thread I just wanted to chime-in and say it was useful as I knew before I went to purchase the Sub that there wouldn't be a night & day difference when paired with 2 Play:5s - thanks forum!

So if you're like I was a month or 2 ago hitting this thread after a Google search and wondering whether to get a Sub to compliment the gen 2 Play:5s that you're buying for music, then I'd suggest just go with the pair of Play 5s as they're a solid purchase and then revisit the Sub after a few months if you feel there's something lacking.
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This is an older thread but I figured I’d chime in as I have recently added a sub to my pair of play:5s (gen 2).

First off, I don’t really watch TV, so I use this as an audio system solely.

How it boils down for me is that it really depends what type of music you listen to. I listen to everything from folk to hip hop. When bass is involved it is a significant improvement with the SUB. I wouldn’t so much as say nessisary as the 5s hold their own, but the sub adds a layer to the music that steps it into a much more enveloped experience, one that feels, to me, to be more complete. It becomes a much greater multi layered, non directional sound. If you are on the fence and buy one on a trial/returnable period be careful. The 5s are phenomenal until you add the sub, then, they start to sound a little flat in comparison! Haha.

That said, there are many tracks I listen to that the sub adds absolutely no value. In those moments, however, I don’t doubt the overall value it adds to the system as a whole. And then there’re tracks that my smile tickles at how great it sounds. For the most part I am a believer that good bass shouldn’t be overly noticeable, but increase rhe texture and depth of the sound in an unobtrusive and subtle way, and that is 100% accomplished by its addition.

I personally prefer not use TRUEPLAY with the sub, as I tend to adjust the levels a little bit more regularly when it’s connected (and wish there were a more convenient EQ, or at a minimum just have the sub controls in the regular EQ section as opposed to on their own tucked away in menus)

Is it worth it? Well, that is subjective. If you can swing the cost it certainly adds to the system. Is it needed? No. Is it appreciated? Absolutely.


Questions I’m left with and curious to hear others thoughts:

1) for a similar cost you could do a 5.1 system with the Playbar, two 1’s, and a sub. How would this compare to a pairs of 5s and the sub? I think I’d miss the line in jack as I connect AirPlay to my system.

2) is the phenomenal native bass response in the 5s being wasted when adding a sub? In other words, part of what you’re paying for with the 5s is their full depth sound, what are the benefits of the 5s+Sub, compared to a pair of 1’s+sub?

2) is the phenomenal native bass response in the 5s being wasted when adding a sub? In other words, part of what you’re paying for with the 5s is their full depth sound, what are the benefits of the 5s+Sub, compared to a pair of 1’s+sub?

An objective answer is possible to only the first question with a Yes, in comparison to when a Sub is added to a 1 pair. To the second, the benefits are better sound quality - although even this is a subjective assessment - and even more subjective would be the comparison of this versus the extra cost to be paid for the extra benefit and whether the net difference of cost/benefit is negative or positive. And where the second question is concerned, without listening, all answers are of little use.