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

  • 14 January 2016
  • 66 replies

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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.



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66 replies

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I realize this is an old thread,but figured I’d input my experience since I got some nice ideas from a few of you folks.

Well,I finally got things up and running.First off….ARGH!….The tech guy I spoke to at Sonos recommended the WRONG smart phone for me to buy,after I’d called them and stated I was moving from an old flip phone to a new smart phone(finally)…...The Android phone he recommended,which I got,could not support the Trueplay feature!

I was pissed,but after speaking with a manager,we came to an agreement for me,down the road,if I wish to get any new/more advanced design in the future.I’m thinking something like the next generation Play 5 model…...Who knows? Time will tell.

I did not want to beat up on anyone,because I have a great deal of experience in audio equipment from the past and this particular thread gave me some good ideas….regarding playing around with EQ(I also have a friend who can eventually log onto my Sonos acct,with his “correct” I phone and allow me to try the Trueplay…..but….it will cost me a bottle of wine and a free dinner for him(ha).…….

My room acoustics turned out to be quite god overall.It is  not a large room,but small-ish but so darn good acoustically! It vents energy out on one side,so the system can be played loudly,if needed.

I have a semi attached condo and just got some new neighbors,whose hound dog likes to howl and bark pretty often.It does not bother me too much,because I figure people have to live their lives…...and….I knew that with my new Sonos stereo Play 5’s coupled with the sub(phenomenal product,btw and really adds an improvement muscally/tonally and with “musical clout”) I could literally “nuke them” any time I want….Yuk.

I will be trying the Trueplay in about a week or so,but right now here’s what i have found….Not that many of you owners don’t know already…..

In the normal setting with loudness on the sound “at first” seemed OK…..I played stuff from Diana Krall to Kraftwerk,to Tine Hat Trio,to John Zorn. and the wife wanted Barbara Streisand in Concert.

After an hour of listening(since I know these recordings well,from my old high end system(long since gone) it all began to sound rather flattish and kinda’ dull…..To the average person,just wanting a nice sound it was fine,but my pal has the Play 5 pair with Trueplay(no sub) and it sounded better at his home…..Better depth/detail/sound stage!

I figured I could play with the EQ for a while and this made a rather large improvement sonically….Clearly audible!

I wound up not using the “loudness feature” and adding only about another 10-15% more bass…..This meant that the bass was a little past the halfway point on the EQ….but…..I fooled around alot just to get it right…..and…..If I never could get my friend over to hear what the Trueplay can do I’d be just fine…..It’s really that good!

This coming from someone who owned Avalon speakers,driven by Jeff Rowland/Audio Research/Mark Levinson equipment in the past.

This Sonos combination of stereo Play 5’s coupled with the Sonos sub and a “good” line filter/surge suppressor is sensational and I don’t mis my old hi-fi set up at all.

More tweaking to come,with regards to the Trueplay vs the EQ…..but….if I never go beyond what I am hearing now I’ll be beyond happy nevertheless.

Regards to all and sorry for my long winded post.


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Whew! I was researching the Sonos Stereo Play 5’s paired with the sub and came upon this thread and I just got this exact combination.I am currently recovering from a medical procedure(I’m fine) and am not able to set it up,but looking at the boxes is really giving me the itch to dig in.

To be honest,I was a very serious audio hobbyist for decades and have had numerous systems over the years.I had 2 sub/stereo speaker pairings and found the sub set up extremely room/placement. dependent….It was very hard to get clean mids and the blend was very difficult.

So,having sold my stuff a few years ago,I come to this Sonos set up and am pretty enthralled to give it a “modern go”!

To be honest I am anxious over all of this,because I am an old world audio guy.This new high tech stuff is a bit intimidating,but I know I can ultimately get a handle on it…..I know Sonos has support and have always worked things out in the past….We’ll see….Ha!

Just some anxiety ridden bloviating on my part...Forgive me.


Really interesting how the ear works. I really thought that I had found the perfect setting for me. (See above). 
but somehow during listening to some songs I couldn’t help but notice there was room for improvement. Sometimes the bass was muffled and turning down the bass made the music less involving. I therefore started from zero. Now, for a week or so, I think I nailed it. My settings:

trueplay off

loudness off

sub neutral (0)

bass 2

treble 4

I had to convince to let go off trueplay and loudness. I tried all kind of settings just to keep them ‘in’ as you might have read. But bottomline is, they sound so much better without them, as long as you compensate a little depending on your room characteristics and your taste of course. 
I believe the these are the settings for me. For the first time I don’t feel the urge to change anything.  Enjoy!



@Dreyfus You are right of course. Room characteristics and taste define what we perceive as the best listening experience. And also the fact that after a while we get used to a specific ’soundcolour’. 
For the last couple of days I decided to leave trueplay on. I enhanced the bass by placing the slider of the sub about halfway. Also I cranked up the bass and treble a little on the eq of the play 5’s. I kept loudness on. Without loudness the sound is, at least in my experience, rather flat and dull.

I must say that with these new settings the sound seems more balanced. Especially the midtones seem more defined. Classical music for instance sounds better, for instance it is easier to recognize different instruments. Also the bass is less muddy listening to pop or rock (I have a broad taste :-) ). 

I will try these settings for a few weeks I think. Because of course the main thing is to enjoy the music, not the fiddling around with settings. (Nevertheless I remain curious how the settings could work with loudness off also. Reading that some find this to be the closest to audiophile sound. ;-) )


Userlevel 1

Hi everyone,

I am fortunate enough (spent a lot of money though) to have both the play 5’s and a sub in the same room as the soundbar, two play ones and a (second) sub. That means that i have two setups. One for music and one for watching movies. 

The difference in sound between the setups is significant and serves their different purpose well. 

I als fiddled around a lot with the EQ. Whereas trueplay made a huge difference in my 5.1 setup, it did very little with the play 5’s. In fact the sound got (much) worse. It was flat and all base had gone. I then tried a lot of settings and found the following setting works best for me. Rich in sound and detail, while not too much bass. 

I use loudness on, bass and treble plus 1,  trueplay off,  and the sub at -8, so turned down a lot. This makes for a rich immersive sound. F

Thought I just share this with you. Maybe you can try. 



@pavadebo thanks for posting this, it is interesting to read some else’s experience.  As I note above I also have a set-up consisting of two play5s (2nd Gen) and a sub.  I use at both for listening to music and as my tv’s audio system.  With the play5s placed in a traditional triangular arrangement with the listening position,  and well clear of any walls.  However, I did experiment with positioning one and both play5s deliberately as sub-optimally as I could.  In corners, angled toward side walls and even facing into corners.  In these cases, trueplay made a significant difference.  

I think what your and my experience shows is how important different room conditions are, and how systems like trueplay can help depending on the circumstances.

I have found that a neutral eq setting with loudness off is best.  This again will be room dependent and also likely also dependent on auditory neural processing based preferences, aka “taste” 😂

One other thing with respect to speaker positioning.  Before I added the sub, my 2 play5s generated an noticeable low frequency resonance (obviously a characteristic of my room).  After adding the sub, the resonance no longer occurs even though the bass range has been extended.  I put this down to the offending resonant frequencies now being generated predominantly from a more favourable location nearer the floor.  Another, albeit room dependant and unforeseen, benefit of adding the sub.


finally I also have a play bar and two Sonos ones in another room.  With that setup, like you I found trueplay to make an audible improvement.  In my case evening out excessive boomy resonance.

Hi everyone,

I am fortunate enough (spent a lot of money though) to have both the play 5’s and a sub in the same room as the soundbar, two play ones and a (second) sub. That means that i have two setups. One for music and one for watching movies. 

The difference in sound between the setups is significant and serves their different purpose well. 

I als fiddled around a lot with the EQ. Whereas trueplay made a huge difference in my 5.1 setup, it did very little with the play 5’s. In fact the sound got (much) worse. It was flat and all base had gone. I then tried a lot of settings and found the following setting works best for me. Rich in sound and detail, while not too much bass. 

I use loudness on, bass and treble plus 1,  trueplay off,  and the sub at -8, so turned down a lot. This makes for a rich immersive sound. 

Thought I just share this with you. Maybe you can try. 



Userlevel 1

I know this thread is ancient now, but I just want to add my impression for the record.

I added a sub to my 2nd gen Play 5 stereo pair a few days ago.  I bought the play 5s a over a year ago and held off adding the sub as I was skeptical that it would make a significant difference.  Having finally decided to give the sub a go, I can report that I was wrong to be skeptical.  The difference the sub has made ranges from subtle to significant depending on the bass content of the music being played - not surprisingly, I suppose what I am trying to say is that the contribution this unit makes seems to be appropriate to the the music being played - I did have a concern that the effect might be over-stated.  There does seem to be an improvement generally in the mid-range and the bass extension is better formed without, as noted above, being over-stated.  The increase in clarity in the mid-range is something of a surprise in that it is so noticeable.  I suppose the crossover logic has changed, resulting in less bass being fed to the play 5s with the end result that the mid-woofers are now being asked to transduce a frequency range more suited to their physical characteristics.

I am pleased I bought the sub, for me it is worth it. 

Absolutely add the sub in with your Play.5 stereo pair!! A single play.5 in my opinion has great sound across the board. Adding the sub into the stereo pair lets the speakers handle more of the highs and midrange, while the sub handles all the lows. My stereo EQ is set flat across the board with the loudness off, the sub is turned up 1 to 3 notches (depending on what genres playing). It's glorious, I highly suggest adding the sub.
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Update #2: put some acoustic foam underneath the feet to decouple from my suspended floor. Made a big difference has cleaned up the bottom end significantly. Lack of rigid mounting unimportant due to opposing firing drivers, unlike conventional uni directional drivers that need to be rigidly fixed in space.
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FWIW here's my experience. My 5 gen2 stereo pair replaced a Hegel amp, a pair of ATC SC40mk2 and a JH audio sub about 2 tears ago, and whilst not as powerful sounding, the midrange and detail was right there with my old system. I've just added the sub, as sweet as the 5 bottom end is they struggle to fill my lounge when you crank it up. The sub makes a huge difference to my ears, and it's easy to over do it. Mine is set to mid level, no EQ bass boost and definitely no loudness. It's punchy, taught and extended without getting boomy or bloated. OK, the 750W JH could shake the walls and floor literally, but sonically the sonos system is not far behind it at a fraction of the cost. Personally I live it, and the house is slowly filling up with play 1s in every other room.
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I'd suggest folks try the Loudness option under the room settings as it can help the low end at lower playback levels, if that doesn't do the job then the Sub is the way to go.
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I am new to the community, Sonos and audiophile in general. Been following the community silently for a few months now, thank you all for the great insights.

I recently upgraded my Play5 Gen2 to a stereo pair. Rearranged the relatively large family area, ran TruePlay and the results were amazing. However I found there was a lack of bass especially at lower volumes even with EQ adjustments.

I decided to invest in a sub for the pair and have no regrets. EQ is all set at neutral now except for the sub which is as 65%.
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Just to be clear, I’m not referring to ‘money wasted’ as so much as ‘bass wasted’ which I do think is a spectrum and worth considering.
There is no spectrum in the statement that more of the price paid for the 5 is wasted as compared to that paid for the 1. One can debate the dollars wasted, but that isn't useful.

As to how the 5 pair seems to offer something that a 1 pair cannot handle, it again gets down to the only thing that matters in home audio - what one hears, which is always subjective, while also depending on the room acoustics. Instrument measurements or technicals are only a guide to what may be heard and are more useful for designers/makers.

If a 1 pair + sub in my room with my music sounds better to me than a 5 pair + sub, it IS better as far as I am concerned. And vice versa.

Which is why listening tests remain the supreme decider. All else is just an aid to short listing the candidates.

My guess though is that the difference between a 5 pair and a 1 pair would be more than 5 pair + Sub and 1 pair + Sub. With the same dollar difference.
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^in regards to the bass.
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“An objective answer is possible to only the first question with a Yes”

Hey Kumar, thanks for your reply. From a binary perspective I agree. Yes, some of the value of the 5s is wasted. But if we can consider it on a spectrum I think a valuable dialogue, imo, is to what degree. It is my sense (and forgive my lack of any technical rhetoric) that while the SUB is handling the lower frequencies, the woofers in the 5 are still active to a degree and playing bass frequencies that don’t quite fall into the lower register that the sub handles. So with that it seems the 5s are still offering a clarity and prowess that a pair of 1s still would be unable to handle.

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.
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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?
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.
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.
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Great to hear! 😃 Sounds like a nice enveloping setup you are building 🙂
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. 🙂
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.
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I have 2 stereo pairs in separate rooms
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.