Play:1 sound quality

  • 2 November 2013
  • 21 replies
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Userlevel 2
I received my pair of Play:1's a couple of days ago, and set them up as a stereo pair in the living room.
I already owned a Play:5, and I'm really disappointed about the sound quality of the Play:1 stereo pair vs. the single Play:5.
I hear significant distortion in some songs, and really flat sound overall. I know I cannot expect the sound quality of the Play:5, but based on all the very positive reviews concerning sound quality, and the fact that I set them up as a stereo pair, I expected much better sound quality.
I already tried to tweak with loudness and equalizer, but don't get a sound which meets my expectations
Has anyone else already experience (positive or negative) with these speakers?
I contacted via the web form the Support Desk to see if I can change the speakers for another pair, in case something would be wrong, but I doubt so...

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21 replies

Userlevel 2
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I got a single Play 1 for a bedroom this morning.

As usual 2 minutes to setup and I played my reference Steely Dan material through it and was very impressed with how good this thing sounds. The music has so many nuances and layers, yet I was able to pick out pretty much everything.

The thought of a stereo pair came to me straight away, but now I'll wait and see for other comments.
Userlevel 2
I bought a Play 1 today and was very disappointed. When I put on some music it sounded like something was loose within the speaker. I immediately returned the unit. I cannot believe this is Sonos quality so I think something went wrong in the production process.
Userlevel 2
I'll try to be fair and unbiased:

I think anyone who already owns a SONOS product would eventually be disappointed if you attempt to compare it with a higher-end models. This simply cannot be done. Indirectly, you're asking SONOS to produce a product which sounds better; is cheaper and smaller...

What most reviews did, which I tend to believe, is just comparing any comparable product. And, in that range, the SONOS Play:1 appear to make a marvelous job.

I have a Play:5, Playbar, SUB and now two Play:1 and to be honest to I did feel disappointed when I first listened music on a standalone Play:1 but what could I expect after being used to a Play:5 and a Playbar with a SUB?
Even the Play:3 which I tried at a store felt like a disapointment when I had the chance to listen to it.

Nonetheless, after pairing the Play:1's in stereo, I was very pleasantly surprised and liked the sound they produced. By any means, I'm no hardcore audiophile but I strongly insist that you are trying to compare apples with oranges and that debate upon the Play:1's performance against higher-end models is a non sense.
I bought a Play 1 today and was very disappointed. When I put on some music it sounded like something was loose within the speaker. I immediately returned the unit. I cannot believe this is Sonos quality so I think something went wrong in the production process.

So, did you exchange it or just return it?
Userlevel 1
I bought a Play 1 today and was very disappointed. When I put on some music it sounded like something was loose within the speaker. I immediately returned the unit. I cannot believe this is Sonos quality so I think something went wrong in the production process.

Or it could have been dropped in transit, not really fair to blame Sonos for that. I've been listening to my new play:1 for about 4 hours straight today and frankly it's remarkable for its size.

No rattles or distortion on any tracks either, so any unit exhibiting either of those traits is clearly damaged and needs to be returned for an exchange.
Userlevel 2
This morning when I started this thread, I only had the opportunity to shortly listen to some music (mainly internet radio) on my stereo pair of Play:1’s.

This evening though, I tested them for several hours.
After tweaking the equaliser settings (turned loudness off, increased treble with 3-4 steps and bass with 2 steps), I did get a sound quality which I enjoyed.

I played several songs converted to relatively high quality (+320 kbps) with a lot of variety in tone, depth and spectrum, and I must say I changed my mind: I am impressed by the sound these little speakers produce.

I guess the speakers do have difficulties to reproduce correctly in some situations (I have the impression full loaded, high volume recorded music with the full spectrum of tones present), but this evening, I did not encounter the issues I first had difficulties with.

Celestian02 certainly touched a point in that we cannot expect these speakers to reach the level of the bigger Play’s. Although I have no point of comparison for similar sized and priced speakers, they do are impressive in depth and volume they can produce!

So after all, a happy owner of a stereo pair of Play:1 ;-)

Next step is adding a Sub (which will certainly improve the experience significantly) and ultimately a Playbar to connect to the TV and to create the surround set-up.
Userlevel 2
Or it could have been dropped in transit, not really fair to blame Sonos for that. I've been listening to my new play:1 for about 4 hours straight today and frankly it's remarkable for its size.

No rattles or distortion on any tracks either, so any unit exhibiting either of those traits is clearly damaged and needs to be returned for an exchange.


I have 2x play3 with a sub. I also have a zoneplayer for years. I am very satisfied with these. I bought the Play1 at a webshop and I didn't hear the play1 before I unboxed my purchase. I think something is wrong with the unit because i definetly could hear something being loose in the unit or it sounded like that. I will go to a shop nearby next week to check in the store the sound of the play1. If i do not hear the loose "thing" I will buy one for sure.
Userlevel 2
I've had a Play 5 for about a year (plus a Connect) and bought a pair of Play 1's at UK launch last week.

I'm very pleased with the Play 1's. I think a pair of Play 1's is superior to a Play 5 if you have the right location. If I was adding a room I'd go for another pair of 1's again, instead of a P5. However if you needed line in or out, then you would need a P5.

Users who have been disappointed with their first trail, may have forgotten that most speaker need to be 'run in' for a few hours before they start to reach optimum performance and can often sound quite tinny out of the box.
On a personal note, I have been pretty impressed with what I've heard from the Play:1. But even as a stereo pair, it will never reproduce the same quality in middle and middle-to-low frequencies that the Play:5 does. It will give you nice room-filling sound though.
Again, personally, it is now the Play:3 that I find to be the weakest link. It's not quality sound like the Play:5, and it's not an affordable (well, to me) speaker like the Play:1 is. To me, Play:1 compares better to Play:3 than Play:3 compares to Play:5. Play:1 is sooo suited to multiplication in different rooms... :-p

One caveat of the Play:1 is in its form. As it has plastic on top, placement is very important. Place it too high or too low compared to ear-heighth and the perceived sound quality might be too weak.
Userlevel 2
I would agree with Humberbart. I really like the power of the Play:5 but in an apartment for example, it is not something that one might require.

At the moment, my Play:5 is in my bedroom and its power is above what I would need in my 10/12 sq. meters bedroom. In my living room (20 sq. meters), I really found the Play:1s (stereo) to be enjoyable in stereo providing me with enough power to fill up the room with sound to an extent that would not annoy my neighbors.

Nonetheless, if you live in a house and can turn up the volume way up. I can understand a Play:5 or 2 Play:5s are something more enjoyable but at a reasonable sound volume, the Play:1s are fit for the job.
Userlevel 2
Very interesting - I am considering 2x Play 1s for use with my Playbar + sub as rear surround speakers.

Can anyone advise as to how they perform in this scenario? I had hoped to use 2 x Play 3s but we are currently a bit limited for space in terms of our lounge area.
Userlevel 2
In my opinion, while it is true the Play:1 is smaller, I don't think the Play:3 would take much more space considering it will stand in a vertical position. Obviously, it will be taller and I don't know your room configuration but I would say the difference is marginal.

Now, as I was mentioning, whether you should go for Play:3 depend on your room size, your audio exigence and whether you plan to use your speakers as much for movies as for music.

In a surround configuration, my Play:1's stand between 0.8/1m from me and they do their job perfectly. I don't think there would be an added value to choose Play:3s as surround speakers because of the definition of surround speakers which remain support speakers in your audio setup. Thus, the difference shouldn't be, if not at all noticeable.

I have been playing a lot with my 5.1 setup this week-end; trying out again Play:1 itself, in a stereo configuration, with and without a SUB and playing as a stereo pair along the Playbar + SUB and my recommendations would be:

The obvious: if you principal incentive for buying these is 5.1 setup to enjoy your movies, then you shouldn't spend the extra money on Play:3s.

The not so obvious:
- If listening to music is equally, if not more important, then you should take into consideration how you will listen to it. If you would only use the stereo pair (alongside a potential SUB) to listen to music without the Playbar and if you have high exigence in terms of audio quality, you should go for the Play:3s
- If you plan to listen to music while having the Play:3s in stereo and the Playbar+SUB playing as well the same music, you will get a truly great sound in your whole room (this was the most enjoyable to me and it will rock in parties) and I don't think you will be able to perceive much of a difference between a Play:1 and Play:3s with the Playbar+SUB participating in filling your room with sound.

Nonetheless, I am currently listening to my Play:1s in stereo configuration without the Playbar+SUB and I am, once again, satisfied. In this configuration, I don't expect to push my speakers to a really high volume and it's more of an ambiance mood while I'm in the room.

Hope my feedback can help you in your choice.

P.S: you should also know that currently, there is no easy way to switch from a 5.1 to stereo configuration in your sonos setup. You have to remove the surround speakers from your 5.1 setup and then make them a stereo pair every single time.
Sonos planned a new feature to address this but when this will be available, this is another question 😉
Userlevel 2
I've added a single Play 1 to my system in the Bathroom. The sound quality in a 4mx2m tiled room is great - but echoy !! No complaints for me in this application.:)
Userlevel 2
In my opinion, while it is true the Play:1 is smaller, I don't think the Play:3 would take much more space considering it will stand in a vertical position. Obviously, it will be taller and I don't know your room configuration but I would say the difference is marginal.

Now, as I was mentioning, whether you should go for Play:3 depend on your room size, your audio exigence and whether you plan to use your speakers as much for movies as for music.

In a surround configuration, my Play:1's stand between 0.8/1m from me and they do their job perfectly. I don't think there would be an added value to choose Play:3s as surround speakers because of the definition of surround speakers which remain support speakers in your audio setup. Thus, the difference shouldn't be, if not at all noticeable.

I have been playing a lot with my 5.1 setup this week-end; trying out again Play:1 itself, in a stereo configuration, with and without a SUB and playing as a stereo pair along the Playbar + SUB and my recommendations would be:

The obvious: if you principal incentive for buying these is 5.1 setup to enjoy your movies, then you shouldn't spend the extra money on Play:3s.

The not so obvious:
- If listening to music is equally, if not more important, then you should take into consideration how you will listen to it. If you would only use the stereo pair (alongside a potential SUB) to listen to music without the Playbar and if you have high exigence in terms of audio quality, you should go for the Play:3s
- If you plan to listen to music while having the Play:3s in stereo and the Playbar+SUB playing as well the same music, you will get a truly great sound in your whole room (this was the most enjoyable to me and it will rock in parties) and I don't think you will be able to perceive much of a difference between a Play:1 and Play:3s with the Playbar+SUB participating in filling your room with sound.

Nonetheless, I am currently listening to my Play:1s in stereo configuration without the Playbar+SUB and I am, once again, satisfied. In this configuration, I don't expect to push my speakers to a really high volume and it's more of an ambiance mood while I'm in the room.

Hope my feedback can help you in your choice.

P.S: you should also know that currently, there is no easy way to switch from a 5.1 to stereo configuration in your sonos setup. You have to remove the surround speakers from your 5.1 setup and then make them a stereo pair every single time.
Sonos planned a new feature to address this but when this will be available, this is another question ;)


Thank you for your advice - I would be using the Play 1s as rear speakers and wouldn't be too concerned about using as additional music speakers. I have a Playbar & Sub + a Play 3 which I use in the dining room.

I think the Play 1s are looking like an ideal option for surround sound. Thanks again.
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I purchased a single Play 1 on Saturday as we needed to get some background music to a patio area for a BBQ.

I did not have particularly high expectations of the Play 1 based on the size, or what I could hear on the demo unit at the store, but remained a little more optimistic based on the reviews.

What a sensational little unit, great sound considering the size and price point. It got a real workout from our guests :D

In fact liked it so much, went out first thing Monday morning to buy a second to make a stereo pair, better again, very happy !
I am considering to buy 2 Play 1 (stereo) devices and a Sonos SUB. Is this supported?
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Userlevel 1
I am considering to buy 2 Play 1 (stereo) devices and a Sonos SUB. Is this supported?
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Yessir.
Userlevel 2
I really like the sound on the Play 1 over the Play3, more rappid sound or punchier

Think it's because of the Mono setup or just that the Play 3 must be played louder to get same effect

I've tried to shut of the loudness on the Play 3 and also have it vertical wich I Think is more to my likening with loudness on

I'll need Another Play 1 for sure, then a Playbar then a S... DAMN


SeYa/Ambrose...
I came from a Play 5 to 2 Play 1's, and yes the sound quality is very much different and kinda ruined my experience BUT after a couple hours of listening I placed my Play 1's very far apart from each other in stereo pair and I'm so impressed that I have decided to keep them due to this, if you listen to orchestral music then 2 play 1's in wide stereo is AMAZING.
Test run the Sub bonded to the 1 pair and placed somewhere between the two, as close to the centre as practical, and prepare to be even more amazed! But do so only if you plan to keep the Sub if you get the value for money it provides.
PS: Now and also if you try the Sub, see what Trueplay does to further improve the sound as well.