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Volume “fullness” lacking

  • 20 November 2020
  • 13 replies
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I recently purchased a Sonos Five and have not found it to be particularly loud. I do not listen to my music at very high levels, however, I was surprised that even when the slider is half way—as in the photo below—it is not as immersive or room-filling as I expected. I was curious how others find the volume level or if I’m missing something here?

I like to listen to my music, not be deafened by it. Certainly when I slide the volume up to ¾ it gets plenty loud, as measured by pure output of sound, but I do not find that it has the same fullness or presence of my 20 year-old stereo bookshelf speakers. The clarity is very good, and modern music is fine, but in the subtleties of classical music I’m afraid I find it lacking the fullness I’m seeking. Any thoughts or tips?

 

 

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Best answer by ForwardKnowledge 25 November 2020, 00:16

I’d like to report back some good news. I received the replacement Five in the mail today and after setting it up and listening to a few sample tracks, I can definitively say that the sound is much more what I was thinking it would be. At only 25% volume, the sound is quite full, lively, and robust. It’s well balanced in the room and I expect it to get better over the next several days since I just completed the Trueplay a few hours ago. I’m now really looking forward to getting a second Five to create a stereo pair in the near future!

(As for my question about the Move, I believe that it has more to do with the sound mixing of certain audio books and/or the weaker support and integration from Audible’s side.)

I’d like to thank the forum as you were my first line of defense; and I’d especially like to thank Sonos support as well: They were prompt, polite, patient, and really helpful with my issue.

 

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I should add: When the volume is only ¼ of the way up, the sound is very quiet. It’s audible, but it’s so low that it’s not possible to hear anything of substance. 

The volume scale is not linear, so what it does half way is completely irrelevant.  The only question that matters is ‘does it go as loud as you could ever possibly want or expect a single speaker to and is it still clear?’.  What is the answer to that question?

You are mixing two issues here.

First, let the slider be as high as it needs to go, to get the sound levels you want, and I am pretty sure that will happen before they reach 100 percent.

Second, any comparison of one 5 with a speaker pair of the kind you refer to is simply not apples to apples- I am not saying that you will prefer a 5 pair, but deploying that is the only way to come to a apples to apples basis on which pair sounds better to you, with both pairs placed in the same part of the room.

Thank you both for these helpful points. So would it be more accurate to describe the volume slider as being on a more exponential scale?

It didn’t seem like a linear scale. But either way, the problem with this is that the lower end of the volume is much too quiet and the higher end much too loud. So one’s ability to fine-tune the volume is rather limited to only a few clicks left or right of center.

@Kumar, you also make a good point: I shouldn’t necessarily compare one Five to a pair of stereo speakers. That said, the selling point behind Sonos is that it offers immersive and room-filling sound. I have the Beam and that fills a large living room quite well when I’m listening to music; I also have a One SL next to my desk, and the volume on the lower levels (about ¼ to 1/3 up) is plenty loud and very clear and robust).

I suppose the problem might also be a software issue that requires an update or some internal fine-tuning on Sonos’ part.  All I’m saying is that I was very impressed with both the Beam and the One SL, but unfortunately I don’t find a single Five to be better than a single One SL. That strikes me as odd.

Thank you both for these helpful points. So would it be more accurate to describe the volume slider as being on a more exponential scale?

It didn’t seem like a linear scale. But either way, the problem with this is that the lower end of the volume is much too quiet and the higher end much too loud. So one’s ability to fine-tune the volume is rather limited to only a few clicks left or right of center.

@Kumar, you also make a good point: I shouldn’t necessarily compare one Five to a pair of stereo speakers. That said, the selling point behind Sonos is that it offers immersive and room-filling sound. I have the Beam and that fills a large living room quite well when I’m listening to music; I also have a One SL next to my desk, and the volume on the lower levels (about ¼ to 1/3 up) is plenty loud and very clear and robust).

I suppose the problem might also be a software issue that requires an update or some internal fine-tuning on Sonos’ part.  All I’m saying is that I was very impressed with both the Beam and the One SL, but unfortunately I don’t find a single Five to be better than a single One SL. That strikes me as odd.

Something must not be quite right in your setup. I have multiple One SLs and Fives (as well as some old Play: 3s) throughout the house and the Fives are very clearly louder, richer, and more resolving than the other speakers. You may want to check your settings carefully to be sure there’s nothing unusual going on with EQ, Trueplay, and Volume Limit.
 

Also, I noticed you mentioned volume “clicks”. You may have better luck using the volume slider in the app instead of the volume buttons on your phone, which in my experience don’t allow for small enough adjustments. 
 

If you get the volume issue sorted (I believe you will), I hope you have an opportunity to try a pair of Fives as a stereo set. They sound far better in this configuration than as a single speaker (as would be expected). 

Some excellent points from @acbarn , with which i totally agree.  I am assuming you are not using the line-in as the source?  I am surprised, too, at your assessment of the Five’s sound, although there is no right and wrong in these subjective judgements.

There are two ways in which you can improve the volume fine-tuning.

  1. Set a maximum volume percentage in the settings for the room
  2. If you use the slider, tap the slider bar to get the minimum possible increment / decrement

 

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It didn’t seem like a linear scale. But either way, the problem with this is that the lower end of the volume is much too quiet and the higher end much too loud. So one’s ability to fine-tune the volume is rather limited to only a few clicks left or right of center.


I suggest you use the Volume Limit option. I assume that is currently Off as you say it’s much too loud at the higher end.

If you set the Volume Limit initially low (say 40%), move the volume slider to the far right, then go back and increase the Volume Limit % until you reach a maximum loudness you are happy with, the volume slider will then allow for greater fine-tuning of volume as each volume increment on the slider is based on a smaller range.

Thanks for these tips and I will try them and report back.
 

Just FYI that I can have the volume at ¾ up as below yet still carry on a conversation without raising my voice, which seems strange. This is definitely not the case with my Beam or One SL.


My volume limit is currently off, and EQ settings are all neutral, in the default middle. 

 

 

 

Just FYI that I can have the volume at ¾ up as below yet still carry on a conversation without raising my voice, which seems strange.

 

 

For most genres of music, this should not be the case and points to a possible defective unit. Or one that is 30 to 40 feet away.

Badge +1

@ForwardKnowledge If you try the Five in the same room as your Beam or Sonos SL do you still have the same issues?

My Five is set up in a room that is only approximately 12’ by 12’, and I’m seated about 5 or 6 feet away. Even at 100% volume it is not intolerable (classical music) in that it does not blow me out of the room. Mind you, I’m not the kind of person who likes to listen to my music on full blast. On the contrary, I prefer lower levels of sound, but a good deal of power, such that I can hear the subtleties and complexities of the music.

(Unfortunately, I seem to also be having similar performance (or lack thereof) from a Move which I just purchased last week as well--so I’m wondering if might possibly be a software issue.)

In any case, I opened a ticket and did a diagnostics test with a Sonos rep online, who helped me do a reset but to no avail, so it’s likely that we will have warranty it with a replacement.

I am curious: Has anyone else experienced this with their Five, or all of you getting very loud sound output at less than 50%? I’d especially like to know if it is different for classical music and audio books?

It seems every classical music track I stream from iTunes needs to be played at least at 50% and more often than not at 75% to adequately hear the music.

For my Move, when listening to audio books via Audible, it needs to be at least 75% if it’s to compete with my kids talking normally in the next room over (door open) or in the shower. (And 100% is not “too loud” at all)

This can’t be normal?

I’d like to report back some good news. I received the replacement Five in the mail today and after setting it up and listening to a few sample tracks, I can definitively say that the sound is much more what I was thinking it would be. At only 25% volume, the sound is quite full, lively, and robust. It’s well balanced in the room and I expect it to get better over the next several days since I just completed the Trueplay a few hours ago. I’m now really looking forward to getting a second Five to create a stereo pair in the near future!

(As for my question about the Move, I believe that it has more to do with the sound mixing of certain audio books and/or the weaker support and integration from Audible’s side.)

I’d like to thank the forum as you were my first line of defense; and I’d especially like to thank Sonos support as well: They were prompt, polite, patient, and really helpful with my issue.

 

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