Is there a way to ugrade a pair of Play:5s to make them work well with symphony music

  • 27 December 2018
  • 7 replies


I have a pair of Play:5s (1st gen) and use them mainly to listen to classical music.
While this works well for chamber and solo music, it fails miserably for bigger orchestral pieces like concertos or symphonies.
The sound of symphony orchestra is flat, with no low end and everything mixed up together.
Timpani are weak and if there are too many brass instruments the sound breaks completely even though I do not listen at high volumes.
I have switched to lossless CD quality from MP3 and while there seems to be an improvement here, the general impression remains average.
I have the feeling (no science behind this statement) that symphony orchestra provides to many sounds (“channels”) and my poor Play:5s are unable to process all this wealth.
So as much as I like Sonos experience I’m disappointed with the sound quality for symphony music – the speakers I have do not seem to be the right choice for the task.

But here comes my question: Is there a way to improve here without switching to Connect or Amp?
Will adding a SUB or a Playbar help here?
Has anybody had similar problem and solved it by adding one of these?


This topic has been closed for further comments. You can use the search bar to find a similar topic, or create a new one by clicking Create Topic at the top of the page.

7 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +22
Have you tried the Trueplay tuning of the Play:5s. Sub will give you more low end.

Otherwise that's the best speaker Sonos makes. Going above that you need a Sonos Amp and then whatever speaker brand you want attached to the Sonos Amp (or if you have some you used to use).
@Chris. I think you may have missed the fact that the OP's P:5s are gen 1?

Jurek. The gen 2 Play:5 is, IMO, vastly superior to the gen 1. In fact, I have always felt that it should have been named differently. You could always get a pair direct from Sonos to trial, with no risk. To get anything better than that you would be looking at the new Sonos Amp and a budget of £600+ for the speakers, although I have always bought my passive speakers second hand or ex-demo.

I don't think the Sub is the best solution. I don't think the Sub would add much for symphonic music.
Hi, Thanks Chris and John for your answers. I do not have Trueplay in my controller app, I use Android. I'm not sure it is available on gen1 neither.

My thinking about Sub is that it will not only improve low end, but also by relieving Play:5s from playing low tones it will leave more capacity to handle mids and to some degree highs. But I may be totally wrong here.
The hopes related to Playbar go along the same lines: more drivers provide more capacity to process all the sounds present, so each of them will be pronounced better. Again, no solid knowledge behind this.

I've started to think about selling my old Play:5s and trying the new ones but it will take me a while to settle on this 🙂.
Userlevel 7
Badge +21
You can Trueplay the Gen 1 Plays 5s. Worth borrowing an iOS device just to get this done to see if it helps as it only takes five minutes and won't cost you anything beyond a cup of tea and a biscuit!

As to trying he Gen 2s. Why not buy them from Sonos, try (be sure to Trueplay!) and if still not good enough send back using the Sonos no quibble return policy?
Play:5 Gen2 is in a different league from Gen1. With a Sub as well, relieving them of the low end, the midrange is very good.
Decided to add a Sub to my two gen1 Play:5s and I’m veeery disappointed.
After reading all stuff about “relieving mid frequencies” or being submerged in the sound,
I turned it on, configured and – heard no improvement. Thought I failed to enable Sub,
but after turning it off – things got a little bit worse. So it was enabled, but its effect was minimal.
Of course it creates a lot of rumble with a music which uses lot of bas, but that’s not my expectation.
What’s also interesting, the sound is really directional – the Sub is almost silent, but the extra bas comes from Play:5s.
And after I turn Sub off, this extra bas from Play:5s stops.
I would think I’ve misconfigured something, but tried all the options and saw no difference.
So I plan to return it and slowly starting to think about migrating out of Sonos speakers realm
(still considering Amp, but not so sure neither).

If you know of third party speakers that deliver the sound quality you want, then the amp route will allow you that sound plus all Sonos benefits. But before you do this, be sure that these speakers are capable of the resolution levels you are looking for, because these can be challenging for most. And note that the sound from any speaker at home cannot come close to the real thing where complex orchestration is concerned.
But before you do that, I suggest an attempt at experimenting with the play 5 speaker placement, without the Sub, to see if they can deliver; I doubt that a well placed pair of even the first gen 5 units will fall so much behind a typical third party speaker pair as you seem to say. And yes, doing true play on a borrowed device is part of the extra effort.
If this works, only then consider adding the Sub for an extra level of richness, but remember to again true play the set up to eliminate bass bloat/rumble. The Sub however will not make a day/night difference to the resolution issue.