New Play 5 with Sub. Recommendations

  • 29 October 2015
  • 29 replies

I have ordered the new Play 5, my first Sonos speaker. I plan to use it primarily for music. I will eventually buy another Play 5 for a different floor of my house. My understanding from reviews that I have read is that there was a decent benefit to pairing the old Play 5 with the Sub. I would like to hear what the Community thinks about getting the Sub with the new Play 5. I looked at about 10 online review of the new Play 5 and only one mentioned the Sub and actually said the new Play 5 was good enough that the Sub wasn't required anymore. I know that no one here has had a chance to test it themselves, but I would still be interested in thoughts on the subject. Thank you.

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29 replies

Personally, if you are going to get a Sub, I'd pair it with two Play:1s. Better/equal performance and much, much better stereo separation.
Based on extensive use of a 1 pair + Sub, I expect that to run the new play 5 pair( minus Sub) very close on sound quality. I am sure we will see actual use reports/comparisons of that soon after the new 5 is available.

As to using a new 5 for music, I suspect a pair of those will not need the support of a Sub at all.
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I think i would be worried about my house falling down with all that bass.
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From personally using a SUB for over a year now I would have to say that ANY SONOS player you add it to it will bring a dramatic increase to the mix.

The PLAY:5 (gen2)'s are very, very impressive on their own but the SUB is designed for one thing, and that is to deliver you a room filling extra dimension of bass.
By adding the SUB to the mix your PLAY:5's will also be able to play louder and wider, so there are many advantages to adding a SUB.

The PLAY:5 (gen2) has great bass and it is well above what the original PLAY:5 had, but due to enclosure constraints I'm highly doubtful that it will reach the lowest of the lows like SUB (35Hz and lower), or completely fill out a room with thick bass. I'm sure it will do a very good job but personally I feel there is no match for a real subwoofer. - My SUB makes my house shake, I can feel it in the walls, the roof, the windows, the couch, everything. It really is a powerful subwoofer, but if you aren't worried too much about bass then the PLAY:5's will be fine on their own, if you feel like they lack bass then grab a SUB, it will definitely make a difference.
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I agree with kmjy and others (although have not heard the new Play:5 just going by specs of it).
The recommended approach for Subs with music - which also works for me - is that it should not be noticed when it is playing but it should be missed when it isn't. It should not draw attention to itself.

By that criteria, I suggest trying the new 5 pair without a Sub is the way to go. By all accounts, they don't need a Sub, and certainly not as much as a 1 pair does, but if you must feel thumping bass energy physically, the Sub can be added later.

The only question then though is whether the same sound can be had for a much lower price via a 1 pair+ Sub.
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I can 100% confirm from hearing these PLAY:5's myself that two PLAY:1's + SUB, and even two PLAY:3's + SUB will absolutely not even come close to the kind of sound that two PLAY:5 (Gen2's) + SUB will offer. These things are a MASSIVE step up and with SUB they sound like they turn into a different speaker again. The volume levels on these things are also RIDICULOUSLY LOUD, all while being 100% clear with one of the biggest sound-stages I've ever heard from speakers that size. Makes my PLAY:1's sound kind of flat in comparison, even though in reality the PLAY:1's are exceptionally sounding when paired with a SUB, just not a match for the huge step forward these new PLAY:5's offer. This really is next generation stuff.

I would definitely determine what to buy based on the room size and uses. All the players have a place somewhere, it's just a matter of finding the right one for you.
Good morning,
this is a very interesting topic, I was wondering about this myself (Play5 gen2 and Sub).
I was wondering, has any of you seen a measurment of the Play5 gen2 frequency response?
thank you,

In my opinion the measured frequency response of a speaker is not a very good predictor of ultimate enjoyment, but the PLAY:5 gen2 is very uniform. I don't have a certified measurement system or the time to post, but I was impressed with the smoothness of the PLAY:5's graph. If I can find the time, I might post my results, but don't hold your breath. And, my measurement was done in a "home" listening environment and would not correlate well with any industry standard techniques.

In addition to the obvious improvement in bass handling, a subwoofer improves the overall midrange clarity of a speaker system by offloading the bass (reducing the overall complexity of the main speaker's job).

And, in case you are wondering, in this particular room there is no significant difference, measured or listening, between Trueplay or not. In other rooms there is a profound difference between Trueplay or not. (No, I don't have suite of measurements to illustrate this)
Currently have two new 2nd generation Play5's in stereo pair with a PlaySub and its sounds incredible. Turn the sub off and its great turn it back on and it sounds so so much better dos more depth, have paired some Play1s with the sub and it works very nicely but 12 speakers plus sub is always going to give more detail than 4 speakers plus the sub and it does the detail is outstanding, have a splurge you won't regret it
I have had a Sonos Sub for two years in my living room, along with two paired Gen 1 Play 5's. I replaced the Gen 1 Play 5's this week with Gen 2 Play 5's. VERY HAPPY with the sonic upgrade of the new PLay 5's. Quite honestly, I could now probably get along without the Sub---to my ears, the new Play 5's have much better and much smoother bass response (and clearer middles) than the previous generation.

I'm keeping my Sub, because it's paid for and it comes into its own on certain material (e.g. FLAC streams of Ron Carter's acoustic jazz bass). But there is no longer such a strong case for needing to invest in the Sub in my modest-size house, IMO.
Mr Ironroot can you explain to a novice why you stream FLAC, I presume it sounds better but why? Look forward to your response, I also paired to Gen1 5's and it was good but the new setup is class, yet to blast it though!
Many (but not all) of the Deezer Elite music files are FLAC. Lossless and 5-times higher bit rate (1,411 kbps for FLAC, 320 kbps for MP3). Even with my old ears, I can hear more of the music in FLAC than with MP3.

Deezer Elite subscriptions are a special opportunity for Sonos USA owners. The subscription first became available to Sonos owners about a year ago (September 2014?). I stopped my Amazon Play music subscription service at that time and switched to Deezer Elite.
If the source material is the same, I am unable to distinguish between well recorded lossless and 256/320kbps, and I am not alone in this respect.

In almost every case, particularly for hi res, source is remastered and that is the reason for the difference in sound.

With all the tech in the 5 units allied to the way the brain works, I think the new 5 units will be quite adequate to deliver a high end listening experience. Unless tastes run to wanting the walls to move.
I have a playbar, sub, pair of play 1s and stereo pair of Gen 2 play 5s. I've been told it's overkill but I like it.
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I have SUB, playbar, 7 Play:1's, 2 Play:5 (1st gen), 2 Play:5 (2nd gen), 2 Play:3s.
I have been told it's overkill but I like it 🙂 🙂
I have a setup of 2 x Play 5 gen2 in bedroom + purchased recently 2 x Play 5 gen2 + SUB for living room.

Honestly, there is no major difference with SUB / no SUB in case you listen to music with around 25% volume. Once you move it up to 75% volume you will both feel and hear a difference clearly.

As I'm not listening as loud, I can say that it was overkill to purchase a SUB. As I have mentioned above - no major difference.

Additionally, keep in mind that it also depends on music you are listening to.

If I would have a choice again, I would buy additional set of 5s to fill room better then invest in SUB.

I have had a New play 5 for 3 months now, and I'm impressed with the sound quality and base at low to mid volume. However, once you exceed just over halfway, the base drops. To see what options are available, I borrowed a new play 5 and added to mine to test and base still drops just after half way (loudness turns off). I then added a subwoofer to just one new play 5 and was blown away by the extra base and power. There is a noticeable difference all round as the sub takes care of the base and the play 5 can then focus solely on producing great sound. The volume level also increased substantially when the sub is turned on.

End result, I bought a sub to add to 1 new play 5.

Just remember everybody has a different ear, and listen to different music, so opinions vary from person to person.
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I found a stereo pair of play5 to be more than enough bass and sound Quality even at high levels
I recently purchased a Play 5 gen 2. It's currently in my combined kitchen/living room space, which is quite large - and find that even at 90% volume it struggles to fill the space. Does adding a 2nd Play 5, allow you to play subjectively louder ?. Or would I need a sub, to really allow higher volumes - with the Play 5's doing less work bass wise ?
Two will basically double the volume. I'd definitely go that way not the Sub. You may find it best to put them at opposite ends of the space and group them rather than stereo pair them, but you can try out the possibilities for yourself.
The problem with large spaces is that music has to be too loud close to the speakers to be heard well in distant parts of the space. The only solution to this is to put in more speakers to allow for a more uniform sound level across the space, and placing two speakers in a manner which also gives the stereo effect is very rarely possible - perhaps never so.

Another option here would a couple of play 1 units and locate three speakers for best coverage across the entire space. It may also be possible to meet both objectives by pairing the 1 units as a stereo pair on one side of the space and the 5 unit on the other, and grouping the two zones whenever needed.
Thanks for all the info guys. Can anyone with 2 x Play 5 2nd Gen + Sub, confirm that you can subjectively play louder with the sub involved ?. Does it also bring out the high/midrange more ?.
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Here's the deciding question:

Will a Play 1 pair+ sub sound different than a Play 5(gen2) pair+ sub if both are played at the same volume?

I realize the Play 5s will obviously play louder but does it produce a higher fidelity, richer sound than Play 1's at comparative volume levels?

Thanks in advance!

Will a Play 1 pair+ sub sound different than a Play 5(gen2) pair+ sub if both are played at the same volume?

Excellent question, to which I doubt you will get a good answer because such an answer would have to be based on first ensuring the following things:
1. Instrument based matching of volume levels that are needed for the answer to be valid - even a difference as little as 0.2dB leads to the "louder sounding better" result
2. Blind testing to rule out bias
3. Placing the two sets in the exact same location in the room where the test is being done
4. Instant switch over back and forth between the two systems to prevent being misled by tricks played by audio memories that are very short term in all humans.

It is close to impossible at home to ensure compliance with these conditions, that are needed to obtain an objective answer, so you won't get any.

My gut feeling: it will be very hard to pick out the difference under these conditions. Even more difficult to predict is that even where the differences are objectively heard, which sound will be the subjectively preferred one.