One play 5 plus Sub vs two plays


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I’ve seen the threads talking about two play ones and a sub, and I love my play ones. But I bought a play 5 and I love that too, but not as much as the ones bang for the buck.
Now, I’m debating on either buying a sub or another play 5.
I’ve read only good things about the sub, but another play 5 would be cheaper , I know it’s good and I could use it in stereo.
So, what do you think? Buy a sub to use with a single play 5 or buy another play 5?
Which would you recommend?

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I kinda also really wonder how you can get actual stereo sound with only 1 tweeter, which the Play:3 has.
I have a Play:3 and they claim it has stereo sound, but I don't get any impression of stereo from it at all. The drivers are just way too close together. Curious to know if the Play:5 is any better.
To get the stereo effect from the 3 you would have to hold it close to your face, about as close as the width of the unit. Useless in practice.

The 5 has a larger enclosure, and angled tweeters, so the illusion should be present some distance away - 6 feet or so, I guess. But much more than that and it too would collapse to a mono image even with the angled tweeters which may give an expansive effect though not exactly the stereo illusion obtained at closer distances. I only played with one for a few hours, so there is that caveat.
In a well recorded/mixed stereo performance, the left channel will contain music from the left of the stage and some from the centre. And the other way for the right. Because both speakers put forth music from the centre of the stage, when the stereo illusion snaps into place, the music - usually voices - from the centre of the stage appears to come from between the two speakers although there is no speaker there, with the orchestra or other music players placed to the left or right of centre.

In my desktop set up in the picture attached as an example, poorly recorded stereo results in the trumpet heard from the left and the sax from the right, with a hole in the centre of the image. But with well recorded stereo, music floats forth from behind the laptop as well, even though there is no speaker there. With the rest of the stereo stage on either side of centre, from one speaker to the other.

If I wanted the same effect to be heard 10 feet away from the speakers, the speakers would have to be kept 10 feet apart as well. Otherwise placed as they are, the more I move away from them, the more the sound from the two will appear to come from one source/speaker - and therefore sound mono.

Not having heard the 5 units with the source you are feeding it, I don't know what is happening. I do know that bass below 80hz cannot be traced by human ears to where it is coming from, so I would not expect bass of such frequencies to sound as if it is coming from the centre - it should be appear as from " somewhere in the room".

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Tom, no offence taken, none at all!
Definitely friends!
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My apologies if I came off harsh implying you didn't know what stereo is. Friends? :)

I don't have a Play:5, but I have a Play:3 and they claim it has stereo sound, but I don't get any impression of stereo from it at all. The drivers are just way too close together. Curious to know if the Play:5 is any better.
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Thanks Kumar and Tom
I know what stereo is, I have older sets, it's just that the Play 5 has six drivers... They're supposed to simulate stereo
So, would getting another 5 make a huge difference to just one play 5, with the six drivers that are used as stereo by the software?
Kumar's answer indicates that listening position would be enhanced further back with with a 9 feet separation, right?

I just checked, Kumar, I discern more stereo effect with my single 5 when I sit ten feet from it than when I'm just in front of it. I imagine sounds 5 feet on each side with a central thumping bass at ten feet, close to the speaker I don't get this effect.. this is contrary to what I expected after reading your comments.
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Is there are huge difference between a stereo paired 5 and a single 5, or is there just more sound and more bass? Do you really hear a difference when they're used in a pair?
I think this goes for any brand really. Stereo sound isn't just more sound, it's adding another dimension when listening to music produced in stereo, which is pretty much all music since the 70s, I think. Having the stereo setup will let you hear what the artist intended for you to hear.
The 5 will give you a stereo image that sounds like a live gig on a stage, but only if you are sitting close to it. Stereo is an illusion created in the brain when the left and right channels and you are the corners of a triangle with equal sides; with a single 5, since the distance between left and right speakers is limited, so is the listening distance that will yield this illusion. With 2 speakers, they can be placed as far apart from each other as you are from each, so the stereo image illusion can be heard from much further away. With good stereo recordings, the difference between one speaker and two is night and day.

But you can check this for yourself with the one units you have - except that a single one will never be stereo, always summed mono. Even so, you will get a fair idea of how stereo sounds much better.
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Thanks Kumar,

I think that's settled, two play 5s in stereo would be better than moving in two ones and adding a sub... And cheaper

Is there are huge difference between a stereo paired 5 and a single 5, or is there just more sound and more bass? Do you really hear a difference when they're used in a pair?
If you are not able to place the Sub as it deserves to be placed for music, the 5 pair route is better, particularly since you like how the single 5 sounds.

The 3 is a bit of a halfway house - between the 1 and the 5 all needs are met for most people.

Wiring a Sonos unit to the router will give you Sonosnet and almost certainly a more stable music play experience, but it may not solve your phone issue - it will still talk back to the router for all its WiFi functions. If an iPhone, you may need a WiFi extender in the kitchen. If an Android, you can set it up to directly talk to Sonos units and solve the kitchen problem.
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Wow, that's a lot of replies!

By average, I meant, what's the average spend by a Sonos user within a year? I thought I was overdoing this, but I guess I'm not spending that much after reading these replies.

Flare, you're not intruding at all, your comments only aid the thread and thank you for them.

So, to summarize:

Most agree that stereo placement of either two play 5s or play ones is worth the cost

Some say the sub is a worthy addition to anything, though most agree it has most value with play 1 s

Not many seem to get the play 3...

I was reading another interesting thread about Sonos boost as I noticed that my phone can't control the speakers in the kitchen.. I was reading about boost and then discovered, just plugging in a relatively cheap play 1 into the router is basically the same as getting a Sonos boost and creating a dedicated Sonos mesh network, so, that's what I'll try next

I'll place two Ones in the bedroom for stereo, shift my bedroom play one to the study for Sonos boost and music there

I'll end with another play 5 for the living room for stereo and added bass.. I think I'll avoid the Sub for now.

What do you think, Kumar?
Unfortunately I have the sub underneath the left speaker as its not possible to play in the middle of the two or anywhere else.
That should still work. I would hesitate to place it to the left of the left speaker though.

I've bought 1200$ of Sonos kit in a month and. Now seriously thinking of bumping that to 2000$ with a sub
My question is , how much does an average Sonos listener here spend on Sonos?:D

If you have bought them in white, another thing they share with rabbits is how they multiply in the home!
I have a 5 zone system that was built up from 2011 to 2014, but I have been content with all I have since then. There is a lot to be said for allowing music listening to shift to front and centre.
In your case, you may want to press "Hold" and make sure that the system so far works glitch free for a few months and then decide on expansion. Sonos does need some handholding at times, something that all WiFi systems do, so perhaps you can get familiar with that, play music often from various sources, and see how things go before opening the wallet.
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Placement is not critical for movies, where the low bass effects cannot be located by ear, so it does not matter much where they come from. But for music to integrate well across the Sub and the play units, I have found that the Sub needs to be in the same plane as the speakers, and not to one side of either speaker, but somewhere between the two.

Which isn't to say that a convenient placement won't work, but I would definitely not commit to that, or a Sub investment without trying it out.

I know that Sonos claims that Trueplay is a magic bullet that allows speakers to be placed anywhere, but I think there is a lot of marketing speak in that. Nothing beats getting placement as right as possible, so that Trueplay is tasked with just the final tweaking of sound for best results.

As to the bass from the 5 units, I suspect that the speakers don't do this as well as they ought to, at low volume levels. Something that the Sub does very well. The other thing that the Sub does well is when very loud sound levels are needed. The 5 units seem to do well in a range - from perhaps 40% to 80% of the volume sliders, and outside this range, need a Sub for best results.


Absolutely agree Kumar, I found the sub with my Play5:Stereo really makes a difference at the lower volumes. Unfortunately I have the sub underneath the left speaker as its not possible to play in the middle of the two or anywhere else.
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I bought a Playbase about a year ago. Couple months later got 2 Play:1s for surround. Just this month I bought a Play:3. So I'm not hardcore, yet! 😉
Placement is not critical for movies, where the low bass effects cannot be located by ear, so it does not matter much where they come from. But for music to integrate well across the Sub and the play units, I have found that the Sub needs to be in the same plane as the speakers, and not to one side of either speaker, but somewhere between the two.

Which isn't to say that a convenient placement won't work, but I would definitely not commit to that, or a Sub investment without trying it out.

I know that Sonos claims that Trueplay is a magic bullet that allows speakers to be placed anywhere, but I think there is a lot of marketing speak in that. Nothing beats getting placement as right as possible, so that Trueplay is tasked with just the final tweaking of sound for best results.

As to the bass from the 5 units, I suspect that the speakers don't do this as well as they ought to, at low volume levels. Something that the Sub does very well. The other thing that the Sub does well is when very loud sound levels are needed. The 5 units seem to do well in a range - from perhaps 40% to 80% of the volume sliders, and outside this range, need a Sub for best results.
What's an "average" listener?

I've got 2 5.1 setups, 2 PLAY:3s, 2 PLAY:5 Gen 2, 1 PLAY:5 gen 1, 3 PLAY:1s, and 2 Sonos Ones. Oh, and a BRIDGE.
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Sorry to intrude BxVelocity. I started with a Playbar + Sub and a Play5. Within a week added a Play3 for my Home Office. After several months added another Play5 for Stereo, then 2 days later the Sub!

Today I just completed my setup with 3 x Play One's for the bedrooms.
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Just another query Kumar, you seem to know of what you speak of..
I started buying Sonis with a single Play 1 for my bedroom, last month. I bought another for the dining room in a week for multi room sound and loved the effect of hearing the same music on moving from room to room, that I just had to buy another for the living room and did my research and hence bought my , really, really amazing Play 5.
I had then heard about stereo placement and ordered two Sonos ones.
I've bought 1200$ of Sonos kit in a month and. Now seriously thinking of bumping that to 2000$ with a sub
My question is , how much does an average Sonos listener here spend on Sonos?:D
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Thank you Flare and, again, Kumar
I've seen this before, yet I find it curious. Two play 5s should have more than enough bass by themselves, yet anyone who has added a sub to them, say it's way better
Hence the decision to get a sub
Kumar is right, I think I'll try my Sonos ones and add the sub.
I had initially planned to place them on the side walls
And the sub somewhere in the room, not in the centre
Does placement really make all the difference? As Kumar has said, with space from the walls and the sub in the centre? I don't know how I can place the sub in the centre as it would be in the way of so many things, despite my living room being 15x 20
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And as far as Austin is concerned, he can alway get himself a 5 for Christmas, use the Sub with the 5 pair, and move the 1 pair to his bedroom:-).

It isn't something I would do though; in my book, there isn't the return in line with the additional spend needed for a 5 pair + Sub, compared to the 1 pair + Sub, particularly with the play 1 units now marked down to USD 300 for a pair. But there remains that option for him.

There is also the advantage in a single 5 of being able to easily move it from one room to another when needed, and still get very decent sound at such times as well.
That isn't a surprise; the 5 pair + Sub is the top of the line Sonos speaker offering for music, at the top of the line price. But the 1 pair + Sub comes closer to it than what its much lower price point would suggest, and does much of what you describe with the 1 units as well.
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Newbie reply : I had a single Play5 in a large family area. Got another Play5 and rearranged for a Stereo Setup. I do not play at high volumes (around 40% most of the time) and had to be in the sweet spot to really hear any good Bass.

Ordered a Sub on a returnable basis to pair it with the Play5:Stereo and the moment I set it up I knew the Sub was not going back! I could still play at 40% volume and the bass was so much more audible from anywhere in the room. It also seemed to help throw the mid's and high's around rather than just at the sweet spot.
No, I haven't, but I have heard enough other make Sub plus small satellite speaker combinations to make an intelligent guess, and have added that experience to other member reports here that rank different Sonos combinations. In all of the latter that I have read, the one pair + Sub is beaten only by a 5 pair + Sub. But even if I had heard the 5 pair, I would still say what I said about buying on a returnable basis, which facility Sonos and many Sonos retailers do provide. Nothing can beat the evidence of your ears, in your home.

Pay enough attention to speaker placement. Try to have the stereo speakers at the same distance from each other as they are from the listening areas, leave a couple of feet between them and room walls/corners, and place the Sub somewhere between the two speakers. Ideally at the centre, but close to it also works quite well. Finally, do the Trueplay thing and tweak the Sub output levels - I have mine a little to the right of centre - to get the bass presence you like.