Play 1 vs 3 for 5.1 system

I'm planning a bar and want to setup a 5.1 system with a Playbar, Sub and either Play 1 or Play 3 rear speakers. The room is about 14x17 feet with 3 walls (back wall open). I plan to watch sports and play music, but nothing obscenely loud.

I'm wondering if the Play 3 will provide any additional benefit(s) from the Play 1 as rear speakers in this system? Is there an additional bass boost with the 3's?

Any opinions would be appreciated. TIA

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29 replies

The 1 units are all you need, there is no need to spend more on any other speaker. Bass needs will be adequately handled by Sub.
Userlevel 5
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Get 2 Play:1 speakers for your rears...and with the $200 saved over getting the Play:3s, get a 3rd Play:1 for another room. This is a no-brainer in my opinion.
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Personally j find the new play:5s as rears with the 5.1 setup is a VERY noticeable improvement over the play:1s especially for general music listening and also for the tv watching
Any additional thoughts here?

Is this purely a function of how loud you want to play your TV/music + how large your room is?

Is there any noticeable gain in terms of the surround sound by going to a Play3/5 over a 1 for the rears?
Userlevel 6
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I vote with Kumar and jdag
I concur. I use my Play:3s elsewhere for music, and keep Play:1s for Surrounds. Although I also have a pair of Play:1s for music in my kitchen, where they perform spectacularly.
Thanks for the feedback! I'll go with the 1s.

Too bad I cant get 4 of them to augment the FrontL and FrontR sound from my Playbar
I agree, would love to have that option as well. I wonder if it is a bandwidth issue? Or just an issue with complexity for the majority of their market (might make it too complex for set ups, except for those of us who are audiophiles/technophiles). In any case, there's been absolutely no rumors that Sonos might be giving that some consideration. We can hope, though.
Why not go the whole way then with a dedicated to dialogue centre speaker? With the Sub, that would then be a genuine 5.1 system, that would also work better for stereo music in stereo mode with just the front speaker pair playing, with the Sub for bass support - a genuine 2.1 system for music.

IMO, releasing a center speaker that allows for doing just this would have be been a more useful alternative to play bar than the recently released play base. The customer could choose any of the existing units for front speaker duty and if the Sub was to be bought, the front pair too could be just play 1 units. This would still be a no compromises HT system, and equally brilliant for stereo music play. While those willing to live with a little less would go the play bar + Sub route.

The only thing that would then remain as issues would be those related to the format alphabet soup/TV compatibility that afflicts HT in general.

I shall copy this post in a separate thread in the HT section!
@Kumar- Thanks for posting your feedback in the HT thread! Hopefully enough customer feedback/desire for 5.1 options will drive Sonos to provide this ability.

WRT Play1 vs Play3 for the 5.1 rears, I'm finding used Play1's hard to find and often costing $160+, while I've seen more Play3s available for as low as $175.

Question: Is there any reason I wouldnt want to use Play3s for the rears (other than cost)? Is it possible the rear output when watching HT is disproportionately loud when using Play3s? (I doubt it but wanted to check).

If its only gonna cost me $15-$20 more per speaker (and theyre more readily available), I dont see why I wouldnt just go with the Play3s and have a more versatile set of speakers.
The only reason I could think of not wanting to use the Play:3s is cost. Or perhaps the possibility of using them somewhere else for music, instead of surround functions. But there's little exercise that a surround speaker would get that would be beyond what a Play:1 could handle.

Think of it as using an 18 wheel lorry to carry your luggage. A car would work just fine. 🙂
I agree; it is purely a cost issue. A smaller issue may be the extra space occupied.
Userlevel 2
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i vote for 2 Play 1s, just bought my surround, sonos rocks
Userlevel 5
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Personally j find the new play:5s as rears with the 5.1 setup is a VERY noticeable improvement over the play:1s especially for general music listening and also for the tv watching

You are using multi channel stereo I guess.
Surround speakers with 5.1 will be used only in specific scenes and play 5 would be really a waste of money to me.
I have a large lounge , therefore would the play 3’s be an improvement as rear speakers ?
Not in my opinion. But your ears may hear things differently than mine.
Wanting to purchase 5.1 surround sound, I have a larger lounge 32 sq m in total, what pair of rear speakers would you recommend as I want to use them for both tv and just playing music. I just feel the play 3’s will give me more bang, I’m no expert tho
No one is an expert other than you for what you hear. And you asked about rear speakers, which would normally part of a 5.1 system. But now you've added playing music.

First off, it's a pain to remove surround speakers so that they'll be separate from the PLAYBAR/PLAYBASE. It can be done, to be sure, but it's not something you'll want to do repeatedly. Most people set the system to have the surrounds as "Full" rather than "Ambient" when playing music. With that setting, they do play a full stereo, along with the music playing out of the PLAYBAR/PLAYBASE.

I've got pairs of both PLAY:3s and PLAY:1s. I haven't found the sound difference to be worth the price difference, but as I have said, I don't have your ears. You should visit a shop and listen to both of them, and make your own determination.
Thank you for the advice, so the play1’s as rear speakers for surround sound are more than adequate for purpose, you’ve sold me on those, if I wanted just to play music could I just put a play 5 in the lounge then separate from the surround sound or doesn’t it work like that ?? Haha sorry I did say I wasn’t an expert but any advice is greatly appreciated
If I understand you, sure, you could use a single PLAY:5 in the same space. Due to the way that Sonos deals with speakers, you'd set that up as a separate "room", since their rooms are groups of speakers. So you'd have, say, Living Room as the one room with the 5.1 system, and Music Room as the PLAY:5 for music. Basically, it's just a way for the app to keep track of them, the actual physical location makes little to no difference, as long as they're within wifi range. And, Sonos provides the ability to either choose a predefined room name, or make up your own, so you could call them Benny and Joon, if you wanted to.
Ok so, 5.1 with play 1’s is perfect for surround sound but what would you rate it out of 10 for music with the surrounds on full, or would a separate play 5 be a vastly greater listening experience, or just not worth it. Or what is the optimum setup for tv and music in your opinion ?
Laugh. You really want me to commit, whereas I want you to listen with your ears and figure out what's best for you.

I don't have any significant issue with listening to my PLAYBAR and the surrounds set to "FULL". It's not quite the same as a regular stereo output in terms of a sound stage with an optimum seating position, but I rarely do critical listening in the same room as the TV. I've got a pair of PLAY:3s in my bedroom where I actually do critical listening, which are set up differently than the 5.1 system there. And a pair of PLAY:1s flanking my monitors in the computer room, which is another place I listen. And a pair of PLAY:1s in the kitchen, where I listen while cooking. But my musical tastes are probably not congruent with yours. I listen to a bunch of new age, jazz, symphonic, symphonic rock, and bagpipes. And most of the time that I'm listening, I'm doing something else, working with my hands, or typing on the computer. I'm not normally sitting on the couch, I just don't have time for that right now. So it boils down to your own vision.

I am truly sorry I can't tell you what you should do. It all depends on your ears, your music, your desires. Frankly, any setup of Sonos speakers is a good one, it's hard to go wrong. But one final word for you, which I think might hit home. I'd go the 5.1 route first, and then figure out if you need the extra speakers. Save some money up front, and make the decision to get the extra stuff once you hear the first part. The nice thing about Sonos is you can build up as necessary, and it all works together.
Laugh some more , so maybe I need to get another play one for the kitchen then. I’ve got a connect amp, boost thingy and a play one so far, like you say it’s good sounds so I think I will be more than happy with the 5.1 with play ones , cheers
Oh, that doesn't make me laugh, it makes me cry (ok, chuckle). It sounds like you've been bitten by the same bug as many of us, and are finding new places to put speakers in. I think at last count I had 15, or so. I keep meaning to get definitive on that, but it requires thought, since they're all over the house.

Just counted. Not including my BOOST, I've got 16 Sonos speakers of various types. It's an addiction. 🙂
i started with a connect and a play 1 to play vinyl records. I thought it was heaven until I went to get second play 1 and demo'd the play 3's in store. Bought 2 play 3s instead. Fast forward to my search to add on to my sonos collection by getting a 5.1 setup. I took this forums advice in the end and went with playbar, sub and 2 1's....which contradicted what my ears heard when comparing 1 to 3 as a stand alone speaker. I am super happy I went with the 1s as they work great as the 2 back channels in 5.1 setup. I have swapped them out with my 2 play 3s just to see and didnt notice a difference, which to my ears tells me the play 1s are more than enough and 3's would be a waste in that setup in a normal sized living / tv room. Good luck!