Question

PLAY:3 or Two PLAY:1's?

  • 15 April 2016
  • 29 replies
  • 15350 views

Looking for thoughts on what to buy for my first Sonos purchase. Narrowed it down to either a PLAY:3, or doubling up some PLAY:1's. Here's some facts about the room I want to setup in, as well as my listening habits:

-Master Bedroom, roughly 12 x 14 feet.
-I mostly listen to rock from the last several decades (60's all the way up to current stuff). I also do enjoy some Sinatra style music from time to time.

With that said, what would YOU recommend I purchase for my first setup? I'm open to and welcome any opinions here 🙂

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29 replies

2 Play:1s and it's not even close.
Userlevel 4
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When I first listened to a single Play:1 and compared it to a single Play:3 a few years ago there was not a huge amount in it but the Play:3 won. I was told at the time that 2 Play:1s was better, but it was out of my budget so didn't listen to that. Since then I have read that the Play:1s have had their firmware tweaked somehow which has helped the sound. With all that knowledge and a very well informed reply above, I'd say that the 2 x Play:1s will be the better choice from a listening point of view without a shadow of doubt.
Userlevel 7
Badge +17
2 x play:1s
Newer tech inside. You can stereo pair these 2 mono speakers together. Or move one down stairs into the kitchen and have same music(or different) as you move around house., that's what sonos is all about.
Be warned though, you will want more!!

Only down side with both is there is no line in that you will need for free spotify, youtube, pc sounds.
Still you can buy a play:5, connect, connect amp, or playbar next which have ;O)
Userlevel 3
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Another "down side" of the PLAY:1, and indeed the new Gen 2 PLAY:5 and SUB, is that each has only a single network port. This means that they cannot be daisy-chained as the older products such as the Gen 1 PLAY:5 allow. Not an issue if you are content to use SonosNet, but annoying if (like me) you prefer to wire in the ZonePlayers and SUBs!
Userlevel 7
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didn't know that Bign, thanks
Another "down side" of the PLAY:1, and indeed the new Gen 2 PLAY:5 and SUB, is that each has only a single network port. This means that they cannot be daisy-chained as the older products such as the Gen 1 PLAY:5 allow. Not an issue if you are content to use SonosNet, but annoying if (like me) you prefer to wire in the ZonePlayers and SUBs!

Yes, BigN and all the Sonos products only carry a 10/100 Mbps Ethernet port. I know that's plenty for Sonos requirements, but I have a gigabit network with several gigabit switches and obviously if you place the Sonos products in-line, between devices, such as between router and say a NAS box it will slow the network down from 1000 Mbps to 100 Mbps... That's a big drop in two-way bandwidth transfer.

Even VirginMedia vivid broadband is running these days at 200 Mbps.

Another thing to briefly say (although it's not really relevant here), Apple TV 4 will easily run at 200 Mbps over 802.11ac wifi, but that too has a 10/100 Ethernet port.

How stupid is that !! ..

I'm sure it's all down to cost and future upgrade etc. Some reviews suggest that the users connect their Apple TV via their wifi in stable 802.11ac conditions rather than using the Ethernet port. In tests mine is a lot faster over wifi (numerous tests via Speedtest.net).

Okay these things are more than enough for audio and video needs in most homes today, but it can be a real nuisance to install these 'narrow lanes' on a motorway in which we often transfer large files (movie transfer to NAS box etc) ... I therefore tend to plug in my Sonos devices direct to the router (or 'switch') and only daisy chain them to each other, or with things like Apple TV 4 type devices with the much slower 10/100 ports.

I long for the day the gigabit port and switches become the default minimum standard.

Ken Griffiths
In fact I just searched and came across this article:

http://9to5mac.com/2015/09/09/new-apple-tv-has-2-gb-ram-included-802-11ac-wifi-is-faster-than-its-ethernet-port/
2 Play:1s and it's not even close.
My view too, for sound and flexibility. And looks, too, although that's more subjective.
2 Play:1s and it's not even close.
My view too, for sound and flexibility. And looks, too, although that's more subjective.


Yes count me in with jgatie and John B... Two Play-1’s wins hands down in comparison to one Play-3.

In fact I personally would only buy a Play-3 device myself (two of them) for use in a 5.1 surround sound setup in a largish room... Where i believe they would handle the midrange a little better in the channel separation, but otherwise I'm a Play-1 and Play-5 listener myself.
Userlevel 3
I would have said get a Play 3 as your first purchase, because you're going to want to expand and can get a second Play 3 down the line, ending up with a stereo pair that would beat the two Play 1's. However, this is for a bedroom and I think the Play 3's are suited to a bigger space (mine are in my dining room on stands from Flexson). So I would agree that Play 1's are right for this scenario.
I'm new to the game here, so bear with me...Is it the stereo separation driving the recommendations to purchase two Play:1s instead of a single Play:3? I would assume that the Play:1s would have very anemic bass and (relatively) tinny sound due to their size and lack of a radiator.
Actually, you will be surprised at the bass capability of the Play:1. It's not up to the level of the Play:5, but it can make the Play:3 pretty redundant. And a pair? I wouldn't hesitate to by a pair of Play:1 over a pair of Play:3, never mind a single Play:3.
Actually, you will be surprised at the bass capability of the Play:1.
I'd go beyond that to say that not just about the bass capability, but at its overall capability.

This may cause sniggers, and even disbelief in some quarters, but I was so surprised at how good my first play 1 sounded, that as soon as I got another to stereo pair it, I ran a side by side test comparing that to a pair of Harbeth speakers - expensive kit - driven by Quad amplification. I was shocked to see how little the difference was except at very loud levels where the Harbeths ran cleaner. And this, without a Sub added to the 1 pair. Since the loud levels that the expensive speakers were capable of wasn't ever going to be a need, once I was over the shock, I sold the Harbeth/Quad amplification and found the same levels of listening pleasure in a play 1 pair + Sub set up. Elevated the appearance/usable space of the living room, cleaned up a mess of cables, threw away a component rack, and as a by product, made some money via the change.

IMO, the Play I is a champion and overall, the best product in the Sonos portfolio. The Sub is a close second for how it can be used to elevate the performance of the 1 unit to the next level.
Userlevel 5
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I have 18 Sonos-
NEVER BUY A PLAY:3.
Get two play:1:s 110%.
If you are going to buy any other single speaker save and get the new play:5-otherwise two play:1s.
Did I mention never get any play:3? Worst value...
@Chirosone: Why never get play 3s? This Friday, I had planned on purchasing two Play 3s for the tears in my 5.1 Surround (already have Playbar, Sub, and connect) but if I understand you correctly, you are saying to get two Play 1s? Are you referring to only in a music setup or in general "avoid Play 3s?" Thanks again for any all advice. If you possibly could point me in the specific direction (rather than generally speaking i.e.Google) with some info that would be very much appreciated. Thanks!
I had planned on purchasing two Play 3s for the tears in my 5.1 Surround (already have Playbar, Sub, and connect) but if I understand you correctly, you are saying to get two Play 1s?
In this specific case, only because the 3 units are an overkill; the 1 units are all that is needed for the demands of the rear surround application. The 3 units will do all that the 1 would, but no more - why then spend more?
two thoughts:
1.) Large Room
2.) would the two-Play 3s offer a better/more enjoyable listening experience when used for playing music versus 5.1 surround, i.e. Movies, Home Theater?
I think there is broad agreement that as the price goes up, so does the performance for music play, where the three play unit models are concerned. Many however think that the 3 units aren't as much better for their price, as the 5 units are for theirs. Bear in mind that these however are subjective assessments.

Subject to that, I'd say yes to your question - in a music playing stereo paired mode all their capability can be used, unlike when used for surround sound. There seems to be consensus that in surround mode, there isn't anything to be gained by using either a 3 or 5 pair in preference to a 1 pair.
I'm new to the game here, so bear with me...Is it the stereo separation driving the recommendations to purchase two Play:1s instead of a single Play:3? I would assume that the Play:1s would have very anemic bass and (relatively) tinny sound due to their size and lack of a radiator.

Perhaps you should try listening to them before you make that kind of judgment?
Wow, seems like the dual Play:1s are highly favored. Looking around our kitchen, we'd most likely put them within 2 feet of each other. Does this change anyone's opinion, considering that the difference stereo separation won't be that great?
Userlevel 7
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Buy 1 Play 1 and install it in your kitchen and see how you get on. If you feel like you want more then buy another 1 and create a stereo pair.

If you buy them from Sonos they have a very generous return, no questions asked, policy
There isn't any point in getting the second if it is to be placed that close to the first one. I have a pair on my desktop 3 feet away from each other, but there I am 2 feet away from each so I get probably the best sound quality/stereo imaging there compared to three other zones; but that is a special case, not ordinarily applicable to a kitchen as far as I can imagine.
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Actually, you will be surprised at the bass capability of the Play:1. It's not up to the level of the Play:5, but it can make the Play:3 pretty redundant. And a pair? I wouldn't hesitate to by a pair of Play:1 over a pair of Play:3, never mind a single Play:3. I have a pair of play 1's and my brother in law had a play 5. The play 5's range was a little better, but the pair of plays 1's sounded better over all. When he picked up the second play 5 then it was clear the both play 5 was much better. Do not under estimate the quality of a couple of play 1's
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I'd say 2 play 1's. Absolutely for the stereo separation.
My first sonos experience was my brother-in-law's Play:5. Sounded great, but it annoyed me coming from 1 area of the room. No separation, despite Sonos claims.
I've always had a thing about separation ever since my old turntable in my bedroom. We have 2 ears. Producers and artists mix in stereo, USE your ears! (unless it's just the one Play:1 in the bedroom (ahem) But in a room I spend a long time in, I want separation. So I agree with the others here. You want at least 10ft between them if you can.
I've got 2 Play:3s.
They rock the kitchen. From D&B, hip-hop, through to folk, ambient, rock and classical.
I probably should have trialed them alongside the 1s(I could have saved myself some money perhaps). I hear good things. Just about every restaurant has them, and they sound WAY better than their size. But by the time I'd messed about, set them up, read the reviews, I was sold.
Bass, mids and detail are great. Hard to do in a kitchen with lots of hard surfaces. They're mounted fairly high on the walls (10ft up) facing down. I'm a happy bass lover.
Initially I was disappointed. But in time, I think they stand up alongside my NAD amp and Mission speakers, which is annoying!

The tricky thing is, music is like food. Very personal, and very subjective. Only YOUR ears (or tongue) can tell you what YOU like at the end of the day.
You want at least 10ft between them if you can.

I think they stand up alongside my NAD amp and Mission speakers, which is annoying!

Very personal, and very subjective. Only YOUR ears (or tongue) can tell you what YOU like at the end of the day.

Three good points; amplifying the first two - the distance between speakers needs to be about as much as your distance from them, to get stereo imaging that sounds better than a single speaker, even if stereo, from a distance. 10 feet only works if listening distance is about 10 feet. For single box stereo speakers, because getting the distance guideline working needs it to be very close to you, at distances that are not workable for over 90% of the time, stereo imaging is never really achieved.

To the second point above, I find it very liberating, not annoying at all!