Sonos Amp vs. single Play:5

  • 29 March 2019
  • 6 replies

I have a feeling I already know the answer but looking for reason to change my mind. I have a pair of PSB Image B5 bookshelf speakers (orig $400 pair) that are doing nothing. I am thinking about getting the amp to drive them. The alternative would be a single Play:5 (for the same money). I really love the sound of the PSB's with the exception of weak bass, which I expect the Play:5 to have more of. But I've never really heard a Play:5 in a "proper" environment to really hear what they sound like. If I'm trading a bit more bass for less clarity and detail I won't do it. I'm leaning towards the amp.

6 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +21
Amp and a powered sub to carry the low end would be a good option.

The Play 5 sounds really great but the stereo image is not what you get from a pair of speakers properly set up.
For all practical purposes a single 5 will have no stereo image and will sound like a mono speaker. If buying on returnable basis is possible get a 1/One pair and a Sonos amp for the PSBs, and keep the Sonos product/s that deliver better sound quality on listening to preferred music. Properly set up and with true play tuning done, the Sonos pair may come very close if not equal to/better than the PSB sound.
I also expect that a 1 pair+ Sonos Sub will sound better than Sonos Amp+ PSB+ cheaper third party Sub, at a higher price point in both cases.
Userlevel 7
Badge +21
I've fooled with Play 1, 3 and 5 speakers looking to find the best sound for my spaces and one of the things I compared was a Play 3 and 5 sitting in the same spot. The 5 of course sounded better but compared to the 3 the 5's music sounded much more live. Standing the 5 on end made it sound much closer to the 3 and the only difference I'm aware of is the switch from single-pint stereo to mono operation. Perception of this kind of thing is an individual situation and some folks notice a difference while others don't.

For me, I have a 5 as a desktop speaker where I much prefer it to a 1 or 3 even though the volume level is rarely up more than a few clicks from zero and either of the others would do as well for producing sound. At another desk, with more room, I have a pair of Play 3s and moving between the two I really notice the better stereo image from the paired 3s compared to the single 5.
Userlevel 5
Badge +13
My vote is always for stereo separation. If you were happy with the PSB Image speakers' sound before, you'll probably be very happy with them attached to a Sonos AMP. Of course, Sonos' generous return policy lets you try out a 5 as well.

(I'm personally unimpressed with the Play 5's sound, but I'm in a lonely minority on this board.)
My vote is always for stereo separation.
Likewise, unless one is listening from not more than a couple of feet away from a speaker that has left and right units built into it, where some sense of separation is still available at a short distance from the speaker. From the OP post, I do not think this use case holds.
Userlevel 2
Badge +2
The sound from a speaker is also dependent on the amp driving it.

Take advantage of the 100 day money-back trial, get the Amp, Play:5 and two Play:1’s or Ones and audition them in situ. Return the losers and carry on enjoying the sound from the winners.