Thinking about getting into Sonos and have a couple of questions.


Alright a little background. I am a college student living in a apartment with only a small space where I am able to set up an audio system. My goal is to connect my pro-ject essential III phono turntable to some sort of speaker system. I also stream music through Apple Music and one a variety of apple devices so I would like airplay 2.

As of right now my two options are: 1) a pair of Sonos play 5s using a phono to aux to connect to the input of one of the play 5s. 2) The other option is a “traditional” system comprised of an amp and a pair of bookshelf speakers. The pair that I am looking at right now is the Definitive Technology demand 9 bookshelf speaker.

I guess my question is really how good does the play 5 sound compared to traditional audio setups. I understand that some people find it counterintuitive to plug an analog turntable into a digital streaming speaker but I just don’t think I have the room right now for a turntable, amp/receiver and speakers.

TLDR: I want to plug a turntable into a Sonos play 5 (pair). Is this a bad idea/would this compromise the audio quality compared to a “traditional” set up.

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22 replies

The Play:5 is excellent sounding. The line-in encoding in uncompressed mode is completely lossless, no different than FLAC or ALAC. You won't be able to tell the difference from straight analog. Also, the Play:5 is the only option if you wish to have direct play for Airplay 2. Airplay 2 is not compatible with the Connect:Amp, instead you must group it with an Airplay 2 compatible speaker (Play:5, Sonos One, Playbase, or Beam) to play same source.
Thanks for the information. I went to Best Buy and they kept telling me that the play 5 speaker is a meh speaker overall vs some bookshelf speakers but I found that hard to believe.
Never trust what Best Buy says, they have no clue and only push what they are told to push. The speakers were probably a high margin item.
Yeah I also made the mistake of going to a Magnolia Best Buy so they were really pushing their in home services and “audiophile” speakers.
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I’m gonna be contrarian here. I have a Play:5, and I’m not in the least bit impressed. My Kanto YU5s are significantly better sounding for much less. You should absolutely not judge by what people say, here or at Best Buy. Listen to a pair of Play:5s,and listen to an equivalent cost pair of bookshelves and amplifier. Make sure you buy things with a return period, then decide.
I disagree completely with @airforceteacher's view of the gen 2 P:5, especially as a pair. But he is absolutely correct that you must judge for yourself. Only your opinion counts for your listening.
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So many people brag on the 5 here and rave about a stereo pair I wonder if mine is broken, or if there’s some magic crossing of the audio Rubicon when you add a second, but I’m not willing to spend $500 to find out. I’d rather pair a Connect with a good amp and bookshelves, which will admittedly be more expensive.
@airforceteacher Yeah I understand that there are better speakers out there. I guess I should have said that I have a neighbor who is moving overseas and said he would let me buy his pair of almost new (4 months old) play 5 second gens for around 550.

Would there be any comparable bookshelf speakers in that price range that would compare to a stereo pair of play 5s?
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Not with an amp, and none I’m aware of with the streaming options Sonos provides. Grab em!
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I hope I’m not coming across as anti Sonos - I have 5 zones in my house, and have converted my gf and my son in law into owners. Just don’t love the Play:5 as much as everyone else does. I love the Sonos ecosystem, and wish I had more rooms so I had an excuse to add more zones.
That’s what I figured. The only reason I was hesitant is my friend claims he is an audiophile and was horrified when I told him I was going to connect the analog turntable to a speaker that would digitize the signal. I by no means am an audiophile but I just wanted to make sure the sound wouldn’t be compromised by using a speaker system like this.
No, and audiophiles sneer to contain their disappointment at your joining the high sound quality club without paying the high entrance price they paid; I know what I am talking about, I did that for ten years.

Speaker sound depends more than anything else on how they are placed in the space, and the acoustics of the space itself. Get that right, use Trueplay tuning to then optimise the results, and there isn't a better deal than the one you are getting for the used 5 pair.

Digitising the signal in the manner that Sonos does has zero audible effect on sound quality.
@Kumar well that reassures me. Definitely going to take my neighbor up on that offer then.
You will need a phono pre amp, if the turntable does not have one built in. Like any amp that does not have phono jacks meant for turntables, the 5 will need a phono preamp to supply its line in jack with a line in level signal.
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The Play:5 is certainly not a "meh" speaker. To me it's Sonos' best sounding speaker. That being said Best Buy/Magnolia did not lie to you. As good as the Play:5 sounds it's not going to match say a Martin Logan Motion 15 but that's a $1200 per pair passive speaker with a ribbon tweeter ..you'd still need to add decent amplification and network capabilities raising the price further.

The Play:5 is probably the best price/performance product in the store followed by the new Beam. It's ideal for a compact system. Once you're done with schooling you can round out your Pro-ject system with the fancier phone preamps and upscale amplification but for now you likely couldn't do better than a Play:5 via the aux ports.
A few further thoughts (although they mostly support points already made in the thread)..

1. Never trust anyone who self-identifies as an 'audiophile'. (The same applies to 'gourmet', but that's another matter.)
2. Everything Kumar said is correct. Sneering at digitisation is pure ignorance.
3. Like Kumar, I am a recovered audiophile. I still have a great conventional hifi system with Sonos Connect, which new would have cost around £7,000 to buy, although I never used to buy conventional gear new. I love it - but I also love my pair of Play:5s. I enjoy the sound of the hifi a bit more than the P:5s, but I think the P:5s would stand up to most trad hifi gear costing twice as much as the P:5s. That would be for an amp, passive speakers and cables.
4. That is just my personal opinion. Sound is very subjective, and depends on numerous local factors, including what you are used to. The views of all contributors to this thread are equally valid.
5. As @airforceteacher said, at 550, grab 'em
Further to what John B has said, if I was looking today for better sound than the 5 pair can deliver, I would add the Sonos Sub to it. And if I wanted something even better - more to better fill a larger space than for sound quality as such - I would look at more powerful/capable active speakers, and this not just to save the footprint of an amp and the mess of cables. Active speakers have the tech advantage of being able to use dedicated amps per driver, active crossovers, and powerful DSP algorithms for more sophisticated signal processing.

The traditional systems are constrained to use tech that is past its expiry date and none of the above is available to them, so while there can be merit in holding on to good ones, there is little such in significant spend to buy it new in this day and age. And without that kind of spend, Sonos can't be beat for sound quality.
After going to listen to several other speakers I definitely think the play 5 is the way to go for me. Especially because I don’t think I will be able to find a comparable speaker setup for around $550 that also has the streaming capability that the Sonos ecosystem has.
There certainly is that. For all of its faults, the ever changing software solution that Sonos brings to the table is a positive thing, in most cases. I didn't just buy the speakers, but I bought into the ecosystem, which includes access to a rather wide variety of sources of music.
I would tell others to stay away from Sonos. Just spent 1.5 hours to setup two speakers.
Unbox and plugin - no different than other speakers
1. Push some buttons
2. Download app
3. register to use app and sonos and verify password
4. login to app
5. add speakers
6. push buttons again
7. select speaker
8. do an update -took about 10 minutes
9. push buttons again to select speakers to add
10. do an update again - failed several times
11. still waiting - can not use since it won't update

Now here is where I guess all the fan boys will come out and defend the perfect Sonos. THIS IS 2018 and I had to do over 11 steps just to make a speaker work. Compare this to other speakers and Sonos is completely out of touch with the market.
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It would be interesting to figure out why your setup isn't working but it is probably in your best interests to take it directly to Sonos for some assistance. Give the twitter or facebook options a try, they are staffed 24x7 or on Monday try the phone lines.

Sonos works well for most folks, there can be speedbumps getting started or failed equipment or environment changes that can pop up later but most are happy. I wasn't help from here and Sonos got me happy and I've been that way for years now.
One word - “don’t”.