1 Play5 vs pair of Play 1s

  • 30 October 2013
  • 30 replies
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Userlevel 2
I have Play 5s in several bedrooms. I was thinking about adding a Play1 for two bathrooms. As I've read about pairing Play 1s for stereo playback, I'm wondering if anyone has a view about whether they would rather listen to one play 5 in a room or a pair of play 1s?

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30 replies

Userlevel 7
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Depends on your needs; volume, best stereo image, size/space available etc.

If you need volume and/or better base a Play 5 will be better but for stereo image a pair of Play 1s would work best.

Just my 2d worth!
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I was wondering the same, what about a pair of play 1's vs a play 3?
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Something else to think about: Play:1 is better suited for bathrooms than Play:5 ('Humidity Resistant').
Userlevel 7
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what about a pair of play 1's vs a play 3?
Kind of the same answer. A Play 3 is smaller with a lower "top volume" and bass output level compared to a Play 5 but is louder and larger than the Play 1s, still with the same limitations regarding stereo image.

So if volume is not key or small footprint (and/or humidity tolerance) are, then a pair of Play 1s might well be better than a single Play 3 or Play 5.

Of course if the stereo image on a Play3/5 becomes an issue you can always add another to gain the best of worlds - good stereo and thumping volume!
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I don't have any experience with the Play:1s, but I have stereo paired some Play:3s to compare back and forth with a single Play:5. The stereo separation was really noticeable and appreciated, but the difference in bass was very substantial. It was more than I expected and enough to make me personally prefer the single Play:5 for that big living room. I would think the difference to the Play:1s would be even bigger.

What I haven't tried is adding the Sub to the pair of 3s. I might play with that this weekend.
Of course, this is all subjective, but personally I would argue that a pair of Play:1 is better than a single Play:3. A single Play:1 compares quite well in sound quality to a Play:3. Because of its size and form, the Play:3 has a better sound "projection" throughout a room, but with the stereo image of the two Play:1, the limitations in sound "projection" of the smaller model kind of cancel out.

On the other hand, the Play:5 really has a larger and richer sonic texture than the Play:1, even Play:3 (especially concerning bass).
So in the case of a pair of Play:1 versus a single Play:5, it is really a matter of what's more important to you.
Real stereo imaging creates a real atmosphere and listening pleasure. But again, the sound quality of the Play:5 is just better.

Just my two cents 😛
Userlevel 2
Thanks for all the replies. Very helpful. For my high quality listening, I have connects via stereo amp or connect amp to full size stereo speakers in multiple rooms. The single Play 5s sound good in the kids bedrooms, but they don't care about the quality, so single speaker is fine. I'm intrigued by a pair of Play 1s in a small office setting -- giving the stereo effect, but with no need for fuller sound.

Nice to have so many choices and helpful feedback!
Another advantage of any pair is to be able to break them up for expanded coverage to another zone/ room when needed for background music where loud or stereo isn't a must.
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Another advantage of any pair is to be able to break them up for expanded coverage to another zone/ room when needed for background music where loud or stereo isn't a must.


yes, the small Play1 is more convinient for carrying/placing around in the house, and don't forget its relative waterproof design.
handy for use in garden or bathroom

I am a experienced HiFi audio listener , and my opinion is that all the SONOS speakers do have great sound, but they are not real high-end hifi sounding (like my old-skool HiFi stereo setup).
they all very good but "coloured" sounding, and the bigger the enclosures, the bigger the influence (colouration) of these enclosures is on the sound. therefore I like my 2 little PLAY1's in stereo setup, with EQ neutral Bas, and 80% increased Treble settings, loudnes off....
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I have 2xPlay5 in one room, 1x Play 3 in another...and a Playbar which I've just added 2xPlay1 as surround pair.

The Play 1's sound great pumped up to the max as surround...BUT also sound great in regular stereo when listening to music. I like Dub, Dubstep, Dance....and the bass on the Play 1's is solid and expansive. Try listening to track 1 on James Blake's new Mercury prize winner - the Play 1's deliver!


PS - I also have an acoustically treated recording studio with 2 x Quested V2108s so I have a good reference point...the Play 1's sound good and are worth the mnoey 🙂
Userlevel 2
Strangely, I notice I actually listen to more music by having one speaker instead of of a stereo pair. I have two Play 5's and one Play 1 in different rooms. I have not listened to my Sonus Faber + Naim setup for a while 🙂 . YMMV.
Userlevel 2
Great stuff in this thread - just got the soundbar this weekend - i also got a play 3 - i was going to return the 3 for a 5 because i wanted a louder better sound - then i was told to get two play 1's and pair them - i guess in general does that sound like a better idea then a play 5 now then another one 6 mos down the road? i was told that 2 play 5's in a small room with my soundbar wouldnt give me the quality -- any thoughts??
speens8024,

A pair of PLAY:1's or PLAY:3's can be bonded to PLAYBAR as surround speakers, PLAY:5 cannot be used as surrounds. If you have the space and the budget for two PLAY:5's, I think that you'll be better off with PLAY:5's as general purpose speakers. If you want surround with the PLAYBAR, stick with PLAY:1 or PLAY:3's.

Ultimately, only you know what sounds "best".
I was wondering the same, what about a pair of play 1's vs a play 3?
Before auditioning Play 1 along side 3 and 5 , I would have thought Play 3 to be better than Play 1. After auditioning, my ears definitely preferred Play 1 sound and bass over Play 3 (and Play 5 over Play 1 or Play 3 of course). If I was you, between 2 Play 1's OR one Play 3 , I would choose 2 Play 1's . But since that brings you to the same price point as one Play 5, why not go for that? (and that will also give you the 'Line in " option with the Play 5)
Userlevel 2
This might be helpful:
youtu.be/26fH2APyQyY
Userlevel 2
Having now had the opportunity to do this comparison the conclusion for me is a pair of play 1s.
What I've found is that it is VERY room dependent.
In my main family/dining/kitchen room which is very large a single play 5 I've used in there just can't cut it. I only then decided to see if I should pair up and get another one. First I just brought my play 1 down to see how a pair would do and it did fill the room. Surprisingly though the play 1 actually sounded better than the play 5. I still think the 5 has a way too over bloated bass.
What I've done now is to purchase another play 1 and they are now paired a stereo in that room and sound great.
My play 5 was moved to my office where the 1 was but as that's a small room again the 5 just didn't sound right so it's now living in my dressing room and does sound great.
So my advice is that it's very room dependant, be careful!
Moving forward I think I will only expand with 1s as they are that great and as I can testify a pair can fill a huge room.
Userlevel 2
I have both setups and I think the Sonos 5 is better for 2 reasons. The following is only my personal opinion obviously. YMMV.

First, the sound quality is richer and fuller. I understand the earlier comments about coloration but (also being a self-proclaimed audiophile with a legimitately high end setup; Rotel and Focal setup), I must disagree. I have been impressed with the accuracy of lack of coloration in the sound of the play 5. The imaging however, not so much.

I also have 2 play 1's which I tried setting up as stereo but was not impressed with the results. They seemed to lack depth and the soundstage was sparse. Good for party use I guess, but not for stationary listening. I ended up putting them in different rooms.

So given my experience, Play 5 is substantially better. The added benefit of an auxilliary port is also a plus.
Userlevel 2
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this is great information - I flip flop between doing one or the other. Stereo spread something that I generally prefer but when I'm looking for that kind of listening experience I have my Connect hooked up to my home theater and that works very well.

Currently my house is fairly small and the rooms I'm looking to add speakers to are only about 100 sq ft. so a Play 1 fills the room sufficiently.

I think the biggest factor in my setup that pushes me to the Play 5s in certain rooms is the Line In. Ultimately this system will be for me, my kids, and guests so if guests want to play their own iPod or whatever they'd have that option.
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I currently run a Play5 and two Play1s (playing as stereo L & R) and all 3 paired to one room in our condo. This is more than enough for the space, the Play5 for a bit more depth with the Play1s for an overall wider soundstage. I think it works well and gives a bit of flexibility in case I move or if I prefer to move a Play1 to the bedroom, etc.

If you are looking at only this option of 1xPlay5 or 2xPlay1 and have no 'extra' sound system - the 2 x Play1s would be best IMHO, a Play5 may be 'better quality' sound overall but having a fuller, more encompassing sound gives a richer experience I think.

Of course, I do think everybody needs at least one Play5 regardless but it is a nice upgrade if you are just entering the Sonos waters or if considering value. $0.02.
Userlevel 2
My experience tells me some folks hear stereo separation very acutely and others not at all. If you love the spaciousness of stereo separation and the sound stage it can create, then two smaller speakers will sound better than one beefier speaker. Others who couldn't tell you which speaker the guitar or vocal is coming out of might prefer the bassier sound of a single larger speaker.

To me, a single speaker source is lacking. I like the openness and spaciousness of a stereo configuration.

If you currently have one Play:3 and are debating keeping it vs. getting a pair of Play:1s, I would say that you would spend less on an additional Play:3 to make that room stereo and have the best of both worlds.
Userlevel 2
yes, the small Play1 is more convinient for carrying/placing around in the house, and don't forget its relative waterproof design.
handy for use in garden or bathroom

I am a experienced HiFi audio listener , and my opinion is that all the SONOS speakers do have great sound, but they are not real high-end hifi sounding (like my old-skool HiFi stereo setup).
they all very good but "coloured" sounding, and the bigger the enclosures, the bigger the influence (colouration) of these enclosures is on the sound. therefore I like my 2 little PLAY1's in stereo setup, with EQ neutral Bas, and 80% increased Treble settings, loudnes off....



I know this post is kinda old, but still comes up in Google and I just had to reply.
Its posts like these that makes hifi newcomers feel awkward, confused and unsure about their own hearing. I've seen so many people posting that their experienced hifi audio listeners and then completely destroying their own claim by saying something stupid.
Him claiming that the Play 1 sounds right keeping the bass at neutral and 80% increased treble is totally ridiculous. If you do these settings on a Play 1 that will not sound good at all and completely out of balance. If to him this really sounds good he should get his ears checked as it is in no way a natural sound.
The Sonos play 1 actually come with an incredible clear and well balanced sound straight out of the box. In my opinion Sonos did a great job on engineering and the sound clarity actually is pretty much up the audiophile standard.
The only thing one should actually play around with per room is the loudness setting. While loudness is a setting that can distort the original sound a bit it really depends on how much bass and high ends your room can reflect to make it either sound good or too boomy. Keep in mind that loudness also only works on the lower end of the volume scale. While in the higher ends it does little to nothing.
I got both the Sonos Play 5 and Play 1 and both do an amazing job at producing clear, well balanced and vibrant sound. The only advantage the 5 gives over the 1 is the amount of bass. Both offer pretty much the same clarity in the mids and high's. But don't underestimate the 1 tho. For such a tiny speaker it still produces an amazing amount of bass. And I don't mean that over distorted bass that comes from beats headsets. But the one that still stays clear and punchy. Its not a room shaker like the 5 is, but it has enough to at least let your ears not miss a thing.
I only trust measurements, never subjective reviews, especially those of self-proclaimed "experts". The Play:1 measures exceptionally well for a speaker its size and price. Considering that it's powered and DSP corrected, it's quite a bargain.

http://stereos.about.com/od/Wireless/fl/Review-Sonos-Play1.htm
Sorry to necro this thread, will throw in a few comments which could help people out I hope.

I have owned everything Sonos sells with the exception of the Connect:AMP, I took a lot of it back, kept a bunch of it.

I'm pretty picky, but to my untrained ears I just like what I like. I don't have any meters or formal training.

Someone said that the speakers are room dependant. I 100% agree. Not only that, distance matters too. I'm sure the audophile grade guys here have some math equation for it, but I've discovered that sitting a Play:5 on a desk about 2 feet from me doesn't sound like it does when you move it 15 feet away.

Square rooms tend to do worse than non-symmetrical rooms.

I have a Play:5, 5xPlay:1's, and a Play:3. Never tried the Sub (will get one soon), and I will admit I have never done a Stereo Pair of 2xPlay:3's.

However, I think Stereo PLay:1's sounded better than a single Play:3, and even a Play:5. The Play:5 has more bass, but in some songs that's not what I'm looking for.

In a nutshell, here's the variables that I found to be pretty random.

1. Room size / layout / shape.
2. Distance from speaker.
3. Type of music! No one seems to talk about this one.

Type of music is important, less so for the Sonos because it's so versatile, but even though, Bose sounds great on Bass heavy rhythm tracks, and some instrumental, but falls apart when you want to hear mids and some highs. On the contrary, Sonos does an excellent job with all 3 ranges, but some records / songs do better or worse than others. On that same though, some Sonos speakers tend to do better for certain types then others.

I find my Play:1 Pairs have good bass, not crazy, but solid, good volume for my rooms, and have the right mix of mids and highs for the TYPE of music in the ROOM I enjoy them in. In other rooms, I rock Play:5's.

I have 2 rooms that are Play:1 Stereo, one room that's just a single Play:1, and a room that's a single Play:5.

I never have used my line in, but if I wanted, I could hook a bluetooth adapter to it to give the sonos bluetooth, just never needed it.

My issue with the "measurements" is that if you need a tool to tell the difference, you're likely not appreciating the difference. The only way I have been able to answer any of these questions is to sit in front of the system with my untrained, biased ears.

Best buy has a crazy good return policy, so just go try them out. It's the only way you'll ever really know.

My issue with the "measurements" is that if you need a tool to tell the difference, you're likely not appreciating the difference.

Where a speaker shortlist is to be made, measurements are very useful. Selecting from the shortlist is best done by listening, preferably in the target room with preferred music.
Userlevel 2
@Smansmith, I really like your setup that you described in the forum (pasted here below). Wondering how this would work on a TV? Also, would it be simple to connect the Play 1's as TV stereo L&R and have the Play 5 paired as well?

I currently run a Play5 and two Play1s (playing as stereo L & R) and all 3 paired to one room in our condo. This is more than enough for the space, the Play5 for a bit more depth with the Play1s for an overall wider soundstage. I think it works well and gives a bit of flexibility in case I move or if I prefer to move a Play1 to the bedroom, etc.

If you are looking at only this option of 1xPlay5 or 2xPlay1 and have no 'extra' sound system - the 2 x Play1s would be best IMHO, a Play5 may be 'better quality' sound overall but having a fuller, more encompassing sound gives a richer experience I think.

Of course, I do think everybody needs at least one Play5 regardless but it is a nice upgrade if you are just entering the Sonos waters or if considering value. $0.02.


I can't afford the whole sub+playbar setup and this sounds like a decent start.