Good evening all,
Firstly I'm new on here ( hello all ) so hope this is posted in the right section!
I am not new to HiFi equipment or wireless speakers ( I have had a rather bad habit for the last 20 years ) and have had and sold more stuff than I care to think about, but I am new to Sonos, well until this weekend that is! I wanted to share the following with you as I cannot see anywhere on the forums or the net a Naim vs. Sonos comparison.
Sunday afternoon, following a trip to my local John Lewis I returned home with a Play 5 Gen2 (£389) and the relatively new Naim Qu So QB (£595). I couldn't decide which one to go for and having any sort of meaningful demo was hopeless, Sonos Play 5 was connected to a Play 1, Play 3 and a Sonos soundbar which all seemed to playing at the same time on the Sonos stand, despite me trying to isolate the Play5 and even trying the line in option with the 3.5mm jack I brought with me as a last resort.( plus someone was streaming what sounded like Bangra music at a stupid level in the next isle on a BeoPlay A2, all very annoying ).
I went in to listen to the Mu-so QB and the bigger brother Mu-So (£895) and to be honest the new Zepplin ( sorry all, not the face.......). So I'm stood in front of the Mu-So QB and I'm streaming a few of my tried and tested "test" tracks from Spotify (offline) via Bluetooth and I am thinking to myself "that's not great". I would just like to mention at this stage that I did listen to the QB in Superfi Nottingham about a week ago and they had it hard wired and were streaming Hi Res ( not sure what format ) files to it and I must say whilst I wasn't crazy on the looks, it did sound pretty impressive. Hence the trip to JL to listen to it again but this time via Bluetooth.
For background, I wanted something to replace the Revo Superconnect I have in the kitchen dinner and because I have been really happy with this for 12 months I was initially thinking the new Revo SuperSystem (rrp £550 I think ). I wanted something to fill the room better, I don't always agree with What HiFi but with the SuperConnect they got it spot on IMO, for the size of it the sound is pretty impressive ( to my ears anyway ). 3 or 4 years ago I started out with the Audio Pro all room One ( as my first "proper" wireless speaker, which did sound good and for the money is probably the best I'd heard until now, however if the wind was blowing in the wrong direction the airplay would drop out, app was terrible so in the end like so much of my other stuff I sold it on Ebay ( still have the Revo, 2 sound bars, 2 amps, a 5.1 system, Monitor audio book shelf speakers, Monitor Audio S150, C.Audio Go, plus various headphones, not to mention the system in the garage, I think you all get the picture, and that is after a de-clutter!! )
So back to the QB test, so I'm standing there and all of a sudden a track came on behind me and I "thought blimey that sounds good", I turned around and low and behold it was the Play 5 Gen2. I would just like to say at this point that Sonos had not actually been a consideration despite the excellent reviews for the Gen2. My Boss has his whole house wired up with Sonos, all Gen 1 and whilst I liked the concept I always felt the sound was a bit, muffled sounding, lacking detail and clarity. So after finally turning all the other Sonos speakers off so it was just the Play5 playing, I was seriously impressed with what I was hearing. Now I appreciate that this was hard wired and the QB was via Bluetooth but it was literally night and day! With the Bangra still blaring I decided that the only way to really do a test was at home. Long story short, after ascertaining that I could take both home and return the one I didn't want for a full refund, off I went with a box in each hand ( both are reassuringly heavy ) and £984 lighter, with slight trepidation that I wouldn't get my refund like they promised, made worse as I had put them both on my wife's card!!!
Back home, set both up side by side. QB via Spotify connect, Play5 via Sonos APP and Spotify through that. Demo tracks, tried and tested ones, back to back comparison and I can conclude that the Sonos for me sounds better. The QB sounded slightly muffled again, made me think back to when I first heard my bosses Sonos system. My mate said the same when he popped over the following day, he is a big B&W fan, has had the A5, A7, original Zepplin etc, he always said I should have kept the Audio Pro, but heh ho ). He is getting the new Zepplin on demo from B&W ( he spoke to them today and they said that the A7 is now obsolete ) so if anyone hasn't killed themselves after reading this I'm happy to report back on that when he brings it over at the end of the week to compare to the play5. I did listen to the new Zepplin through the 3.5 jack in JL and it did sound good ( treble slightly harsh I noted ), but better than the QB which I also tried using the 3.5 jack.
Sonos 5 goes deeper than the QB by some way and just has more presence and clarity to my ears, I am amazed by the bass response on the Play5 on some of the tracks I played, Sharpness by Jamie Woon being one of them. ( I will also add that the EQ is on standard neutral setting for the Play5 throughout for the test with loudness on ) on the QB you only seem to be able to turn loudness on/off, no EQ settings I could see on the Naim app ( which does look good and functions well )
I am sure that some of the Naim faithful will tell me that the QB needs to run in ( and I know it does ) but out of the box the Sonos has it beat in every area, and lets face it is £210 cheaper. Hard wired with Hi Res tracks I don't dispute that the Naim might have the edge, but in the real world that's not how I listen to music these days! I have all my music ripped to lossless files but I simply can't be ars*d with all the faffing about. Open Sonos app, Spotify and it's on straight away with Sonos and I like that. Even though I am still getting used to leaving it on at the wall.
There is a downside for me with the Play5 Gen2 however, I can't pretend that I am happy with the Sonos App and the Spotify integration. Like many have said already my Playlists are all over the place with Spotify through the Sonos APP, ( I have loads of them and spent many hours collating them ) plus no iplayer Radio ( I have read on here that it might be coming soon, fingers crossed ) isn't great for me either as I do like to listen to catch up, but I suppose I can do that in my office when working from home which is where the REVO is going. I am also considering a short - medium term work around for airplay to use the native Spotify app and iplayer either with Airport express or the much cheaper Chromecast Audio. ( I read if you disable compression you won't lose audio quality ) but I just can't get my head round wiring in with 3.5mm jack, it's not what I bought it for ( maybe I should have read more about Sonos before I bought it ) but as I said already Sonos wasn't even on my radar until Sunday. I'm not Sonos bashing for the record and have signed up to help out with any new Beta's to try and help things along as I honestly feel the guys have done a fantastic job with the Play5 Gen2, I really think for the money it is a great speaker and it hasn't dropped out yet which is encouraging considering my kids are caning the fibre constantly streaming movies on their ipads. It's just a few niggles as mentioned that are taking the shine off for me, Spotify being the main one to be honest.
As I sit here typing this listening to the speaker I really want to stick with it and hope for future upgrades to iron out the problems as I'd like to add another play 5 after we extend the kitchen, but there is still a little part of me that is considering taking it back. But what then, the Denon Heos offering, the Bluetone range....?
Thanks for reading and I hope it proves to be of interest to some of you.
P.S. I like that fact that there is interaction with people from the Sonos team on the forum, makes me think that Sonos are actually bothered about what their customers think!