Intermittent bass from S5

  • 21 December 2010
  • 127 replies
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Occasionally one of my S5's loses all bass reponse - it sounds like an old tinny transistor radio! It's not the equalization settings (according to my contraller at least) - bass is still showing set at midpoint, and moving it either way changes nothing. And it's not the source - same source linked to another S5 at the same time sounds normal.

But what I found does fix the problem is whacking the volume up and down quickly a few times - it seems to kick the bass back in.

I'm thinking it's probably a hardware fault. But is there anyhting else I should check before contacting Sonos support? (don't want to add to their workload unnecessarily over Christmas!)

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127 replies

withanee67,

I think that SONOS support is your best bet.

This is a classic "bad connection" issue. This can happen anywhere, but in this type of unit I expect that it is a crimped connector that is not quite right. There is a fragile connection that breaks down due to temperature changes or oxidation. Turning up the volume causes a tiny arc that burns away the oxide (oxides are usually insulators) and throws a tiny ball of metal across the void, making a very fragile repair. On the next physical stress, probably due to a temperature cycle, repeat the above.

This sort of problem can be very hard to locate because any physical stress could "repair" or unrepair the unit. The physical stress of sending a unit to a service center could "repair" the connection. The problem could be unique to a particular unit, limited to a particular batch, or generic to the model. Typically, a service center will need to see a bunch of similar failures before they can discover the pattern. Eventually, someone will figure out that for Model A, connector B is responsible for the issue and connector B should be replaced for any unit exhibiting intermittent output.

In any case, SONOS support will take good care of you. You can help support by sending a diagnostic and noting the confirmation number. Reference the confirmation number when you contact support.
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Thanks Buzz. Pretty much along the lines of what I was thinking, unless there was any possibility that the digital equaliser could be glitching somehow.

Sonos support have been great to me in the past, as most people have found, so looks like I will be adding to their Christmas workload!
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I have exactly the same problem with my S5 intermittently losing bass. I tried two local dealers, who both referred me back to Sonos.

So I contacted Sonos support, who advised a factory reset. The bass returned on it's own before I did the reset, stayed for a while and then disappeared shortly after the reset.

The only other option available through Sonos is a return and replacement unit for which I've been charged £98. I realise that repair outside of warranty is generally going to involve a charge, but then this seems a bit steep for what may turn out to be a loose connection.
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neatr,

Sorry to hear your story. Won't make you feel any better, but fortunately I have another 30 days left to run on my warranty. I'll be contacting Sonos support shortly.

Since our units date from a similar time, there's always a chance that this could turn out to be a faulty production batch - in which case I guess there's a (very slim) chance that you might be able to appeal to Sonos's goodwill and get some of the cost back.

That said, although it's pretty galling to shell out £98 just one month after your warranty has expired, it's probably a fair reflection of the cost to Sonos of the repair/replacement. If it is a hardware fault/dry solder joint, it could be difficult to track down. Will be interesting to see if you get a new replacement unit (in which case you can think of it as having paid £98 for a year's rental of your last S5...) or a refurbished unit.
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Just thought I'd close out this story (well almost, as I'll explain in a minute).

I contacted Sonos support shortly after my last post. First they told me to do a factory reset and see if that fixed the problem. I explained that I had less than 30 days of warranty to run and that the fault was intermittent, and said I would only try that on condition that they guaranteed to replace my unit if the same fault happened again even after my warranty expired. Support immediately gave me a returns number, and duly exchanged the unit in their usual efficient fashion. Problem solved...

...until this week when another of my S5s, about 9 months old, exhibited the same fault. In fact worse this time; as well as the bass cutting out completely, it would also crackle badly like there is a faulty connection to the speaker. Playing James Blake's track "Limit to your Love" isolated the fault very clearly - it has sections with nothing but a very deep, steady bass tone, which on the S5 came and went and crackled badly (all at moderate volumes). A waggle of the volume control seems to have fixed it for now, like the last unit, but I'm not convinced it will last. Next time it happens, I'll be back to Support.

So that's two units of mine, and one belonging to another poster on this thread. Has anyone else experienced the same thing?

Is this the start of another build quality control problem, like the faulty screens on the CR200, I wonder?
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I confirm I have also had a similar lack of base problem with one of my s5's


A percussion test did not help ( sharp bang on top) but haven't made the effort to contact sonos yet as the issue is fairly intermittent


J
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Hello,
My two months old S5 looses it's low freq tones now and then. If you knock carefully on the S5 the bass is coming back some time. It looks like some contact on the electrical circuit is not good. Or is there anybody with another explanation or with the sam problem? Thank you in advance.
dutchderk,

Welcome to the forums.

I've merged your post onto a thread relating to the same issue. You should contact Sonos Support. It sounds like your unit requires replacement.
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Glad I have read this thread as we have experienced exactly the same problems as per the first post on this topic. Raise the volume and the bass comes back!

It is very intermittent and I have tried to raise a support case on at least two separate occasions now, however I work away from home alot of the time, I have sent diagnostics but good old Sonos support only keep your case open for a few days if you don't respond imeaditly they close it before I get back home to be able to respond.

Have got used to it and just raise the volume when it happens but as getting near end of our warranty I suppose I must try again in case it fails all together

Jimmy
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Same problem here.
The bass is gone but it doesn't come back 😞.

Think i have to send my S5 back...
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I've been having the exact same problem... I first raised a ticket back in August 2010 (no one else seemed to be having problems then)

well I've been putting up with it for the last 7 months (was only happening once a week if that back at the beginning) but its happening a couple of times a day now

support here I come!
This situation is not likely to resolve itself and will likely become worse over time. I recommend taking up the issue with SONOS support before the warranty runs out.
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yeap I have done and they're on the case! :D

originally when it first happened I searched the forums but no-one else seemed to have the same problem, so I thought that it might just be something else on my end (nas, wireless etc etc). Plus it was only happening ever few weeks, so not really a big problem

but its been getting progressively worse the last 2 months, then I saw this thread and decided to get it sorted

luckily support are great here so I'm hoping to get it sorted quickly
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Just thought I'd close out this story (well almost, as I'll explain in a minute).

I contacted Sonos support shortly after my last post. First they told me to do a factory reset and see if that fixed the problem. I explained that I had less than 30 days of warranty to run and that the fault was intermittent, and said I would only try that on condition that they guaranteed to replace my unit if the same fault happened again even after my warranty expired. Support immediately gave me a returns number, and duly exchanged the unit in their usual efficient fashion. Problem solved...

...until this week when another of my S5s, about 9 months old, exhibited the same fault. In fact worse this time; as well as the bass cutting out completely, it would also crackle badly like there is a faulty connection to the speaker. Playing James Blake's track "Limit to your Love" isolated the fault very clearly - it has sections with nothing but a very deep, steady bass tone, which on the S5 came and went and crackled badly (all at moderate volumes). A waggle of the volume control seems to have fixed it for now, like the last unit, but I'm not convinced it will last. Next time it happens, I'll be back to Support.

So that's two units of mine, and one belonging to another poster on this thread. Has anyone else experienced the same thing?

Is this the start of another build quality control problem, like the faulty screens on the CR200, I wonder?

I had the exact same thing happen last week. I was playing Spotify and I switched to a track on my NAS and it seemed to cure the problem, so I didn't think any more of it..
Userlevel 2
Just thought I'd add that I have also experienced the same problem with my Sonos S5 - intermittent bass cutting out.

This started very intermittently and then happened to appear more frequently, requiring a power off and on again to rectify.

I noticed that the S5 felt exceptionally warm when the bass driver cut out. Also, higher volumes (not exceptionally loud, just mid-volume) increased the probability of the fault occurring.

Had mine swapped out by Sonos support, all working fine at the moment but worried we are uncovering a common defect here!
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Yeah, I just noticed on Sunday that the bass on one of my S5s appeared to be missing. Pressed Volume Up and suddenly it was back. Hadn't noticed this before because this zone is normally only used at very low levels as a sleep inducer and alarm! Will monitor and report to Sonos if necessary. Fortunately it's still under warranty!
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Experienced exactly the same problem with my S5 yesterday. The bass completely cut out mid-song. Tried turning off/on, but no luck.

After reading this thread today I turned the volume right up and the bass returned. Judging by others' experiences it will cut out again. I've got plenty of time left on my warranty so will contact support if it happens again.
Welcome to the forum.

It might not be a bad idea to report it now, while under warranty, so you have the "paper trail".
I have not had any issues with my S5's, but I can add a little "illumination" to this discussion.

There is a very fragile connection somewhere, probably between the amplifier and the woofer. When the connection breaks down, resulting in an open circuit, the woofer is silent. Raising the volume creates a tiny spark that will transfer a tiny ball of metal across the gap, completing the circuit, and the woofer starts up again. This is a very fragile "repair" and it will break down again after some mechanical stress -- which could be caused by a temperature change. "Thumping" on the box could also result in a temporary repair or break.

Initially, these are always hard to find because shipping a unit to the repair station, as often as not, will "repair" the problem. Eventually, a pattern emerges and the fix becomes routine for a particular model. Bad solder joints are usually easy to spot, but intermittent crimped terminals on wires plugged into headers are very common and these are the the most difficult to identify. Intermittent soldering between the speaker voice coil and the basket terminals is common too -- particularly if aluminum wire is used.

The point to take away is that this issue will not go away on its own. SONOS support is the proper channel for resolution.
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The prior posts have been too kind. I just bought an Play5 from BestBuy and immediately heard the bass drop out and then come back. I waited a day and this continues to happen. Yes you can get it back by turning up the volume but that is not a solution.

This thing goes back to store this week. If the next one does the same thing I am done with Sonos.

If they can't make a reliable product at $400 they don't deserve the business.
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Scotta1,

As the one who started this thread, I feel I should just say that I certainly don't consider turning up the volume to be a solution - it clearly isn't. I think those who have mentioned it, including myself, have done so to shed light on the nature of the problem, and to indicate a very short-term fix while awaiting replacement of the unit.

Buzz hit the nail on the head a couple of posts back - if you experience these exact-same symptoms, then it is clearly a hardware problem and it isn't going to resolve itself. Notify Sonos support immediately, or as in your case take it back to the store where you bought it.

From personal experience I can say that Sonos support has been first-rate on this, with both my faulty units being replaced without fuss. Even if you prefer to live with the fault for a while to see how it develops, as I did, STILL REPORT THE DEFECT. Because I reported my second fault within the warranty period, Sonos honoured it even though I eventually returned it outside the 12 months (I wanted to see how the fault would develop).

But if your fault is the same as I and others have experienced, then I do find that somewhat concerning, as it indicates to me that Sonos have not fixed the root-cause with improved components/design in almost a year since I first reported it.
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I've been planning to buy a couple of S5s in the new year but after noticing this post I'm tempted to hold off a bit just until there is maybe something official from SONOS. A storm in a teacup or the tip of an iceberg?
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I've been planning to buy a couple of S5s in the new year but after noticing this post I'm tempted to hold off a bit just until there is maybe something official from SONOS. A storm in a teacup or the tip of an iceberg?

Well, that's certainly the question. My own entirely unsubstantiated view is that there are probably a lot of unreported cases out there. The fault, by its nature, is intermittent and, if listening at low volumes or uncritically, you might not notice it for some while (for example, although when I first noticed it, I thought the S5 sounded like an old transistor radio, my wife hadn't really noticed that anything was wrong!)

The fact that I had the same fault on both my original S5's, purchased a few months apart, suggests to me that this is not just one rogue batch but a more fundamental design/component weakness in the bass driver circuitry. I bought both units from the same retailer, so I suppose it is possible that they might have come from the same stock, but that would not explain the new cases being that are still being reported.

If it is a design/component flaw, then it would be nice to think that Sonos would acknowledge this (as well as fix the root cause), much as they have done with the problem of non-responsive CR200 controllers (I had one of those too!). Then new purchasers like yourself could buy with confidence. Whether they choose to do so or not will I suppose depend on what they have concluded from their own analysis of reported faults, and the potential cost of returns.

But all that said, if I was in your shoes I would buy two new Play:5's tomorrow, and enjoy them - they sound excellent, and if you do run into a fault then Sonos support has been exemplary.

(And, despite my comment above, if you have two ears and are relatively alert, you really ought to hear the fault if it occurs! - it's a case of the bass being either present or totally absent - no question of degrees).

Hope this helps your decision,
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I spoke to a good friend last night - who I convinced to invest in SONOS - he has two S5s (white & Black) and he was completely unaware of this issue but when I mention it to him it definately rang some bells.


Interesting it looks to only occur on the Black unit, and when it does it, he uses the volume or switches sources which seems to help.

So it's seems he's just accepting it, if it gets worse he might have reason to complain but for now 14months on he's not wishing to rock the boat..

So based on that, it would suggest many more perhaps notice it, but do not seem to see it as an issue and accept it.

While i'll still monitor this thread, I probably will still buy them, especially as I have this long standing bet with myself that if I ever find the S5/Play5 listed (or with discounts) for £299 I have to get one or two 😉
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Hello,

There is no design flaw after examining the several units returned to us via RMA in response to this thread and completing an internal investigation.

The problem is extremely isolated (less than a thousandth of a percent of units sold) and involved in the circuitry of the specific unit experiencing the problem.

I apologize on behalf of Sonos to those experiencing this issue. While it is extremely inconvenient to RMA a unit, I advise contacting my team via http://www.sonos.com/support/ so we can exchange these units and you can resume enjoying your music.

Thanks,
Sunny