Intermittent bass from S5

  • 21 December 2010
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127 replies

Userlevel 4
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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
Userlevel 2
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
Userlevel 2
Same problem here.
The bass is gone but it doesn't come back 😞.

Think i have to send my S5 back...
Userlevel 3
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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!
Userlevel 2
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.
Userlevel 2
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.
Userlevel 4
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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
Userlevel 4
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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.



Sonny

I appreciate you joining this thread to give the official SONOS view on this issue. It is reassuring to hear you say that the problem is not widespread. However, I have to say that I am rather sceptical of your data and the conclusions drawn.

I bought two S5's, a few months apart, and both exhibited the same fault after a few months of service. You say the problem applies to "less than one thousandth of a percent of units sold", = 0.001%, or 1 in 100,000 units. If there is no systemic problem as you say, then my chance of having bought two faulty units is 1 in 10 billion! I know I'm unlucky, but surely not that unlucky!

Look at it another way: SONOS recently advertised that it is now in 1 million rooms (congratulations, by the way), ie that 1 million units have been sold, of all varieties. Now even if all of these were S5s (which they clearly aren't), then your stat of less than 1 in 100,000 faulty units means there should be no more than 10 faulty S5's out there!! I had two of them, and there are 9 others reporting the same fault on this thread. I can't believe that everyone with a problem has taken the trouble to post on the forum. I would think it much more likely that they are a small proportion, with others just putting up with an intermittent fault.

I'm a huge fan of my Sonos system, and the company. I don't want to blow the problem out of proportion, but equally I hope that behind the scenes Sonos is looking more carefully at this issue, and reviewing its design/component/assembly choices to eliminate it from future production. It is a premium product, at a premium price, and rock-solid build quality should be our legitimate expectation.

One last thing - you do yourselves a big disservice when you say that your RMA process is "extremely inconvenient"! It is the most straightforward and convenient returns process I have ever used. The fact that you offer to ship a replacement unit before the faulty one is returned to you, and your speed of response, means that the inconvenience is negligible. Thanks for that!
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I bought two S5's, a few months apart, and both exhibited the same fault after a few months of service. You say the problem applies to "less than one thousandth of a percent of units sold", = 0.001%, or 1 in 100,000 units. If there is no systemic problem as you say, then my chance of having bought two faulty units is 1 in 10 billion! I know I'm unlucky, but surely not that unlucky!

Actually there's no way of determining your likelihood of receiving two bad units solely from Sunny's comment. For example, if you bought both units from the same supplier there's a very good chance that, even with a few months space, that they supplied you from the same batch. If that batch happens to have a large number of affected units, due to a manufacturing issue than your chances of getting a second duff unit could be very high indeed. Even if you bought from two different suppliers, there's a possibility that both suppliers received units from the same batch run, so the above could still apply.
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It is a statistical anomaly, but doesn't mean this is widespread or the sample size is flawed.

This issue was reported twice in last two years before this thread. I participated in the dis-assembly and examination of the units on behalf of Support with our Continuing Engineering department. The conclusion was physical damage or a failure that was different from what was reported (amp fault, PSU, etc).

On a related subject, it is important to note that warranty replacements are refurbished units and we are unable to prohibit a retailer from selling open box/demo/returned/or otherwise like new units. The history of these units are always "questionable" but still officially supported.

Cheers,
Sunny
Regardless of the number of failed units in the field, a given unit tends to fail in a specific way in each stage of its usable life. (There are early, mid, and, end of life failures that may be different from each other)

If you contact anyone who services a lot of different brands, once they know the model number involved, they probably can tell you what is wrong -- without hearing any of your symptoms. This does not mean that all of this model will break, only that those that do break are likely to have the same issue.

Forums are similar to a hospital emergency room, where there could be a room full of patients with broken arms, but this does not mean that "everyone's" arm will break.