Play 1 sound quality

  • 15 January 2017
  • 29 replies
  • 2777 views

Badge
Have just invested in a Sonos set up for the first time, and took the plunge with a pair of Play 1's, figuring that every single review without exception said they sounded fantastic. I'm slight underwhelmed to be honest. They're on wall brackets about 8 foot apart, have run Trueplay & the sound quality is not blowing me away. Listening to radio stations on tune in does sound pretty damn good, but streaming spotify/Google play music, it sounds a bit flat and undynamic. Anything with a bit of complexity, there is no detail, the bass is a dull thud and it all sounds a bit muddled.

I did so much research before buying and reviewers and consumers alike rave about the crystal clear sound and finding details they've never heard before etc. Am not finding any of that. I'm far from an audiophile, I just like clear dynamic sounds from my system

Any thoughts? Run trueplay again?

This topic has been closed for further comments. You can use the search bar to find a similar topic, or create a new one by clicking Create Topic at the top of the page.

29 replies

Listening to radio stations on tune in does sound pretty damn good, but streaming spotify/Google play music, it sounds a bit flat and undynamic. Anything with a bit of complexity, there is no detail, the bass is a dull thud and it all sounds a bit muddled.

If it sounds good on Tune-in but not on other sources, then doesn't that imply that the problem is caused by the source material? Have you tried streaming good quality music to them - e.g. flac files from a local drive? If so, how do they sound?
Userlevel 7
Badge +21
Have you set them as a stereo pair. Also. I'd point out that many radio stations are streamed at a low bit rate with horrible compression.

Have you tried playing any of your own ripped CDs at a lossless format? Also would be worth trying them mounted on a shelf to ensure it isn't your mounting causing an issue
Badge
I haven't got any flac/lossless files, but surely Spotify should sound good? Like I said, I'm no audiophile, but I know good sound when I hear it. Would have thought something @ 320 kbps would be sufficient for these speakers to show their stuff. Can't imagine that you'd have to have a lossless recording for them to be impressive.
Userlevel 7
Badge +21
Really what I was thinking was to listen to something you are familiar with.
Badge
Sure, that's what first got me thinking something wasn't quite right. Listening to anything rock/metal related sounds as I described above. Anything more mellow or poppy sounds great. Think I'll try running trueplay again and see if that makes any difference
You can also turn Trueplay off and try some manual EQ adjustments to see if you can get the sound to match what your ears are expecting.
Badge
Yeah some tweaking is in order. Hope it works out, I want to like this system
Would have thought something @ 320 kbps would be sufficient for these speakers to show their stuff. Can't imagine that you'd have to have a lossless recording for them to be impressive.

On a blind test I can't reliably tell the difference between a high quality 320kbps MP3 and a flac. However, when you're streaming files, are you absolutely sure what quality you're getting? Doesn't have to be a flac, just a known high quality file of music that you're very familiar with...
Listening to anything rock/metal related sounds as I described above. Anything more mellow or poppy sounds great.

This is probably a huge generalisation, but from comments made on here, the people who seem most enthusiastic about the sound seem to go for certain types of music (e.g. jazz, simple vocals, mellow sounds,pop, etc). Whilst the Sonos kit is probably the best in it's field at it's price point, it's unrealistic to expect a couple of small speakers to make a wonderful job of reproducing heavy rock/metal, in the same way that you can't expect them to reproduce a full symphony orchestra in full flight - albeit for very different reasons.
Badge
Would have thought something @ 320 kbps would be sufficient for these speakers to show their stuff. Can't imagine that you'd have to have a lossless recording for them to be impressive.

On a blind test I can't reliably tell the difference between a high quality 320kbps MP3 and a flac. However, when you're streaming files, are you absolutely sure what quality you're getting? Doesn't have to be a flac, just a known high quality file of music that you're very familiar with...


Haven't streamed any files. Am listening to my library via Google play music & assorted albums on spotify - all of which I know like the back of my hand, am very familiar with all of it. Some sound fantastic, others....a bit of a mess. Example: Dandy Warhols - Come down. It's quite a full on recording, lots of sounds layered in there. But the Play 1s didn't seem to cope very well, the guitars didn't sound right, the drums were a bit flat.
Haven't streamed any files......& assorted albums on spotify

I thought that spotify was a streaming service....

What did you listen to before you bought the Play 1's?
Try running them stereo paired on a wide shelf, close to the front edge, even without Trueplay. You need to be about as far away from them as they are from each other.

If the sound quality changes significantly for the better, the wall mounting is the problem.
the people who seem most enthusiastic about the sound seem to go for certain types of music (e.g. jazz, simple vocals, mellow sounds,pop, etc).
Guilty as charged.
That said, a play 1 pair + Sub is an example of a Sub+Satellite speaker set up, and I have not heard any speak of any genre specific limitation to the capabilities of such a set up in general.
And I have read a few respected speaker designers to say that the best test of speaker voicing is piano music of all kinds and the spoken voice. If these two sound natural, the voicing is spot on, and I find that to be the case with the 1 units, even more so when the Sub is added.
How does a play 1 pair speaker pair sound compared to something like a KEF q100, at the same sound levels, with busy rock/metal? Anyone? PS: Ideally, with both anchored by Sonos Sub because that will take speaker enclosure size out of the equation. I would be very surprised to see the 1 pair + Sub come out second best for any music genre, but am open to correction because I don't listen to every genre out there.
Any fair comparison can also only be done with both speakers in as close to the same place in the room as possible.
it sounds a bit flat and undynamic. Anything with a bit of complexity, there is no detail, the bass is a dull thud and it all sounds a bit muddled.

Another thing to be sure of is the source material recording quality - the quoted words lead to a belief that it is probably compressed to deliver loudness, and therefore suspect.
That suspicion can be ruled out only if a "HiFi" speaker pair is able to resolve the same recording in a way the 1 pair does not seem able to do.
No speaker needs lossless music for it to sound impressive, but every speaker needs well recorded music to be able to do so - and if that be the case, it makes little to no difference if the file is lossy down to 256kbps or lossless; file codecs are red herrings that take attention away from the real problem of poor recording quality that is common to a very large number of CDs.
Userlevel 2
Badge
For the money the 1s are the jewel in the Sonos lineup, but certainly not without their faults. I do find them to be a bit muddled in the low end, understandable for what they are. Adding a sub will certainly bring them to life for you. I find it odd they sound best on Tunein radio which is a low stream rate.
For the money the 1s are the jewel in the Sonos lineup, but certainly not without their faults. I do find them to be a bit muddled in the low end, understandable for what they are.
If I may make a small correction - before one can say that they are comparatively muddled in the low end, you want to be sure that another speaker pair, placed in the same place in the room, playing the exact same recording, at the same sound level, does not sound so muddled.

Unless this is done, all one can objectively say is that the 1 units sound as muddled as any other speaker pair perhaps would. Which isn't to say that the 1 units are perfect; I am only pointing out the many variables that can lead to unjustified conclusions as to the sound quality from any speaker pair. And because the conditions I specified above are so hard to enforce at home, subjective statements of speaker sound quality differences are inevitable. But this is worth keeping in mind, unless differences between pairs are night and day.
Badge
Haven't streamed any files......& assorted albums on spotify

I thought that spotify was a streaming service....

What did you listen to before you bought the Play 1's?


As in.... I haven't streamed any lossless/flac rips, I've just been streaming spotify. Before this I had a Denon mini hifi hooked up to Q Acoustics

The way I see it, Spotify is a high enough quality that it should sound excellent, even if the speakers are wall mounted. I think I just need to run trueplay again, see if that changes things.
If these two sound natural, the voicing is spot on, and I find that to be the case with the 1 units, even more so when the Sub is added.

I'm always interested in hearing the results of double blind ABX testing... Subjective opinion is - well, just that...
Haven't streamed any files......& assorted albums on spotify

I thought that spotify was a streaming service....

What did you listen to before you bought the Play 1's?


As in.... I haven't streamed any lossless/flac rips, I've just been streaming spotify. Before this I had a Denon mini hifi hooked up to Q Acoustics


Herein lies the problem, sorry but Denon Mini systems are quote good and Q Acoustic Speakers are fantastic, way better than a Play 1.
The way I see it, Spotify is a high enough quality that it should sound excellent, even if the speakers are wall mounted. I think I just need to run trueplay again, see if that changes things.

Sure....

Just a thought, though... The higher the quality the speaker, the more it should reveal differences in recording technique. Is it possible that you're just hearing how bad most rock/metal recordings actually are? Or could it be a presentation issue? - i.e. you have a preference for a certain presentation of these well-known tracks, and Sonos isn't delivering it at the moment.

Rock/metal doesn't really need 'hi-fi quality' speakers to sound great. Often most neutral, uncoloured speakers sound quite dull and uninteresting. A friend carefully maintains decades old Wharfedale speakers, because they're the only ones that (to him) are the only ones that are truly exciting. They're very, very coloured and sound awful on most other types of music, but their sheer energy and attack makes rock sound awesome... With something like the live version of Freebird, they pick up the pace superbly.
Badge
It's all subjective isn't it? I guess what I'm missing is the 'crunch' of well recorded rock/metal. An example is the new album by Gojira - extremely well recorded and clear, but sounded muddy on Sonos. But having said that, was listening to another metal album and it sounded fantastic, even Mrs Ninja was nodding her head when she came in & she's not a metal fan. Think I need to experiment more. Volume is definitely a factor as well - can't decide if quiet = best or not

I'm always interested in hearing the results of double blind ABX testing... Subjective opinion is - well, just that...

Point me to even one for speakers; where each speaker pair being compared was placed in exactly the same place, sound levels matched by instruments, switchover between one and the other was close to instantaneous and the exact same recordings were played.

Last I heard was that Harmon Kardon has a mechanised set up that moves speakers around to do just this, in their anechoic chamber, for new speaker development. But I haven't seen a single reported blind ABX test for speakers by any one so far.
Point me to even one for speakers; where each speaker pair being compared was placed in exactly the same place, sound levels matched by instruments, switchover between one and the other was close to instantaneous and the exact same recordings were played.

That's rather my point - there is no science whatsoever to back up your over the top claims for the Sonos kit, merely subjective opinion... which we all know is very, very flawed...
....extremely well recorded and clear, but sounded muddy on Sonos. But having said that, was listening to another metal album and it sounded fantastic...

If the Sonos kit sounds fantastic on some tracks, it implies that there's nothing much wrong with the Sonos kit itself...

As you say, more experimentation required 😃
Badge
Well home from work & listening to the soundtrack to Hell or High Water on spotify. It's mainly mellow country/blues & it sounds excellent. Warm sound, but the subtleties in the music come through. Go figure 😃