Sonos Five Underperform

  • 15 October 2021
  • 11 replies
  • 238 views

I have a Rotel A12 and Bowers and Wilkins 685 S2 speakers. I like them but there was something about my stereo pair of Ones that I liked. Guitar strings were forward and clear and warm and vocals were the same.

So I am trialing a stereo pair of Fives to possibly replace my current HiFi system and they sound too airy and lack the warmth and definitive clarity of the Ones.

My summary is that they sound like Sonos speakers that are afraid to be Sonos speakers. They should be a huge step up from Ones.  
 

They have great bass but the bass isn’t integrated well enough. Their ability to have such deep bass should better fill out and warm up the rest of the instrumentation. Vocals are weak and light with too much air surrounding them instead of being warm and tight and direct which I find in the Ones.

I continue to listen hoping they break in. I get people don’t believe in speakers breaking in but they do. They are moving parts that become more relaxed. It WILL affect sound. My second One sounded weak compared to my first one and I complained to Sonos but after several days it filled out. 
 

I don’t know if I will keep them. I want to. Lots to like and simplify. I also hope software updates may impact the sound. But I may also return them.  I could get a SUB instead and more Ones but that’s a limited system with no ability to add anything else in terms of line-in. Still might try it this weekend.

I’ve read lots of forums on here and to my ears the Five is missing something the Ones have. The potential is there mechanically so it’s got to be software.

 


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11 replies

The only 5 unit I know well is the first model; and it did not lack for anything compared to my play 1 units, other than looks. 

My play 1 unit listening allowed me to replace a pair of Harbeth speakers with a 1 pair+Sub and I have remained a fan of their sound. All they are missing out on is a pair of line in jacks as you point out.

But the latest generation of Five units should sound at least as good as a One pair minus the Sub. A One pair + Sub may eclipse a Five pair though.

By the way: I have repurposed an old Connect to do line in duty for my Play1 + Sub set up and with that there is nothing missing in that set up.

Badge +18

Have you run Trueplay? Really can make a big difference but as you say they also need some playing time.

The only 5 unit I know well is the first model; and it did not lack for anything compared to my play 1 units, other than looks. 

My play 1 unit listening allowed me to replace a pair of Harbeth speakers with a 1 pair+Sub and I have remained a fan of their sound. All they are missing out on is a pair of line in jacks as you point out.

But the latest generation of Five units should sound at least as good as a One pair minus the Sub. A One pair + Sub may eclipse a Five pair though.

By the way: I have repurposed an old Connect to do line in duty for my Play1 + Sub set up and with that there is nothing missing in that set up.

I was hoping for an even better sounding experience with the Fives and I don’t really need or want a sub. Still might try it but the fives bass is plenty for me. The Fives should sound better but it’s like everything is sitting back except the bass whereas the Ones everything feels warm and out front. Anyway.

Have you run Trueplay? Really can make a big difference but as you say they also need some playing time.

I have and didn’t like it. But I walked the entire open floor plan and will try it just in the listening area. But I don’t see that changing what I’m wanting to hear. 

Obvious question: is the eq set to flat?

Obvious question: is the eq set to flat?

Yes. And I’ve tried various settings and loudness on and off.

I should mention they are definitely superior when playing hip hop or modern pop music but I find instruments and vocals of folk/Americana to be inferior to the Ones. 

Userlevel 3
Badge +5

If you believe graphs from https://www.rtings.com/speaker/tools/compare/sonos-five-vs-sonos-one-sl/15253/18701 , then the Fives slightly increase volume as frequency goes thru the vocal range, whereas Ones decrease slightly.  Maybe you’re hearing “what is real”!  (… and you like the downward-sloping “Harman Curve” frequency response, just as Harman claims...)  But I would think TruePlay would obscure that, though whether for the better or worse nobody knows without re-measuring. 

Disclosure: I disliked the B&W 685S2’s I heard, but the installation was actually In a niche (ick), not on stands.  We swapped in some old CM2’s instead, and it still wasn’t great but we could finally sit back & relax.  But my seemingly-bizarre preference points out another *big* difference you can be hearing which is your room around the speakers!  Off-axis dispersion is likely to be very different for the Ones vs. the Fives.

I think you can either be happy that the One’s serve you so well, or -- mostly if you need more volume -- switch to a Sonos Port and consider other B&W speakers.  That way you can re-adjust the EQ (either with the Rotel or some external box) for the sound you like.  It would certainly be nice if Sonos allowed a little EQ (there’s certainly the horsepower given TruePlay), but some “customer engineer” probably figures folks will do more harm than good, plus start a whole slew of support calls!

Obvious question: is the eq set to flat?

Yes. And I’ve tried various settings and loudness on and off.

Bass that then overpowers the all important mid range isn't a complaint I have seen on these units, especially after Trueplay tuning. Often it is the other way around at low sound levels. Is this happening in more than one unit? If just the one, there is a rare chance of a defective unit that ought to be ruled out and the easiest way is to try another unit and see.

By the way, the Sub isn't just a head banging thing - try a One pair+ Sub, with true play done, with someone like Nicky Parrott/Ron Carter/Marcus Miller to pick names from the jazz genre and see how they come across even at quite moderate listening levels. And then see how much music presence is felt to be lacking with Sub turned off. But - with the Sub, I find true play to be essential to not get a bloated bass effect, so that is essential.

Badge +18

Might be stating the obvious but you do have them positioned vertically?

Userlevel 6
Badge +14

The Play:1 and Sonos One is an excellent speaker (especially paired), I was a bit disappointed with a Play:3 a long while back but would have thought the 5's would be in a different league.

I use my Playbar 5.1 setup more for music than TV mostly, the sub was worth the money.

I bet 4 Sonos Ones and a Sub in a large room would be a great setup.