Stereo Play 5s vs Play 1 pair with sub

  • 29 December 2014
  • 59 replies
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Moving to another apartment and selling my old stereo equipment I now have spare 2 x play 1 and 1 x play 5 on hands that were before used for different rooms. Due to convenience factor I would like to move one of these to my main listening area but i still question which way to go. Either i add another Play 5 or purchase a Sub to go with Play 1s. Having small kids my listening volume is normally quite low.

Reading this forum some suggest that the sound from play 5s would give me fuller sound but bass from the Sub would be much better, while others seem to think play 1s do sound better on their own when Sub comes into the picture. I understand the decision would always be subjective but would still like to hear some advice.

Thanks
Tomaz

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59 replies

Either i add another Play 5 or purchase a Sub to go with Play 1s. Having small kids my listening volume is normally quite low.

Play 1 pair with Sub would be my choice - even more so for low level listening though that sounds counter intuitive.
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Literally have both set ups in different rooms.
Would go with the 5s in your example if I were you
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For a start, you could also use what you have got and use the stereo Play1 on one side of the room and the single Play5 on the other side in the middle. A group of both would make a very nice "immersion" in music and the single Play5 might be enough for your bass need.

Have in mind, that the Sub would normally stand on the floor and has very fragile membranes in the inside (if you are aware about the Sub configuration you might know what I mean). You say you have small kids. These fragile membranes could easily be in the reach of their hands/tools and be pierced with a pencil / damaged in no time. With all other Play speakers you won't have that problem, you can even put them on the walls and have them safe from the hands of your kids.
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I have two Play 1 as a stereo pair and two set up as Mono speakers. I just got a Play 5 home and I am really disapointed with the sound.
It's much worse sound overall than even one Play 1. It can't even play louder than a Play 1.
I am very sure a pair of Play1 and a sub will outclass two Play 5 easy.
I just got a Play 5 home and I am really disapointed with the sound.
It's much worse sound overall than even one Play 1. It can't even play louder than a Play 1.
I am very sure a pair of Play1 and a sub will outclass two Play 5 easy.

While I agree with your conclusion, it is the Sub that tilts the balance. The 5 isn't worse than the 1 - but it needs its bass to be dialled down to a point where it doesn't sound muddy - down to 50% or less. Have you tried doing that?
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I have two Play 1 as a stereo pair and two set up as Mono speakers. I just got a Play 5 home and I am really disapointed with the sound.
It's much worse sound overall than even one Play 1. It can't even play louder than a Play 1.
I am very sure a pair of Play1 and a sub will outclass two Play 5 easy.


This was actually my first impression when i purchased single Play 1 after already having Play 5. I think Play 5 is harder to position well and it can get boomy. Later head to head comparison (with defoult EQ and loudness off) showed that Play 5 sound more balanced in comparison and deals with fully loaded tracks much better where Play 1 can sound flat sometimes. It is important to match the volume of these two also as i strangely noticed that my Play 5, until it reaches 75%, plays lower at the same volume level than Play 1.
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I just got a Play 5 home and I am really disapointed with the sound.
It's much worse sound overall than even one Play 1. It can't even play louder than a Play 1.


Ummm, no. I have many of each and that statement could not be further from the truth.
Play 5 sound more balanced in comparison and deals with fully loaded tracks much better where Play 1 can sound flat sometimes.
My experience is that the 5 has a little more scale. And each responds differently to positioning. Get that right with the eq set to accommodate differences, then both have a sonic signature that is very alike.
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Ummm, no. I have many of each and that statement could not be further from the truth.
Well, after adjusting the sound controls, I'd say the Play 5 is not as good as it's price indicates, i.e. two times better than a Play 1. For example the H/K Go Play can play much louder and have way more bass.
But, it is better than a play 1 for sure.
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For example the H/K Go Play can play much louder and have way more bass.

Those are no criteria for "good sound".
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You are correct, but Sonos.com are pointing out those two as advantages of the Sonos 5 over the 1.
My HK Go play is used occasionally outdoors but the bass, though clean, is overbearing indoors. Unlike the Sonos units, it doesn't have any tone controls - I have achieved some reduction in boominess by stuffing the large battery compartment with a small towel!
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You are correct, but Sonos.com are pointing out those two as advantages of the Sonos 5 over the 1.

No idea where you read that, but my Sonos.com website says: "The ultimate all-in-one listening experience with the deepest, richest HiFi sound."

If you are referring to "For many, the PLAY:1 will provide an incredible music experience with deep bass and plenty of power. The PLAY:3 and PLAY:5 each deliver progressively deeper and more powerful sound, as well as left and right channel separation from a single player."

...at least for me, "deeper and more powerful sound" is not the same as more bass and louder speaker. Well, I am no English native speaker and could be wrong. But for me, there is "more powerful" sound even at low volumes. 😉 And the Play5 delivers that for sure.
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No idea where you read that, but my Sonos.com website says: "The ultimate all-in-one listening experience with the deepest, richest HiFi sound."
.


Well under "compare speakers" on Sonos "System" page it indeed says:

PLAY:1 - PLAY:3 - PLAY:5
How loud do you want your music?
LOUD - REALLY LOUD - CRAZY LOUD
How deep do you want your bass?
DEEP - REALLY DEEP - CRAZY DEEP
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PLAY:1 - PLAY:3 - PLAY:5
How loud do you want your music?
LOUD - REALLY LOUD - CRAZY LOUD
How deep do you want your bass?
DEEP - REALLY DEEP - CRAZY DEEP


Jeez, indeed. How silly is that?!🆒
Jeez, indeed. How silly is that?!🆒
Sonos isn't exempt from getting carried away!
The thing with bass in small enclosures is that it can easily get the all important midrange out of shape. Which is how the Sub makes a case for itself, by not doing this, via a separate enclosure, allowing the play units to sound better at the same time it does the bass thing.
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Exactly, so a pair of Play 1 with a Sub will give much better sound paired with more bass than a pair of Play 5. To me the Play 5 doesn't play louder than a Play 1 either, slightly more bass, but there is no need for the more expensive Play 5 if a Sub is used.
The price is of course also much higher, but it is an answer to the OP.
Now, will a Playbar and a sub give equal or better music quality than a pair of Play 1 and a Sub?
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Now, will a Playbar and a sub give equal or better music quality than a pair of Play 1 and a Sub?


The stereo separation should be better with the Play1s set apart, the Playbar with its bigger number of speakers in my opinion is at least able to hold up to two Play1s. The Playbar is btw definitely able to output quite some bass itself.
The stereo separation should be better with the Play1s set apart, the Playbar with its bigger number of speakers in my opinion is at least able to hold up to two Play1s. The Playbar is btw definitely able to output quite some bass itself.
In an admittedly small listening sweet spot, I would think that the play 1 pair + Sub would trump the play bar for music SQ. I have no experience of the play bar , but so it seems to me - though open to correction for this reason.
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Thanks all for some valuable information and opinions. While i was indeed leaning towards play 1s with sub also due to smaller footprint, i acctually now realized that i would want to have (contrary to what i decided before 🙂 ) 3 zones even in my new appartment which means i would need to purchase zone 3 totaly from scratch.

This complicates things since now i have a connect amp + speakers option also available 🙂. For 600 EUR/$ difference i suppose i could quite improve play 1s + sub combo, am i right?

In addition however i do also need new "sound" for my TV which is in the same room so adding a playbar to play 1s with sub would be much more elegant (and better sounding?) than connect amp + speakers and seperate 5.1 system (or soundbar) in addition.

Damn. 😉
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which means i would need to purchase zone 3 totaly from scratch.

The cheapest way to add a zone is always a Play1.

This complicates things since now i have a connect amp + speakers option also available 🙂. For 600 EUR/$ difference i suppose i could quite improve play 1s + sub combo, am i right?


Would you like to add the Connect Amp + speakers to the Play1 + Sub? This would only be possible in a "grouped" setup. You won't be able to have 5.1, yet you could have a nice 4 speaker setup with music coming from everywhere in that room. I have that right now in my living room and it is amazing.

In addition however i do also need new "sound" for my TV which is in the same room so adding a playbar to play 1s with sub would be much more elegant (and better sounding?) than connect amp + speakers and seperate 5.1 system (or soundbar) in addition.


That is not the only / the right option. As the Playbar has some shortcomings (no DTS support, only 1 input, ...) it is a nice, but not the only possibility for a serious home theatre setup. For the price of a Soundbar, a Sub and 2xPlay1 you can get a VERY nice 7.1 receiver AND a 7.1 (or 5.1) speaker set. OK, you would need to cable all those speakers around the room, but you would have a perfect home theater setup with DTS and HDMI (up to 4k) switching support. You certainly could even add a Sonos Connect (not an AMP) and integrate that 7.1 system into your Sonos network. The only caveat is that the receiver needs to be on for Sonos sound (obviously).
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Would you like to add the Connect Amp + speakers to the Play1 + Sub?


No. Since i will use existing Play speakers elswhere
i can either do Play 1s + sub combo OR Connect AMP with speakers in my main room, all of which i would still need to purchase. (+ a soundbar in the same room in the near future for TV, but this is secondary as my main concern at the moment is music)

i can either do Play 1s + sub combo OR Connect AMP with speakers in my main room, all of which i would still need to purchase. (+ a soundbar in the same room in the near future for TV, but this is secondary as my main concern at the moment is music)

I recommend the 1 pair + Sub. With the Connect Amp, since the 55 wpc can be a limitation for speakers that go as deep and loud as Sub, best results are obtained by adding a Sub - the 1 pair + Sub will be the cheaper and more elegant solution. Unless you spend a lot more money on speakers for the Connect Amp, the sound quality will be same with the 1 pair + Sub.
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The AMP + speakers would however have inputs, which could be used as a stereo speaker set for the TV right away. The Play1 + Sub combo has none.

The AMP has a subwoofer out plug, so a sub could be added right away.

The AMP + speakers combo could be used as rear speakers for a Sonos 5.1 setup at a later time, as is described here: https://ask.sonos.com/sonos/topics/connect_amp_for_surround_channels_from_the_playbar . The AMP needs to be wired however for that to work.

I agree however, that Play1 + Sub will give better bass than AMP + speakers (without sub).
The AMP + speakers would however have inputs, which could be used as a stereo speaker set for the TV right away. The Play1 + Sub combo has none.


I don't know PlayBar well - would the play 1+Sub not be an easier fit into a future addition of it for TV? I agree that would be at the cost of nothing for TV right away.