Question

Why I'm returning / selling my brand new Sonos Play 1


Just bought a Sonos Play 1 today.
I'm not happy with it to say the least.
I was expecting by it's description and it's reviews to produce really high quality sound.
I have to say I like the tone of the audio on some songs, others are to be desired, but whats rubbing me the worst is the actual quality of the audio. There seems to be a blotchy-ness with it that makes it sound almost low-res. There seems to be a lack of harmonic detail, any brass on the drums tends to sound like bad static more then a physical ringing instruments that they are. Something that really shocked me was when I was listing to "The Best You Never Had" by Leona Lewis. There's a synth tune that plays about 0:32 in the song, I like the tune, I tend to hum it when the song comes up, however whats strange is that my Sonos Play One the synth melody is almost inaudible! Then it got me thinking; "If I can't hear that, then what else can't I hear!?" There really is a shocking lack of detail in this speaker. I described it at one point as a sounding almost as a "supermarket speaker".

The sound quality isn't my only issue. It's also support. I understand you only support iOS and Android. The thing is I'm a hobbiest Windows 10 UWP App developer and my smartphone of choice is a Lumia 640 for it's affordability and decent spec and construction. Microsoft Lumia smartphones are officially unsupported by Sonos. Sonos does however support UPNP playback and so I can use that right? Well for about 8 hours of trying my Lumia 640 wasn't connecting to my Sonos. Totally frustrating! It somewhat works now, although I can't adjust the volume. I surprised to see that the Play 1 doesn't have bluetooth connectivity. It's something so common that I just thought it was given and that it a real bummer for me.

One of the only reasons I bought the Sonos over other brands of speakers was the True Audio technology. It made the speaker sound almost atomically customizable. Although I don't have a supported phone, my dad has a Galaxy S4 which he said he would let me borrow to set up this feature, which Is when I found out after I bought my Play One that it only works on Apple smartphone's and tablets, something which highly annoyed me as I don't own one (I'm not THAT rich or technically competent).

I bought my, what I think is a considerably expensive Sonos Play One speaker on the grounds of it having a really great audio quality, being vastly customizable, being able to tailor tune it to my room, being somewhat compatible with my phone, supporting bluetooth connection (Which is my fault really, although their is literally no information on the box and the website is just as cryptic).

What I believe I got is a well made, powerful, low-res wireless speaker that fails to accurately produce the entire frequency range of audio, that contains a shallow app (Using my Windows Laptop) with lack luster configurable options, that is sold under false pretenses to I'd imagine ~70% of customers whom don't own an Apple products, including myself.

Start to finish for me buying, unpacking, using and configuring this product I've had nothing but annoyances (Which I'm probably passing on my irritation to you, for which I apologize.)

I like the Sonos brand. I think the product line needs an update and I'm getting my money back be it via a refund or private sale on a popular auction website.

Thanks for you time and patience.

Nathan.

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122 replies

Userlevel 1
Badge +4
Your opinion on SQ is valid, as only you can judge how us feel it sounds. Your other points just appear to be a lack of research before buying. Seriously though, what did you expect for £150?
I think you have a duff speaker as I don't recognize your description of the audio quality, the rest of it is basically just down to your lack of understanding of what the system offers. I don't know what "atomically customisable" means but Trueplay is not user adjustable, it does its thing and that's it, you either leave it on or you turn it off, there are no extra user adjustments that can be made to it on that front. Additionally Sonos does NOT support upnp, so your understanding is just completely wrong there. As for "I expected it to have Bluetooth", maybe you should have done some basic research? Your erroneous assumptions do not make it a bad product, it just doesn't make it the right product for what you want to use it for but it is the right product for many people.

Every criticism you have made is down to the fact that you didn't research the product properly. Sonos have never claimed any of the features that you believe it should have, so accusing them of lying is just idiocy. It's blindingly obvious that the system doesn't support Bluetooth for the simple reason that Bluetooth is not mentioned anywhere on the packaging, website or advertising blurb, so why would you assume it is? Similarly there's no mention of being "highly customisable", this is just another fantasy you've concocted out of nowhere and are now pissed off at yourself for getting so completely wrong, so just take it back for a refund and buy a Bluetooth speaker, which is what you wanted in the first place.
I think you have a duff speaker as I don't recognize your description of the audio quality, the rest of it is basically just down to your lack of understanding of what the system offers.
I agree. There is enough out there about the play 1 beyond just the subjective good opinion of many people with hifi kit exposure, that suggests duff speaker in this case. And that can be said with even more conviction if your conclusion is after Trueplay tuning.
It is perfectly ok to return the product if it does not meet all your expectations, even misguided ones. If that wasn't the case, I would have suggested exchanging the unit for another new play 1.
Userlevel 5
Badge +3
Just bought a Sonos Play 1 today...I'm getting my money back be it via a refund or private sale on a popular auction website.

I find the start and then end of the post conflicting. If you bought it today, why would selling it on an auction site be an option?
Userlevel 4
Badge +7
I have five Play1s dotted around the house and the sonic performance for their size never ceases to amaze me.

You do not really say in your post what source you are feeding to the speaker?
I have five Play1s dotted around the house and the sonic performance for their size never ceases to amaze me.


I have four and I agree. Very early after buying my first copies, I did a test comparing them against Harbeth C7 speakers that confirmed my initial impression of how good they are, so either the OP is listening to something defective or smoking something I'd stay away from.
My reference speakers are QUAD ESL-63's. For their size, price and capabilities, the Play:1s are simply unbeatable, IMO. The OP must be used to colored speakers, like Bose. The Play:1s are quite accurate above 70hz
Yes I agree it was down to my lack of understanding, but I don't believe my lack of understanding is entirely my fault. When reading about trueplay, nowhere did It suggests It requires an Apple smartphone or tablet to use the feature. It was only when I discovered that the trueplay button described in the manual didn't exist within the app, when I went onto this forum and read about how one guy was complaining about when the feature was coming to android did I relies it was only for Apple Devices.

As for Bluetooth, I had been reading up about a myriad of different systems; most of them support Bluetooth some even NFC. I kinda took it as a given and I understand it's my fault for not reading up about it properly.

As for find my post conflicting, I'm unsure what you mean. What I meant was that I had bought it from a Currys store today, took it home, listened to it. Unhappy I'm either looking for a kind refund from either Sonos or Currys or if I can't get a refund, to sell it some via Gumtree or eBay.

P.S In the style of Apple products, the original box really does have no information apart from the barcode and color information. I also found the website is unhelpful in instructing what the device is and isn't compatible with.
I'm quite certain Sonos would love for Trueplay to work with all devices. Unfortunately only the Apple devices have consistent microphones.
I will concede that there is merit in your arguments about incomplete information about what the play 1 cannot do - and Sonos may have not realised the kind of user profile that will buy a play 1 at its price point, as compared that which bought/buys its more expensive products, that tend to be bought after more research.

Good luck with getting the refund - I think the comment you refer to was based upon the fact that most places that sell Sonos have a liberal and easy returns/refund policy.
Bluetooth is fine in automobiles. In the home, it simply has too many annoyances. WiFi, and particularly SonosNet, is vastly superior.
When reading about trueplay, nowhere did It suggests It requires an Apple smartphone or tablet to use the feature
From http://www.sonos.com/trueplay-speaker-tuning-software (arrived at via sonos.com->'What is Sonos'->'Trueplay'):
For your Sonos PLAY:1, PLAY:3 and PLAY:5.
Set up with iPhone, iPad and iPod touch only
Userlevel 5
Badge +3
Yes, my comment about a refund vs selling was that the speaker was 1 day old...why would you even consider selling when you could just return for full refund.
I'm not sure if the OP has a duff unit or unrealistic expectations. But if he is looking for true audiophile sound he could put his refund towards something featured in this article. Of course, a wireless streamer and some amplification will also be needed.
https://www.cnet.com/news/top-10-ultimate-high-end-speakers/
I still have to get a good answer to the question: If I was to take any of these high end speakers, and play them in a blind test against a 5 pair at instrument matched sound levels - obviously only as loud as the 5 can go without any distortion - could these speakers still be picked out and preferred in a way that is statistically conclusive to their being speakers that deliver better sound quality?

I get that with powerful enough amplification, they will go louder without distorting, and are therefore more suited to large rooms, but that then limits the preference to their use only to those with large enough spaces and to loud music devotees that have them. And to the bragging rights set of course.
Userlevel 7
Badge +22
I know how it feels to spend good money on something that doesn't perform to expectations. EXPECTATIONS is the keyword in your analysis of the Play 1. IMO you didn't do your research and possibly let a sales person with limited knowledge oversell the Play 1 thereby inflating your EXPECTATIONS of its capability. That being said I believe your loathing of the Play 1 is very much misplaced and unwarranted.

For the record BT audio is a compressed codec. The Play 1 is capable of delivering sound quality equal to CD uncompressed audio. A BT speaker is not. That being said all speakers are not created equal. Just because a speaker will reproduce acoustics equal to a CD doesn't mean it will capture the FULL range (i.e. 20,000 khz - 20,000 kHz). Every speaker will have limitations on how well it performs in the High / Mid / Low ranges. That holds true for wired speakers as well.

The Sonos line of speakers are not studio monitors nor were they designed to be. Without going into a spec comparison take my word (as I have done my research) the Sonos line of speakers for the price point are among the best wireless speakers on the market. Are there better - IMO yes; but not by much and lack the ability for Zone setup.

You said that the Play 1 failed to accurately reproduce a 0:32 passage in a song you like. While I don't doubt what you say - I would ask are you able to hear the passage on any other SINGLE mono speaker. You are aware that a Single Play 1 is not stereo? Only the Play 3 and Play 5 are stereo natively. In order to hear stereo reproduction from a Play 1 you must have two setup in stereo pair. In that arrangement you may have heard the 0:32 passage you were listening for.

I hate I came across as a "Sonos Fanboy" but I didn't know how else to make my point in this reply. Yours was not a question; but a rant on how bad the Sonos Play 1 is. IMO you just made a poor buying decision without doing your homework. All may not be loss so I ask you to consider the following...

Before you return (or sell the Play 1) buy a second one and setup as a stereo pair and do a listening test on the song you mentioned. You may be pleasantly surprised with the outcome. This is assuming you can still buy another and be able to return them both if still not satisfied.

Good luck to find the speaker or speakers that meet your expectations 🆒
Userlevel 1
Badge +4
Are you sure about a single play 3 and 5 being "natively stereo"? Only I got a different answer on another thread and from sonos. The 2.0 configuration is two of the players grouped as a stereo pair. To the OP, the play 5 is sonically significantly superior over the 1if that helps you.
The 3/5 are stereo in theory but in practice once you move just a few feet away from them, you are out of the sweet spot for stereo and they become point sources. The 5 will hold the stereo image further, but only a little further.
Userlevel 7
Badge +22
Are you sure about a single play 3 and 5 being "natively stereo"? Only I got a different answer on another thread and from sonos. The 2.0 configuration is two of the players grouped as a stereo pair. .

There may be some misleading information here in the community and by Sonos regarding stereo imaging from a Single Play 3. However, Kumar's analysis is probably closer to what one may expect. FYI, this link (with information provided by Sonos) compares the Play 1, 3 and 5 as to expected imaging from a single speaker:

http://www.sonos.com/en-us/products/wireless-speakers/compare
Userlevel 1
Badge +4
I read a review of the play 5, and it quoted one of the sonos designers whom they had interviewed that the play 5 does have 2 channel audio, but it's pretty limited unless you put your face right in front of it!
If I recall right, the 3 goes into mono mode in vertical position.

Stereo imaging needs the left/right speakers and the listener to be in something like the corners of an equilateral triangle, and that dictates the limited and very near field stereo effect of these units.
If you put your nose up to the grill, both PLAY:3 and PLAY:5 are stereo -- when horizontally oriented.

nathanielbennett456: SONOS has been UPnP since day one and 3rd party controllers (admittedly somewhat limited compared to the full featured SONOS controllers) emerged shortly after. SONOS is not, however, a DLNA device. If you like, you can call the SONOS controller App from within an iOS App.
Userlevel 7
Badge +22
We've talked about this stereo thing at length regarding the Play 3 and 5 which has actually changed the conversation regarding the OP and their unfortunate buying decision process (or lack thereof). But I have one final comment about Stereo imaging....

Back in the day (and I mean back in the day) stereo was not so much about a "sweet" spot. It was more about having two speakers and being able to easily discern for example (and not necessarily in this order) that the drums and lead vocal (if non-instrumental) were center, brass to the right, strings to the left and back ground vocals wherever they were placed. Todays music has very little separation of instruments or vocals - left / right / center. Consequently it's more about the "Sweet" spot in the middle.

I'm not saying todays recording are bad. Just interjecting a bit of history on how the concept of what constitutes "Stereo" has evolved (or if you prefer...changed) ...over the years. Today there's' very little movement (i.e. positioning or localization) of instruments and vocals. It is...what it is 🆒
It was more about having two speakers and being able to easily discern for example (and not necessarily in this order) that the drums and lead vocal (if non-instrumental) were center, brass to the right, strings to the left and back ground vocals wherever they were placed. Todays music has very little separation of instruments or vocals - left / right / center. Consequently it's more about the "Sweet" spot in the middle.

It is still about the same thing today, the term for it is stereo imaging, and it still available via good recordings.

And the sweet spot is where the listener needs to be to get the illusion of the stereo image from the sound that is projected from two speakers. Sweet spot does not refer to anything in the image itself.

In the early days of stereo, recordings were made with some instruments only from the left and some only from the right. That doesn't sound very nice after the gimmick effect has worn of; often the mono version of the same performance sounds better.
Userlevel 1
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It's the recording process that's changed. A crossed pair is vastly different from close mic'd multi tracked. Most studio albums positioning info or stereo depth is artificial, as each instrument is single tracked and positioned in the mix.