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 4
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I think so. The synth is closer to the right hand channel and is probably being overwhelmed in the stereo > mono conversion.
Userlevel 1
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I tried the Leona Lewis track from Spotify through my stereo pair of Play 1s plus Sub. The synth came in very clearly at 0:38 seconds.

Thanks, it seems like it's less of a speaker problem then and more of a stereo > mono conversion problem. Good to know!
Userlevel 4
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I tried the Leona Lewis track from Spotify through my stereo pair of Play 1s plus Sub. The synth came in very clearly at 0:38 seconds.
Userlevel 1
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I just wanted to say to OP that I listened to the Leona Lewis track on both my new sonos 1 and my sonos 5 2nd gen. The sonos 5 reproduced the synth sound perfectly, however I could hardly hear it on the sonos 1.

Now, it's possible this is due to what other posters have said, that it's a mono speaker, I know from experience that mono speakers do sometimes miss some minor things due to having to sum up the L+R. I'm moving shortly and I'll do a test of the sonos 1 in stereo to see if it fixes the lack of synth sound.
Userlevel 5
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wow this thread blew up... I came across it a couple weeks ago when I was searching for answers on why my $200 play 1 in my bedroom sounded so awful. I mean REALLY bad IMHO and I totally agreed with everything the OP was saying on quality. When I closed my eyes, it sounded like a cell phone in a red solo cup on my dresser.

well I just picked up a 2nd play 1 and put them into a stereo pair and that's a game changer. Now when I close my eyes and listen, it sounds like a room full of sound and I can't pinpoint where either speaker is.

Still doesn't compare to a pair of big, full range tower speakers but I've gone from completely disappointed to a happy camper. I only had to spend twice as much! ;)

but seriously, for $400 to have a great sounding system in the bedroom without running a bunch of wires and having a big ugly receiver to deal with... pretty awesome.


Make sure you run Trueplay against your speakers. It only works with Apple stuff at oresent, but if you,could borrows someone's iPhone to set it up...

Trueplay, roughly, irons out room/placement induced extraneous bass and tightens up the sound. It's other effects are subtle.
Userlevel 7
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2 x play1s in a stereo pair with you in the sweet spot, I guarantee will make you smile.
Hey I win for once, I claim my prize 😉
Lol. What is a forum for?!
The reason why adding a second speaker isn't obvious and immediately suggested is because many of us have only seen this convert good mono sound to good stereo sound. It worked for you, that's good, but IMO it makes more sense to investigate the reasons why a single speaker isn't sounding good, and fix those. Because it is so obviously able to, if placed correctly, fed music from a well recorded source, and optimised with true play.

And the last thing someone talking about returning his unit wants to hear is - buy one more unit! However, this suggestion is now part of the thread as well and may well prove useful.
Man, Kumar, you just like to argue and disagree. Whatever. This post ain't for you.
Like I said, doesn't compare as in I wouldn't try and shouldn't. Apples and oranges.

My point was to suggest a 2nd speaker for anyone else who came across this thread like I did looking for solutions because I would have appreciated that suggestion much more than a whole bunch of people defending Sonos. (Which I still don't understand how anyone could ENJOY listening to a single play device in mono)

well I just picked up a 2nd play 1 and put them into a stereo pair and that's a game changer.

Not always the case - the stereo sound is better of course, no doubt, but not often game changer different.
Perhaps when you added the second, you also relocated the first unit to a place that works better for it? If so, see how the first unit now sounds, when playing on its own; it probably sounds a lot better than before, and if it does, you will realise how much the speaker placement affects sound quality.
Or, just enjoy the better sounding music!

Still doesn't compare to a pair of big, full range tower speakers

A comparison to full range towers - where a lot of what you pay is for expensive furniture - isn't a fair one unless you support the 1 pair with a Sub. Expensive, but so is a pair of towers once the amp is thrown in.

Not much point in doing this for a bedroom though, but if you wanted to, you could because it is easier to do in a bedroom than trying to shoehorn in a pair of towers with the required supporting kit.
wow this thread blew up... I came across it a couple weeks ago when I was searching for answers on why my $200 play 1 in my bedroom sounded so awful. I mean REALLY bad IMHO and I totally agreed with everything the OP was saying on quality. When I closed my eyes, it sounded like a cell phone in a red solo cup on my dresser.

well I just picked up a 2nd play 1 and put them into a stereo pair and that's a game changer. Now when I close my eyes and listen, it sounds like a room full of sound and I can't pinpoint where either speaker is.

Still doesn't compare to a pair of big, full range tower speakers but I've gone from completely disappointed to a happy camper. I only had to spend twice as much! ;)

but seriously, for $400 to have a great sounding system in the bedroom without running a bunch of wires and having a big ugly receiver to deal with... pretty awesome.

If you're interested: http://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/what-data-compression-does-your-music

The conclusion from the link:
"At 320kbps, AAC is clearly the winner, but the sound will be different from the raw PCM format — things will just not quite sound the same, and the stereo image will probably not be as clear, defined or wide as it should be."
Fortunately for me, the experience I have is different. My music collection must be equally divided by now between ALAC CD rips and 256kbps iTunes purchases. In playlists that include both kinds of files, I haven't noticed these stated to be obvious differences, even in earlier supposedly more resolving systems bearing the audiophile tag. What I do notice is that when volume drops on some files, differences of this kind do become obvious even on a play 1 pair - but this is nothing that a boost in the volume control does not fix, inconvenient though that is, and a different issue.
Userlevel 7
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2 x play1s in a stereo pair with you in the sweet spot, I guarantee will make you smile.
You might also trial Deezer Elite. Similar catalogue, different curation, and a menu option in Sonos which confirms the streaming format.
LOL. All is well that ends well then:-))
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I'm most likely not ever going back to Spotify, just found this

https://support.tidal.com/hc/en-us/articles/201677601-Sonos-Getting-Started

TIDAL is the perfect match for Sonos, streaming music in lossless, high fidelity audio quality, ensuring the best sound experience possible.

The trial is in normal sound quality, not lossless, despite that the sound quality is notably better than Spotify.

Please let me know what you think.
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First few seconds of playing "Upwards at 45 degrees" on Tidal and i'm pleased. Take a 30 day trial i'd recommend, so much better dynamics.

Luckily i don't have a large music collection on Spotifybyebye. I'll run a few more checks, compare the app etc. Most likely i'll switch then.
I'm pretty sure if someone would do a decent sound analysis it would show major distortions in the soundimage. Digital sound speakers, yuck.

I expect to add another Play:1 this weekend but now i'm just anxious and frustrated with the sound quality perceived.

Some one has, and it shows no distortions. See: http://stereos.about.com/od/Wireless/ss/Sonos-Play1-Measurements.htm and the review there. Digital speaker isn't the right description either, no such thing exists. The 1 is also driven by analog signals.

However, the ultimate test is your ears, your room and your preference; never mind that it may not align with many of us here that are very happy with delivered sound quality from the play 1.

Look for a speaker that you like instead and return the 1.
I'm getting a Tidal subscription trial, appears to offer much better soundquality
It would be interesting to hear what you think.

However,
i changed room and the door is now closed, before i was in a spaceous kitchen.

be sure you actually compare apples with apples this time. And that even means keeping your head pretty still.

Unfortunately you'll be unable to level-match with any precision. Services don't all stream at the same volume level.
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I'm getting a Tidal subscription trial, appears to offer much better soundquality
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Nicka99 i change this speaker from room to room infrequently, i don't have access to an IOS device immediately.
Userlevel 7
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or rather, i changed room and the door is now closed, before i was in a spaceous kitchen.

do you have access to an IOS device where you can run Trueplay ? This will take room effects into account and adjust the equalisation to compensate.
This should be done every time you move the speaker. You can toggle Trueplay on/off and listen for the difference. It can be night vs day or very subtle. Totally depends on your environment.
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Sonos will always use the highest quality from spotify regardless what the Spotify app is set to.
Next month (apparently) you will be able to control Sonos directly from the Spotify app without needing the sonos app at all as they will enable Spotify Connect compatibility on Sonos speakers.
Surely this is not so, i did not change any other parameter.


it must have been placebo effect with your brain tricking you into thinking because you changed something to 'better' it must now sound 'better'
here is confirmation from Sonos that the highest quality is always taken. you cant adjust it yourself. That setting you refer to only applies in the Spotify app when streaming/downloading to your phone

https://en.community.sonos.com/music-services-and-sources-228994/setting-playback-quality-for-spotify-4440574/index1.html#post15296838


or rather, i changed room and the door is now closed, before i was in a spaceous kitchen.