MEGATech Reviews: Sonos PLAY:5 (Gen 2) Wireless Speaker
The second-generation PLAY:5 hardly reinvents the wheel. If you're already familiar with the Sonos ecosystem, then you'll already know what to expect and that's not such a bad thing.
  • Rich and full sound profile
  • Very convenient wireless functionality
  • Integrates into your existing Sonos system
  • Expensive
  • Unknown spec sheet
8.5Overall Score

Why would you want to settle on a dumb speaker when you can have a smart speaker instead? Why would you want to deal with a wired speaker when you can have a wireless one instead? Why would you only play one or play three or even play bar when you can play five instead? Er, maybe you should just ignore that last one and just take a closer look at the 2nd-generation Sonos PLAY:5, the smart wireless speaker that follows up on the first-gen model of the same name.

Get Ready to PLAY:5 All Over Again


The product family from Sonos really hasn’t changed all that much, offering speakers in a few different sizes, along with supporting products like the Bridge and CONNECT:AMP. Here in my own house, I’ve been very happy with streaming the music over to the entry-level Sonos PLAY:1 and we also added the Sonos PLAYBAR to the mix not that long ago too. It’s really convenient to stream not only Internet radio, but also content I have stored on my network drive to these speakers, controlling everything from my smartphone.

In this way, the second-generation PLAY:5 hardly reinvents the wheel. If you’re already familiar with the Sonos ecosystem, then you’ll already know what to expect from the PLAY:5. As with all other speakers in this family, the Sonos PLAY:5 doesn’t have much in terms of an actual spec sheet. Sonos isn’t forthcoming with the number of watts or frequency response range or size of the drivers. Instead, they say just focus on how good it sounds and how good it looks. Take that how you will.

The Big, Bad Wireless Speaker


The first thing that surprised me, which in hindsight really shouldn’t have surprised me, is the actual physical dimensions of the new PLAY:5. It’s easily larger than if I placed three PLAY:1 speakers side-by-side-by-side. You can get a sense of the size in the picture above, compared to the documentation square (which is about the size of a CD sleeve). It’s about 14″ x 8″ x 6″ in its horizontal configuration, though you can use it vertically if you prefer too.

And while a networking cable is included in the package, you probably don’t need it. Sonos is truly wireless now and the speaker can connect to your home’s Wi-Fi network directly. Just make sure it’s in a location that’ll get a reasonably reliable connection.

Rather than placing physical buttons on the PLAY:5, like what we see on the PLAY:1 and the PLAYBAR, Sonos went with some touch sensitive controls here. The central button is for play/pause and this is flanked by the volume up and volume down buttons. They don’t “click” like actual buttons; they’re just touch-sensitive areas. What’s neat is if you swipe your finger across all three “buttons,” you can go to the previous track or advance to the next track on your playlist. Simple, but effective.

Connection and Setup


The process for setting up the Sonos PLAY:5 is exactly the same as setting up any other Sonos product. This is especially easy if you already have a Sonos system set-up in your home and the PLAY:5 can be used as part of your surround sound home theater configuration if you’d like too. At its most basic level, you simply start by plugging in the power, booting up the app, and following the on-screen instructions to add the new speaker.

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You’ll notice in the pull-down menu for adding a new speaker to your Sonos family that both the gen1 and gen2 versions of the PLAY:5 are listed. Make sure you choose the right one. The on-screen instructions also refer to a green light, which doesn’t exist on this version. That may cause a slight point of confusion, but you needn’t worry about it and just proceed as normal.

Once you’re set up, the PLAY:5 operates like any other Sonos speaker, tapping into such services as TuneIn Radio, Spotify, and Google Play Music, among dozens of others. There’s no shortage of partnerships and possibilities here, including a line-in jack on the back for any auxiliary audio source. This source can even be played on other Sonos speakers and not just on the connected PLAY:5.

Filling the Room with Beautiful Beats


The convenience of the mobile app and the whole wireless streaming thing is nice, but how does this speaker actually sound? According to Sonos, the PLAY:5 gets “smartly synchronized mid-woofers and tweeters” to produce its superior sound profile. And I’m inclined to agree. Regardless of the kind of music you enjoy, the sound coming out of the PLAY:5 is certainly very rich and robust. It has a warmer tone overall, which makes it particularly compelling for jazz and instrumentals.

Music played on the PLAY:5 sounds much more full and complex compared to the PLAY:1. I really like the PLAY:1, given its performance-to-size ratio, but the PLAY:5 is on an entirely different level. For music, the PLAY:5 also outperforms the PLAYBAR and I was able to get plenty of sound production even at less than a third of the maximum volume. It’s great, but you’ll likely want to get a stereo pair to really fill the room with the symphony you desire.

MEGATechie Music to Your Ears or MEGATechie Overpriced Sound Stage?


There’s a lot to like about the second-generation Sonos PLAY:5. The Sonos ecosystem is already very pleasing and the rich and full sound offered by this speaker really is impressive. You don’t get the harshness of the treble, nor do you get overwhelmed by the thump of the bass. It’s well-balanced and plenty loud. I had no connectivity issues either, but your mileage will certainly vary based on the configuration in your home.

The real sticking point is the price. The PLAY:5 lists for $499.99, making it decidedly pricier than a lot of “dumb” speakers with similar, if not even superior sound performance. Sonos has always positioned itself as a premium product from a premium brand, which is also reflected at the premium price that almost never goes on sale.

The trouble is that the convenience and power of the wireless Sonos ecosystem isn’t nearly as unique anymore with the arrival of the Chromecast Audio earlier this year. It almost makes more sense to spend upwards of $470 on a great set of “dumb” speakers to connect to the Chromecast Audio dongle instead. But if you’ve already bought into the Sonos fruit punch, the PLAY:5 (gen 2) is a worthy addition to the family for sure.

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