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Sonos Five vs Sonos Play:5 (2021): Should You Trade In Your Old Speakers For New Ones?

It’s not very often that Sonos, the reigning king of multi-room speaker systems, comes out with a new product so when they do, it’s pretty big news. If you’re a Sonos fan, the long drought is over and you can finally rejoice because they recently updated their flagship speaker, the Sonos Play:5. Considered the third generation of the model, it’s now simply called the Sonos Five and the changes are pleasing to both the eyes and ears. Not only has it been redesigned to look sleeker but its memory and processor have been enhanced as well.

Some important questions need to be answered, however. Are these changes really worthy of an upgrade? Should you really be shelling out more money? After all, it can’t be denied that the Sonos Five and the Sonos Play:5 still share a lot of similarities, most especially in the area of sound performance, despite the much-awaited upgrade. If you’re still trying to make up your mind, here’s an in-depth comparison of the two Sonos speakers to help you decide.

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Sonos Play: 5 Home Speaker

Featuring three Sonos-exclusive woofers, the Sonos Play:5 is undoubtedly the company's "biggest and boldest home speaker."

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Sonos Five vs Sonos Play:5 Comparison Chart

ModelSonos FiveSonos Play:5
Sonos Five speakerSonos Play_5
PriceCheck Price

at Amazon.com

Check Price

at Amazon.com

Dimensions203 x 364 x 154 mm204 x 365 x 154 mm
Weight6.36 kg6.3 kg
Amplifier6 Class-D digital amplifiers6 Class-D digital amplifiers
Speakers3 mid-woofers, 3 tweeters3 mid-woofers, 3 tweeters
Connectivity802.11 b/g 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi, 10/100 Ethernet802.11 b/g 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi, 10/100 Ethernet
AirPlay 2YesYes
AlexaYesYes
Google AssistantYesYes

Design

The white Sonos Five got the biggest makeover, donning a monochromatic look. 

The Sonos Five (left) sports a white grille and logo while the Sonos Play:5 (right) has black detailing.

When it comes to looks, the Sonos Five doesn’t stray too far from its predecessor. It still comes in black and white matte finishes and it still has the same trapezoidal shape, delicate control buttons, and micro-perforated grille. If you’re wondering where the change is, it’s really the white version that got the biggest makeover. The white Sonos Play:5 comes with a black grille while the Sonos Five is white all over, offering up a sleeker, more refined look. Even its logo is white, allowing it to blend in nicely with the rest of the speaker’s body. The all-white Sonos Five would definitely appeal a lot more to the minimalists out there.

As in the case of the Sonos Play:5, the Sonos Five can either be used horizontally as an independent speaker or placed vertically and paired up with another of its kind. Up top, both models sport touch-sensitive buttons that allow you to control the volume as well as the play/pause and forward/back functions. The two are also similar when you turn them around, both equipped with an ethernet port just in case you prefer wired connectivity, as well as a 3.5mm input which allows you to connect to an external analog device (eg: a turntable or a vinyl player) and stream music across your entire Sonos network.

Sound Performance

The Sonos Five takes after the Sonos Play:5 in terms of sound performance.

Just like the Sonos Play:5, the Sonos Five has no problem filling up a room with its high-quality sound.

The Sonos Play:5 has always been known for delivering a well-balanced sound performance, leaving listeners in awe of its warm and detailed bass, rich vocals, crisp high notes, and wide soundstage. It’s impressive in terms of volume as well, able to fill up a large room without any trouble despite its size. As for the Sonos Five, you can expect it to have the same quality sound because its hardware has been pretty much left untouched. It still comes with the same center and angled side tweeters for the highs and 3 mid-woofers for the lows and mids, each driver with their own Class-D digital amplifier to ensure top-notch performance.

As expected, the Sonos Five still supports Trueplay, a feature that allows you to place your speakers wherever you want to. Whether it be all the way at the back of the room, on top of a shelf, or even behind the curtains, Trueplay will assess the acoustics of the environment it’s in and will then optimize the sound output so that it fits its surroundings. You also have the option to change up the EQ settings like the bass, treble, and volume via the Sonos app. As for a built-in voice assistant, it would’ve been useful for the Sonos Five to have been equipped with this feature but just like its predecessor, it’s only able to run Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant.

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Sonos Five High-Fidelity Speaker

The successor to the popular Play:5, the Sonos Five high-fidelity speaker boasts powerful, yet distortion-free audio at any volume level.

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Operating System

The Sonos Five has an upgraded memory and processor to better accommodate the new S2 OS.

The S2 OS is pre-installed on the Sonos Five (left) and will automatically install on the Sonos Play:5 (right) once it’s launched. 

Aside from design, the Sonos Five boasts of another update but it’s invisible to the naked eye. If you have discerning ears, however, you might notice that the Sonos Five has slightly better horsepower than the Sonos Play:5, thanks to its upgraded memory and processor. These internal improvements were made so that it can perform seamlessly with the Sonos S2 and receive future software updates for as long as possible. If you’re wondering what the S2 is, it is the brand’s new app and operating system and it will be used to power up their next generation of devices including the Sonos Five. One of the most exciting things about the S2 is undoubtedly its ability to support hi-res audio and so that’s something we can all look forward to in the Sonos Five.

While the S2 update marks the end for many of the older Sonos speakers that don’t have enough processing power to keep up, the Play:5 makes it to the list of compatible models. This means that if you’re an existing Play:5 owner, you don’t have to worry because you can upgrade it to the new OS and still get to enjoy many of its features. So if you think about it, you really aren’t missing out on much if you decide not to upgrade to the Sonos Five. The only difference is that the Sonos Five comes pre-installed with the S2 OS while it will automatically be installed on your Sonos Play:5 once it launches on June 8, 2020.

Verdict

Those who already own the Sonos Play:5 can pass up on the Sonos Five.

Deal Finder
Sonos Five High-Fidelity Speaker

The successor to the popular Play:5, the Sonos Five high-fidelity speaker boasts powerful, yet distortion-free audio at any volume level.

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Deal Finder
Sonos Play: 5 Home Speaker

Featuring three Sonos-exclusive woofers, the Sonos Play:5 is undoubtedly the company's "biggest and boldest home speaker."

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We are reader supported. When you buy through our links we may earn an affiliate commission.

It’s safe to say that the Sonos Five is a very mildly updated version of the Sonos Play:5. For many out there, the upgrade is an underwhelming one, especially since they’ve waited 5 whole years for it. Given that the changes are very minuscule, should you even consider the Sonos Five at all?

If you’re already a proud owner of the Sonos Play:5, it’s pretty much identical to the Sonos Five in terms of sound performance so there really isn’t much of a need to trade it in. As for design, sure the Sonos Five may look a little sleeker but that doesn’t mean the Sonos Play:5 is unbearably ugly next to it. It’s stylish and classy in its own right and would come as a great addition to anyone’s living space. When it comes to the S2 OS upgrade, that shouldn’t be a reason to let go of your Sonos Play:5 either because it counts as a compatible model and is capable of running new features.

As for those who don’t own speakers just yet and are looking for a new one, the Sonos Five is a great choice. Because of its upgraded memory and processor, it’s sure to have many, many years of life ahead of it before it’s considered obsolete. As the successor of the Sonos Play:5, you could say it’s the more “future-proof” option given its more modern internals.

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Denise Jose

Senior Editor at Compare Before Buying. Researcher and yoga teacher passionate about article writing, photography, wellness, and mindfulness.