Sonos Play 3 vs Play 5: Which One to Love More?

(Last Updated On: January 30, 2017)

Even if you’re not a die-hard audiophile, chances are you’ve probably heard of Sonos. Sonos got its start back in 2002, with the quartet of founders all sharing the same vision of developing electronics that allowed consumers to listen to the music they loved in the way they deserved. Unlike so many electronics companies today, Sonos develops, designs, and manufactures all of their products themselves.

This brand is most known for their smart speakers, which bring advanced technology into homes in a way that makes for an easy, and enjoyable user experience. The brand now serves over 60 different countries with their products, and are easily becoming one of the major names in household speaker systems.

Sonos’ Play series consists of 3 different speakers, with the 3 and 5 models being the mid- to high-range options. While both speakers look different and serve different purposes, there are some similarities that the Play series speakers share.

Sonos Play Speaker Features

First off these speakers have a “Plug and Play” level when it comes to ease of use. Just unpack the speaker, plug it in, connect to wifi and go. Either plug in device directly via line-in (for the 5) or stream wirelessly. Spotify is streaming service sponsored by Sonos.

Aside from Spotify, Sonos is also compatible with over 30 different streaming services, including:

  • Apple Music
  • Pandora
  • Amazon Music
  • SoundCloud
  • Google Play Music
  • Sirius XM
  • iHeartRadio, and more

These speakers are easily controlled with the Sonos app, even if you don’t have tech skills. The app has a basic interface that allows you to easily sync to individual speakers or control all of them together. You can rename speakers to coincide with their location as well. Having speakers labeled as “Kitchen”, “Living Room” or “Bedroom” makes using Sonos easy, even for kids or older folks that may not be so savvy when it comes to using a smartphone. You can also connect multiple Sonos speakers throughout your house. Play different songs on each speaker or play the same song throughout your house for a full-immersive audio experience.

One really great feature for Sonos speakers is that they can be set-up horizontally or vertically on a wall, shelf or on a stand. Many speakers, even quite modern ones, are still sensitive devices and can only be oriented in one way. Placing a speaker on it’s end when it shouldn’t be can damage the device, especially if you’re playing music at a very loud level. Both the Play 3 and Play 5 can be placed on their bottom or on their end. When placed horizontally the speakers will play stereo sound, and vertically the sound will automatically switch to mono sound. The Play 3 and Play 5 have rubber feet on the sides you can play the speaker on.

Sonos is also excellent about maintaining the highest quality technology possible, so this means you should expect regular updates. Your speaker’s smart capabilities won’t become defunct after just a couple years.

Specs and Features of the Play 3

The Sonos Play 3is arguably a perfect expensive of a mid-size smart speaker with stereo sound. Everything about its design and audio setup prove that Sonos really hit the mark on creating a better speaker that would make the average music lover happy without giving them too much.

Details:

  • Comes in Black or White
  • Versatile design ideal for both narrow and short spaces
  • Speaker can be placed horizontally or vertically
  • Full stereo sound with deep bass tones
  • Link two Play 3 speakers for Sonos Home Theater experience
  • Can be mounted on wall or stand

Specs:

  • Dimensions – about 5″ x 10.5″ x 6″
  • Weight – about 5.5lbs
  • Graphite or metallic grille
  • Comes in Black or White case
  • Retails for $299

Audio Setup:

  • Three Class-D digital amplifiers
  • One tweeter
  • Two mid-woofers
  • Single bass radiator
  • Adjustable bass and treble

The Play 3 is the ideal smart speaker. It offers better sound and more power than the original Play 1, but isn’t so expensive that it’s unaffordable. For only $299 you can have professional quality sound in your home, and you really can’t beat that. The less expensive price also means that the Play 3 is more of an inviting option for those that plan to eventually add another speaker to their home. Once budget allows they simply buy another speaker and pair it up with their original one.

Specs and Features of the Play 5

The most impressive speaker offered by Sonos is the Play 5. This smart speaker is one of the most advanced and best sounding wireless streaming speakers you can find. The price is spot-on for quality as well. Many people end up starting with the Play 1 or 3 and buying this model for an even better experience.

Details:

  • Easily fills larger room with sound
  • Super deep bass and pure sound provides an intense listening experience
  • Can be placed horizontally or vertically
  • Line-in plug so you can link any device to it
  • Touch top panel is super sensitive and allows for quick control of volume, play/pause, and skip/playback track

Specs:

Audio Setup:

  • Six Class-D digital amplifiers
  • Three tweeters
  • Three mid-woofers
  • Phased speaker array
  • 5mm audio line-in
  • Adjustable bass and treble
  • Built-in dual microphones for Trueplay tuning

An added bonus to the case design of the Sonos 5 is that it’s highly resistant to humidity. This means you can bring the speaker inside bathrooms, out onto the patio near a hot tub, into the kitchen, etc. Keep in mind the speaker is not waterproof or designed to resist weather, so you must still treat it with care. If placing in a room with water, such as a bathroom, humidity won’t be a concern but be careful that it isn’t in a splash-zone.

The Sonos 5 is built to last. Rather than a flimsy fabric speaker cover, the speaker has a durable metal grille with 60,00 tiny holes. These holes are microscopic, allowing maximum sound to come from the speaker. Also, just like the Sonos 3, you can combine two Sonos 5 speakers for a home theater experience.

Which Should You Buy?

Choosing between the 3 and 5 comes down to two factors – your budget and your individual requirements for music quality.

The Sonos Play 5is $200 more expensive than the 3, but has noticeably more powerful sound and bass. They are thousands of customers that find that the Play 5 is top tier when it comes to home sound systems combined into a single speaker. Pair together two Play 5 speakers and you’ll get an intense home theater experience, with left and right channels. If you’re a serious audiophile and budget isn’t a problem, that would be ideal.

If you’re after a home theater experience, you might consider buying two Play 3 speakers rather than a single Play 5. This will give your home a great sound without breaking the bank. If you live in a small home and really just want one powerful source of music, a single Play 5 may be a better option. This is especially true if you plan on using the speaker in rooms with potential humidity issues as the 5 will be able to handle that whereas the 3 can’t.

The Sonos 3 is still an excellent speaker and sounds great compared to other smart speakers in under $300 range. The quality of materials used and overall design just can’t be beat. The number of advantages that come with Sonos speakers, like easy control from the app and seamless streaming, easily make it a must-buy compared to other brands.

Juan Alexander

Juan is a self-professed sound-nerd and the webmaster / lead author & tester for AllSoundLab. You might literally walk into him on the street because he's tuned out to the world and tuned into his beats...

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