Sonos PLAY:1 vs. PLAY:3 — What’s the Difference?

Sonos PLAY:1 vs. PLAY:3

When choosing a smart speaker, sound quality is what really matters. However, features like humidity resistance and placement options can really impact your final decision. So, today we’ll outline the differences between the Sonos PLAY:1 vs. PLAY:3 to help you choose the perfect speaker for your home.

About Sonos Speakers

With Sonos speakers, you get seamless wireless control of your favorite music, podcasts, audiobooks, you name it. The moment you get a Sonos speaker, you’ll be checking on the options to extend your sound system even further — that’s how good Sonos speakers are.

Sonos offers a wide range of wireless speakers, so you can easily go from one speaker to a full 3.1 or 5.1 home theater sound system. All you need is a pair of PLAY:1s, PLAY:3s, or PLAY:5 speakers, and the Sonos Playbase or Playbar to connect the Sonos sound system to your TV. And if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option for your home theater sound system, check out the all-new Sonos Beam — a soundbar with Amazon Alexa built-in. Also, consider adding a Sonos Sub for soul shaking bass to complete your 5.1 setup.


Sonos PLAY:1 vs. PLAY:3 — Things in Common

Sonos Playbar

Both Sonos PLAY:1 and PLAY:3 use WiFi for wireless communication to provide an uninterrupted, and more reliable, connection. The speakers use 802.11b/g, 2.4 GHz, so make sure your WiFi router supports the standard and frequency. Otherwise you can use an Ethernet cable to connect the speakers to your router, since both the PLAY:1 and PLAY:3 come with one 10/100 Mbps Ethernet port each.

The PLAY:1 and PLAY:3 speakers are easy to setup over WiFi. After just a few minutes, you’ll be able to stream your favorite music from over 50+ Sonos music partners.

And when it comes to sound quality, everything matters: room size, speaker placement, layout, décor. Therefore, Sonos offers Trueplay — a software that analyzes your room makeup to make sure the Sonos speakers deliver the purest sound possible.

Trueplay is available for iOS users only. However, it only requires a one-time setup; so if you’re an Android user, just invite a friend with an Apple device to help you set up your Sonos to get the best sound out of your Sonos speakers.

You can control the Sonos PLAY:1 and PLAY:3 via the Sonos app or with your voice via an Amazon Echo device. And in case you’re looking for a Sonos speaker with Amazon Alexa already built-in, check out the Sonos One and our take on Sonos ONE vs. Sonos PLAY:1 to learn the differences between the two.

And, if you should so happen to misplace your phone, there are play/pause and volume buttons on the top panel of both the PLAY:1 and PLAY:3 for simple on-device control.

Now that we know what the Sonos PLAY:1 and PLAY:3 have in common, let’s move to what really matters — the differences that set the two speakers apart.


Sonos PLAY:1 vs. PLAY:3 — Differences

  • Difference #1: Mono & Stereo Output – Sonos PLAY:1 delivers mono sound. And if you’re looking for stereo sound, you’ll need to pair the PLAY:1 with another PLAY:1, which pretty much doubles the initial price.

    The PLAY:3 can produce either mono or stereo sound, it all depends on the orientation of the speaker. That is to say, the PLAY:3 speaker delivers stereo sound when you place it in horizontal position and mono sound when placed vertically. So, unlike the Sonos PLAY:1, you can get stereo sound with only one PLAY:3 unit.

    Also note that you can pair the PLAY:3 with another PLAY:3 to create left and right channels for an even broader stereo field.

  • Difference #2: Sound Quality – The PLAY:1 comes with a single tweeter and one mid-woofer, each with its own Class-D amplifier. The speaker is tiny but, nevertheless, with that build it definitely sounds bigger than it looks.

    The PLAY:3 also has the single tweeter, however it delivers richer sound by replacing the mid-woofer with a pair of mid-range drivers and a passive bass radiator. Moreover, the drivers are independently amplified to deliver more robust sound than the Sonos PLAY:1 speaker.

    Plus, the passive bass radiator on the PLAY:3 makes it perfect not only for bigger rooms, but also for smaller enclosures since it produces a better low end frequency response with low distortion.

    So, overall, the Sonos PLAY:3 will deliver better audio quality than the Sonos PLAY:1.

  • Difference #3: Humidity Resistant – The nice thing about the Sonos PLAY:1 speaker is that you can enjoy your favorite songs in music-starved places like bathrooms and outdoor patios. Because unlike the PLAY:3 speaker, the PLAY:1 is humidity resistant (do not confuse with waterproof or water resistant), so you can take a shower and enjoy high-quality audio at the same time.

  • Difference #4: Design & Size – Both speakers feature a sleek design to blend in seamlessly with any room decor. However, when it comes to dimension and weight, the two speakers differ quite a lot.

    The PLAY:1 is a tiny speaker which measures 6.36 x 4.69 x 4.69 in. and weighs just 4.08 lbs. Its small size makes it a perfect fit for counters, bookshelves, and other snug places.

    The PLAY:3 on the other hand is in the medium-size range: it’s less bulky than the PLAY:5, but definitely bigger than its predecessor the Sonos PLAY:1. The Sonos PLAY:3 measures 5.2 x 10.6 x 6.3 in. and weighs 5.71 lbs.

  • Difference #5: Change Orientation – The PLAY:1 features vertical orientation only, whereas the PLAY:3 can be placed either vertically or horizontally. The change of orientation influences the sound output (mono/stereo) as well as placement options. The PLAY:3 speaker comes with rubber feet on two sides, so it’s safe to place on any surface. It leaves no marks or scratches to worry about.

    With this in mind, the PLAY:3 speaker sounds best when placed horizontally, so make sure to free up some space for it.


  • Sonos PLAY:1 vs. PLAY:3 — Comparison Chart

    Sonos PLAY:1Sonos PLAY:3
    Mono OutputYesIn vertical position
    Stereo OutputOnly when paired with other PLAY:1In horizontal position
    Class-D Digital Amplifiers23
    Tweeter11
    Mid-Woofer12
    Adjustable Bass & Treble ControlsYesYes
    A Bass RadiatorNoYes
    Audio line-inNoNo
    Voice Control over Amazon AlexaYesYes
    Amazon Alexa Built-InNoNo
    TrueplayYesYes
    Set Up Over WiFiYesYes
    One App ControlYesYes
    Humidity ResistantYesNo
    WiFi802.11b/g, 2.4 GHz802.11b/g, 2.4 GHz
    BluetoothNoNo
    Ethernet Port11
    SizeSmallMedium
    Dimensions6.36 x 4.69 x 4.69 in.
    (161.45 x 119.7 x 119.7 mm)
    5.2 x 10.6 x 6.3 in.
    (132 x 268 x 160 mm)
    Weight4.08 lbs. (1.85 kg)5.71 lbs. (2.6 kg)
    Product finishWhite w/ light metallic grille;
    Black w/ graphite grille
    White w/ light metallic grille;
    Black w/ graphite grille
    Button ControlYesYes
    Touch ControlNoNo
    Wall MountAvailableAvailable
    Change orientationNoYes

    Sonos PLAY:1 and PLAY:3 Accessories

    Sonos PLAY:3 Stand Mount

    The placement of your Sonos speakers dramatically influences the sound quality. Thus, Sonos offers a Tilt and Swivel Wall Mount and a Speaker Stand to help you position the speakers at the recommended height for the best audio experience.

    Also, if you’ve got a weak WiFi signal, make sure to check out the Sonos Boost — a tiny device that creates a separate high-performance wireless network just for your Sonos speakers. With the Sonos Boost you can enjoy a flawless music stream with no interference.


    Sonos PLAY:1 vs. PLAY:3 — Our Thoughts

    Sonos PLAY:1

    Both speakers offer a quality build, seamless remote control via app or voice (with Amazon Echo), and simple setup over WiFi. However, when it comes to sound quality, the Sonos PLAY:3 offers richer stereo sound with a pair of mid-range drivers and a passive bass radiator to pump out the lows.

    When choosing between Sonos PLAY:1 vs. PLAY:3, there are two thing to consider: the placement and budget. Unlike the Sonos PLAY:3, the PLAY:1 is humidity resistant, so it offers you more flexible options when it comes to placement. Plus, it’s tiny size just adds to its flexibility.

    The Sonos PLAY:1 is also a more budget-friendly option compared to the Sonos PLAY:3. In fact, you can get two Sonos PLAY:1s for almost the same price as one Sonos PLAY:3. So, it all depends on how much you are really into sound systems and how much you’re willing to spend.

    If you’re looking to extend to a full home theatre sound system eventually, we’d recommend getting the Sonos PLAY:3. However, if you’re looking for a smart speaker to stream your favorite music and podcasts, we’d recommend starting with the Sonos PLAY:1. And if you really like the sound of the PLAY:1, you can always build your way up from there into a bigger sound system.

    Our Score:
    • Sonos PLAY:1
    • Sonos PLAY:3
    4.8

    Let us know what you think!

    If you had to choose between Sonos PLAY:1 vs. PLAY:3 smart speaker, what would you choose and why?


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