Sonos makes some of the best-quality smart speakers on the market, but there are a number of different options to choose from. While both devices offer a superior audio experience, comparing the Sonos PLAY:1 vs. PLAY:5 may help you get a sense of which smart speaker best suits your needs.
Let’s discuss some of the main similarities and differences between the PLAY:1 and PLAY:5 so you can tell where these speakers shine and where they might fall short.
Sonos PLAY:1 vs. PLAY:5 — Things in Common
Adjustable Bass & Treble Controls – With any high-quality speaker, you’ll want complete control over the type of sound produced. Both the PLAY:1 and PLAY:5 offer support for adjustable Bass and Treble, allowing audiophiles to finetune the sound to their heart’s content. The bass on each device is particularly notable, and should fill any room with deep, rich, and booming audio.
Humidity Resistant – While neither device is waterproof, each of these smart speakers is humidity resistant. All you need for either device is a plug and a WiFi connection, allowing you to take it out in the yard when you’re relaxing by the pool or keep the music playing in damp environments like a bathroom or kitchen. It’s important to note that neither device is waterproof or weather-resistant, so having these speakers outside full-time is not a viable option.
Ethernet Port – Even is your WiFi signal is low, you can still get reliable, uninterrupted Internet connection since both the PLAY:1 and PLAY:5 come with an Ethernet port. Plus, with support for Ethernet connection you can save money on getting WiFi extenders like Sonos Boost.
Set Up Over WiFi – Both the PLAY:1 and PLAY:5 support 802.11b/g wireless standards at 2.4 GHz frequency, and offer the ability to get the speaker up and running via WiFi. Getting everything installed and ready to use with a simple app makes setting up your PLAY:1 or PLAY:5 a breeze.
Trueplay – While each of these two speakers has excellent audio quality by default, sometimes the settings out of the box are not optimized to play music in your home. Varying room shapes and even your furniture can have an effect on how your music sounds, and the Trueplay utility of the PLAY:1 and PLAY:5 will adjust dynamically in order to fill the room with the best audio possible.
One App Control – With access to over 80 streaming services globally, you’ll be able to play pretty much whatever you want on either the PLAY:1 and PLAY:5. However, one key feature that sets these Sonos speakers apart from the rest is One App Control. Through the Sonos App, you can find and play music from a variety of sources — allowing you to focus on playing your favorite content rather than trying to juggle separate apps and services.
Voice Control over Amazon Alexa – With dedicated Alexa Sonos Skills, you can give your PLAY:1 or PLAY:5 voice commands through an Echo or Echo Dot in order to control your audio experience. Being able to control all aspects of your music without pulling out an app is definitely convenient, and comes standard in both speakers. The functionality is expanded even further when you have multiple Sonos devices, allowing you to take your music with you anywhere in the house — such as transferring your favorite song to the speaker in the bedroom.
Flexible Mount Options – Both the PLAY:1 and PLAY:5 have flexible mounting options, with support for either a wall or a stand mount. This allows you to save precious shelf space and place the speaker right where you want it. The Trueplay feature discussed above should adjust settings as needed to give you excellent audio quality wherever you place your device, allowing you to prioritize convenience over acoustics.
Sonos PLAY:1 vs. PLAY:5 — Differences
Difference #1: Mono & Stereo Output – One of the main advantages of the PLAY:5 is its support for both Mono and Stereo output. When the speaker is placed in a vertical orientation, it will play mono, and a horizontal setup provides stereo. This offers multiple options to those who like to fine tune their audio experience to best suit the room and their personal preferences.
The PLAY: 1 only supports mono sound, but when you pair it with another PLAY:1 speaker it can separate into left and right channels — providing wider, bigger, and deeper stereo sound.
Difference #2: Sound Quality – The PLAY:1 is a small speaker, and the audio capabilities are limited. The device features a single tweeter and mid-woofer, and although they each come with a dedicated amplifier, they struggle to complete with the quality of the PLAY:5.
The PLAY:5 takes things to the next level, with three tweeters (one central and two side-firing), three dedicated mid-woofers, and an amplifier for each of these audio elements. These amplifiers deliver clear, rich, and deep stereophonic sound with zero distortion, allowing you to crank up the volume without losing any sort of fidelity. The woofers and a completely sealed architecture also combine in order to deliver big bass response without any reverb or echos.
While the PLAY:5 is bulkier and heavier than the PLAY:1, that size works to its advantage as one of the highest-quality audio experiences on the smart speaker market.
Difference #3: Audio Line-In – One feature on the Sonos PLAY:5 that isn’t present on many other Sonos smart speakers is support for an audio line-in. In the majority of situations, you’re going to be streaming audio to the speaker, but for those times you want to go offline or hook up your speaker to a friend’s phone, having support for an auxiliary cable is an excellent perk that you won’t find with the PLAY:1.
The line-in also gives you the ability to use the PLAY:5 as a speaker for your TV, although you’ll find that there may be some issues with lip-syncing due to the audio delay. If you’re looking for a dedicated smart speaker that works seamlessly with your TV, you may be better off with the Sonos Playbar — although the PLAY:5 will certainly work in a pinch.
Difference #4: Controls – Using the app is the most convenient way to control the PLAY:5 and PLAY:1, but sometimes you find yourself without access to the app. Conveniently, both speakers offer support for on-device controls in order to adjust settings physically on the device itself.
With the PLAY:1, you’ll notice top-panel button and lights. The Volume and Play/Pause button are featured prominently, and an LED indicates Sonos component status and whether or not the speaker is on mute.
The PLAY: 5 touch controls are a little bit more robust, allowing you to tap to change volume and swipe to change the track — right on the speaker itself. The ability to change tracks without your phone is a major advantage that the PLAY:5 has over its little brother.
Difference #5: Voice Control Options – Both the PLAY:1 and PLAY:5 have support for Amazon Alexa voice control, but the latter has support for other voice controllers as well.
Starting in July 2018, the PLAY:5 will feature support for AirPlay 2 — opening up control to Siri-enabled devices like the iPhone or iPad. Because the PLAY:5 has a line-in, you can also hook a Google Home Smart Assistant up to the device and control your music that way.
Unfortunately, the PLAY:1 remains exclusive to Amazon Alexa for voice control, which definitely limits the devices that it can interface with.
Difference #6: Design – One of the most stark differences between the Sonos PLAY:1 and the PLAY:5 is the size. The PLAY:1 is a small device that only weighs a little over 4 pounds, while the PLAY:5 is considerably larger at 14 pounds. This makes the PLAY:1 much more portable, but there are some audio tradeoffs with the smaller size that we discussed above.
There are some differences in color options as well, with the PLAY:1 coming in white with a light metallic grille and black with a graphite grille, and the PLAY:5 available in a white or black matte enclosure with a graphite grille.
Ultimately, if you’re looking for a compact device you’ll be better off with the PLAY:1. For a solid speaker that makes a statement both in design and audio quality, however, the PLAY:5 comes out on top.
Sonos PLAY:1 vs. PLAY:5 — Comparison Chart
|Sonos PLAY:1||Sonos PLAY:5|
|Mono Output||Yes||In vertical position|
|Stereo Output||Only when paired with other speakers||In horizontal position|
|Class-D Digital Amplifiers||2||6|
|Adjustable Bass & Treble Controls||Yes||Yes|
|A Bass Radiator||No||No|
|Voice Control over Amazon Alexa||Yes||Yes|
|Voice Control Over Google Assistant||No||Via line-in port|
|Voice Control Over Siri||No||Coming soon|
|Amazon Alexa Built-In||No||No|
|Set Up Over WiFi||Yes||Yes|
|One App Control||Yes||Yes|
|WiFi||802.11b/g, 2.4 GHz||802.11b/g, 2.4 GHz|
|Dimensions||6.36 x 4.69 x 4.69 in.|
(161.45 x 119.7 x 119.7 mm)
|8.03 x 14.33 x 6.06 in.|
(203 x 364 x 154 mm)
|Weight||4.08 lbs. (1.85 kg)||14 lbs. (6.36 kg)|
|Product finish||White w/ light metallic grille;|
Black w/ graphite grille
|White or black matte enclosure|
w/ graphite grille
Sonos PLAY:1 and PLAY:5 Integration
Part of the appeal of both the PLAY:1 and PLAY:5 is that they can be expanded in order to provide a full 3.1 or 5.1 home theater sound system. Simply add a second PLAY:1 or PLAY:5 to make a stereo pair for the left and right channels, a soundbar for your TV like the Beam, Playbar, or Playbase, and a Sonos Sub to really bring out the bass in the audio. Keep in mind that in order to support these left and right channels, you’ll need two of the same speakers — so don’t expect to pair a PLAY:1 and PLAY:5 together!
In addition to integrating with other Sonos products, the products of these Sonos partners should integrate seamlessly with the PLAY:1 and PLAY:5 and allow for control of multiple smart devices from one convenient app.
Sonos PLAY:1 and PLAY:5’s Accessories
Both the Sonos Play:1 and Play:5 offer multiple options for mounting. With the PLAY:1, a wall mount allows you to save space on a shelf or floor, and the stand mount is excellent for finding that perfect audio angle.
Another noteworthy accessory that is available for both the PLAY:1 and the PLAY:5 is the Sonos Boost. This gives your speakers their own dedicated network and can boost the WiFi signal – allowing for a better audio connection and fewer interruptions due to spotty signals.
Sonos PLAY:1 vs. PLAY:5 — Our Thoughts
At the end of the day, this comparison is notably one-sided. The PLAY:5 is no doubt the better speaker when comparing the devices 1:1 due to factors like the superior audio, flexible voice control options, and more convenient touch controls.
The real question is whether you buy two PLAY:1 speakers or a single PLAY:5. Keeping in mind that two of these speakers can be paired together, the disparity in sound quality is much less noticeable when looking at the speakers in this way.