When comparing the Sonos PLAY:3 vs. PLAY:5, it’s easy to see that both speakers have a lot going for them.
No matter which speaker you choose, you’ll enjoy a fully-featured smart device with support for voice control and a myriad of streaming services. While the PLAY:3 and PLAY:5 do have a lot going for them, however, there are some key differences that may influence which device is right for you.
Let’s take a look at some of the similarities and differences of these excellent Sonos smart speakers.
Sonos PLAY:3 vs. PLAY:5 — Things in Common
Mono/Stereo Output – While many speakers support either stereo or mono formats for audio, both the PLAY:3 and PLAY:5 work with both depending on how the speaker is oriented. When you have the speaker in a vertical position, you’ll hear mono sound, while a horizontal position will give you stereo. This gives flexibility in sound so you can customize your speaker to best suit the room that it’s in.
Adjustable Bass & Treble Controls – Both the PLAY:3 and the PLAY:5 have adjustable Bass and Treble controls, allowing you to fine tune the sound so that your music sounds as good as can be. Each speaker is well known for its excellent bass, and you should have a well-balanced and rich sound regardless of your choice.
Set Up Over WiFi – With any smart device, it can be difficult to get things up and running for those who aren’t technically inclined. Fortunately, the PLAY:3 and PLAY:5 offer support for Set Up Over WiFi, which will allow you to get your speaker installed and configured all from one convenient app using 802.11b/g wireless standards at 2.4 GHz frequency.
Trueplay – Even the best speaker may struggle to provide high-fidelity audio if it’s placed in an environment that isn’t suited to its acoustics. The Sonos PLAY:3 and PLAY:5 are able to get around that issue, however, due to a unique technology called Trueplay. Trueplay analyzes the makeup of your room, such as the shape and furniture placement in order to produce the best possible sound for its current environment. It’s a feature that sets Sonos speakers apart from many of its competitors, and both speakers in this comparison include this useful capability. Unfortunately, the Trueplay feature remains iPhone only at this point. Fortunately, you only need to set it up once, so invite a friend with an iPhone over to enjoy your new sound system!
One App Control – Part of the appeal of a smart speaker is being able to play your music from your favorite streaming services, and the Sonos PLAY:3 and PLAY:5 offer support for over 80 streaming services globally. One major benefit that both speakers offer, however, is One App Control — it allows users to access all of their favorite tunes from one convenient mobile app. Gone are the days of juggling multiple logins and programs, making managing your new Sonos speaker a breeze.
Voice Control over Amazon Alexa – As part of the smart functionality of the Sonos PLAY:3 and PLAY:5, users will be able to control their speaker using Amazon Alexa. Using an Echo or Echo Dot in order to interface with your smart speaker adds a lot of convenience and gives you the ability to change tracks with a simple command. There are even Sonos-specific Alexa skills that give unprecedented control over their family of speakers.
Sonos PLAY:3 vs. PLAY:5 — Differences
Difference #1: Sound Quality – One of the most notable differences when comparing the PLAY:3 and PLAY:5 is the sound quality.
The PLAY:5 is built with more impressive internal acoustics by default, with three tweeters (one central and two side-firing), three dedicated mid-woofers, and an amplifier for each.
The PLAY:3, on the other hand, is a little less capable with a single tweeter and a pair of mid-range drivers rather than a mid-woofer. One advantage that the speaker does have is its passive bass radiator that increases the low-frequency response of the system, but it’s overall a little less capable than the PLAY:5
Difference #2: Audio Line-In – Another key difference between the PLAY:3 and PLAY:5 is an audio line-in. Using WiFi to stream your music or podcasts is a useful feature, but sometimes you want to hook up your friend’s phone via an auxiliary cable so they can play DJ for a change. The PLAY:5 offers support for a line-in, which opens up more options for situations in which audio can’t be streamed.
The line-in also allows you to use the PLAY:5 as a speaker for your TV, but you may see issues with lip-syncing due to the delay in audio transmission. If you’re looking for a dedicated speaker for your home theater system, consider looking into the Sonos Playbar.
The PLAY:3 unfortunately doesn’t support an auxiliary connection, which leaves you relying on streaming in order to play your audio.
Difference #3: Humidity Resistant – Sometimes you want to take the party outside, and the Sonos PLAY:5 allows you to bring your speaker with you. Sonos built the speaker to be humidity resistant, so you can listen to your music around the pool or while you’re taking a shower with no damage to the speakers. Just keep in mind that the speaker is not waterproof or weather-resistant, so if it starts to rain it’s time to take it back inside!
The PLAY:3 is not humidity resistant, so you’ll want to make sure you keep it in a dry environment at all times.
Difference #4: Controls – While the easiest and most convenient way to control the Sonos PLAY:3 and PLAY:5 is through the smartphone app, both of the smart speakers also offer the ability to control the audio via the speaker itself.
On the PLAY:3, you’ll see top-panel buttons and lights, with Volume and Play/Pause buttons easily accessible. An LED will also indicate Sonos component and mute status, allowing you tell the speaker’s status at a glance.
With the PLAY:5, you’ll be able to take advantage of easy touch controls. Tap in order to change the volume and swipe to change the track – right from the speaker itself. It’s the perfect setup for when your phone is out of reach and you still want easy control over your tunes.
Difference #5: Voice Control Options – As mentioned above, both the Sonos PLAY:3 and PLAY:5 have support for Alexa voice control, allowing you to use the device hands-free with simple commands. However, the PLAY:5 also has support for a wider range of voice assistants, making it perfect for those who are already tied to another smart home ecosystem.
Starting in July 2018, the PLAY:5 will receive support for AirPlay 2, which should allow you to control the music from any Siri-enabled device. The line-in also allows the speaker to function with Google Assistant, although this feature won’t work without that auxiliary connection.
The PLAY:3 is not receiving support for AirPlay 2 and the lack of a line-in means that it won’t work with Google Assistant, leaving PLAY:3 owners to rely on Amazon Alexa.
Difference #6: Design – There are also significant differences between the two speakers when it comes to design. The Sonos PLAY:3 is available in White with a light metallic grille or in Black with a graphite grille. The PLAY:5, on the other hand, is available in a White or Matte Black enclosure with a graphite grille.
Additionally, you’ll notice a stark difference in size and weight between the two devices. The Sonos PLAY:3 is much more compact and only weighs around six pounds, making it the perfect speaker for those with limited space. The PLAY:5, on the other hand, is a big speaker that takes up quite a lot of space, measuring in at 8.03 x 14.33 x 6.06 in and weighing a whopping 14 pounds.
Sonos PLAY:3 vs. PLAY:5 — Comparison Chart
|Sonos PLAY:3||Sonos PLAY:5|
|Mono Output||In vertical position||In vertical position|
|Stereo Output||In horizontal position||In horizontal position|
|Class-D Digital Amplifiers||3||6|
|Adjustable Bass & Treble Controls||Yes||Yes|
|A Bass Radiator||Yes||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||5.2 x 10.6 x 6.3 in.|
(132 x 268 x 160 mm)
|8.03 x 14.33 x 6.06 in.|
(203 x 364 x 154 mm)
|Weight||5.71 lbs. (2.6 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:3 and PLAY:5 Integration
Both the Sonos PLAY:3 and PLAY:5 offer excellent audio as standalone devices, but for those who are interested in making an entire sound system there are a number of options available. If you’d like to expand your system into a full 3.1 or 5.1 home theater sound system, you’ll need another of the same model in order to make a stereo pair for the L/R channels. Add in a soundbar like the Beam, Playbar, or Playbase, as well as a Sonos Sub for that soul shaking bass for a very impressive audio setup.
The Sonos PLAY:3 and PLAY:5 are also built to integrate with a number of other services and smart products, and you’ll find support for devices from any of these Sonos partners. The company’s philosophy is that you should be able to control everything smart in your home with a single app, and with integration with smart home systems like Lutron that’s a real possibility. With a dedicated remote that controls your speakers and other aspects of your smart home system, it’s easy to see how the PLAY speakers could integrate into you house as a whole.
Sonos PLAY:3 and PLAY:5’s Accessories
Sonos PLAY:3 and PLAY:5 installation is easy and flexible, and you can take advantage of additional mounts in order to get your speaker situated exactly the way you want it.
Additionally, both smart speakers offer support for Sonos Boost — a device that expands WiFi and provides a dedicated network for your speaker, working to eliminate any sort of interference or dropped connections and keeping your music streaming all day, every day.
Sonos PLAY:3 vs. PLAY:5 — Our Thoughts
While both of these speakers have their pros and cons, we feel that the Sonos PLAY:5 is superior in almost every single way. It’s a more robust speaker all around with a number of excellent features like support for more voice controllers, a higher quality sound, and even humidity resistance.
The PLAY:3 may be a better buy when you’re trying to save money, or perhaps when you’re buying a pair of speakers, but with a 1:1 comparison the PLAY:5 comes out on top in pretty much every single category.