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Sonos Play:5 Redesigned and Reengineered

The latest wireless HiFi speaker and music streaming system keeps getting better

by Evan Orensten
on 29 September 2015

Today Sonos, the wireless HiFi company, announced two significant releases: The new Play:5 speaker and Trueplay, a feature in the Sonos app that easily helps most Sonos speakers sound the best it can in whatever environment you've placed it in. We sat down with two of the people that brought them to life, Tad Toulis, Sonos's Vice President of Design, and Giles Martin, their Sound Experience Leader, who walked us through the improvements and get hands on with both.

The new Play:5, the highest end and largest of the speakers that Sonos currently offers, gets a complete refresh inside and out. Its design is simpler and its shape more modern. Touch sensors replace hard switches, which is handy when you change the speaker's orientation; volume up is always where you want it to be. The grill features hundreds of thousands of holes, CNCed for the sound from the six speakers to pour through (the previous Play:5 had five speakers). One of the most impressive design features, and clearly one that both Tad and Giles are proud of, is the Sonos badge on the front. Always tricky when the marketing team makes you put a label over a speaker, potentially obfuscating the sound. Their clever solution was to laser even smaller holes for the badge: It looks solid but lets the same percentage of sound through and is illustrative of the high level of design and engineering though that went into this new speaker.

It's hard for a designer to say, but a big part of the design ethos is that the speakers should disappear.

"It's hard for a designer to say, but a big part of the design ethos is that the speakers should disappear. The music is so formidable and the sound quality is so great, we have confidence that the product should be in the background." Tad Toulis

The sound quality is equally impressive, too, with more range and clarity, even at high sound levels. It's by far the best speaker from Sonos yet. Designed and engineered to deliver all the stereo sound you need from a single speaker, it really comes to life when paired with a second. The speakers are smart, too, and adjust based on whether you place them vertically or horizontally.

Trueplay is a new feature coming to the free Sonos app in the fall of 2015 (first to the iOS version, with the Android version quickly following). As great as the speakers sound they are engineered to be listened to in optimal conditions. Sonos wants your music to sound as good as it possibly can, even if your speaker is on the floor, in a corner, behind your bed or hung on the wall in your bathroom (like they are at CH HQ). Trueplay is an auto-calibration tool that is incredibly easy to use, especially with the step-by-step video instructions. To activate it, you press the button to start and a sound is emitted by the speaker. You then wave your phone around (similar to calibrating the compass on an iPhone) and the app registers the readings from around the room, making your Sonos speaker sound amazing regardless of its location. Trueplay will initially support Play:1s, 3s and 5s.

The Sonos Play:5 will be available in late 2015 in semi gloss white or black and retails for $499, a modest price bump for a massively improved update.

Images courtesy of Sonos

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