What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Thu, 31 Dec 2009, 10:00am

Sonos Play:5

Tested at £349
100100
5

The Play:5's simplicity and superb sound make this an ideal one-box network player

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For

  • Dynamic, room-filling sound from a compact all-in-one
  • good bass depth and weight
  • solid build
  • impressive wireless network and features

Against

  • If this is your first ZonePlayer you'
  • ll need to wire it to your router or buy a £79 ZoneBridge
  • expensive standalone controller

The Sonos Play:5 shows just how far Sonos has come. Back in 2004, Sonos appeared with a multi-zone music system that anyone could buy and set up in minutes. It was perfectly pitched, stylistically and technologically – a premium-feeling proposition that we described as being 'as close to hi-fi as wi-fi gets'.

Sonos has slowly but surely evolved the range, making the individual ZonePlayers more compact, adding music services and introducing a touchscreen controller, iPhone App and most recently the Playbar soundbar and £169 Play:1. 

MORE: Sonos Play:1 review

Scalability has always been key, with users able to add extra zones at will. Perhaps the one problem with this was that the cheapest and simplest way to add a complete zone was to buy the amplified ZP120 for £399, and add a pair of affordable speakers, like the £120 Q Acoustics 2010s.

Although this partnership results in great sound, some would see it as excessively pricey and large for a bedroom, kitchen or study.

Sonos Play:5 review: specs
That's where the Play:5 comes in. This all-in-one box functions in the same way as the ZP120 and ZP90, but has five digital amps, each powering an individual, built-in driver.

That's right, this stylish unit contains two tweeters, two midrange drivers, and a single subwoofer. In unison they sound superb for a product of this type.

Wirelessly fed a Lossless rip of Mumford and Sons' The Cave, the S5 responds with a delivery far bigger than any room it's likely to be placed in. Vocals are focused, but the overall soundstage is wide, deep and three-dimensional.

Sonos Play:5 review: sound quality
Dynamics and rhythm are equally impressive, with the dramatic second verse kicking in with real scale and drive. The banjo is twinkly and detailed, vocals are full-bodied, while the track is underpinned by deep bass.

Like other ZonePlayers, the Play:5 can access internet radio, Last.fm and Napster. And there's a 3.5mm input and headphone socket.

It's worth remembering that Sonos's wireless mesh technology results in fine wireless range and impressive robustness and speed.

This means there's no drop-out when playing different content in different zones, and total synchronisation when playing the same track in all zones at once.

There are factors to consider, though. If this is your first ZonePlayer, you'll need to wire it to a router or buy a £79 ZoneBridge to start the mesh. Also, if you're not an iPhone or Touch user, you'll need a CR200 controller, or settle for computer-based operation.

Such solvable issues aside, the Play:5 is the perfect way to begin or extend your Sonos system.

See also: Sonos Playbar review

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