Sonos Five review: The ultimate addition to any Sonos system

Sonos Five Review 2022 speaker

Sonos Five review: Can this smart speaker justify it’s eye-watering price tag? (Image: SONOS • GETTY)

Sonos Five sounds absolutely incredible, packs enough power to wake the neighbours, and transforms any turntable into a wireless audio wonder

What we love

  • Phenomenal Sound Quality
  • Ridiculously Loud Volume
  • Nice, Minimalist Design
  • Future-Proofs Turntables
  • AirPlay 2 Support
  • Sonos App Is Unmatched

What we don’t

  • No Alexa or Google Assistant
  • Limited Colour Choice
  • Very, Very Pricey

Sonos Five is the flagship speaker in the audio brand’s lineup. If you’re looking for bombastic sound quality or want to transform any audio equipment with a 3.5mm output into an AirPlay-capable sound system …this is the best choice. With a price tag of £499, although it’s worth checking on the  as discounts do crop up, Sonos Five is one of the most expensive speakers available from Sonos. For our money, audiophiles will find that it comfortably justifies that price.

Sonos Five packs six custom-designed drivers: three midwoofers designed to ensure bass isn’t distorted at higher volumes, one centre tweeter, and two angled side tweeters. As you’d expect, that results in some ludicrous volumes. Even at higher volumes, sound from the Sonos Five is crystal clear. The expansive soundstage breathes life into almost every music genre, so you’ll hear the benefit no matter what your tastes.

If you’re unsure about whether to jump-in with a Sonos Five quite yet, it’s worth starting off with a .

For its size, this speaker is capable of some tremendous sound and will give you a chance to size up the Sonos app, ecosystem, and whether it works for you. Believe us, you’ll be hard-pushed not to immediately add a Sonos Five to your basket as soon as you hear one for the first time.

Sonos Five review

The Sonos Five replaced the Play:5 in Sonos’ line-up of speakers last year. It arrived with a new paint job and a tweaked name that Sonos said was designed to make it feel at one with other the products in the line-up (namely, Sonos One). According to Sonos, the refresh also brought “increased memory and processing power to provide improved performance.” However, in terms of the speakers themselves — nothing has changed under the bonnet compared to the previous model.

That’s not a criticism. This was always the flagship speaker in Sonos’ line-up and had the guts to prove it, so there’s really no need to make any changes. Inside the Sonos Five are six custom-designed drivers. These are coupled with three midwoofers designed to ensure bass isn’t distorted at higher volumes. There are also three tweeters, including one centre tweeter and two angled side tweeters squeezed into this 6.3kg speaker.

Sonos Five Review

If you own two Sonos Five speakers, they can be placed side-by-side to form a stereo pair (Image: SONOS)

Sound from the Sonos Five sounds immense. Vocals are crisp and the soundstage is pretty generous. Given the volume levels capable from the comparatively diddy Sonos One, it’s no surprise that the much larger Sonos Five can comfortably fill any room in your house with sound. If you’re having a garden party, opening the back door and pointing the Sonos Five in the right direction will be more than enough to keep the BBQ bopping (although Sonos would presumably say that a £399 Sonos Move is your best option in that scenario).

Even at high volumes, nothing from the Sonos Five sounds muddy or distorted.

Those looking for floor-shuddering levels of bass might be slightly disappointed as out-of-the-box the Sonos Five is unlikely to make your internals rumble when the volume is cranked to the maximum. However, the Sonos companion app does allow you to do some slight tweaks to the sound, including increasing the bass.

However, we’d recommend leaving the tuning to Sonos’ clever algorithms. Like a number of other Sonos speakers, the Five supports TruePlay. This nifty little system will fine-tune the sound of the speaker to the size and shape of your room using your smartphone. TruePlay is suggested during set-up and there’s a really clear tutorial video to get you started (spoiler alert — you’re going to need to wander around the edge of your room waving your smartphone around like you’re water dowsing listening to high-pitched beeps) and that’s it.

Unlike Bluetooth, you won’t have to endure — BLEEP! — annoying interruptions — PING! — every time you get a notification on your phone

In our experience with the Sonos Five, the sound quality was boosted immeasurably after a quick TruePlay tuning session. Sonos says the system will continue to make alterations as you listen to the speaker too. Of course, every time you move the Sonos Five, you’ll need to start the whole process again, so make sure you’re happy with the placement of your shiny new speaker before you plug it in and start the set-up process.

Sonos Five is compatible with the latest version of the Sonos app. If you missed the controversy last year, Sonos split its products into two categories. Older devices, including its first-generation speakers, will now only work with a more limited Sonos app dubbed ‘S1’, while newer products can use the latest Sonos app. According to Sonos, this fork had to happen to enable it to introduce exciting new features and updates that wouldn’t be possible with speakers launched in 2009… like the first-generation Play:5, for example.

If you only have older Sonos kit installed in your home, there’s little point buying the latest-and-greatest Sonos Five. You might be better suited with a previous version of the hardware, which are available at a steal on eBay at the moment as those trying to convert their entire Sonos system to hardware that supports the new app look to upgrade.

For those who haven’t already got a few Sonos speakers around the house, Sonos Five is a great place to start. You’ll be sure to get the latest features from Sonos and can slowly add additional speakers to different rooms safe in the knowledge that — if last time is anything to go by — you’ve got a decade before your speaker is relegated to the second-class app.

Sonos Five Review

Of course, you can also add Sonos Five to your existing setup, with the likes of the Sonos Sub, Beam (Image: SONOS)

Sonos’ app is a pretty slick way to queue up songs, playlists, radio stations, and podcasts. The software, which is available on iPhone, Android, Windows and Mac, supports a number of the biggest music services, including Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music, Deezer, YouTube Music, Audible, Global Radio Player, Plex, SoundCloud, TIDAL, TuneIn, and many, many more, including a good ol’ fashioned iTunes library. There’s also support to bring in meditations from services like Calm too and Sonos has its own free-to-stream radio, called Sonos Radio.

You can stream the music or radio to a single Sonos speaker, or group a few together for synchronised playback in the same room or around the house. And unlike Bluetooth, you won’t have to endure — BLEEP! — annoying interruptions — PING! — every time that a notification pops up on your smartphone too.

Sonos Five Review

The minimalist design will fit with any home décor, although there’s only black and white colourways (Image: SONOS)

Of course, the Sonos Five supports Apple’s AirPlay 2 standard too. This offers uncompressed streaming over Wi-Fi from a number of popular iPhone, iPad and Mac apps, including Apple Music, Pocket Casts, Spotify and dozens more. AirPlay 2 also lets friends and family on the same Wi-Fi network as you and the speaker collaborate on a playlist in real-time by adding songs from their individual devices — perfect for a party.

One advantage that Sonos Five has over some lesser-known rivals is the swathe of third-party wall mounts, stands, and accessories available to buy for this speaker. Whether you want to have the Sonos Five free-standing in the corner of the room, or mounted behind the sofa as part of a 5.0 home cinema system… there are plenty of choices at a number of price points.

Lastly, Sonos Five is the only speaker in the audio brand’s line-up with a 3.5mm line-in. That means you can connect a turntable or a number of other devices to the Sonos Five and stream that audio — exactly like an album on Spotify — to every speaker dotted around your home. It’s a fun little addition that could help you upgrade your entire music set-up with a single purchase.

Sonos Five Final Verdict

Sonos Five is the flagship speaker in the US audio brand’s lineup. Discounting the impressive (and pricey) Sonos Arc soundbar, the Sonos Five is the most expensive standalone speaker with a price tag of £499 (although if you keeping checking our guide to , you might find it cheaper). However, this Wi-Fi speaker does enough to justify that price tag. From the sleek modern design to the thundering stereo sound, not to mention the ability to single-handedly upgrade an ageing turntable into an AirPlay-capable sound system ….there’s a lot to like about this Sonos speaker.

The minimalist design, which sits alongside the , and other recent launches from the company, will work with any home décor. As always with Sonos, it would be nice to have a few more colour options instead of the binary choice between white and black. But that’s a small nitpick with an otherwise stellar design.

If you’re unsure about whether Sonos Five is quite right for you, it’s worth starting with the stellar Sonos One

Sonos Five packs six custom-designed drivers: three midwoofers designed to ensure bass isn’t distorted at higher volumes, one centre tweeter, and two angled side tweeters. As you’d expect, that results in some ludicrous volumes.

If you have noise-sensitive neighbours, you’re never going to be able to listen to the Sonos Five at more than a quarter of its total volume. And if you’re looking to rumble the walls during your next party – this is the Sonos speaker that you’ll need in your arsenal. Even at higher volumes, sound from the Sonos Five is crystal clear. The expansive soundstage breathes life into almost every music genre, so you’ll hear the benefit no matter what your tastes.

Whether you’ve already got a few Sonos products at home or not, Sonos Five is ridiculously easy to set-up with the companion app for iPhone and Android. The Sonos Five can be grouped with any of your existing speakers so that your favourite podcast, audiobook, radio show, or music follows you around the home. Alternatively, you can play a different song from each Sonos speaker in your home.

Sonos’ excellent app boasts a dizzying number of music streaming platforms, podcast services, live radio stations, audiobook providers, and more. Whatever service you’re subscribed to, you’ll be able to find it within the Sonos app and seamlessly beam the audio to your Sonos Five with a couple of taps.

And those with an ageing turntable – or any other device with a standard 3.5mm output – will be able to use the Sonos Five to add the equipment to your wireless audio system.

If you’re unsure about whether Sonos Five – or indeed, Sonos itself – quite right for you, it’s worth starting with the stellar Sonos One. For its size, this speaker is capable of some tremendous sound and will give you a chance to size up the Sonos app, ecosystem, and whether it works for you. Believe us, you’ll be hard-pushed not to immediately add a Sonos Five to your basket as soon as you hear one for the first time.

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