With a tagline that reads 'the ultimate smart speaker for today's streaming music universe', Sonos aren't messing around with their updated PLAY:5 speaker.


Let's start with how it looks and feels

As a company, Sonos have always had design on their side. They're very 'Apple' in that respect - creating good, clean products that look to work with their environment, rather than commanding them. This approach works well with the newly released PLAY:5, trading the sharp lines found on the original for something that resembles a beefed up version of the PLAY:3 - a speaker I tend to use as a reference point when reviewing speakers of all forms and sizes.

Their focus was to create "the quintessential speaker for the digital age," which is the kind of thing I scan for when reading press releases; an early warning system if you will. However, it's hard to argue against that point given the speaker's minimalistic approach. It's not a bells and whistles product, it just wants to provide a simple, enjoyable experience.

The controls are gesture-based, so you just swipe your fingers across the pads to alter the volume, or skip songs (plus a few other things), and it looks just as good vertically as it does horizontal (the former being a plus point for stereo pairing). That pretty much covers everything you need to know about the speaker's design.

Regarding the app (which is what you'll be using more than the gesture pads) we're provided with a one-stop shop for multiple streaming services, which I'll touch on a bit later in the review. From a design-perspective, it takes its lead from the speaker: simple and effortless.


The Sound? The Important Sound

So the first thing that you'll notice is the introduction of Trueplay - which uses your iPhone of iPad to analyse the speaker's surroundings, tuning each woofer and tweeter accordingly. Whilst this might appeal to audiophiles more than the casual music fan, the fact that the process only takes a few minutes means that it's easy to hear the benefits (which there are many). It's such a simple idea, but it really is quite clever. Plus, the process will make you feel like you're in a really low budget episode of Star Trek, which is fun.

The PLAY:5 features six Class-D digital amplifiers (three tweeters, three mid-woofers). I always go back to the likes of Bose when I think of Sonos - sure, their respective products are hardly cheap, but you're guaranteed an enjoyable experience, no matter what you throw at it. When other companies are trying their hardest to come up with the "perfect" listening experience for a particular sound, Sonos are striving for clarity and enjoyment across the board - something they've yet to fail at.

Everything just sounds so warm when it's piping out of this speaker, even at low levels when the amplifiers are barely getting up to a gentle jog. It would be nice to get some high-res audio support, but that probably goes against the "quintessential speaker for the digital age" approach when you think about it.


Ease of Use

Setting up the speaker is a doddle, as the app grabs you by the hand and walks you through it; a definite improvement on the likes of the PLAY:3, which used a separate bridge to connect to your wi-fi. It's also really easy to connect to other Sonos speakers when you want to create a multi-room system.

Whilst most people tend to gravitate towards one streaming service, the app does a pretty great job of giving you access to a whole host of them (as previously mentioned). It's doubtful that'll you'll be signed up for Spotify and Apple Music (for obvious reasons), but the inclusion of SoundCloud and TuneIn (etc etc) means that all bases are covered, which is important in a world dominated by playlist curation.


What is it trying to do and does it do it well? (i.e. is it worth the money)

At £429 (its current price), Sonos have entered 'let me just read one more review before I make a decision' territory, but let me put your mind at rest - this is a great investment. If you've experienced one of their speakers before, the Play:5 represents a leap forward for the company in every single way. As for all the newcomers looking to jump in the deep end for the first time, you'll struggle to find anything better and more versatile than this at even double the price. I'm genuinely excited to see what they do next.