Sonos Trueplay and Play:5 Hands-On

If you’re looking to get into the wireless music game, there’s a ton of choice. But when it comes down to it, there’s really only one smart choice, and that’s Sonos. To be honest, I’ve never owned a wireless speaker before, but I’ve used a bunch at friends’ houses, and experienced both good and bad. With some, the audio cuts out. Others, the sound is quiet. The only speakers I’ve ever had a good experience with are Sonos, and that’s why I’m really excited about their news this week.

Sonos has unveiled both a new technology called Trueplay, and the first upgrade to their Play:5 model in almost 6 years.  I was lucky enough to check out these products a week before launch, and if my belief wasn’t solidified before, it now is.  Sonos is the leader in wireless audio products, and they’re a force to be reckoned with.

Sonos Trueplay Technology Makes your Speaker New Again

Trueplay technology is a new feature coming to all new and existing Sonos speakers (aside from the Playbar at launch) that analyses how sound bounces off walls in your room to create a music experience as the artist intended.  Since few homes are acoustically perfect, an identical speaker will sound exceptionally different in multiple rooms, leading to a less than ideal
listening experience.  Using the Sonos app, the microphone on an iPhone or iPad, and a special tone emitted by the Sonos speaker, Trueplay analyzes how sound reflects off walls, furnishings, glass and other surfaces in any given room. Sonos then smartly tunes that speaker so the music sounds its very best.

Sonos Trueplay

I got to try this first hand, and the results were amazing.  At first we heard the Play:1 without any tuning.  The sound was pretty good, but the bass a bit heavy, causing some vibration on the ground.  After a short tuning process using an upside down iPhone (it’s fun, trust me), the sound was drastically improved.  The music was crisp, clear, and had great depth to it.  The fact that Sonos is releasing this as a free upgrade to all of its speakers is impressive, because the improvement you hear sounds like you’ve bought completely new hardware.

The New Sonos Play:5 is Built to Impress

The second product announced by Sonos is a new Play:5 speaker.  With six synchronized, custom-designed drivers, the speaker’s three mid-woofers create smooth mids and deep, powerful lows, and three tweeters deliver crystal clear highs at any volume. The array produces a soundstage that is much wider than expected in a single speaker, creating room-filling sound with precise separation of vocals and instruments.

The speaker works in both portrait and landscape (so you can fit it into any space), and intelligently adjusts the left and right audio channels to match its orientation.  The speaker also looks as good as it sounds.  Sonos has removed almost all buttons off the device.  Users can swipe left and right on the top of the speaker in a large touch zone to rewind and skip songs.  Want to pause a song?  Just tap the middle.  Want to make it louder?  Tap anywhere on the right to do it (and enjoy the soothing sound
effects that come with it.)  While some touchscreen interfaces are slow and require finding a specific spot for input, the new Sonos Play:5 is a complete joy.  It was almost addicting tapping the speaker and having the volume magically adjust.  And I can’t forget to mention that this thing is loud.  The demo we saw had three Play:5 units side-by-side, but I was shocked to learn that the audio playing was coming from only one of them.  It was impressive.

The new Sonos Play:5Of course, it wouldn’t be Sonos without talking about wireless music streaming.  The device works by having a users select a song or playlist on a connected mobile device.  Users can choose from a variety of services, including Pandora, Spotify, Google Play Music, or Tidal.  The Sonos rep explained that Apple Music support is coming soon.  If you have more than one Sonos speaker in your home, the experience really becomes magical.  Just like its predecessor, the new Play:5 syncs seamlessly with all Sonos smart speakers, allowing you to fill every room in your home with music.

The fact that Sonos’s largest speaker, the Play:5, hasn’t changed in 5 and a half years speaks volumes about the company (no pun intended).  The dedication that Sonos puts into each of their products is clear, and it leads to high quality products that last 8-10 years.  While the price point may be high, the product will no doubt pay for itself over its lifetime.The new Sonos Play:5

When Can I Get One?

Initially, Trueplay will be available on all Sonos Play:1, Sonos Play:3, Sonos Play:5 products and iOS controllers (iOS 7 and higher), and will continue to be added to the Sonos lineup over time.

The all-new Sonos Play:5 will be available in a custom matte black and matte white finish, and will retail for $549 CAD when released in the fall.

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