Breathe new life into your existing HiFi with Sonos Amp or Port

Sonos Port and Sonos Amp are both smart pieces of kit, but you may be wondering what the differences are, would you need one, or what even are they at all? 

Thankfully, the decision between these products are not a case of preference or which one is better - it depends entirely on the audio set up you are going for.

Jump to your situation below:

> I have an amplifier and speakers already but want to take advantage of wireless music streaming

> I have an old amplifier that I would like to replace and use with my existing speakers

> I want to install ceiling speakers in my home

 

What is the Sonos Amp and Sonos Port?

They are WiFi-enabled streaming components that connect to your existing HiFi with a simple line-in and you can then enjoy your favourite content using streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, TuneIn radio or even Audible through your existing speakers. 

There are quite a few different situations where these products would be relevant but they are often used with things like amplifiers, older stereo systems, CD players, ceiling speakers and turntables.

For example, you might have had a wired audio system for years, consisting of an amplifier and bookshelf speakers but you are looking for the ability to stream Spotify to it. Add a Sonos Port to the amplifier and you’ll be able to do just that plus more.

Or maybe you’re looking at getting ceiling speakers in your home. These types of systems require separate amplifiers as the majority of ceiling speakers are passive. This is where the Sonos Amp comes in as this will power the ceiling speakers. 

We will cover both in more detail later on.

If you have Sonos speakers already, the Amp or Port will be set up as a new room meaning your existing speakers can be listened to at the same time as your other Sonos speakers, all in perfect harmony, or they can all be playing something entirely different.

Sonos Port vs Sonos Amp

What are the actual differences between the Port and the Amp?

The biggest difference between the Port and the Amp is that the Amp has built-in amplification so can power passive speakers such as in-wall, in-ceiling or bookshelf / floor standing speakers. 

The Port is not an amplified product so cannot power speakers. Instead, it’s a wireless streamer designed to connect to already-powered equipment such as an amplifier or receiver.

With this in mind, let’s create some scenarios in which you’d require either a Sonos Amp or Port.

I have an amplifier and speakers already but want to take advantage of Music streaming

Solution: Sonos Port

sonos-port-amplifier

As you have the amplifier already, you can simply plug a Sonos Port into the amplifier via RCA line in and start streaming to your existing speakers straight away.

Got a turntable too? That will also be connected to your Amp either via the Amp’s phono input or via a pre-amp into the Amp’s RCA. 

You’ve then got the choice between analogue and digital 🙂

Shop Sonos Port

I have an old amplifier that I would like to replace and use with my existing speakers

Solution: Sonos Amp

sonos-amp-bookshelf

Maybe your amplifier is so old, you fancy an upgrade or it’s on the blink, you’ll need the Sonos Amp to power the speakers with.

Being a compact amplifier, the chances are the Sonos Amp won’t take up as much space and it’ll be smarter as well, allowing you to play any music on the planet through the speakers.

Shop Sonos Amp

I want to get ceiling speakers in my home

Solution: Sonos Amp

As mentioned, ceiling speakers almost always require a separate amplifier to power them with speaker cable.

As ceiling speakers are becoming more popular especially for extensions and new-build properties, smart amplifiers are a great solution because not only are the speakers themselves discreet, you can stream wirelessly to them from your phone over WiFi. 

If you want a whole home of ceiling speakers, Sonos is the leading multi-room audio solution and works wonderfully. 

We have many blogs on the topic of ceiling speakers and choosing between them and even a YouTube playlist that covers everything you need to know.

We’ll even mark-up your floor plan for free with the best positioning, models, quantities required and an overall cost.

Shop Sonos Amp

Summary

So to sum up, the only times you would want to consider the Sonos Port or Amp is if you'd like to take advantage of the Sonos software but keep your own third-party amplifier, HiFi equipment, ceiling speakers or turntable.

If you are sure which product you need and would like some more information about the Port or the Amp, we have written individual reviews on each product. See below:

If you are still not certain which product you will need, then tell us the exact products you have and we will let you know what products you need. 

Simply get in touch via email, give us a call or even talk to us via the online chat. We’d love to have a chat!

View Sonos Port >> 

View Sonos Amp >>


Learn More

Sonos Amp review

Sonos Port review

Audioengine A2+ vs A5+ speakers - which is right for you?

Audioengine speakers have proved very popular in the USA audio company offering both powered and passive speaker solutions as well as DACS, amplifiers and accessories. 

At Smart Home Sounds, we found the Audioengine A2+ and A5+ Wireless to fit perfectly in our ever-growing catalogue of wireless speakers.

With the A5+ priced around £200 more than the A2+ at £449 compared to £239, we’ll be discussing whether the extra money is worth it, as well as covering their strengths and pitfalls and answering the question - which set up is right for YOU?

Overview

audioengine-a2+-desktop

The A2+ and the A5+ wireless are premium, powered 2.0 setups so can be plugged and played into your chosen music source such as a computer, turntable, CD player etc.

Why are they wireless? Well, they now come with Bluetooth aptx, the highest standard of Bluetooth, offering a wireless method of control.

They are both designed with a studio monitor look and feel in mind, but are not outwardly claimed to be studio monitors. 

Constructed from a high-quality MDF and their use of aramid fibre in their woofers make for impressive sound distribution, but as these speakers differ in size as well as other factors, they have different use cases which we will cover in this comparison. 

What’s in the box?

Audioengine provide the same set of cables in both the A2+ and A5+. Inside the box, you’re greeted with a USB to USB-C cable, a double-ended 3.5mm jack, power supply and some thick-gauge speaker cable to connect your speakers together.

Design

They are very similarly designed with aesthetics and build quality in mind, and we appreciate the curved edges steering away from the classic boxy shape that many bookshelf speakers take on. 

Their 2-way design with the tweeter on top and the woofer underneath is clean and understated and we think the omission of a grill suits the classic style of the Audioengine range.

While their general appearance is much the same, their overall footprint is where they differentiate.

The A2+s are noticeably more compact than the A5+s, standing at 15.4cm high, 10.2cm wide and a depth of 13.3cm so will fit nicely on a standard desktop set up.

audioengine-a2+-desktop-speakers-black

The A5+s stand at 27cm high, 18cm wide and 23cm deep so perhaps wouldn’t fit on a small desk but would be suitable for a larger workspace or on a dedicated tabletop stand.

Both speakers are also available with a neat desktop wedge (sold separately) which angle the speakers in line with your laptop or desktop screen - a stylish little addition.

Regarding colour options, both the A2+ and A5+ come with matte black or white finishes plus a red option on the A2+ for those that want a bit more “colour pop” in their room.

Our favourite is the bamboo option on the A5+ offering a bit of Scandinavian pizzazz but we’ll leave the choice of colour up to you (often the hardest choice!).

audioengine-a5+-bamboo-speakers

Spec

Both the A2+ and A5+ come with the same ¾ inch silk dome tweeter for vocals and high frequencies but critically, the custom kevlar woofer in the A5+ is 5” as opposed to 2.75” in the A2+ so the A5+ is capable of outputting a more impactful sound. 

Let’s take a look at the reverse of each speaker system.

Connections-wise, Audioengine have been comparatively generous with a set of left and right RCA stereo inputs and outputs, a 3.5mm jack and a USB input so you can enjoy analogue or digital as you choose.

audioengine-a2-connections

Being Sonos-lovers ourselves, we feel it only right to say you could add a Sonos Port to either of these speakers to integrate them with your wider Sonos system (if you have one) or benefit from the feature-rich Sonos app.

Another notable difference is the A2+ comes with a DAC onboard whereas the A5+ does not.

The quality of the DAC in the A2+ is superior to most PCs but Audioengine has stated that using a 24-bit DAC such as their D1 or D2 would improve sound quality further, and a separate DAC would be necessary to enjoy PC audio through the A5+. 

The first thing that stands out is the rear-mounted volume knob. We are unsure why this was put on the back instead of the front, especially when the A5+ has it on the front - but at least it’s there!

Finally, you’ve got the speaker cable connectors to power the right speaker with.

Sound

The sound of these products will suit someone who’s looking for a more premium sound than the cheap, plasticky products you’ll find online, but who would prefer to avoid the audiophile journey.

Starting off with the A2+, while they are not blow-the-roof-off volume, they are impressive for their size and probably one of the best sets of desktop speakers we’ve heard in this price bracket.

Sitting a few feet away, the A2+ retains an accurate stereo image and while they get muddy at 90% volume and over, for general listening at mid-volumes whether that’s for gaming or a work soundtrack, they would be perfect in a smaller room as desktop speakers.

The A5+ seems to address all the pitfalls of the A2+ in the sound quality department. The A5+ is a massive improvement on the A2+ with a much more far-reaching soundstage and lower-end extension.

They would sit nicely in a living room and go loud enough to get a few people dancing at a house party. With the addition of strong mid-range vocal clarity, these are a great all-rounder either in a living room or larger workspace.  

audioengine-a5+-speaker-black

Who are they right for?

Choosing between the A2+ and the A5+ really comes down to how you plan to use them. 

The A2+ is not for blasting a room with. Rather, they are the perfect companion with a desktop that is in another league to your normal built-in speakers and even cheaper desktop speakers.

Bring immersion to your gaming or fill your workspace with some background listening. The A2+s are perfect for near-field listening, even if they are going to be close to a wall as they are front-ported. 

The A5+ is for flooding a larger size room with serious room-filling sound. If you can handle the trade-off with size, your ears will thank you for the extra £200 spent on these if you are doing a larger amount of listening from a distance..

While they’re just too big for a small desk, you can place these in your living room or office as long as you give them a bit of space to breathe.

These Audioengine speakers are not without their compromises but there’s a lot to love about them and that’s why we think they are the ultimate desktop wireless speakers.

Shop Audioengine A2+ >>

Shop Audioengine A5+ >>

Are you still struggling to decide? Why not have a chat with one of our specialists!

Sonos One vs Amazon Echo Studio - an in-depth comparison

When Amazon released its first voice-controlled Echo speakers back in 2014, users instantly fell in love with the convenience voice control brings. 

However, many were disappointed Amazon didn’t have a speaker in its Echo range that offered the acoustic performance to match its internal smarts.

When Sonos launched the Sonos One smart speaker with Amazon Alexa integration in 2017, it immediately offered Echo users a way to upgrade their audio performance whilst maintaining Alexa voice control. 

Fast forward to today and Amazon launch the Echo Studio, what they like to call their first performance smart speaker and hopefully a way to stop their customers upgrading into the Sonos ecosystem. 

As always, we will offer an honest opinion on whether the Echo Studio or Sonos One is the right smart speaker for you.

So let’s get started.

Design

Straight out of the box, we were instantly surprised by the Echo Studio’s physical size. Weighing in at 3.5kg, the Studio is a lot larger than the Sonos One which weighs in at 1.85kg. 

Both speakers have very different finishes with the Studio in a familiar (Amazon) grey cloth. If you have owned the previous generation Echo Dot or Echo speaker, this follows that trend. 

sonos-one-echo-studio

It also has a slit in the middle to allow more airflow from the subwoofer, so you can feel the bass. 

The Studio currently only ships in one colour which is a dark grey. 

One thing we particularly love about the Echo Studio is the light ring which illuminates when Alexa has heard you.

amazon-echo-studio-top-panel

With the Sonos One, you only get an audible chime when Alexa has heard you, which doesn’t give quite as much feedback.

The smaller Sonos One has a metal finish and ships in matte black or matte white and combined with the smaller size, makes it easier than the Echo Studio to find the perfect place in your home. 

For us, we think the Sonos uses more higher grade materials resulting in a more premium finish but we appreciate the appearance of both speakers and will leave this up to you.

Dimensions

Amazon Echo Studio Dimensions

206 x 175mm (Height x Diameter)

Sonos One Dimensions

161.45 x 119.7 x 119.7 mm (Height x Width x Depth) 

Control

Here is where the differences between the speakers really start to show.

In terms of physical controls on the speaker itself, the Sonos One have gone for touch capacitive controls to keep the speaker looking sleek and up to date. This was a much-demanded feature on the older Sonos Play:1 speaker.

On the touch control pad, there are volume controls, skip track / previous track, play / pause and a microphone privacy button which will electronically cut the power to the microphone temporarily.

The Echo Studio comes with physical buttons but only for volume control and a microphone privacy button. There are no play / pause or skip / previous buttons. 

Bose goes one step further and has preset buttons so you can assign your favourite playlists, radio stations or tracks to a numbered button.

If there are physical buttons for volume control on the Echo Studio, we were left scratching our heads as to why there were no buttons for playing and pausing.

This will not bother some people and are perfectly happy to use either the Alexa app or your voice, to which this won’t be an issue for you.

But for us, we feel Sonos strike a good balance because the appearance is maintained without removing functionality, due to its touch control system.

sonos-one-and-echo-studio

Moving on from physical buttons, let’s compare the main methods of control.

For the Echo Studio, voice control through Amazon Alexa is the main way of controlling this speaker. 

Alexa understands most of the popular streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music and TuneIn Radio.

Alexa works notoriously well on Amazon products, the best on the market even, and it can hear you very well over background noise, responding quickly and accurately. 

The Echo Studio also has Bluetooth, enabled in the Alexa app, if you would like to listen from any source on the Echo Studio. It’s always a great feature to have as a fall-back but the thing to know about Bluetooth is that it will play all sounds from your device, including the ones you don’t want, such as your ringtones, messages and notifications.

On the Sonos One, you get the choice of using Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant as your voice assistant so if you have smart home devices from both companies, Sonos can be used with either.

sonos-one-alexa-google-assistant

While the voice assistants work well on Sonos, you don’t get the full list of Alexa features. We recommend if there is a particular Alexa skill you like the look of, to check whether the Sonos integration supports it.

If it was a case of comparing the Echo Studio with the Sonos One just in terms of voice control, the Echo Studio would take the win every time.

If we move on and look at the Sonos ecosystem, it is controlled directly through the Sonos app. Every Sonos speaker you have would be set up as its own room and if you have multiple speakers, you can group music to multiple rooms at once or have each room playing different streams of music.

You can import your music streaming service accounts to Sonos and the chances are if you have a music service subscription, it’ll be on Sonos as it supports over 100 music streaming services.

Some services have an integration with Sonos such as Spotify, Google Play Music and Tidal which all allow you to use those apps themselves and simply cast to the Sonos, which is a great feature.

More recently, you can now even use Spotify Free on Sonos, meaning you can take advantage of streaming without the £9.99 a month subscription.

Read more about using Spotify Free on Sonos

Some Sonos speakers also let you use Apple AirPlay 2 so if you have any iPhones, iPads or Macs, you can cast any audio from your device straight to the speaker, bypassing the Sonos app.

You’ll have the choice of any of those methods of control as your primary method. We feel the Sonos app is a very cleverly designed app but if you’d prefer not to use it, the options are open.

However, the Sonos One does not support Bluetooth at all, instead you have more WiFi options available.

In terms of control, if you love using voice control day-in day-out and are happy to use this as your central method of control, the Echo Studio is a great option.

On the other hand, if you are interested in building a home full of music and want the options left open for you, whether that’s the voice assistant, the streaming service or method of control, the Sonos ecosystem is much more agnostic.

Not interested in voice control? Try the Sonos One SL for £179, benefitting from the same Sonos sound at a slightly cheaper price point.

Sound Quality

The Sonos One takes the simplistic approach of having one tweeter and one woofer built in and that’s it.  

sonos-one-internals

The Echo Studio has three mid-range drivers, pointing in multiple directions (for 3D audio), a tweeter and 5.25 inch subwoofer. This sounded like a recipe for success and we were excited. 

amazon-echo-studio-internals

Let’s start off by saying both speakers offer great sound but each in their own ways.

What was initially striking about the Echo Studio was its lower end. The amount of bass shook the desk we were testing it on. It also went extremely loud, filling the room easily. 

You felt like the sound was coming from a speaker twice or even three times the size of the Echo Studio.

We also tested 3D audio on the Studio, which is a new concept coined by Amazon. It is designed to throw parts of the audio to specific places in the soundfield, creating a live band atmosphere.

We were impressed and definitely increased the height and width of the sound output, however the number of songs that support 3D audio currently is a small playlist created by Amazon. 

We will have to wait and see whether artists in the future will get on board with this type of recording.

What was slightly disappointing in the Echo Studio were the vocals, mids and highs which is such a shame. They felt a bit muddy and distorted and after listening to the same segment of track, you could instantly feel on the Sonos One that the vocals were much clearer.

It is true that the Echo Studio went exceptionally loud, quite a lot louder than the Sonos One, and so we can visualise the Echo Studio being a great party speaker. 

When we sat down and listened to the Sonos One, the bass was tighter, the vocals were crisper and the midrange was much more accurate.

In essence, the Echo Studio had the "Wow" factor when you first turned it on, but after a while, the lesser amount of audio engineering experience unfortunately soon became apparent.

Both speakers can be stereo paired and both speakers let you adjust the EQ for bass and treble, with the Echo Studio also letting you tweak the midrange.

Overall, again, sound is subjective and feel these speakers will appeal to different people. Echo Studio is for people who love bass and listening at high volumes and is more impactful, whereas the Sonos One is for people who appreciate clarity and how songs are intended to be listened to by the artist.

Line-In 

The Echo Studio is the clear winner here as the Sonos One has no dedicated 3.5mm / optical line-in option. This means it's a breeze to connect sources such as turntables, CD players and your TV to the Echo Studio. 

If you own a Fire TV Cube (2nd generation) or Fire TV Stick 4K, you can wirelessly connect the Echo Studio to these devices to bring your TV and movies to life in Dolby Atmos (if the content supports it).

If you would like to add any external devices such as a Turntable or CD player to the Sonos One and even listen to them on other Sonos speakers at the same time, this is possible albeit with some extra Sonos equipment. 

Find out more about how to use Line-in with Sonos

Price

The Echo Studio at £189 slightly undercuts the Sonos One by £10 at £199

For a difference of £10, it’s probably wiser to base your decision around the points outlined above. 

Summary

We love both of these speakers in different ways.

The Echo Studio is undoubtedly the best sounding Echo speaker to date and if you’re already invested in Echo products, used to voice control and looking for an acoustic upgrade, the Echo Studio makes perfect sense.

On the other hand, there’s no denying the robustness of the Sonos ecosystem. Its app is simply more intuitive and complete and their speakers are designed timelessly.

The sound was more true to life and painted a clearer picture of the music.

The Sonos One, despite being released in 2017 and going by their previous speaker’s life cycle will almost certainly last longer than the Echo Studio before being replaced. 

The sound is great on both speakers for different reasons, but we highly recommend giving both a listen so you can be sure which sound you prefer.

View Sonos One >>

View Amazon Echo Studio >>

A side-by-side comparison of the new Bowers & Wilkins Formation suite and Sonos

So... you're torn between Bowers & Wilkins Formation and Sonos wireless speakers for your audio journey. We're here to help you decide which audio company you should spend your hard-earned cash on.

The new Bowers & Wilkins Formation suite combines the long heritage of the Bowers & Wilkins brand with the latest wireless, multi-room ecosystem similar to the likes of Sonos.

There is no doubting Sonos is a premium product, however, the Bowers & Wilkins new suite of wireless speakers is aimed at the ultra-premium market and will definitely appeal to customers looking for a much more distinctive speaker, followed by Sonos-like rock-solid wireless performance.

Let’s start off with some basic smart speaker comparisons.

Speaker Set-Up

Both Sonos and B&W use WiFi as their primary set-up method. Simply, plug the speakers into mains power and download their respective apps and follow the on-screen prompts. Both systems should be fully set-up in under 5 minutes. 

Setting up the Formation Wedge via the Formation App was extremely quick and simple. The Formation App found the speaker within a few seconds.

Once we selected the speaker we wanted to set-up we added our WiFi password, gave the speaker a name and we were done. It actually took us longer to get the Formation Wedge out of the box than to set it up.

We also felt the Formation App was premium-looking and functional for a first release, so this is extremely promising for the future.

The Sonos App, however, is the product of many years of refinement which is evident when setting the product up. Set-up does take longer than the Formation system, but only because the Sonos set-up is more in-depth with options such as Trueplay tuning which tunes your speaker to the room.

sonos-app

Winner - Sonos, although a slightly longer set-up than Formation, it is more in-depth with features that offer real value.

Speaker connectivity & Control

As mentioned, both systems encourage and use WiFi as their main connection and control method. However, Bowers & Wilkins Formation also supports Bluetooth APTX where Sonos does not. Sonos choose not to support Bluetooth for their home speakers for a number of reasons, whereas B&W gives you the choice.

This means if you’ve been using Bluetooth for a long time and do not want to switch over to streaming, this is possible with B&W. However, nowadays as more and more people are turning to music streaming services, not having Bluetooth won’t bother a lot of people.

Spotify is supported via Spotify Connect on both Sonos and B&W, along with Apple AirPlay 2 (the ability to cast ANY audio from an Apple device to a speaker). Essentially, if you either have a Spotify subscription or an Apple device, not having Bluetooth should not present itself as a barrier to buying Sonos.

Control

This is where we feel there is the biggest difference in both systems. Sonos has built an all-in-one app that you would use for set up, control and grouping rooms, meaning you can stay in the Sonos App for all aspects of the experience. You also have the option of using Spotify Connect if you're a Spotify user.

The Formation app is used for set up of the speakers, then from that point, you'll only need to come back to the Formation app for grouping rooms. The rest of the time will be spent on the streaming services directly.

This presents itself as both a benefit and drawback. If you've been a Spotify user for a long time, then you'll find it useful you can continue to use the app you've always enjoyed using.

Voice Control

The Formation system currently has no voice support, but hopefully, this is something we will see change in the future.

Sonos, however, is setting the standard globally when it comes to voice control. Choosing to integrate an open voice platform into its latest speakers, Sonos users have the choice of voice assistant just like they do music services.

Currently, Sonos users have the choice of adding either Amazon's Alexa or Google Assistant to their smart speaker. Sonos is the first company to offer users a choice of voice assistant so they are far ahead in the game in this area.

Winner - Sonos

Multi-Room capabilities

Both Sonos & Formation offer multi-room audio solutions where music can be grouped to multiple speakers at once, or different speakers can play different things.

Both brands are ideal if you're looking to get audio to more than just one room. For example, your living room could be powered by a Bowers & Wilkins Bar and Bass and your study could be powered by a Bowers & Wilkins Flex. Group your music to both zones for what Sonos calls "Party Mode" or play different things in each zone.

Today's wireless technology means you no longer need to have a separate audio system for each room.

A big win for Sonos in this area is the Sonos app which offers a one-stop solution for finding and starting music playback from all your favourite music services, as well as playing different or grouped audio within your home.

On the other hand, to group a pair of Bowers & Wilkins Formation spaces (rooms), you would first need to open your music app such as Spotify and send audio to one of your Formation speakers. You would then need to open the Formation app and group the rooms via there.

Read more about how the Sonos App works >>

 

b&w-formation-wedge

Sound Quality

Bowers & Wilkins Formation speakers are renowned for their detailed audio quality. If you want your music to sound as close to how the artist intended you to listen, you need to consider these. Their cleverly designed cabinets and drivers bring you the same high fidelity sound from their wired counterparts, with the convenience of wireless control.

Unlike Sonos, B&W also supports hi-res streaming so great if you’re a user of Tidal HiFi or Deezer Elite which streams all music in 96/24 bit lossless CD quality.

In the Formation Duos, we heard intricate details in the music that we never knew existed, from the artist breathing in the mic, to subtle hi-hats, to snares. You are provided with a 100% complete objective audio package, replicating an experience that the artists are performing live in your room.

Formation_Duo_Black

Bowers & Wilkins have experience of making ultra high quality, distinguished products for over 50 years that has attracted a very loyal community of audiophile buyers.

Sonos is still a very premium product, however, and sounds undeniably impressive. £499 for their flagship product, the Sonos Play:5, is all a lot of people would ever need. The bass on this speaker goes much lower than expected from its form factor and can fill a large room effortlessly.

sonos_play_5_speaker

Even the Sonos One (Gen2), which is the smallest and cheapest (£199) smart speaker in the Sonos range, does a great job of filling smaller rooms with crystal-clear audio.

The multi award-winning Sonos One comes with a number of smart features including integrated voice control from Amazon's Alexa or Google Assistant, Apple Airplay 2 and support for the most popular music streaming services.

Winner - Bowers & Wilkins Formation

System reliability & usability

Sonos have been working on the Sonos app for over a decade, perfecting the art of multi-room, and will continue to do so.

The Sonos app is one of the best assets of the Sonos system and is backed by millions of current Sonos users. It’s dead simple to use and comes with an array of customisation.

Bowers & Wilkins are new to the multi-room game and although will get smarter over time, they just don’t have the same experience or know-how as Sonos in this particular area.

Our initial impressions of the Bowers & Wilkins Formation app, however, were positive and was very intuitive to use.

B&Ws patented robust mesh network also looks impressive as they claim to have less than a single microsecond sync between speakers. This means it's as close as humanly possible to hearing multiple speakers in perfect harmony over a WiFi network.

Therefore, despite Sonos having the proven track record of usability, we don't think it will take B&W long to catch up, based on the statistics we can see on paper.

Winner - Sonos takes the trophy for its rock-solid ecosystem

Speaker design

Both brands designs are completely different. One thing we can all agree on is that Bowers & Wilkins have traditionally been more dare-ish and bold with their speaker design.

However, they are confident in their design of products. This is what gives Bowers & Wilkins credibility in a very competitive market. They stand out and are not afraid to challenge the conventions of what speakers should look like.

b&w-formation-suite

The Formation designs will divide a lot of people and you will ultimately either love it or hate it. For us, although initially we were taken aback by the striking designs, particularly with the Wedge, after having it in our office for a few days, it really started to grow on us! Now we can't get enough of them.

Sonos takes a comparatively more simple but stylish design, that will appeal to the masses. We love the clean look of the Sonos Speakers and have proven their designs can stand the test of time. B&W has chosen to take a gamble with their design and time will tell how customers perceive this design and how well they date.

Winner - Up to you! 

Software updates

Both systems will get smarter over time via free software updates delivered straight to your phone, your speaker has the ability to be updated on the fly, directly from the manufacturer with the latest improvements to the app or sometimes even the sound quality of the speaker. 

Sonos have a history of doing this with their products with a proven track record. Features such as AirPlay 2, Trueplay tuning and DSP tweaks for better sound quality have all been highlights for existing Sonos users.

This again highlights the benefits of using WiFi in a home audio scenario as the speaker you buy today will sound better over time.

We also actually witnessed this ourselves with the Bowers & Wilkins Formation Wedge. After the first software update, the speaker instantly sounded tighter on the bass which we feel was a tweak to the Digital Signal Processing (DSP).

Winner - Sonos, with it's proven track record of impressive updates its hard to differ.

Verdict: B&W Formation or Sonos?

There's a reason why Sonos is the leading multi-room audio system. It satisfies customers in terms of overall usability, design and performance which is very hard to find in its competitors.

We genuinely believe Sonos is worth its price point, and £199 for the award-winning Sonos One smart speaker there is not a better place to start if you're looking to purchase your first smart speaker. Alternatively, the flagship PLAY:5 at £499 is a great price to pay when you consider the performance and functionality of this speaker.

The Bowers & Wilkins Formation range, however, starts from £399 for the Formation Flex and the whole suite would set you back more than £5,000. But, having said this, we think there is a market for people who want to aim higher than Sonos.

We feel B&W Formation is ideal for people looking for an ultra-premium product that can handle high-resolution audio and banish the pain of traditional HiFi set-ups with no compromise in quality.

There is no doubt B&W takes you to such new heights with your listening experience. All of your music will put a big smile on your face. But as most will agree, for the price, it should.

Conclusively, Sonos has the experience in usability teamed with an impressive set of features that will keep the most tech-hungry customer happy. B&W has the experience in sound quality and the feel of an exceptionally premium product.

If your budget can stretch to £3,499 for a stereo pair of Duos or £899 for a Wedge, then I guarantee your ears will not regret it.

However, if you are not willing to spend this sort of money on an audio system, then trust us when we say Sonos will happily exceed most peoples expectations.

Overall winner - Sonos - Still the number one choice for people looking to set up a multi-room audio system.


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Still not sure what product is right for you?

Get in touch with one of our friendly specialists who can recommend the speaker for you based on your requirements.


Learn More?

The Complete Beginners Guide To Sonos >>

The Sonos App: How it works >>

Bowers & Wilkins Formation Overview >>

 

Three great Sonos speakers - one speaker that’s right for you

The Sonos One (Gen 2) vs One SL vs Play:1. What’s the difference and which one should you go for?

What is the Sonos Play:1?

UPDATE (September 2019) - The Play:1 has now been discontinued by Sonos.

The Sonos Play:1 at £149 was released back in 2013 and being the baby WiFi speaker of the range, provided the listener with excellent room-filling sound at a budget.

sonos-play1-lifestyle

As opposed to the Sonos One and One SL, the Play:1 did not have voice control built in.

However, it was possible to add a separate Amazon Echo or Google Home device to the speaker to control the music via Alexa or Google Assistant on the Play:1. 

Sonos responded to the demand for voice control by releasing their next speaker below.

What is the Sonos One?

Sonos One - the all-in-one speaker with voice control (£199)

Four years later after the Play:1, Sonos released their first ever smart speaker, the new Sonos One for £199 with Amazon Alexa built-in.

It was released in 2017 with a further second generation update in 2019, and is exactly the same size as the successful Sonos Play:1.

sonos-one-gen-2

In line with the success of voice control, Sonos released the Sonos One with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice control built-in, straight out of the box

This is different from the Play:1 because you would not need to add a separate Amazon Echo device for voice control.

Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant built right in means you can use your voice to control your music on the fly, get news updates or even control any smart devices that are skills on the voice assistant's app, including Philips Hue smart lighting and Nest thermostats.

Another perk of the Sonos One over the Sonos Play:1 is its Apple AirPlay 2 support. What is Airplay 2? It is a way of casting audio from any Apple device such as an iPhone or iPad straight to the speaker. This means you don’t need to use only the services on the Sonos app. Very convenient for all Apple users.

Finally, Sonos refreshed the appearance of the Sonos One with an all-white or all-black appearance as opposed to the grey grille in the Play:1 remaining consistent across both colour choices.

Sonos also added a touch control pad to the top of the Sonos One, instead of the older physical buttons on the Play:1.

one-top-black-2

This allows you to disable/enable the microphone, play/pause, skip/previous, volume up/down and even receive music from other rooms by holding the play/pause button.

View Sonos One (£199)

What is the Sonos One SL?

The Sonos One SL is the most recent addition from Sonos, released in September 2019. It benefits from all of the same features as the Sonos One above, with the exception of built-in voice control. This is the only difference in the One SL to the One.

sonos-one-sl

 

The One SL can be seen as a replacement to the Play:1 speaker, bringing it more up to date with the same look and features as the Sonos One.

However, being microphone-free, the Sonos One SL offers a slightly cheaper alternative to the Sonos One, for those who are not interested in using voice control.

Watch our YouTube video about the Sonos One SL below.

View Sonos One SL (£179)

How do these speakers work?

All of these speakers connect to your WiFi wirelessly as opposed to Bluetooth, so you can control your speakers from any room in the house - and do not play any push notifications or calls through the speaker. 

Simply plug the speaker in to mains power, download the Sonos app to your preferred devices and follow the on-screen instructions to play music on it within a few minutes.

With access to the Sonos app that supports the largest number of streaming services in the whole industry, including Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, TuneIn radio and many more, you’re spoilt for choice.

Their compact size means they can be placed in any nook or cranny in your home without taking up too much space.

Check out our complete beginners guide to Sonos

Stereo Pairing Guide

sonos-stereo-pair

We are regularly asked which of these speakers you can stereo pair with each other so we have put together this quick little guide.

You can use any of the above speakers in one of 3 ways:

You can stereo pair any of the below combinations:

  • 2 x Sonos One (Gen 1)
  • 2 x Sonos One (Gen 2)
  • 1 x Sonos One (Gen 1) and 1 x Sonos One (Gen 2)
  • 2 x Sonos One SL
  • 1 x Sonos One SL and 1 x Sonos One (Gen 1 or Gen 2)
  • 2 x Sonos Play:1

You cannot stereo pair the Play:1 with either the Sonos One or Sonos One SL. Play:1s can only be stereo paired together.

 

Verdict - which is right for you?

Now that the Play:1 is discontinued, you have 2 options - the Sonos One and Sonos One SL.

The only thing that Sonos One has over One SL is the fact it has 2 voice assistants built in. The One SL does not have microphones so it is impossible to use with voice directly. However, the voice assistants can still recognise the One SL if you have a separate Amazon Echo or Google Home device.

Both speakers sound exactly the same so really, your decision should be governed by whether you would use voice control.

If you like the idea of using your speaker as a voice assistant to complete tasks around your home, whether that's playing music or integrating with your smart home devices, the Sonos One Gen 2 is the one for you.

If you have no interest in voice control, save yourself £20 with the the Sonos One SL.

View all Sonos Speakers


Learn More

The Complete Beginners Guide to Sonos >>

Sonos Buyer's Guide >>

Top 10 Sonos App Tips and Tricks >>

the ultimate Sonos TV speaker guide!

The Sonos Beam has arrived to offer you a third option to supercharge your TV audio for almost half the cost of the Sonos Playbar or Playbase. But is this enough to consider the Beam over the long-heralded Playbar or Playbase?

First of all though, why consider Sonos at all? Well, no matter which Sonos TV speaker you choose, you will receive a product that distinguishes itself from all of its competition.

Sonos does a fantastic job of combining multiple uses that you would typically have a separate device for, into a single device.

This includes:

  • A soundbar for fantastic audio for your TV shows, movies and streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Video
  • A premium speaker with access to over 56 music streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music Unlimited and even Airplay 2 on Playbase and Beam
  • A Digital radio via TuneIn with free access to thousands of the world's most popular radio stations
  • A home voice assistant like Alexa which can perform many different tasks including news, traffic and weather updates (Beam only)

 

beam-vs-playbar-vs-playbase

That’s why you can be safe in the knowledge you are getting a package well worth its value, forming an integral part of your home entertainment system for years to come.

And it will get smarter over time, not more dated.

Now, how do you decide between them?

This will be a case of which one best fits your current TV set up and personal preferences.

Browse Sonos TV Speakers

First look / Appearance

The Beam and Playbase both retain a more refined and up-to-date appearance and come with the extra benefit of the touch control panel for volume control, play/pause etc.

sonos-beam-close

The Playbar, due to being 5 years old, contains physical buttons on the edge of the unit but has still aged very well with its competitors and can be forgiven for this.

The Beam is the smallest unit in all dimensions so will be compatible with more TV setups. A TV cabinet too small for a Playbar can fit a Beam instead.

The Beam can sit flat on a TV stand, positioned in front of the TV or can be wall-mounted.

Sonos-Beam-wall-mount

The Playbar and Playbase may need some additional planning for positioning. Generally speaking though, if your TV is wall mounted, it is more aesthetic to wall mount a Playbar directly underneath (or it can go above but make sure your Playbar is oriented upside down, as the speakers naturally face upwards).

playbar-wherever-however

The Playbase is designed for your TV to stand on top of it. Due to being a soundbase as opposed to a soundbar, its hardened resin material takes the weight of your TV up to 35kg.

All 3 speakers have various mounting options, so if you strongly favour one over another, Flexson can make it work for your set up.

Another thing true of all 3 speakers is they look and feel like luxury, premium products. No cheap bits of plastic feature anywhere and will not be an eyesore in front of your TV.

sonos-playbase

Connections

The Playbar and Playbase use a simple optical connection between the TV and the speaker. This means there are no extra setups you need to do within the TV settings. It is plug 'n' play.

The Beam uses HDMI-ARC to your TV which also makes voice control of your TV possible. If your TV does not have an HDMI-ARC, you are covered as Sonos provide an HDMI to optical converter in the box.

This does, unfortunately, mean you wouldn't be able to turn your TV on and off using your voice, but all other voice commands are still available.

Every speaker benefits from an ethernet port for an optional hardwired option, plus a power cove for mains power.

Having as few connections and ports as possible keeps the speakers hassle-free, easy to use and focuses on getting the music playing as quickly as possible.

sonos-beam-back-connections

Tech & Hardware

Now let's go under the hood and see what each speaker has.

The Playbase on paper benefits from the highest number of speakers with its addition of an extra woofer, but Playbar has the extra width, potentially making it more "room-filling" than all the other speakers.

Generally speaking, there are only very subtle differences in the sound quality of Playbar and Playbase and echoed by both being £699 RRP.

Beam was crafted from the ground up. Sonos knew they needed to create a smart soundbar that was compact and fit into almost every TV set up.

That’s why they custom-designed every component to ensure everything fit comfortably into the size they aimed for.

The Beam is the only Sonos TV speaker of the three to feature the Sonos open voice platform.

Currently being powered by Amazon's Alexa, but with Google assistant on the way via a software update, Sonos is the clear winner for customers who do not want to be locked into one voice assistant.

Customers can still use Alexa voice control with Playbar or Playbase, but this would require a separate Amazon Echo device in addition.

Sonos & Airplay 2

The Beam & Playbase are also Airplay 2-enabled, allowing you to send any audio from your iOS devices straight to the speaker.

Having Airplay 2 built-in also allows Apple users to utilise Siri on their iPhone or Apple watch. For example, you could say "Siri, play Coldplay in the lounge".

This is especially useful for Playbase owners, as it offers a small element of voice control.

Unfortunately, the Playbar due to its age is not compatible with Airplay 2. However, here's the workaround.

You only need one Airplay 2-enabled Sonos speaker (One, Play:5 Gen 2, Playbase or Beam) to send your Airplay 2 audio to any other Airplay 2-enabled speakers around your home.

Yes, that includes Apple Homepods or B&O speakers for example. A very nice touch indeed.

Read more about how to use AirPlay 2 with Sonos.

sonos-best-airplay-2-speakers

Sound Quality - Beam

Now for the exciting bit - how do they sound?

Starting with the Beam, we genuinely believe it offers unrivalled sound quality when compared to other speakers in its price bracket of similar physical stature.

Vocals are crystal clear thanks to the newly designed Sonos tweeter that sits at the centre of the speaker, directly behind the Sonos logo.

It’s also got excellent bass potential due to the addition of the new Sonos cylindrical drivers. Due to their newly designed shape, they are able to produce levels of bass not previously possible from speakers of this size.

It is fully packed with the latest technology to include Airplay 2 support as well as the addition of voice control from Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant due soon via a free software update.

It is the perfect family speaker for those who watch a lot of TV or movies, but also appreciate their music as it’s very versatile.

sonos-beam-review

Sound Quality - Playbar & Playbase

We often get asked, "why should I spend the extra for the Playbar or Playbase?".

We think two crucial factors are at play being room size and overall required performance. While the Playbar does lack Airplay 2 support, it will fill a larger room better than the Beam with deeper bass and wider soundstage.

With recent audio tunning software updates, it is still the go-to option for customers who are in pursuit of the highest possible audio quality.

Due to its form factor, we believe Playbar is the best option for customers who are looking to wall-mount their soundbar underneath their TV.

Similar to the Playbar, Playbase will fill a larger room more effectively than the Beam, due to its more substantial form factor.

It will also offer a greater depth of bass than the Playbar and Beam thanks to its additional bass radiator.

Some customers who purchase a Sonos Playbase don't feel the need to add an additional SUB. It is the first choice for customers who enjoy a powerful bass-line when watching films and listening to music.

Being a newly released product, Playbase also supports Airplay 2, and its unique form factor suits free-standing TV set-ups perfectly.

The Playbase should be at the top of the list if your TV is sitting on furniture and want excellent sound quality, while maintaining great aesthetics.

We feel If you want to make no compromises on sound quality, and want to fill a larger sized room with fantastic music as well as TV and movies then you have to consider the Playbar or Playbase.

These are premium products that do carry a premium price tag but offer class-leading performance.

sonos-playbar-vs-playbase

Sonos App Support

Another great feature with all Sonos speakers is access to the award-winning Sonos app.

You’ll be using this as a remote control for your music, for example, to select tracks, change volume, music and of course, grouping and ungrouping music around your home - and so much more!

Verdict

beam-lifestyle-black

The Sonos Playbar and Playbase have always been the number 1 choice for home cinema offering an unbeatable combination of sound quality, usability and features.

It will continue to be the option of choice for people who want to achieve that extra special sound quality in a larger room. However, the £699 price tag on both of these products was the primary barrier to purchase.

Now the Beam has entered the market at almost half the price, with today's most wanted features like voice control and Airplay 2, it makes it an irresistible package.

If you are tired of your TV's poor internal speakers and want to listen to your favourite TV shows, movies and music all in 1 stylish unit, the Beam will put a smile on your face and wins our vote overall.

Which will you choose?

Sonos Playbar

Sonos Playbase

Sonos Beam

 

Why purchase your Sonos from smart home sounds?

 

Chat with one of our friendly team today on freephone 0800 677 1100, or read from our hundreds of 5* reviews

 

Choose my Sonos TV Speaker

PLAYBAR Vs PLAYBASE

We, at Smart Home Sounds, love our films just as much as we love music and strongly believe that no film is worth watching without cinema-quality sound.

After all, half of the immersion in a film originates from coming as close to hearing every explosion, roll, punch and vocal exactly like real life. Up until now, Sonos’ solution to excellent sounding TV audio has been the best-selling soundbar on the market, the Sonos PLAYBAR, but with the latest addition of Sonos PLAYBASE to the Sonos portfolio in April 2017, customers now have a second option for supercharging their TV audio - both being viable products depending on your set up.

Design & Spec

The PLAYBASE is a new take on the traditional soundbar and was specifically designed to offer a space-saving solution for your TV sound. Its hardened resin makes it sturdy enough to withstand the weight of your TV on top (up to 35kgs) and slim enough (3.8cm deep) to slide underneath your TV, so in effect, takes up no more space than your TV and no extra remote control!

 

sonos-playbase-white-tv-mount

 

The PLAYBAR is ideal if your TV is already mounted to the wall. You can mount the PLAYBAR to the wall directly underneath your TV with the addition of a wall mount, or you can attach the PLAYBAR to your existing TV bracket with a range of accessories. It can also sit on furniture such as a TV stand but sit at 85mm high, it does require more clearance than the PLAYBASE and can intrude at the bottom of your TV screen.

 

Features

  • Both the PLAYBAR and PLAYBASE have identical connections - an optical port for audio, one power supply port, and an ethernet port. Sonos like to keep things simple without compromising on quality.
  • The PLAYBASE benefits from 2 colour options - black and white. The PLAYBAR is only made in black.
  • Regarding looks, both products are expertly designed, but due to the PLAYBAR being four years older than PLAYBASE, we do think PLAYBASE retains a more modern and sleek appearance, which is to be expected.
  • Unlike the PLAYBAR, the PLAYBASE has the new touch-sensitive controls on the base of the product, comparable to the PLAY:5, meaning you can pause, skip, play previous and volume up and down at the slide or tap of a finger if you happen to be walking past.
  • Both benefit from the Trueplay feature, allowing your speaker to calibrate and maximise performance based on your room’s dimensions. True play also calibrates your personal seating position for an optimised audio experience.
  • Both benefit from Night Mode & speech enhancement. Night Mode limits the loud parts of the audio and amplifies the quieter parts. This is a great feature not to disturb the rest of the house while listening. Speech enhancement is a great feature if you are having a hard time hearing what’s being said. Enabling this feature keeps the dialogue at a consistent level and reduces the volume of any loud sound effects.
  • You can also pair your existing remote control for easy volume control.
  • Sonos will also be integrating Amazon Alexa voice control later this year allowing PLAYBAR & PLAYBASE to be voice-controlled. More details here.

Sound

Let’s first look at the spec of each speaker. They are very similar, both of which containing six mid-range and three tweeters but the PLAYBASE also has the benefit of a woofer to improve bass response. The team at Smart Home Sounds have sat down and listened to various music genres for a solid hour, flicking between both the PLAYBAR and PLAYBASE and only noticed very subtle differences. First of all, we have to congratulate the level of quality the PLAYBASE offers considering it is less than 4cm high. The main points that sold it for us were the piercing vocals, excellent bass response, of which the additional woofer really helps, and the wide soundstage created despite its form factor (close your eyes and it feels like the sound is coming from each corner of the room as opposed to just centrally). The sound was crisp, crystal-clear and absolutely zero distortion.

The PLAYBAR is wider in dimensions, and as such, the sound travelled wider than the PLAYBASE offering a slightly further-reaching sound stage. In real home usage, this means that if a car travelling from the right to the left of your TV screen, the PLAYBAR would give a slightly more immersive effect due to its physical length. The sound from this speaker is deep, rich and completely unbiased, meaning it offers the perfect balance of low, medium and high frequencies.  It’s kind and unobtrusive to the ears, and in our mini Vs test, it reminded us why this product had won so many awards. It also really does look fantastic placed underneath a wall-mounted TV too.

At low volumes, the sound quality between the PLAYBAR and PLAYBASE was indistinguishable but turn them up louder, and the PLAYBASE tended to output a sharper vocal quality. But if you turn the volume up past 90% however, the mid-range and high-end frequencies on the PLAYBASE tended to be the dominating force. The PLAYBAR offered a balanced sound throughout the volume range.

Price

Both the PLAYBAR and PLAYBASE are currently retailed at £699 which we think is an investment customer will see value in, considering how easy the product is to to use on a daily basis and the fantastic audio quality both these smart speakers offer. Of course, being part of the Sonos ecosystem, existing customers will also have the benefit of adding these to their current home setup. Customers completely new to Sonos can use it as the starting block for filling their home with music. Both PLAYBAR & PLAYBASE also have the upgrade potential to expand to a full 5.1 wireless surround system over time.

More details of the Sonos home cinema setup can be found here

sonos-playbar-plasebase

FAQ: I already have a PLAYBAR. Should I replace it with PLAYBASE?

This is a common question from customers at Smart Home Sounds. The PLAYBASE was not developed as an upgrade to the PLAYBAR, rather an alternative. If your current TV set up already works perfectly with a PLAYBAR and there are no issues with space, there is no need to replace it with the PLAYBASE.

Verdict

Both of these products are truly superb, and we believe you won’t find any product on the market offering a better combination of sound quality, ease of use and features for the price. With the Amazon Alexa voice control integration coming this year and more over-the-air features lined up in the near future, whether you choose PLAYBAR or PLAYBASE, you can guarantee your system will get better and smarter over time, without the need to be replaced by a new model in a few years. And not only are they brilliant for TV sound, but also for when you just want to relax to the sound of your favourite tracks, when the TV is off.

The main driving force of your decision should be whether your TV is currently wall mounted or not. If it’s not, the PLAYBASE can tuck in very nicely to your set up, and you’d hardly notice it was there. If it is mounted, the PLAYBAR can be mounted directly underneath for a very aesthetically-pleasing finish. Both speakers are capable of taking pride and place in your TV set up for years to come and will take your film-watching experience to the next level (or 3)!

About Us

Smart Home Sounds is a UK Sonos specialist. We provide expert advice on the full Sonos range, from a single Sonos One to a full Sonos surround system with PLAYBAR, SUB, and PLAY:1's.

OK, so maybe you're new to Sonos or just deciding what speaker to purchase next. Play:3 or two Play:1s you ask? Well here’s what we think is best for you.

play:3 vs two play:1s

Play:3 - Sonos’ middle of the range speaker - intense, immersive sound. Serious room-filling power. Slightly bigger than the PLAY:1, this smart speaker is able to offer deep bass and crisp sounds.

sonos-play3-kitchen

 

Play:1 - Sonos’ smallest speaker to date but don't let that fool you. The PLAY:1 is an awesome little speaker that packs a punch, creates a pleasurable listening experience and is a great start for Sonos newbies!

sonos-play1-stereo-pair

 

which sonos speaker do i need for my room?

The size of your room plays a big part in what speaker is best for you. We find a Play:1 is very suitable for a small / medium sized room by itself, but when adding another Play:1 this creates an immersive wide sound stage that provides a balanced sound level throughout your space.

The Play:3 is also well suited to small / medium sized rooms. It all depends on how loud you want your speaker to go. Both options fit really nicely into kitchens, bedrooms and lounges. But if you're looking for a speaker for your bathroom, then go for the PLAY:1. The PLAY:1s have a built in humidity resistance, which allows for them to function when you're singing your favourite tunes in the steaming hot shower!

sound quality/functionality

Both Sonos speakers do an amazing job at producing clear, well-balanced and vibrant sounds throughout your home. In our opinion, Sonos did a great job on the engineering as the sound clarity is pretty much up to the audiophile standard.

Although, if you're looking for pure volume, then the PLAY:3 takes the crown all day long. Because of its size and form, the PLAY:3 has a better sound "projection" throughout a room and when you add in that thumping bass, you’ve got yourself a little powerhouse. 

The PLAY:3 can also be positioned horizontally or vertically and the EQ will automatically adjust accordingly. There are rubber feet on the sides to protect your speaker from whatever you choose to put it on from scratches to scrapes.

If stereo separation and audio clarity is a key factor with your purchase, then you might be tempted by a pair of PLAY:1s and pair them in stereo mode via the Sonos app. A pair of (Stereo) PLAY:1 smart speakers offers a much wider sound stage allowing every vocal and instrument to be heard more discretely. Also the Play:1 speakers are cleverly angled outwards, providing an incredible, clear and well-balanced sound straight out of the box. 

Play:1 Flexibility

As well as being used as a stereo pair, the PLAY:1s can be used as rear speakers when added to a Playbar or Playbase and Sub creating a surround sound system. This can also be used with two PLAY:3s and two Play:5s.

Sonos bass

If deep bass is what you’re after, then the PLAY:3 is definitely the speaker for you. It produces really clean, deep, rich bass which fills a room excellently. The PLAY:1 Stereo pair, on the other hand, don't quite have the same thumping effect. However, for such a tiny speaker, the PLAY:1 still produces an amazing amount of clarity and stays clear and punchy. It's not a room shaker like the PLAY:3 is, but it has enough to not let your ears miss a thing.

Interested in voice control?

The new Sonos One, not to be confused with PLAY:1, is Sonos' latest addition to its smart speaker range. With Amazon Alexa built-in, Sonos One can open you up to a new world of sound quality compared with an Amazon Echo offering. If you love music and the idea of a home assistant, combine both with the Sonos One. A refreshed appearance and new touch controls differentiates it from the PLAY:1, however these speakers both perform exactly the same from a sound quality point of view, as they were built on the same blueprints.

sonos-one-voice-control

Did you Know?

You can now use an Amazon Echo device with any Sonos speaker so you're able to voice control any Sonos speakers of the range.

smart home sounds opinion

Which would we go for you ask? Well, we love how loud and punchy the PLAY:3 is, and currently priced at £249, it’s an affordable way to start or even add to your Sonos journey. 

However, the wide sound and clarity produced from having two PLAY:1s or Ones is really impressive and immersive. You also have the ability to separate the speakers (which is great for party occasions) and put them in different rooms of the house. You can even add them to your PLAYBAR and SUB as rears and have them safely in your bathroom! 

If you're looking for something a little bit extra, priced at £499, we’d definitely recommend taking that plunge. The only real advantages of the PLAY:3 are the slightly deeper bass and its pure volume. However, if volume and bass is something you're looking for, you could be a little adventurous and go ahead and try the fantastic new Play:5.. 

sonos-play5-gen2

About Smart Home Sounds

Smart Home Sounds is a UK Sonos specialist dedicated to filling homes with the joy of music, one room at a time!

We provide expert advice on the full Sonos range, from the voice controlled Sonos One to a Sonos wireless home cinema system with PLAYBAR, SUB, and 2 x PLAY:1s all with free next day delivery and a 6 year extended warranty.

 

The Sonos Play:3

This is the mid-range speaker of the Sonos family and the popular choice for customers who want to immerse themselves into the world of digital music streaming for the first time.

The first question we normally get asked is 'How loud does it go and what is the bass like?' Our usual response is ' you will be pleasantly surprised!' Most people have seen the Sonos PLAY:3 and assume it may fail to meet their expectation of a wireless music system, given its small form. Well, as most people who own these units will tell you, it adheres to its strapline given to it by Sonos - "The smaller, sexier, tuck-in-the-corner and blow-your-roof-off, all-in-one player”.

Another highlight of the PLAY:3 is that it is easily placed within any and all rooms within your home. It is perfectly powerful enough to drive an average size living room, bedroom or kitchen. If, however, you have a more open plan lounge dinner or a bigger room that you wish to fill with music, then you may need to consider the Sonos PLAY:5 or 2 x PLAY:3s paired in stereo mode.

sonos-play-3

The Sonos Play:5

The Sonos Play:5 was Sonos' first entry into the all-in-one wireless music system market, and we think it remains to date the best value all-in-one music system.

With all Sonos products, the build and sound quality is 1st class. While the Sonos PLAY:5 is still small enough to be discreet in a room, it is also powerful enough to really rock a big room. We have never experienced customers complaining that the sound does not fill the room adequately.

The PLAY:5 will fill your room with more bass compared to the PLAY:3, as the bass driver is bigger in size, which in turn pushes more air to give a deeper bass. An everyday advantage of this over the PLAY:3 is that you will experience a fuller sound, whereas with the PLAY:3 would require you to increase the levels to in order to try and match the same bass of the PLAY:5.

The PLAY:5 has the added advantage of having a line input. This can be used to plug in a games console, SKY TV, DJ mixing desk, computer or even a mini disc or a tape deck. Having this function gives the system added value over the PLAY:3.

sonos-play5-lifestyle

smart home sounds verdict

So which Sonos system do you go for – the PLAY:3 or PLAY:5? If you are looking to get into digital streaming music and want to see what the Sonos system is like, then try the PLAY:3. As many of our customers have found out - the sound from something this size is astonishing. If at a later date you want to treat yourself to a PLAY:5, you can always put the PLAY:3 into the bedroom and use the built-in alarm clock to wake you up to your favourite music!

If you have a slightly bigger room or have more budget to play with, you will certainly not be disappointed with the Play:5. It also gives you the added extra of a line in socket.

Either way, as most independent reviewers agree, both Sonos systems are highly rated five star products.

play:3-vs-play:5

ABOUT SMART HOME SOUNDS

Smart Home Sounds is a UK Sonos specialist dedicated to filling homes with the joy of music, one room at a time!

We provide expert advice on the full Sonos range, from the voice controlled Sonos One to a Sonos wireless home cinema system with PLAYBAR, SUB, and 2 x PLAY:1s all with free next day delivery and a 6 year extended warranty.