If you’re in the market for a new speaker to add to your home audio setup, you’ve probably encountered two of the hottest speakers on the market: The Sonos Play 3 and the Sonos Play 5.

Each of these speakers is very high quality, and each brings a lot to the table. In this article, we’ll give you a Sonos Play 3 review and a Sonos Play 5 review so that you’ll know which the best choice for your home is.

Before we give you the reviews, let’s start off by talking about some of the things that you’ll need to think about when you think about each speaker.

Great Value

Sonos Play 3

Best Value

Specs & Price: See Here

​Elite Quality Sound

Sonos Play 5

High End Sonos

Specs & Price: See Here

Bottom Line Up Front:

If you’re in a rush, here are the main reasons to purchase one product over the other.

​Sonos Play 3

  • You want to purchase 2 to create a surround sound system for your room or home theater
  • You want to save a couple hundred bucks on your system
  • You prefer a sound profile that leans more to lower frequency bass

Sonos Play 5

  • You want the absolute best sound that Sonos offers
  • You need something that is moisture resistant for humid climates
  • You need an audio line in so that you can easily connect your speaker to multiple devices (like a record player for example)

You’ll want to decide which features are most important to you so that you’ll be able to choose the most suitable model.

Sound Quality

These speakers are serious about producing high quality sound, but the Play 5 wins out over the Play 3 because it has six audio drivers in comparison to the Play 3’s three. The Play 5 is more likely to give you the best rendition of sounds all across the spectrum.

The Play 3 is far from a slouch, though. The Play 3’s sound quality is very good, but it doesn’t quite hit mid-range or high-range notes as effectively as the Play 5. It’s also a bit easier to set up surround sound with the Play 3 (or playbar).

The Play 3 is lighter than the Play 5, so you can be more creative about where you place it as part of a Sonos surround sound system. You can put both speakers on their sides or backs without worrying about a reduction in sound quality, though.

For people who listen to pop, rock, or country music, the Play 3 will probably be sufficient. For rap music or other music that’s heavily reliant on bass, the Play 5 wins out because of its superior dynamic range and ability to create both treble tones and bass tones at the same time without trouble.

The Play 5 is also better at producing distorted sounds in the midrange. While this type of sound is typically only present in electronic music, The Play 3 is almost guaranteed to blow out some of the mid-range with its bass.

The difference might not be noticeable to most people, but audiophiles will be able to tell.

Bass

The Play 5’s bass is better than the Play 3’s, but not by much.

For something like a Sonos TV speakers setup , the Play 5 is comparable to the Play 3, and there probably isn’t much of an advantage in getting one over the other. For high quality audio sources, the Play 5’s bass and audio drivers make for a better sound overall.

Both speakers can make the table shake with their bass if you decide to use a mixer to turn it up, but you probably won’t need to adjust any settings with either to get the proper amount of bass.

Set Up

Both speakers are wireless and are extremely easy to set up thanks to a great mobile app. You can also configure both speakers to connect to your TV, other Sonos speakers, or your computer.

Using the Sonos Connect add-on to get your speakers to play from other audio devices like a turntable is easy enough, but it’s the hardest part of using the speakers. Part of the reason is that many legacy audio devices are finicky, and they may not have the most accurate representation in the speaker software.

This issue is consistent across the Play 3 and the Play 5. Though the Play 5 has an audio line-in port, syncing attached peripherals to the hardware and then controlling that hardware from your phone can be somewhat problematic. It’s probably better to look elsewhere if you want a speaker for jamming.

Compatibility

Both speakers are compatible with Amazon Alexa , which means that you can control their volume and song via voice commands.

As far as software goes, both speakers are compatible with Spotify, Pandora, and other popular music streaming software.

If you want to connect the speakers to other hardware, you’ll need to use the Sonos Connect add-on or the Connect Amp add-on if you want to use an amp.

If you have an Android or iOS smartphone, you’ll have no problem controlling the speaker from afar.

Placement

The two speakers are slightly different regarding placement because the Play 5 is much bigger than the Play 3. You’ll have a little bit more flexibility in placing multiple Play 3s because of their lighter and smaller size.

Both speakers can be mounted on walls or turned on their sides. The wall mounting is slightly easier for the Play 3 because of its smaller size, though the quality of the mounts and stability after mounting are the same.

One thing which could be improved on both of the mounting systems is the angling of the speakers. The Sonos Play 3 can have its speaker angled via the mounting system with a bit more ease than the Play 5 owing to its smaller size, but neither of the speakers handles angled mounting very well.

They’re a bit too large to be mounted at an angle gracefully in most places.

The Play 5 is also a little bit more fragile than the Play 3 owing to its thinner plastic form factor and delicate speaker cover. It isn’t about to be damaged at first bump, but the Play 5 is a high-end speaker, so treat it right.

The Play 3 is a bit more durable than the Play 5, but once again, it’s a relatively high-end speaker. The Play 3 isn’t moisture proof, so keep it out of the bathroom. You should place it somewhere where it won’t be subject to mechanical or moisture stress if you want these speakers to last.

Key Features - Sonos Play:3 Review

The Sonos Play 3 is the slightly older and slightly smaller cousin of the Play 5. You’ll find that the Play 3 is comparable to the Play 5 in many respects.

The Play 3 has three audio drivers and amps and produces a stunningly powerful bass for the speaker’s size. The audio quality of the speaker is very good, and it makes for a great addition to a stereo or surround sound system that’s made up of a few different kinds of speakers.

The Play 3 struggles slightly with reproducing high notes while simultaneously playing heavy bass notes. For most types of music, this won’t be a problem, but audiophiles can tell the difference.

Likewise, the Play 3’s nub feet vibrate when the sound is cranked up, which means that there will be a slight reverb effect if the speaker is on certain hard surfaces like tile.

With the help of Amazon Alexa, you can control the volume and song that’s playing with verbal commands. Remember, the Alexa functionality needs to be able to hear your voice to work. The Play 3 is more than capable of producing enough sound that the microphone can’t pick up your voice.

The aesthetic of the Play 3 isn’t anything to write home about, but it blends in relatively well.

Pros

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    Powerful bass
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    Easier for stereo or surround sound setup
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    More durable
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    More portable
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    Better aesthetics

Cons

  • No line in
  • Only three audio drivers
  • Bass can overpower treble and midrange on occasion
  • Weaker mounting capability

Key Features - Sonos Play:5 Review

The Sonos Play 5 is the newer and larger version of the Play 3, and it behaves mostly like you’d expect the Play 3 to behave but does so much better.

The Play 5 has an aux port, which means that it can both send and receive information along the same line. You can attach an additional subwoofer or an analog device, which you can’t do with the Play 3.

The Play 5 has six audio drivers, which means that it can belt out a very rich sound across the entire spectrum of volume without losing any sound dynamics. This is a high-end speaker, and it sounds like one accordingly.

You won’t need to mess with any speaker settings to make your favorite songs sound the best that they’ve ever sounded. This speaker works perfectly out of the box, and there is no treble or bass note that is overshadowed or glossed over, unlike with the Play 3.

Furthermore, the Play 5 handles powerful bass even more effectively than the impressive Play 3. Unlike with the Play 3, at extremes levels of bass, the Play 5 avoids any reverb or vibrational distortion, which makes it superior for playing very loud and very bass-heavy music.

The Play 5 is also superior to the Play 3 regarding its treble output, thanks to its six audio drivers. High notes are eminently crisp, even if they’re playing at the same time as heavy low notes, like in jazz music.

Midrange sounds get their due attention with this speaker, too; it’s tough to find a speaker that captures them almost as effectively as headphones.

The Play 5 is allegedly humidity resistant, but it isn’t water resistant or weather resistant. You should be able to put the speaker in the bathroom, although its large form factor and loud sound make it very clunky for use in the context of a small tiled room.

Luckily, the Play 5 has mounting nubbins that are made from a different material than the rest of the speaker’s exterior.

This means that when you crank up the volume while the speaker is on a hard surface, there won’t be any reverberation that occurs because of the vibration echoing back up into the speaker. If you play on placing the speaker on a floor or countertop, this feature is invaluable at maintaining sound quality.

Unfortunately, the Play 5 Sonos is a bit less aesthetically appealing than other Sonos speakers. The white form factor stands out a little bit too much, and it’s easy to scuff or dent. Likewise, the speaker cover isn’t very appealing, and it’s easier to rip than it should be.

Pros

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    Superior audio quality across all range
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    Excellent dynamic range
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    Powerful bass
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    Aux input
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    Can be very loud
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    Audio line in
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    Great addition to a surround sound system 

Cons

  • Heavy
  • No Bluetooth
  • Awkward aesthetic
  • Fragile

Sounding Off

Your ultimate choice between the Play 3 or the Play 5 comes down to whether you’re an audiophile and whether you want to connect multiple speakers to a surround sound system.

If you just want a great surround sound system, picking up two or three Play 3s is the way to go. You can very easily connect them to each other and have an excellent quality sound that will blow you away when you crank up the bass.

If you’re an audiophile, you won’t be satisfied with the same setup unless you swap out the Play 3s for Play 5s. The Play 5’s dynamic range is superior to the Play 3’s. When you’re looking for just one speaker, and you aren’t an audiophile, the question becomes one of intended use case.

For use on hard surfaces in the kitchen or bathroom, the Play 5’s insulation from reverberation and protection from moisture make it the obvious choice. But if the speaker isn’t going to be in these situations very often, the Play 3 will work just as well.

One thing to avoid is buying some Play 3s and some Play 5s. Unlike with other combinations of Sonos speakers, mixing speaker models with the Play 3 and Play five isn’t actively detrimental, it’ll just sound slightly inconsistent based on which speaker is closer to you.

If you’re closer to a Play 3, the sounds will be biased toward the bass, whereas the Play 5 will offer a very balanced sound – creating an unbalanced feeling when you’re standing in the middle. It’s better to buy Play 3s or Play 5s.  

In a straight matchup, the Play 5 wins against the Play 3 nearly every time because it’s newer, larger, and has twice as many sound drivers.

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