HomePod HomePod vs. Sonos Play 5: My Opinion

kingneptune117

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 15, 2014
117
66
I was in the market for a wireless speaker to use in my living room, and I narrowed it down to the HomePod and Sonos Play 5. At first I was dead set on the HomePod so I preordered it. On the launch day of the HomePod, I was reading some mixed opinions on here regarding how the HomePod stacks up against the Sonos Play 5. The Sonos Play 5 was not even on my radar until this point, but I decided that I wanted the best of the best and I decided to go to Best Buy after work and pick up a Sonos Play 5 and compare it directly to the HomePod.

I set both devices up in the same spot in my living room. The genre of music I listen to can best be described as rock or hard rock. I listen to anything from pop punk to metalcore.

I tried listening to a variety of songs in these genres side by side on these devices. Overall, I must say that in my opinion the Sonos Play 5 sounds better. If I had to put a number to it, the HomePod sounds 70% as "good" as the Sonos Play 5. The Play 5 just sounds quite a bit fuller and more present than the HomePod. I thought the instrumentals sounded "tinnier" on the HomePod, where as on the Sonos Play 5 they sounded much fuller. The vocals also come through more powerful on the Sonos Play 5.

This was a disappointing result because I really wanted to love the HomePod. The fact that the Sonos Play 5 sounded better, and the fact that I am a Spotify user, I could not justify keeping the HomePod. I have decided to return the HomePod and keep the Sonos Play 5.

I am a little confused at the reviews that state the HomePod sounds better than the Sonos Play 5. I understand that the way something sounds can be quite subjective from person to person, but to me there was a clear difference in the audio quality between these devices.

If anyone has any questions I'd be more than happy to answer them. Hope this helps.
 

Sparky2012

macrumors 6502
Jul 16, 2012
466
255
United Kingdom
I’m a little confused how people think the HomePod beats 2 Play:1 in a pair. I’m comparing HomePod against one Play:1 and in my experience the HomePod has the more prominent vocals and instruments coming through, but can result in them being too separated from the rest of the mix, and as such, the Play:1 has a better overall mix of everything and does better over more genres, despite the high’s not being as good. I’d say the HomePod wins at acoustic, and live recording’s of songs.

Certainly I don’t feel the HomePod is worth 2x more than the Play:1, not in my experience. It sounds spectacular on those types of songs but otherwise definitely not 2x better sound. Personal preference though!

To contribute specifically to this thread though, I never expected the HomePod to rival the Play:5 and I think that’s been confirmed now.
 
Last edited:

kingneptune117

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 15, 2014
117
66
I’m a little confused how people think the HomePod beats 2 Play:1 in a pair. I’m comparing HomePod against one Play:1 and in my experience the HomePod has the more prominent vocals and instruments coming through, but can result in them being too separated from the rest of the mix, and as such, the Play:1 has a better overall mix of everything and does better over more genres, despite the high’s not being as good. I’d say the HomePod wins at acoustic, and live recording’s of songs.

Certainly I don’t feel the HomePod is worth 2x more than the Play:1, not in my experience. It sounds spectacular on those types of songs but otherwise definitely not 2x better sound. Personal preference though!

To contribute specifically to this thread though, I never expected the HomePod to rival the Play:5 and I think that’s been confirmed now.
The issue I had was there were several reviews stating the the HomePod sounded better than the Play 5. In addition, there have been several users on here claiming the same thing.

Just like you said, I found this hard to believe, so I did the comparison myself in my own home. The Play 5 definitely beats the HomePod in all areas, in my opinion of course. That said - the HomePod certainly packs a lot of punch for its size. If I was a die-hard apple music fan and only had $350 to spend, the HomePod would have certainly been my top choice.
 

AppleRobert

macrumors 603
Nov 12, 2012
5,637
1,099
OP,

Since the 5 is more expensive I guess that did not matter to you but did you ever consider the 3?
 

weeesss

macrumors regular
Oct 24, 2017
110
47
I for one, prefer to the Homepod to my Play 3. It could be placement of the speakers but my ears like what they like. I never wanted to drop $500 on a speaker as much as I love the Play 5, I paid less than half for the 3.
 
  • Like
Reactions: AppleRobert

Lobwedgephil

macrumors 601
Apr 7, 2012
4,581
3,060
It is better then a Play 3 but not as good as a Play 5 in my opinion, and most reviews have said similar. Apple compared it to the Play 3.
 

kingneptune117

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 15, 2014
117
66
It is better then a Play 3 but not as good as a Play 5 in my opinion, and most reviews have said similar. Apple compared it to the Play 3.
I have seen several reviews which outright claimed it was better than the Play 5 which I feel is inaccurate. I’ve never tried a Play 3 so I can’t comment on that.
 
  • Like
Reactions: AppleRobert

douglasf13

macrumors 68000
Jul 2, 2010
1,601
777
Last edited:

Phil A.

Moderator
Staff member
Apr 2, 2006
5,499
2,280
Shropshire, UK
It is better then a Play 3 but not as good as a Play 5 in my opinion, and most reviews have said similar. Apple compared it to the Play 3.
I've got a play:3 (and an original play:5) and personally think 2 x Play:1s in a stereo pair sound better than the Play:3 as you obviously get much better stereo separation.

You can also pair up 2 play:3 speakers (or even 2 play:5's) which would provide even better results
 

CPTmom2wp

macrumors 6502
Sep 10, 2014
298
297
Ohio
OK, I'll play.....:0)). I have a single Play 3. The HP sounds much better to me than the Play 3. I also purchased two HP's for two different rooms, but wanted to play with the sound, so had a friend bring over a Play 5. We both felt that the single Play 5 sounded a little better than a single HP. However, 2 HP's sounded much better than one Play 5, filling the space much better, with more clarity, even without stereo capability.
We ran the test in 1. a carpeted room with hardwood shutters closed over the windows, and then 2. a room with hardwood floors and big uncovered windows. This is a 200+ year old house, so has 11' ceilings and solid plaster walls. Neither of us are audio professionals, but both are musicians. We found the results to be the same in both environments.
 
  • Like
Reactions: AppleRobert

kingneptune117

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 15, 2014
117
66

Donar

macrumors 6502
Jul 12, 2008
330
32
Germany
I thought the general opinion was HomePod was better than play 1.didnt read much about play 5
From what i got from the overal discussion is that:
One HomePod vs One Sonos One/Play:1:
HomePod sounds better & Better soundstage

Two Sonos One/Play:1 as a stereo pair vs One HomePod:
Sonos:Better soundstage. HomePod:Slightly better sound or draw.

One HomePod vs One Sonos Play:5
HomePod:Better Soundstage. Sonos Play:5: (Slightly) Better sound.
 
  • Like
Reactions: ezmolaw

douglasf13

macrumors 68000
Jul 2, 2010
1,601
777
I read this yesterday and I think you are probably correct. The HomePod seems to produce the most accurate sound, but I like how much fuller the Play 5 sounds.
Yeah, that's really the crux of any audio gear discussion. Technical goodness does not necessarily translate to "better" sound for some people. I'm someone who used to record bands and likes a really flat response, so I'll be interested to see how the HomePod sounds when it arrives at my house. I have a dedicated hi-fi system for listening to records and whatnot, but I like the idea of my 6 year old being able to walk up to the HomePod and ask it to play what's on his mind, and it'll be fun to eventually have a few of them around the house, if I like the product.
 

kschles

macrumors regular
Apr 3, 2008
242
31
I know this is an older thread, but I wanted to share my experience. I have two Play 5's, paired, in my medium size living room. They sound great. Got a HomePod in the kitchen. I've liked it, but not loved it. always sat fairly close to the HomePod while listening. Recently, moved the HP to another kitchen location, much farther away from my seating. To me, it sounds much better. Wanted to A/B test with the Play 5.

Unpaired the Play 5's. Retuned one using TruePlay. Set the HomePod next to the Play 5. Listened to a number of songs in multiple genres (Pop, Rock, Indie, Folk, Jazz Vocals, Jazz instrumental, R&B, Classical). Tried some songs at multiple volumes. I was surprised and pleased to find that the two speakers sounded about the same to me (both really good). I know folks hear things differently, and my testing room size is not large.

I'm moving soon (downsizing) and am considering ditching the Sonos Play 5's for two HomePods once Airplay 2 and pairing is finally available. Love the Sonos sound, but the speakers are relatively large and heavy. The HomePods give me greater placement options. The HomePods are much easier to move around, and their 360 sound is impressive. I don't think I'd be giving up much by switching.
 

sargein

macrumors member
Oct 6, 2012
60
16
Very similar experience for me as well. Wanted to like the HomePod, but the Play 5 sounds so much better. I actually have it grouped to the (old) Play 1 in a largish bedroom, and that makes it even better.
Of course, the HomePod has other advantages - smart speaker with easier access to Apple Music, cheaper, 360 degree sound, smaller size (and so more portable). But for sound quality alone, Play 5 wins easily from *my perspective in my room*. While the HomePod "just plays", the Play 5 brings a big smile on my face, and ultimately that is just what I want from a speaker, their smartness be damned :D

Btw, Best Buy has some open box Play 5's a good amount cheaper than full price, which make the price difference more palatable (though still a bit more than HP). Mine was still shrink-wrapped and didn't look even opened at all.
 

Bdub12

macrumors regular
Feb 23, 2011
126
46
Fredericton NB Canada
Unpaired the Play 5's. Retuned one using TruePlay. Set the HomePod next to the Play 5. Listened to a number of songs in multiple genres (Pop, Rock, Indie, Folk, Jazz Vocals, Jazz instrumental, R&B, Classical). Tried some songs at multiple volumes. I was surprised and pleased to find that the two speakers sounded about the same to me (both really good). I know folks hear things differently, and my testing room size is not large.
.
This was my, and my guests', opinion as well the day we did an A/B comparison of the HomePod and Play:5 I my kitchen.
 
  • Like
Reactions: kschles