Impressions from a Sonos Play 5 (gen 2) owner

Discussion in 'HomeKit, HomePod, CarPlay, Home & Auto Technology' started by vask, Feb 9, 2018.

  1. vask macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2017
    Location:
    London
    #1
    Initial impressions compared to my play 5 are mostly negative. Particularly if you are into bassy electronic music, homepod just sounds tinny in the mids and lows (at any volume). It just does not give you that club-like thumping of the 5. Also, when it comes to matching the volume output of the play 5, homepod needs to be at above 80% to somewhat match the 5’s 50% (still can’t match the lows though).

    When it comes to the sound stage, I was also quite underwhelmed (especially after reading all the praise it got from reviewers). It just does not feel that much wider for some reason.

    My original plan was to replace the 5 with one homepod and later add another one for a stereo pair. Now I do not feel it is going to be worth it losing the mids and lows for wider sound stage.

    Another unfortunate discovery is related to itunes match. I expected homepod to be able to direct stream my matched songs from the cloud when initiating playback from an iphone (like it can do for apple music subscription), however it instead airplays them from the iphone (with the message popping up saying playback will stop when iphone out of range). It does work directly from the cloud if using the hey siri command though.

    I would love for other play 5 owners to share their own impressions.
     
  2. kmanmx macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2011
    Location:
    UK
    #2
    Hmm, while I do not doubt your findings are correct, I do feel perhaps you were expecting too much ?

    1. Money wise, the Play 5 is quite a lot more expensive.
    2. The Play 5 is physically much larger, which has a direct correlation with it's superior ability when producing more bass
    3. The Play 5 is far more powerful

    When you combine point 2 and 3, it should be completely expected that it provides more bass than HomePod. Physics is physics, there is no replacement for displacement. If you want really solid, very deep bass, you need a large volume and a large bass driver, matched with suitable amounts of amplification. There is a reason the very best speakers are physically humongous (hundreds of pounds in weight).
     
  3. vask thread starter macrumors member

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    Sep 22, 2017
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    London
    #3
    Totally agree with you and my original expectations (at announcement) were quite down to earth. However, after reading some impressions online with people saying they felt it sounds better than a pair of sonos ones and even coming close to a play 5 my expectations were raised and I thought a pair of homepods would definitely beat the 5 even in the lows. Granted, it does sound very decent for its size though.
     
  4. kmanmx macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2011
    Location:
    UK
    #4
    Not sure if you are a burn-in sceptic or not, but it will be interesting to see what you think in a few weeks times. Burn-in (for those that believe in it) has the biggest effect on bass frequencies.
     
  5. vask thread starter macrumors member

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    Sep 22, 2017
    Location:
    London
    #5
    I will definitely do some more testing/comparisons with different music types and give it about a week to see if I can get used to the sound profile or if the sound profile changes for the better.
     
  6. Brookzy macrumors 601

    Brookzy

    Joined:
    May 30, 2010
    Location:
    UK
    #6
    Agree. I only have the first gen Play 5 but even compared to that the HomePod has left me really disappointed.

    The consistent thread in reviews was amazing sound quality. I know the Play 5 isn’t a smart speaker, but would it have killed them to compare it to that?

    My Play 5s are due for replacement because they’re getting old and a few have started to die. I was hoping that I could replace them with a house full of HomePods and save some money. No, not a chance.

    I posted more detailed impressions in the other thread:
     
  7. kmanmx macrumors 6502

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    Feb 25, 2011
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    UK
    #7
    Well if it's any consolation I will be picking up a HomePod and comparing it to a £3500 HiFi seperates system, so imagine how disappointed I am going to be ;)
     
  8. vask thread starter macrumors member

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    Sep 22, 2017
    Location:
    London
    #8
    Read your impressions in the other thread and they pretty much mirror what I felt. Like you said, homepod is not going to be party speaker, unless a very small party in a small room.
    --- Post Merged, Feb 9, 2018 ---
    Would love your impressions)
     
  9. Sparky2012 macrumors 6502

    Sparky2012

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    Jul 16, 2012
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    #9
    Just chiming in here to say I have a Play:5 (2nd gen) and have a HomePod on order. I never expected the HomePod to get close to it based on the physical size difference between them.

    I do however feel that it should be beating the Play:1 I have in the bedroom, particularly on the treble side as I’ve found Sonos generally slightly lacking there especially on the Play:1. I love my Sonos products but wanted to give HomePod a chance at least.

    How is the treble on the HomePod? From what reviews said, vocals are crisp, and instruments are clearly defined/separated.
     
  10. vask thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2017
    Location:
    London
    #10
    If you feel the play one lacks treble I think you will like the sound on homepod. For me personally, I feel there is too much treble and not enough bass.
     
  11. Man on the moon macrumors regular

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    Jun 7, 2010
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    Los Angeles
    #11
    I was going to lose faith on these forums, if people started saying homepod sounds better than a PLAY5.
     
  12. Sparky2012 macrumors 6502

    Sparky2012

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    #12
    The HomePod will have to beat the Play:1 by a fair margin -considering the price difference- for me to keep it.
     
  13. floridonet macrumors regular

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    Apr 5, 2011
    Location:
    Irvine, CA
    #13
    very interesting read. i'm a play:5 v1 owner and was curious to see how the homepod performed against these. i'll find out for myself later today.
     
  14. Donar macrumors 6502

    Donar

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2008
    Location:
    Germany
    #14
    If you have two Play:1 :
    Could you please do a short comparison between two Play:1 in stereo mode vs. The HomePod?
     
  15. Sparky2012 macrumors 6502

    Sparky2012

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    Jul 16, 2012
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    #15
    I do have 2 Play:1 but they are in separate rooms. Plus, my HomePod isn’t expected until Wednesday. I’ll see what I can do, but I’d imagine there’ll be plenty of people doing the same comparison before me :)
     
  16. DotCom2 macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2009
    #16
    EXACTLY!
    I would like to see reviews with 2 Play Ones paired, against 1 HomePod given the approx. price match up.
     
  17. floridonet macrumors regular

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    Apr 5, 2011
    Location:
    Irvine, CA
    #17
    I've been listening to the HomePod and comparing it to the Play:5 v1 for the past hour or so. Sound coverage goes to the HomePod with its omnidirectional tweeter array. Walking around the room and the HP still sounds good. Pure sound quality goes to the P5. Comparing various songs, I just prefer the sound coming from the P5. Convenience factor and ease of use goes to the HP. I still can't get my wife to work the Sonos but I think she'll adopt the HP.

    Bottom line for me is HomePod is a keeper. Sadly though, it won't replace my Sonos system but it will serve to augment. Maybe this opinion changes over time. Convenience could be a huge factor akin to the phone camera vs P&S/DSLR argument. You certainly get better quality with the latter, but Apple just makes it so damn easy....
     
  18. DotCom2 macrumors 68040

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    Feb 22, 2009
    #18
    As you get older, you will prefer EASY. ;)
     
  19. kschles macrumors regular

    kschles

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    Apr 3, 2008
    #19
    I have two Play 5’s (2nd Gen) in the living room, and a Play 3 in the kitchen. I also subscribe to Apple Music (AM), but am disappointed in the functionality when playing AM through the Sonos app. Today I replaced the Play 3 (moved to a bedroom) with the HomePod. Always liked the Play 3. While not doing A/B testing, my initial impression is I like the HomePod sound a little better. The Play 3 has more pronounced bass, while the HomePod has more detailed treble and mid-range. The Homepod also seems to have a bit more separation with regards to voices and instruments. The difference is not great.

    My two Play 5’s sound spectacular. I wouldn’t expect one HomePod to be able to compete with that set-up. I’m hopeful that Airplay 2 will allow me to use my AM app with the Play 5’s. It is my understanding that Airplay 2 will not be available on the older Play 3.
     
  20. mcvaughan macrumors 6502a

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    Aug 9, 2007
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    #20
    Love my Play 5, in the garage. My HomePod is perfect for me on my kitchen island.
     
  21. ttate90303 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2008
    Location:
    California
    #21
    Thanks for the write up. I have a pair of Play5 (Gen2) and was not expecting the HP to best them soundwise. In the kitchen is where I’d place an HP to replace and older P3.
     
  22. G5isAlive macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2003
    #22
    You are missing the point with a one sided comparison of the play 5 with the HP. It’s okay, a lot are. You sound like the Mercedes coupe driver, mired off road in mud, wondering why the humvees slog past. The HP is more than a speaker.

    But sure, I grant you a 14 pound , 14, x 8 x 6 speaker will have physical advantages over a 5 pound 6x6 cylinder. These physical advantages extend to greater amplitude and frequency. These will translate into base.

    I have two sonos 5’s that I have moved around to find the best use for. They didn’t sound good in my small office. Low volume is not their forte. They do well in larger rooms at higher volumes. Yes, ‘party’ speakers.

    Now, my HP? Sounds great in my small office. I would chose it every time over the pair of sound 5s. There is a crispness the 5’s lack. Vocal in particular stand out for me like i have NEVER heard from my sonos’s. You say too much, well, sure, if you want it to sound like a 5 you are going to be disappointed. It isn’t a 5. I prefer the HP vocals.

    At the moment I am watching TV. Got my sonos playbar, sub, and pair of 3’s as rear speakers. And i really want to say, Hey Siri, set volume to 40%. So miss that already. My HP spoiled me with how easy it is to control. My Mercedes is back on the highway laughing at lumbering humvees.

    Sure, this summer when I have my 4th of July barbecue you better believe I will move my pair of 1000 dollars of Play 5s outside and leave my 349 HP inside. Well, unless Airplay 2 is out and then I will move my HP outside too and slave my 5s to it. :)

    Being disappointed that a HP doesn’t sound like a play 5 is about the same as if I was disappointed when I look at my sonos 5 and say ‘set volume to 40%’ and it sits there and does nothing. And as far as Alexa goes.. .forget it, she didn’t hear me.

    If I could only have one, a play 5 or a HP? I’d chose the HP every single time. Because a few days a year I need a party speaker, the rest of the year I want to listen to my music in my office. And I want voice control that really works.
     
  23. CPTmom2wp macrumors 6502

    CPTmom2wp

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2014
    Location:
    Ohio
    #23
    Having received my 2 HP's today and having some time to do a comparison (Kansas: Leftoverture) I have formed an initial opinion. While HP doesn't compare to my SONOs Home Theatre 5.1 system in the TV room (same as G5isAlive, above) it was superior to the single SONOs Play 3 I have been using in the master bedroom. Both speakers are approximately the same size, albeit different configurations, and approximately the same price, which lends greater credibility to the side by side comparison than Play5. As mentioned previously, not only is the sound superior, e.g., better clarity in the vocals and instrumentation, but even if it were the same, the HP would still win easily, in my estimation.

    I will be using one in the kitchen and one in the master bedroom (..moving Play 3 to dining room where I only use it a few times a year). I am loving the functionality of SIRI in these two rooms.

    Even if the sound was equivalent, I like being able to turn off the lights (Hue), lock the doors(Schlage), verbally set alarms or listen to music in bed at night; set and have the capability to ask Siri a variety of questions (weather, news) while I get ready for work in the morning from our upstairs bedroom. The kitchen is the hub of our home and the uses for Siri are many (my new Crockpot connects through HomeKit:p). We don't have speakers in the kitchen now, and I am looking forward to having a speaker that I can query for the Podcasts and music while I cook, as well as a multitude of other uses. Sonos is pretty much a one note band.

    Finally, as noted elsewhere, unlike Alexa, Google, or someday, Sonos, Apple has unique encryption features that provides reasonable privacy. The :apple:Apple ecosystem provides reliability and agreed.........I do prefer Easy :)
     
  24. kingneptune117 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2014
    #24
    I just picked up a Sonos Play 5 (gen 2) and HomePod today. I did a direct side by side comparison of the two. I don’t feel like typing a bunch so will sum it up as this: the HomePod is 80% as “good” as the Sonos Play 5. That goes for sound quality, definition, clarity, etc...The Sonos Play 5 just sounds fuller and more present.

    Honestly, the HomePod is great for what it is. As for me, I will be returning the HomePod since sound quality is a top priority for me and the $500.00 price tag of the Sonos Play 5 is within my budget.

    Definitely very impressed with the HomePod though.
     
  25. kennyab macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2013
    #25
    I've been comparing Stereo Play:1s with a single HomePod for the last hour or so, and here are my thoughts. For reference, I've been listening to some Jennifer Warnes, Alison Krauss, Velvet Underground and Nico, Alabama Shakes. I dig dreamy music after a day at the office :)

    You can definitely tell the difference between the stereo soundstage with the Sonos pair and the single HomePod. The HP doesn't sound like stereo coming from a single enclosure. That said, I prefer the HomePod. Many of the reviews have talked about the vocals, and rightly so. To me, they're fuller and very upfront on the HP. But it's the ambients that really make it for me. They're warm and enveloping. I find the HomePod much easier to listen to than the Sonos pair. As I said, I like dreamy music, and in my unscientific opinion, it sounds dreamier and lusher on the HomePod.

    Years ago I was a budding audiophile. I had a subscription to Stereophile and studied issues building a system for myself. I ended up putting together a ~$5000 system that I really enjoyed. Then I decided to go to grad school and ended up having to sell off pieces to pay the rent (stupid grad school). Since re-entering the world of gainful employment I've had other priorities and a few Play:1's have been my level of investment in audio equipment.

    I say that because my time with the HomePod this evening has been the first time I've really thought back to how much I enjoyed that system. I mean that as a compliment to the HP. If I weren't getting ready for a major kitchen remodel, I'd think about building a new real hi-fi system, and I still may down the road. But I'm finding this little box works for me and brings out what I enjoy in music, and I'm looking very forward to getting a second one when stereo support comes out.
     

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38 February 9, 2018