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Sonos Five Speaker Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Dec 21, 2020 at 07:55 am
Sonos Five Picture
7.5
Music
6.3
Videos/Movies
6.3
Podcasts
2.9
Voice Assistant
4.7
Outdoors
Bluetooth
No
Wi-Fi
Yes
Speakerphone
No
Voice Assistant
No
Battery Powered
No

The Sonos Five is a wired mid-size speaker that can be used horizontally or vertically. It has a bright sound profile that delivers a thumpy, punchy bass. While it doesn't have a more comprehensive EQ to help tweak its sound, its companion app offers bass and treble sliders. However, it only supports Wi-Fi and Apple AirPlay. It also has a lot of compression at max volume and doesn't offer voice assistant on its own. That said, it's a suitable choice for users looking to incorporate a sleek-looking speaker into their Apple ecosystem.

Our Verdict

7.5 Music

The Sonos Five is good for music. It has a bright sound profile with punchy, thumpy bass suitable for a variety of audio content. Its companion app offers bass and treble adjustment sliders and it has a good soundstage. However, while it can get loud, there's a lot of compression at max volume.

Pros
  • Bright but balanced sound profile.
  • Low Apple AirPlay latency.
  • Good soundstage.
Cons
  • No Bluetooth support.
  • A lot of compression artifacts at max volume.
6.3 Videos/Movies

The Sonos Five is mediocre for videos and movies. It has a thumpy, punchy sound profile that's well-suited for sound effects and a good stereo soundstage. However, there's a lot of compression at max volume. You can only stream your audio via Wi-Fi or Apple AirPlay, which is a little limiting. Luckily, it has low audio latency.

Pros
  • Bright but balanced sound profile.
  • Low Apple AirPlay latency.
Cons
  • No Bluetooth support.
  • A lot of compression artifacts at max volume.
6.3 Podcasts

The Sonos Five is mediocre for podcasts. It has a balanced mid-range, which helps reproduce clear and detailed dialogue. You can also share your podcast across several Sonos speakers across your home. However, it's not very portable, and it doesn't support Bluetooth or multi-device pairing.

Pros
  • Bright but balanced sound profile.
  • Low Apple AirPlay latency.
Cons
  • No Bluetooth support.
  • A lot of compression artifacts at max volume.
2.9 Voice Assistant

The Sonos Five isn't suitable for voice assistant. While it doesn't support voice assistants on its own, it can be controlled with either Alexa or Google Assistant when it's connected to a voice-enabled device over Wi-Fi.

4.7 Outdoors

The Sonos Five isn't recommended for outdoor use as it has a wired design.

  • 7.5 Music
  • 6.3 Videos/Movies
  • 6.3 Podcasts
  • 2.9 Voice Assistant
  • 4.7 Outdoors
  1. Updated Dec 21, 2020: Review published.
  2. Updated Dec 17, 2020: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
RGB Lights No

The Sonos 5 is a sleek mid-size speaker with a simple, rectangular design. It has a matte coating and a graphite grille. You can either use this speaker horizontally, which gives you stereo audio, or use it vertically for mono audio. There's a small status light next to the play/pause button that can be turned off via the app if you prefer. This speaker is also available in a black finish. Check out the IKEA SYMFONISK Bookshelf if you're looking for a Sonos speaker that can blend in nicely with most home decor.

3.5
Design
Portability
Volume
671 inยณ (10,996 cmยณ)
Weight
13.9 lbs (6.3 kg)
Power Source
AC Only
One-Hand Carry
No

The Sonos Five isn't very portable. It's larger than the Sonos Move and needs to be plugged into a wall outlet if you want to use it. Since it's meant to be used wired, it doesn't have a one-hand carry.

6.4
Design
Build Quality
Material Quality
Good
Water Resistance
No
Dust Resistance
Unspecified
Impact Resistance
No
Floats In Water
No

The Sonos Five has a mediocre build quality. It feels sturdy and solid, but it isn't designed to be used in or around water. However, the manufacturer states that it can withstand high-humidity like in a bathroom with a running shower.

7.0
Design
Controls
Ease Of Use
Great
Feedback
Great
Music Play/Pause
Yes (Tactile)
Call Answer/End
No
Volume Up/Down
Yes (Tactile)
Track Next/Previous
Yes (Tactile)
Microphone On/Off
No
Additional Controls
Yes

This speaker has a decent control scheme. It has a set of touch-sensitive control on its top side. Two four-dotted buttons can be tapped to adjust the volume or swiped to skip tracks. There's also a button between both dotted buttons that you can press and hold to play/pause audio or add the music that's playing in another room. It also has a physical join button, which allows you to reset the speaker or connect it to your wider Sonos system.

Design
In The Box

  • Sonos 5 speaker
  • Power cable
  • User Manual

Sound
8.2
Sound
Frequency Response Accuracy
Slope
1.16
Std. Err.
3.96 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
23.4 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
18.8 kHz

The Sonos 5's frequency response accuracy is great. It has a thumpy, punchy bass, but is fairly bright overall. That said, its neutral mid-range is well-suited for vocal-centric content. If you prefer a different sound, you can tweak its sound profile using the bass and treble adjustment features within its companion app.

Note: We tested this speaker after running Sonos' Trueplay feature on the Sonos S2 companion app. This feature automatically tunes the speaker to your room by measuring how sound reflects off of your walls and other surfaces around it.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
Binaural Recording @ 1m
Binaural Recording @ 2m
7.5
Sound
Soundstage
Directivity Index
4.17 dB
Stereo
Yes (when horizontal)

Its soundstage is good. Unlike the Sonos One SL, this speaker can play stereo content when placed in its horizontal position. While its directivity is still somewhat narrow, it's still impressive for a speaker that doesn't have a 360-degree design.

5.0
Sound
Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
94.0 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
7.30 dB

This speaker has a disappointing dynamics performance. While it can get pretty loud, there's a lot of pumping and compression artifacts present at max volume, so it isn't recommended to push this speaker to its max volume. If you're looking for a home speaker with a better overall dynamics performance, check out the Klipsch The Three II.

Active Features
0
Active Features
Battery
Battery Life
N/A
Charge Time
N/A
Power Saving
No
Charging Port
No Battery

This speaker doesn't have a battery.

0
Active Features
Voice Assistant
Alexa
No
Google Assistant
No
Siri
No
Voice Activation
No
Microphone Mute
No Microphone
Far-Field Performance
No Microphone
Ambient Noise Performance
No Microphone

The Sonos 5 doesn't have any voice assistants. However, the manufacturer advertises that this speaker can be controlled with Alexa or Google Assistant when the speaker is connected to a voice-enabled device over Wi-Fi.

9.3
Active Features
App
App Name
Sonos S2
iOS
Yes
Android
Yes
EQ
Bass/Treble
Stereo Pair Mode
Yes
Party Mode
Yes
Multi-Room
Yes

The Sonos S2 app is outstanding. While it lacks an EQ, it has bass and treble sliders to help you customize its sound. You can also pair two Sonos speakers together to create a stereo pair. You can connect multiple speakers in separate rooms together to play the same audio throughout your home wirelessly, too.

Connectivity
Connectivity
Wired
Aux Input
Yes
USB Audio
No
Other Ports
Yes

This speaker can only be used wired. It has an analog in-line with a 3.5mm jack so that you can play audio from devices like older smartphones. It also has an Ethernet port so you can connect it to your home network.

0
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
No Bluetooth
Bluetooth iOS Latency
N/A
Bluetooth Android Latency
N/A
Bluetooth Range
N/A
Multi-Device Pairing
No

This speaker doesn't support Bluetooth.

7.6
Connectivity
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Version
Wi-Fi 3
Wi-Fi Frequency Band
2.4GHz
Apple AirPlay
Yes
AirPlay Latency
15 ms
Google Chromecast
No
Chromecast Latency
N/A

The Sonos 5 has good Wi-Fi compatibility. While it doesn't support 5Ghz Wi-Fi, you can stream your favorite audio to the speaker using Apple AirPlay, and it has very low latency, too. However, it doesn't support Chromecast built-in.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Sonos 5 comes in two color variants: 'Black' and 'White'. We tested the 'White' variant, and you can see its label here. We expect the 'Black' color variant to perform similarly to our test unit.

If you come across another variant, please let us know in the discussions, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Speakers

The Sonos Five is a wired mid-size speaker. Unlike the Sonos Move, it's only meant to be used within the home and can be placed horizontally or vertically, depending on your preference. It has a bright but thumpy and punchy sound profile and you can stream your favorite audio to the speaker using Wi-Fi or Apple AirPlay. However, it doesn't support voice assistants on its own.

Sonos One SL

The Sonos Five is a better overall speaker than the Sonos One SL. The Five is capable of reproducing a lot more low-bass, which is great for genres like EDM or hip-hop, and it can play stereo content without downmixing it into mono. However, some may prefer the One SL's smaller size. You can also add it to a Sonos-compatible soundbar setup if you want surround speakers.

Bose Home Speaker 500

The Bose Home Speaker 500 is a slightly better speaker than the Sonos Five, though they have different strengths. The Bose offers exceptional voice assistant support with Alexa and Google Assistant built-in, and does an excellent job of hearing you when you're far away and in noisier environments. It also has fewer compression artifacts at max volume, and has a wider sounding soundstage than that of the Sonos, thanks to its 360-degree design. However, with its Trueplay feature turned on, the Sonos has a better-balanced sound profile that can produce a thumpier and punchier bass than that of the Bose. 

Denon Home 350

The Denon Home 350 and the Sonos Five are similarly performing home speakers and depending on your needs, you may prefer one over the other. The Denon can get louder with fewer compression artifacts, and it supports Bluetooth, although it has high iOS and Android latency. It also has microphones built-in and the manufacturer's report that they plan to offer voice assistant support in a later firmware update. However, the Sonos has a slightly better-balanced sound profile and it has a more immersive soundstage.

Apple HomePod

The Apple HomePod and the Sonos Five are two speakers with different strengths, and you may prefer one over the other, depending on your needs. The Apple has a better soundstage and performs better at its max volume. It also has Siri built-in, which can be voice-activated and can hear you from quite a distance. However, the Sonos is better for music since it can produce more low-bass and its sound profile is better balanced. It also has a bass and treble slider via its companion app.

Google Home Max

The Google Home Max and the Sonos Five are two mid-size speakers with different strengths and depending on your needs, you may prefer one over the other. The Google has better controls and has an excellent performing Google Assistant built-in. It also supports Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Google Chromecast. However, the Sonos can produce more low-bass and has a better-balanced sound profile, which makes it better suited for music. It also supports Apple AirPlay.

Sonos One Gen 2

The Sonos Five is a better speaker than the Sonos One Gen 2. The Five offers a bright sound profile that can produce the deep thump and rumble in low-bass that's typically present in bass-heavy music like EDM. It can get louder, and you can place the speaker horizontally to listen to stereo content, and vertically for mono. However, the One Gen 2 offers great voice assistant support with Alexa and Google Assistant built-in. It has less compression present at max volume, resulting in cleaner audio at louder volumes.  If you own a compatible Sonos soundbar, you can even add it to your setup as a surround speaker. 

Sonos Move

The Sonos Move and the Sonos Five have different strengths. The Move is better suited for outdoor use as it's battery-powered and has an IP56 rating for dust and water resistance, although we don't currently test for this. It also has outstanding voice assistant capabilities, and you can wirelessly stream audio to the device using Bluetooth. However, the Five is better suited for music as it can produce more low-bass, and it can be used in stereo or mono mode, depending on how it's placed.

JBL Charge 5

The Sonos Five is a better overall speaker than the JBL Charge 5, though they have different strengths. The Sonos can produce the deep thump and rumble in low-bass that fans of bass-heavy music tend to enjoy. It comes with bass and treble adjustments, so you can tweak its sound to your liking. You can also place it horizontally to listen to stereo content, and vertically for mono. However, the JBL has less compression present at max volume, resulting in cleaner audio during louder listening sessions. It's also battery-powered, making it more portable. Also, you can pair up to two devices to it at once, so you can easily switch between audio sources. 

Ultimate Ears HYPERBOOM

The Ultimate Ears HYPERBOOM is a better speaker overall than the Sonos Five. The Ultimate Ears is battery-powered, so it's more portable and can be used outdoors. It's better-built, and it gets louder with fewer compression artifacts at max volume. Some listeners may prefer its graphic EQ over the Sonos' bass and treble adjustments, too. However, the Sonos reproduces more low-bass out-of-the-box, and its default sound profile is more neutral and balanced.

Apple HomePod mini

The Sonos Five is a better speaker for music than the Apple HomePod Mini. It can get louder than the Apple, and can produce a thumpy and rumbling low-bass which may please fans of bass-heavy music. It also comes with bass and treble adjustments to customize its sound to your liking. However, the Apple comes with Siri built-in, and can understand your commands from far and in noisy settings. It also has significantly less compression present at max volume, so your audio sounds cleaner at louder volumes.

IKEA SYMFONISK Bookshelf

The Sonos Five is a better speaker than the IKEA SYMFONISK Bookshelf overall. The Sonos can play stereo content without downmixing it to mono which sounds more immersive. It can also get louder than the IKEA and can produce deeper and thumpier bass. While the IKEA doesn't get as loud as the Sonos, it has fewer compression artifacts present at max volume, resulting in a cleaner sound when listening at louder volume settings.

Google Nest Audio

The Google Nest Audio and the Sonos Five have different strengths and depending on your usage, you may prefer one over the other. The Google speaker is better suited for voice assistants, as it has Google Assistant built-in. It also supports Bluetooth. While the Sonos doesn't support voice assistants at all, it's better for movies and music as it has a better-balanced sound profile with a thumpy low-bass. It can also be used in a stereo or mono mode, depending on how it's placed.

Klipsch The Three II

The Sonos Five is a better speaker than the Klipsch The Three II. With its Trueplay feature enabled, the Sonos can produce a more extended low-bass, meaning that you can feel the deep thump and rumble in bass-heavy music like EDM. It also offers a wider-sounding soundstage and comes with bass and treble adjustments to tweak its sound to your liking. That said, the Klipsch can get significantly louder with less compression present at max volume, resulting in cleaner audio at louder volumes. It also supports Bluetooth connectivity.

Sony SRS-RA3000

Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer either the Sony SRS-RA3000 or the Sonos Five. The Sonos can produce deeper bass, and can get louder than the Sony. You can also connect it to other compatible Sonos speakers when you want your audio to fill a large room without increasing its volume. That said, the Sony has outstanding directivity, resulting in a wider-sounding soundstage. It has fewer compression artifacts at max volume, so your audio sounds cleaner during louder listening sessions. It also supports Bluetooth and features a graphic EQ and presets you can use to tweak its sound to your liking.

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