Sonos Five Speaker Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Dec 21, 2020 at 07:55 am
Sonos Five Picture
7.5
Music
6.2
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.
6.2 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
  • 6.2 Videos/Movies
  • 6.3 Podcasts
  • 2.9 Voice Assistant
  • 4.7 Outdoors

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.

3.5
Design
Portability
Volume
671 in³ (10996 cm³)
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. When used in its horizontal position, it can play stereo content, but its directivity is somewhat narrow. However, 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 at max volume, so it's not recommended to push this speaker to its max volume.

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.

7.5
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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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