The Sonos Play:5 (formerly known as the Sonos ZonePlayer S5) is a key part of the Sonos Wireless Hi-Fi System, which is well regarded for its ability to deliver high-quality sound to any -- or every -- room in your house without the expense of a custom installation. Those savings go a long way toward easing the pain of the Sonos system's biggest negative: cost. If the Play:5 is the only Sonos device in your home and there's no nearby network connection, that cost is driven even higher by the need to connect the Sonos Bridge (*Est. $50) to your router so you can operate the company's proprietary wireless system.
What you get for your money is a wireless music solution that's easy to set up, easy to use and wonderful to listen to. Available in white or black, the Play:5 can be used on its own, or mixed and matched with other Sonos devices to create a whole-home setup. The Sonos system also includes the Sonos Play:3 wireless speaker (*Est. $350), a more compact version of the Play:5 that sounds nearly as good but can be a better fit for tight spaces. The Sonos ZonePlayer 120 (*Est. $500) incorporates a stereo amplifier so you can listen wirelessly using your own speakers. Finally, the Sonos ZonePlayer 90 (*Est. $350) adds wireless music streaming to an existing stereo system. You can control everything from your personal computer, but most owners will enjoy the ability to do that from a well-designed and highly functional app for their Apple or Android mobile device. A dedicated remote control is also available, but it's a pricy extra (*Est. $350).
The sound quality of the Play:5 absolutely shocks some reviewers. Even bass response is above the norm, especially for a speaker of its size. The one sonic negative is that while the Play:5 delivers stereo audio, the separation is so slight that few will notice. If the price tag gives you pause, the Logitech Squeezebox Radio (*Est. $170) also streams music from your own digital music library and from Internet radio stations and music providers, but costs less than the Play:5 and requires no special network adapter. However, while sound quality is okay if judged on its own, it's definitely not in the same league as the Play:5.
Many reviewers have weighed in on the Sonos Play:5, although some cover it under its old Sonos ZonePlayer 5 name (the two are identical). CNET and Home Theater magazine provide some of the most thorough coverage, but lots of other reviews -- such as the ones at Sound+Vision magazine, The New York Times and Britain's TechRadar.com and ExpertReviews.co.uk -- are helpful, as well. Plenty of user opinions can be found at Amazon.com.
CNET updates an earlier review of the Sonos Play:5. David Carnoy says he's a fan of the Sonos digital music system and that the Play:5 fills an obvious need for a stand-alone speaker with Sonos networking technology. Price is a disappointment, as is the lack of any real stereo separation, but sound quality is top-shelf and the ability to control the Play:5 with a smartphone app is a plus.
Review: Sonos Play:5 (white), David Carnoy, July 20, 2011
2. Home Theater Magazine
Reviewer Kim Wilson and Home Theater magazine grant the Sonos ZonePlayer S5 (now the Sonos Play:5) a Top Pick award. The wireless speaker is described as easy to set up and use. Sound quality is also excellent, with bass response that's "exceptionally good" considering the speaker's size.
Review: Sonos ZonePlayer S5, Kim Wilson, Jan. 19, 2011
3. Sound & Vision Magazine
Gary Dell'abate heaps praise on the Sonos Play:5, called the Sonos ZonePlayer S5 at the time of this review. Styling is attractive, setup is quick and easy, and perhaps most significantly, sound is excellent considering the speaker's relatively small size. Testing and commentary aren't as extensive as some reviews at this site, but Dell'abate gives the Play:5 a workout with different types of music and is pleased with everything he hears.
Review: Gadget Gary: Sonos ZonePlayer S5, Gary Dell'abate, Jan. 15, 2010
4. The New York Times
David Pogue writes that the ZonePlayer S5 (the former name of the Sonos Play:5) lets you "pretend to be a well-wired rich person -- without having had to pay $10,000 for somebody to install a 'system.'" The review covers the Sonos system, what's required to make it work and Pogue's experiences with it, including a minor glitch in getting everything set up. Performance is impressive, and the lack of stereo separation is more than made up for by the clarity of sound, the ability to deliver satisfying bass and enough power to "fill a very large backyard with sound, and probably a school gym, without distortion or skipping."
Review: No 'System,' But Music Housewide, David Pogue, Nov. 18, 2009
Britain's TechRadar.com is impressed with the Sonos Play:5, with James Rivington describing it as "dazzling." As in other reviews, ease of setup and use are well regarded. Sound quality is "fantastic." What's not to like? The price, and Rivington calls the Play:5 "massively expensive."
Review: Sonos Play:5 Review, James Rivington, Jan. 7, 2010
6. Expert Reviews (U.K.)
ExpertReviews.co.uk, another British site, bestows its Ultimate award on the ZonePlayer S5 (now Sonos Play:5). David Ludlow says the player "looks fantastic and sounds brilliant." Setup is called "dead simple." Testing is done with a variety of musical genres.
Review: Sonos ZonePlayer S5 Review, David Ludlow, May 21, 2010
It's tough to find an owner here who doesn't love -- or at least seriously like -- the Sonos Play:5. Sure, there are some complaints from the roughly 160 users who weigh in thus far. Not everyone is as impressed with the sound quality, for example, and a few have issues with how the Sonos system works. But the overwhelming majority of users give the Play:5 a 5-star rating out of 5, contributing to the 4.7-star overall score it receives here.
Review: Sonos Play:5 All-In-One Wireless Music Player With 5 Integrated Speakers (S5, White), Contributors to Amazon.com