For the first time in what seems like ages, Sonos is refreshing their line of connected home speakers, starting with the flagship Play:5. The new, more powerful model sees upgrades to the speakers and touch controls, but the big prize will be a new software feature that will work even with older Sonos speakers — Trueplay, which uses your smartphone to help tune the speaker to your room’s acoustics.
The new Sonos Play:5 has six drivers — three mid-woofers that handle mids and lows and three separate tweeters that handle the highs. The use of six speakers and the physical separation of tweeters and woofers makes for decent stereo sound on its own, but if you really want to get the full benefit of what Sonos has to offer, you’ll need to get two. If you double up, you’ll have two options — stand two Play:5 speakers up for narrowly focused stereo sound ideal for solo listening sessions or lay them horizontally for a wider soundstage better for entertaining groups of people. Or, you can pair the Play:5 with Sonos soundbars or subwoofers as part of a larger surround sound system. As we understand it, the only thing you can’t do is stereo pair a new Play:5 speaker with an old one because of the difference in power output — you might technically be able to, but it won’t sound very good.
The touch controls have seen some usability upgrades. The volume controls now change according to orientation, so swiping up will always turn the volume up, even if you have the speaker laying upside down. You also get to still use the Sonos app to control your music and speakers, which has been honed to near-perfection thanks to Sonos pioneering connected home speakers in the first place.
Then there’s Trueplay, which — for now — will only work with Sonos Play:1, Play:3, and Play:5 speakers. Trueplay is software that uses a tone emitted from the speaker to analyze room acoustics, taking into account the position of the speaker in the room. The sound waves from the tone will bounce around your room and hit the microphones on your paired smartphone. From there, the speaker will tune itself accordingly, giving you clearer sound no matter where your speaker is. It’s going to make a huge difference to anyone who prefers to keep their speakers out of sight rather than trying to fit them into the decor.
Sonos hasn’t settled on a release date for the new Play:5 or the Trueplay software, but they say both should be ready to go by the end of the year. When the new Play:5 is released, it will retail for $500.