When was the last time any one of us invested in a full-fledged hi-fi audio system? It almost sounds like a blast (I’m not talking just about earth-shattering sound) from the past at a time when Spotify dictates your audio playlists. After a week with the Sonos Five, I felt I reconnected with my past, when the neighbours would know I had friends over and when I would headbang with my campus buddies.
The Sonos Five doesn’t have a Bluetooth pairing option. This is almost unthinkable at a time when your smartphone talks to a variety of devices from smartwatches to earbuds via Bluetooth. It’s not a dealbreaker though. It took me a while to pair our review unit with an iPhone, but that’s also because I had to ‘hard reset’ the speaker since it had been previously synced with a different device. I also tried the Sonos App on an Android smartphone and it worked equally well. You can tweak the sound settings with the equaliser. The default settings worked well and I didn’t lean on the equaliser function. The app also features Sonos Radio with multiple music stations. The Sonos Five was connected via Apple AirPlay and music was played directly from Apple Music.
The Sonos Five is an expensive speaker that looks every inch premium. We checked out the black colour option; it also comes in white. I think the Sonos Five’s design aesthetic plays out particularly well in black but this might boil to personal preferences. You can place the oblong speaker either vertically or horizontally, and the physical buttons are easy to access. There’s a play/pause button and a swipe to flip tracks but it’s unlikely these will be used given that you can tweak all settings from the phone.
There’s hardly a genre of music I didn’t try on this speaker. For most of the day, it was lounge and downtempo music from artistes like Yotto and Joris Voorn at low volumes. I particularly enjoyed tracks with heavy vocals like “ocean eyes” by Billie Eilish and “Always Remember Us This Way” from the Star is Born soundtrack by Lady Gaga. The Sonos Five features a generous soundstage with crisp vocals. The sound setup includes three tweeters, three mid-woofers, six class-D amplifiers. It’s a formidable setup in a speaker that weighs about 6.3kg. Just like those massive hi-fi systems, the Sonos Five delivers great details, even at low volumes. It handled high volumes with equal ease as wellm when I switched to “Stratego”, Iron Maiden’s recent single.
The Sonos Five doesn’t come cheap but it delivers one of the best audio experiences on any speaker right now. It misses out on Bluetooth connectivity and doesn’t offer direct Google Assistant or Alexa support like some of the other Sonos speakers but these are minor cribs. You can pair it with other Sonos speakers (we tried this and it works seamlessly) for a wider soundstage.
This one’s for audiophiles or anyone who takes their music seriously. I could hear the whistles and applause from the audience just before the Eagles “New York Minute” live version. I can’t think of too many speakers that can match this sound detail.
The Sonos Five comes in black and white colour options, and costs Rs 59,999.