Perhaps the new direction of Hi-Fi - Sonos PLAY: 5

As usual, first of all, I would like to thank Aunt Zhang for giving me the chance to test Sonos PLAY: 5 (Gen 2) .

Now, while listening to the music from Sonos PLAY: 5, I was thinking about how to write this review – because all the products under the Sonos line have a “queer factor”, making the PLAY series all Like a freaky "geek". Oh, yes, please don't misunderstand me. The "geek" I have here is not derogatory at all, and even more it is biased towards justice.

Thinking again and again, I decided to score this test into two parts: The first part is completely experiential, and the second part focuses more on technology and my personal opinion of this product.

Previous : It may be the best home wireless Hi-Fi system

Appearance and workmanship

On April 28th, the great SF brother sent Sonos PLAY: 5 big boxes to my house. The night was taken apart, photographed and tested.

Have to say, Play: 5's size is not small, but heavier. The official data is 364x203x154mm, 6.35kg.

The box is very strong and beautiful. Compared with the previous generation PLAY:5 box with blue as the main color, I think the packaging of this generation is more beautiful and more "dynamic". Although I know this is hardly any X used...

One side of the box was brushed "The Wireless HiFi System" and MFI certified.

Due to the heavy weight and large size of the box, two plastic snaps are designed on both sides of the box as security locks. This design is very sophisticated and worthy of praise.

Before and after unpacking, I called them separately. Before the unpacking, the gross weight was 8.65 kg. After unpacking, the box weighed 1.7 kg. Therefore, the SONOS PLAY:5 weighs approximately 6.95 kilograms, which is slightly heavier than the official weight. This is a good thing.

The interior of the box is made of very strong and dense foam material, which is very good in fixing and grading. It guarantees the safety of the PLAY:5 in transportation and transportation, and the internal structure is very concise and it is worth learning.

In addition to the PLAY:5 inside the package box, there is a white box with a network cable (100Mb), a power cord, a warranty card, and a quick start guide. There is no extra thing.

The host of the PLAY:5 is tightly wrapped inside and outside the three layers: the outermost layer has a plastic bag; the second layer is a plastic film, and the whole machine is carefully sealed; there is a layer of plastic paper to put the PLAY:5 Wrap around, may be afraid of scratching the shell.

The shell of the PLAY:5 is integrally formed without any seals. The front is a graphite network and it is not easy to disassemble. I personally prefer cloth net covers. If they are made detachable, you can still see the inside unit. This is a more traditional approach to Hi-Fi speakers. Made of graphite mesh surface is easier to clean, and greatly reduces the possibility of damage. This more modern design is also more consistent with product design and positioning.

The PLAY:5 is designed to be placed horizontally and upright, so rubber feet are provided on the bottom and on both sides. No matter which kind of placement, it can be very stable and avoid scratches on the surface. However, it is still recommended to put it horizontally or with the best results. In actual use, I tried both of the two placements. When placed horizontally, the sound was more open. When standing upright, the sound felt a little bit narrower.

When placed horizontally, you can see the top of the three touch keys, the middle is the play and pause keys; the left key is the volume decreases, the right is the volume increase; press the left key to the right is the next song, press the right key to the left is the previous one song. The reaction, operation, and feel of these buttons (the touch keys don't seem to touch anything?), feedback sounds are all good—clear, clear, and simple.

There is a light above the play/pause button. There are three colors: green, red and white. Different colors are displayed according to different states. White is displayed in the normal standby state. When there is an operation instruction, the white warning light will flash according to the change of state. Overall it is clear and easy to understand.

The back of the PLAY:5 is relatively simple. In addition to the power cable jack, there is an RJ45 cable interface, a 3.5mm Line-In line input jack, and a network configuration button.

Configuration and operation

A major feature of SONOS products is the configuration and operation of computer-side software or mobile device apps such as mobile phones and tablet computers. Therefore, the control software and services are particularly important. SONOS has done well on both Mac and iPhone apps. The connection and configuration are relatively simple. The configuration wizard is also more detailed. Follow the wizard step by step. It can be set up quickly, and PLAY:5 will enter the normal working state.

The more intimate function is that when the PLAY:5 is configured for the first time, before the final configuration is completed, the system will prompt to check the system's firmware update so that the product can start working with the latest firmware and functions. This point is more important for products like SONOS that are very dependent on the network. The only fly in the ointment may be that the software interface on the Mac side is a bit ugly and not delicate enough, and I hope it can be improved in the future.

After the configuration on the Mac is complete, just open the SONOS app on the iPhone and connect to the existing SONOS system in the same network environment. Quick and easy.

In terms of resources, according to the official website information, SONOS now supports more than 40 music services worldwide. The music service in China is very rich in support for most mainstream Internet radio stations, music streaming, etc. There are about 15 kinds (including Apple Music), and “everyday” and “cool music” are already in SONOS Labs.

Adding supported music services on SONOS is relatively simple. For services that require account information, such as QQ Music and NetEase Cloud Music, simply authorize the account. For services that do not require account information, such as 蜻蜓FM, it is simpler. You can use it.

In terms of operation, the SONOS playback controller is like a "traditional" audio player, whether it is on the computer side or the mobile side. Although the operation logic is a bit tedious, the problem is not serious. I personally experience down the feeling of the iPhone's operation is more convenient, but also more consistent with the iPhone's operating habits, is basically barrier-free.

In the course of playing, it is also possible to directly perform simple play/pause and volume increase/decrease operations on the audio without using a computer or mobile control software.

Because SONOS does not support Bluetooth, and (temporarily) does not support Apple's AirPlay, nor does it have a memory card slot, so currently there are only two ways to connect to get media resources: Internet resource services (if Internet radio, music streaming services) Etc.) and an external player (via line input). Therefore , it is not feasible to watch TV, watch movies, or play games by connecting PLAY:5 directly to a computer or TV .

SONOS also integrates a feature called "tureplay" in the mobile app. It is said that it is a function that can be used in conjunction with the AUDIO sound system of the PLAY system. Through a few simple steps, the room where the PLAY sound is located is tuned to achieve the best playback effect.

I tried it, the effect is not great. It may be a problem with the room I use. The overall change before and after tuning is not too large (the only audible difference is that the amount of low frequency is a little less).

The process of tuning is still rather "fool" and interesting. The whole process is also very short, the environment collection and tuning process is 45 seconds, count the guides before and after a total of two or three minutes time just fine.

PLAY:5 also has a more practical alarm clock function. From the control side, you can set the time, period and alarm sound for the PLAY:5. The details are very rich. The alarm sound can be selected from the system's own tone or radio or music in the music service. This feature is still very intimate, I personally like it very much. Now every morning, I wake up to be liked by favorite radio programs, not the annoyed song or system alarm clock on my mobile phone.

Here's a very thoughtful little detail. Since SONOS is highly dependent on the network, once there is no network, radio programs and streaming music that are set as alarm bells will all fail, and at this time, SONOS will automatically switch the system's own tone as an alarm clock, and it will not happen. The alarm clock does not ring.

In use, the console device (computer or mobile device) must be in the same network environment as SONOS. Otherwise, SONOS cannot be controlled. Although there is nothing wrong with this, it seems a little strange today that the “cloud service” has gradually become popular today and that the connection boards can be “intelligent” today.

Please note that there is no key to play PLAY:5. After the power is connected, it is always playing or "standby". In response, the official replied that even if it has been in the "standby" state, the power consumption in a month is about 4W, so there is no need to worry too much about power consumption. Being in a powered state for a long period of time also helps the audio system to maintain its optimum working condition.

Sound performance

For a sound system (or a single speaker), its voice performance is of course the most attention, and it is also something that every enthusiast and sound engineer constantly pursues. Good or bad sound quality is one of the important criteria for measuring the quality of audio products.

SONOS may be the only one on the market at present, dare to attribute itself to "Hi-Fi" category in product promotion and product positioning. It can be seen that SONOS is more confident in the sound performance of its own products.

In the product introduction, SONOS claims to use three high-frequency loudspeakers and three medium-low frequency loudspeakers. Actually speaking, I think this configuration is "good enough" for a PLAY:5 speaker. Compared to the current wireless speaker products in the market, the sound of PLAY:5 is already one of the top ranks.

From my personal sense of hearing, the vocal performance is PLAY: 5 the best place. Female voices (such as Chen Yuzhen) are very expressive and impressive. In other respects, the amount of low-frequency is sufficient, but there is a little scattered and the cohesion is slightly lacking. Resolving power may be a slightly weaker indicator of PLAY:5. In the face of some of the more complex types of music, the performance of PLAY:5 is somewhat "chaos." But this is for all types of music (classical, light music, folk songs, etc.), if only for general pop music, especially 320K streaming audio, PLAY: 5 performance is already excellent enough . Can completely beat the vast majority of wireless, Bluetooth speakers on the market. When the volume is relatively loud, PLAY:5 can even give people a feeling of “deafness”. It is very strong and easy to immerse people in music.

I tried to compare the Libratone ZIPP Mini with the PLAY:5 which I liked very much. Friends who are interested can listen to it. I know this type of recording is not good or bad, but I can roughly hear the direction of PLAY:5. The contrast files are all lossless WAV files, the player is mod C4 (3.5mm mouth line-out), direct line output to the audio.

Part II : Is the market segment still unique?

(A large part of the following is only text without pictures, but it is my personal squeezing force. Students who are not interested can jump directly to the final summary)

“The Sonos Wireless Home Wireless Music System wirelessly plays all music online in any room and can be controlled using an Android® smartphone or tablet, iPhone®, iPad®, Mac or PC.” This is from Sonos China's official website The introduction. This statement shows SONOS positioning for its own products: home, wireless, high-fidelity, music systems, online play.

Perhaps at the beginning of its creation, SONOS conceived that its products could be integrated into every room in the family and become an even part of the "furniture" in the family. According to this idea, the idea of ​​wireless and online play becomes logical. And I think the most important thing about SONOS is that it not only achieved "wireless" but also achieved "systematization" and "central control." When there is a single (or several) SONOS product in each room of a home, the user only needs to control any SONOS device by any computer or mobile phone in the same network. This point can be said to be revolutionary in home audio systems.

The next point I want to discuss is "wireless." With the development of wireless technologies such as Bluetooth, NFC, and Apple's AirPlay, more and more "wireless speaker" products have emerged one after another. Among them, most of them support Bluetooth, and some of them also support NFC, DLAN, OTG, etc. A few also support AirPlay, Wi-Fi, etc. A good example is the Libratone ZIPP Mini I previously evaluated, supporting almost all current wireless protocols and making it accessible. In contrast, the application scenarios of SONOS products that only support Wi-Fi wireless streaming are very narrow. To put it simply, ordinary wireless speakers can wirelessly connect themselves to the speakers of other devices (computers, mobile phones, tablet computers). SONOS cannot do this. Not supporting Bluetooth or even not supporting AirPlay must be due to product design considerations. Because of the positioning of the "music system" rather than a simple speaker, SONOS can understand this design of the product. Of course, from a personal perspective, I still hope that SONOS will have time to launch a Bluetooth device, or at least an AirPlay-enabled device.

Then, just talk about "fidelity". If “Hi-Fi” is a circle and there is a boundary in this circle, there are not many manufacturers that can step on this circle, and there are fewer manufacturers. If you don’t believe it, look through the list of SIAV exhibitors last month and read through the list of exhibitors at the HIGH END sound show in Munich on these days. Almost all Hi-Fi products are "small steps in sound quality, and the price is a big step." Therefore, customers who are really willing to pay for the sound are actually very few. As a result, many equipment manufacturers will design two types of products, one for those who have a quest for sound quality, and the other for the majority of ordinary consumers. In terms of products, we can clearly see that there are thousands of “fever” grades that are thousands, tens or even hundreds of thousands, and the others are tens or hundreds of dollars. Consumer products such as. However, no matter what, all the equipment is a compromise of sound quality, materials, workmanship, and price . Or we change the sentence: There is no real "high fidelity", and all "high fidelity" are relative .

In view of these wireless audio products currently on the market, almost all of the products are designed based on the ideas of the following products: the vast majority of products are based on "connected" priority and win by price, and the sound quality may be The first compromised factor. These wireless (Bluetooth) speakers ranging from tens of dollars to more than one hundred yuan merely solve the problem that sounds are wirelessly transmitted from a device to a speaker, and do not solve the problem of sound quality. A company that is pursuing a bit will use Bluetooth aptX® technology to solve the bottleneck of sound quality. The beginning of the design of SONOS products may be based on the "high fidelity" point, and "wireless" connection is only one of its solutions for product connection (SONOS products support the use of network cable to transmit data), so SONOS products From the use of methods and user experience, are close to the traditional Hi-Fi products. It can be said that SONOS is the first to solve the problem of product sound quality, based on which to design the entire system and compromise other. From the perspective of seeing it, you can understand the so-called "home wireless high-fidelity music system" SONOS. However, what is embarrassing is that SONOS products can only support 320K MP3 audio playback for major network streaming music services. This has caused a large gap between their products and their design. Fortunately, SONOS also supports reading and playing audio files from network NAS storage media. For these files, WAV, FLAC, and ALAC formats are all well supported.

Finally, random BB a few words. A set of traditional Hi-Fi systems is divided into audio sources, decoding, amplification, and output. SONOS products want to solve is the output and the connection between them; amplification and decoding is not the pain point it wants to solve; and the source part of the SONOS does not want to consider. It is precisely from this idea that SONOS expects to build a sound system made up of multiple SONOS devices and use it as a home audio solution. Therefore, only when there are multiple SONOS devices in the home and the user is pursuing music and sound quality enjoyment, the SONOS solution will become meaningful.

to sum up (If there are people other than Xiao Bian who see it from the beginning, I would like to express my affection and thanks!)

PLAY:5 has all the advantages and disadvantages of traditional audio. It is not a "smart" device. Although it seems that there are some high and new technologies in it, it still has very traditional genes, so the ideal user should be Those who like music and have a certain pursuit of sound quality. If the room in your home is large enough and you want a convenient sound system as a total solution, then SONOS (from PLAY:1 to PLAY:5) should be the best choice. As for the price, although I think that ¥3980 is slightly more expensive, it is still worth buying. If you have no special requirements for sound quality, and just want a small, portable, easy-to-connect small speaker, usually watch movies, listen to songs, then SONOS products may not be suitable for you.

Advantages: good sound quality, can be used to start the hair-level entry-level products, exquisite workmanship, multiple interconnected building home music system, good connectivity, good stability, tureplay has a certain playability, and a variety of (expandable) music services meet Various needs; Firmware and console software are continuously updated to bring more useful features.

Inadequate: Reliance on the Internet, all music services will not be available when the network is unstable; can not (from NetEase cloud music or QQ music) streaming lossless music; the price is slightly expensive.

Overall evaluation, I will give Samsung half or four stars (out of five stars), belonging to "having money worth buying."

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