May 17, 2016

Choosing Between A Playbar and a Play:5

Anyone new to Sonos might have a hard time choosing the equipment that they want.  People wonder, which one is better a Playbar or a Play:5?

With names like Play:1, Play:3, Play:5, and Playbar, people are left wondering what each speaker really has for power and acoustical range. Not to mention people wonder what type of setting they should put each speaker in or how many are needed to fill a room with sound.  We won’t fill you in on the application of every single speaker here, but we will clear up two that create a common source of confusion, the Play:5 and the Playbar.

Which Speaker Is Better, Playbar or Play:5

The answer between which one is “better” is not so simple as one single answer.  Each speaker system has a little bit different application that it will work better in than the other one.  Lets point out the key difference between each speaker:

  • A Playbar has a cable to hook up to a TV.
  • A Play:5 has a bigger box for bigger speakers inside.
  • A Playbar is sleekly shaped and can be hidden with other equipment easily.
  • A Playbar has 9 speakers, and a Play:5 has 6 speakers.
  • A Play:5 can get louder than a Playbar

For a TV Application, a Playbar Works Best

If your goal is to hook one of the units up to a TV, you will want the Playbar.  You get more speakers in a Playbar, which allows it to handle multiple sounds by driving them through different speakers.  This creates the illusion of a surround sound system but it all sits in one little package.

A Playbar also comes with an optical cable, which makes it easier to hook up to a television directly by plugging it directly into a TV.  You don’t need any other receiver or equipment to turn this speaker into a kicked up sound system for your TV.

A Playbar also lets you tune it in such a way so that human voices are played with a slightly higher frequency than they would otherwise.  This is imperceptible to the conscious ear but it makes dialogue much clearer than it otherwise would be.  Simply put, this soundbar from Sonos is made to pair with a television.

 For The Best Pure Sound, Choose a Play:5

Play:5 speakers get extremely loud.  Not only do they get loud, but they are designed to get loud.  When you turn these up you don’t lose an ounce of clarity.  The Play:5 contains 6 speakers, 3 of which are tweeters and 3 are mid range woofers.

The box of the Play:5 is not nearly so narrow as the Playbar, and you will notice that the bigger speaker handles lower tones better than the Playbar.  The Playbar attempts to compensate for this by increasing the mid range speaker count, but nothing can truly mimic the effect of extra size on the Play:5.  Better mid range and low range and still effective high tones give the Play:5 a clear advantage on sound quality.  If you want to fill a room with sound, go with the Play:5.

Aesthetically, It Depends on Your Preference

If you are concerned with the pure aesthetics of the devices, it really comes down to preference.  A Playbar can be put in a cabinet, or it can easily sit on a shelf and not stand out exceptionally.  A Play:5 is obviously taller and may stand out more, but it is still a nice looking speaker that most people have no problem adding to their rooms.

Most people would not hide a Playbar in a wall, but even though it is good looking a Play:5 can have a space in the wall cut out for it, be nestled in, have a screen put on the front of it and make a very nice hidden speaker unit.  It just depends what you want.


In conclusion, both are great systems, but it comes down to what your looking for.  The best and loudest pure sound gives the Play:5 the advantage, but if you are only adding one unit to a television you will probably like the Playbar most.