No doubt, the new $299 entry price into the Sonos ecosystem will attract buyers who previously would not look at the brand, but there’s more to the system than the price, and Sonos is still not for the average music listener.
If you have experience of Sonos already you probably know of the ZonePlayer S5, now renamed Play:5. The Play:3 is quite a bit smaller than the larger sibling, has a single Ethernet port on the back as well as socket for mounting it on a wall. On the top you find volume and mute buttons but there’s no headphone or line-in ports, unlike the Play:5. For something that’s supposed to feature prominently in a home media centre setup, this sounds like a rather simple piece of kit. But don’t be fooled by the lack of displays, ports and dials. Inside the Play:3 roars quite a beast, capable of amazing sound and tricks. As you would expect from a Sonos product, the Play:3 fits in nicely with other products from the company, and you can set multiple units up to wirelessly talk to one another and stream music.
To get started, just plug the Play:3 into your router using an Ethernet cable, launch a Sonos control application, and select Add a Sonos Component. You will find Sonos applications for Mac OS X, Windows, iOS and Android, so you should be able to find one that suits you. Finish by pressing the Volume Up and Mute buttons on the Play:3 and the unit should be added. Then it’s just a matter of telling the Sonos software from where it should get the music, like from your iTunes library, and to where it should play it. It can also take music from a shared drive or NAS (Network Attached Storage) and even a range of online music services. All in all, setting up the Play:3 is really easy.
What about the sound then, you ask. I may not be an audiophile but the diminutive Play:3 produces an astonishing quality of sound, clear and rich, vibrant and dynamic. For most of the music I tested with it, there was not enough bass, but that may be down to the type of music as well as personal taste. Some of that can be tweaked in equalizer anyway.
Since it’s such a small speaker there’s not much stereo spread, but Sonos has a solution. It involves spending more money on additional Play:3 units though. With another unit you pair them up and wirelessly they play the same music, separating left from right. And you can keep adding more Play:3s, even in different rooms of your home, for a very special audio experience.
There’s no doubt that it comes with a significant price tag, but if you want flexibility in terms of where to position your speakers and a great sound, the Play:3 from Sonos is hard to beat. —email@example.com, @mnystedt
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