Six years after Sonos launched the Play:5, its flagship all-in-one speaker, the company has officially introduced an updated, second-generation version of the device alongside some new software that will improve the sound quality of all its Play speakers.
The new Sonos Play:5 will sell at $499 in the US later this year. And while that is $100 more than its predecessor, the new speaker does boast a number of improvements. The new Play:5 holds six speakers, one more than the original. Three mid-woofers handle the mids and bass, while three tweeters are used for the highs. Two of the tweeters face sideways, meaning the sound is spread in a wider arc.
The Play:5 will be available in matte white or matte black. Its single component shell, which Sonos claims has three-times the sound surface of the previous version, contains almost 60,000 holes drilled into the grill. The speaker even has 800 holes in the tiny Sonos logo to make sure it doesn’t affect sound quality. Additionally, the speaker can be setup in either a landscape or portrait configuration and the software will automatically alter the audio settings depending on the orientation.
Other features of the new Play:5 include touch sensitive buttons, a TPR-covered power cord, six antennas for top-quality Wi-Fi performance regardless of the speakers position, and two microphones – something the company is still trying to find a use for, although they may end up being utilized for adaptive tuning.
“We put all these disciplines together, like antenna engineers, acoustic engineers, industrial designers, user interface designers. They all come together in the beginning of a project and that’s unusual,” said Mieko Kusano, senior director of design at Sonos. “A lot of companies start with hardware engineering, then they get to software engineers to make it smart, and then designers come in last to make it pretty. That’s not how you get to an optimal product.”
In addition to the updated Play:5, Sonos also unveiled some new software that has been designed to work with all Play speakers. Trueplay lets users tune their speakers to the best settings for a particular room or space. It works by mapping out an environment using an iPhone, iPod or iPad’s microphones to measure how sound bounces off walls (no Android support as there are too many hardware and software variations). Once a room has been acoustically mapped, the speaker will automatically be configured to the environment and to wherever the user places it.
“We want to make technology that will make [our speakers] sound great no matter where you put them,” said Sonos Director of Platform Strategy Michael Papish.
Both the new Play:5 speaker and the Trueplay feature will be released later this year.