Play 3 and Play 5 are both top speakers, but which is better? They are very similar albeit with slight differences that can make an impact on your experience. To make sure you don’t end up going through a lengthy return, our experts have pitted the two against each other in this Sonos Play 3 VS Play 5 review.
Sonos Play 3 or Play 5?
Features of Sonos Play 3 and Play 5
Sonos Play 3 and Play 5 Design
Both the Play 3 and the Play 5 feature a minimalistic design. They also both come in white or black to pair with any living room. Our experts do prefer the appearance of the Play 5 smart speaker due to the more seamless design without a clear metal grille. If you like a speaker that has a clear grille design, then go for the Play 3.
Both the Sonos Play 3 and the Play 5 have a rudimentary control top panel that includes the Play/Pause button but the controls are better handled on the Sonos mobile app.
Both are very pleasing to the eye and very well-built. Play 3 is a smaller size, coming in at 5.7 pounds and 5.2 x 10.5 x 6.3 inches. Play 3 can be placed vertically or horizontally, giving users another layer of convenience and versatility.
Play 5 is much larger at 8.03 x 14.33 x 6.06 inches and coming in at a pretty intimidating 14 pounds. However, the size of the speaker allows it to accommodate a bigger room. Like the Play 3, the Play 5 can be placed on its side or standing up as the sensor will detect its positioning.
These wireless speakers can become rear speakers when paired with compatible devices such as the Sonos Playbar.
Sound Quality of the Sonos Play 3 and Play 5
This section is where the two really differ. When purchasing something such as a speaker or a soundbar, you want the best sound. After all, that’s the defining factor of whether or not these devices can produce a rich sound.
As mentioned, the Sonos Play 3 has a very small and compact profile, making it the best choice for smaller rooms. Our experts were surprised by how loud the music can be for such a compact speaker during our Sonos Play 5 VS Play 3 comparison.
Our team tested the Play 3 with different music and movie content and have been pleased with the low and mid range audio. However, when pumped to the loudest, the sound does start to muddy up. A single Play 3 without a subwoofer lacks the bass some movie and TV show content sorely needs.
Just one Play 3 speaker doesn’t come close to the Play 5. In order to even match up to the larger counterpart, you would need to purchase at least another Play 3. Play 5s, on the other hand, can more than hold their own in terms of sound.
Play 5 is one of the Sonos products that have taken our experts by surprise. Not only does it have better sound, but the stereo pair you get with two 5s is also amazing. After our team heard the 5 play movies and music, these smart speakers quickly became one of our favorite wireless options.
The Sonos Play 5 is outfitted with six drivers, three tweeters, and three mid woofers. This creates a piece of equipment that can adequately create an accurate sound spectrum that sounds as close to real life as possible.
Yes, like the Play 3, the Sonos Play 5 also lacks a subwoofer, but the Sonos Play 5 comes with TruePlay technology, the bass can be boosted to a satisfactory level.
Another piece that catapults the Sonos Play 5 to the top of our list is the audio at any level is clear, crisp and undistorted.
If you require bass, look for a product with a bass radiator such as these speakers which can also boost the bass response. Adding a subwoofer to your music system can also create more booming bass tones.
We also compared the Bose Soundtouch 10 and Soundlink Mini in this regard, the results also detailed by our experts.
We mentioned Sonos’s TruePlay technology, but what is it exactly? TruePlay is a feature present in some Sonos speakers or even in a Sonos 5.1 home theater system that can enhance the sound quality. It detects the environment and the layout of your room and automatically tunes and optimizes its settings to create the best audio experience possible.
If you are looking into Sonos devices, our experts highly recommend one that comes with TruePlay technology, like the Sonos Play 3 and 5.
Compatibility with Mobile Apps
Both the Sonos Play 3 and Sonos Play 5 work with the Sonos app. In this day and age, it’s important to have a way to control all your devices conveniently with a user-friendly app. The Sonos mobile app is very easy to use and accessible to all consumers.
The app also functions as an assistant with answers to most of your queries about the product and even guides you through the whole setup process. Streaming services such as Apple Music, Pandora, Google Play Music and Spotify are all easily navigated from the Sonos app.
The app from Sonos isn’t only there to offer full control of your speakers, but to also make your life easier by allowing you to calibrate the speakers and stream content easily.
Compatibility with Voice Assistants
This is another category where both the Sonos Play 3 and Sonos Play 5 are neck and neck. These Sonos speakers are compatible with voice assistants to make your life even easier and streamlined. They are similar with Bose models like Soundtouch 20 and 30 that can fully integrate Amazon Alexa through Bose Skills. In this case, if you have an Amazon Alexa device, you can combine it with either the Sonos Play 3 or 5 to have hands-free command over your speaker with voice control.
Your Amazon Alexa can also carry out basic commands and check for information with one voice command. You can integrate your speakers into your home theater system easily and use voice control to keep everything in line.
Sonos Play 3 and Play 5 Setup
No matter how good the device is, a complicated setup will definitely knock a few points off of the final tally. One of the main differences between the setup and connection between the Sonos Play 3 VS Play 5 is an audio line-in. A line-in is a jack that allows users to connect an external device to the speaker. It is similar with the AUX input and 3.5mm male connector present in JBL Xtreme and Bose Soundlink 3.
If you are solely taking advantage of the Wi-Fi, then this is less important. Play 5 is the one with this feature and it does give more options for connection and setup.
These Sonos speakers connect to Wi-Fi rather than Bluetooth, which gives it a much stabler connection. The setup doesn’t get any easier than with Sonos speakers. Once you download the app, the rest is easy. The application will guide you through the entire process step by step.
The setup for both devices is just a matter of turning on your speakers and making sure it’s connected to a power source, connecting it to the WiFi, and voila!
Other than using the very convenient and intuitive app, the other option is to use the control panel. On the Play 3, you can see the volume control and mute buttons. Meanwhile, Play 5 has the Play/Pause button, volume controls and an option to change tracks on your music streaming services.
Due to the couple more options the Sonos Play 5 offers compared to the Play 3, the 5 has our vote for this section.
Mono and Stereo Outputs
Both the Play 5 speaker and Play 3 speaker produce high quality sound in mono and stereo formats. What’s interesting — and a huge plus in the eyes of our experts — is the design of the mono and stereo outputs.
As previously mentioned, the Play 5 and Play 3 wireless speaker can be placed on its side or vertically. They are smart speakers designed to tell the difference and play different formats depending on their placement. For mono output, put the speaker upright, and for stereo sound, lay the speaker on its side.
If you live in a more humid environment, our experts would lean more towards the Play 5. The Play 5 is humidity resistant  but the Play 3 is lacking in this department. A sound system that is humidity resistant also has a longer lifespan.
Keep in mind that humidity resistant does not mean it is completely protected and it also doesn’t equate to water resistant. Not many speakers on the market can boast protection abilities like this, which makes the Play 5 one that blows the competitors out of the water.
Sonos Play 3 and Play 5 Accessories
You can pair the Sonos Play 3 speaker and Play 5 speaker to other Sonos products seamlessly. You can also integrate them into your existing sound system to create multi-room music streaming.
Price of the Sonos Play 3 and Play 5
You can clearly see a clear winner thus far in our review, which also justifies the higher price tag for the Play 5. If you want more bass and high quality sound, you can expect to pay a higher price.
Both speakers can play music and elevate your favorite tunes, but the two speakers have a couple hundred price difference between them. Of the two speakers, the sound quality is really apparent from the Play 5. Also with Trueplay Technology, which can tune the speaker to your room environment, the higher price for the Play 5 is more than worth it.
However, for those on a budget, the Sonos Play 3 is an excellent speaker for the price you are paying.
What is the difference between Sonos Play 3 and 5?
The difference between the Sonos Play 3 and 5 is the technology, sound quality and connection. Sonos Play 5 has Trueplay, which can automatically calibrate the speaker, it has more bass enhancement even without a subwoofer and has a line-in for connecting external devices. On top of that, the Play 5 is also humidity resistant.
Can I use my Sonos Play 5 without WIFI?
Yes, you can use your Sonos Play 5 without WiFi. Since it has the audio line-in, you can connect your external device to the Play 5 through this cable connection to enjoy your music and other content. However, WiFi is the easiest option and also offers the neatest setup.
Overall Winner: Sonos Play 5
Our experts are pleased to announce the winner of the Sonos Play 3 VS Play 5 battle as the Sonos Play 5. Although it does come at a higher price, what you get for the money is well worth it. Not only does it have more bass enhancement than the Play 3, it’s also humidity resistant and comes with TruePlay technology, which will optimize the speaker to the layout of your room.
If you don’t want to connect via WiFi, the Sonos Play 5 can also operate with the line-in jack and connect to your external device that way.