Sonos Five updates Play:5 with cleaner look and S2 software

Sonos has updated its flagship speaker, with the new Sonos Five replacing the old Play:5. Now effectively the third-generation of the multi-room speaker, the new Five focuses on music rather than TV audio like the new Arc soundbar, though the changes are more for your eyes than your ears.

A streamlined design for Sonos Five

The core silhouette of the Five is the same as the Play:5 before it. That means black and white options – both with a matte finish – with a fared-in speaker grille and minimal buttons, badging, or branding.

In fact, the Five is even more surreptitious on that front. The old white Play:5 still had a black grille, but this time around the white Five has a matching white grille. The Sonos logo is now color-matched, too.

As before, you can use one Sonos Five horizontally, or pair two of them together and stand them each upright. That way they each deliver one of the stereo channels. If you're feeling really flush, you could use that pair as the rear surround speakers with an Arc or a Beam.

Inside the new look, familiar hardware

What Sonos has left alone is the actual sound side of the Five. It gets the same center tweeter and angled side tweeters for the high-frequencies, and three midwoofers for mids and bass. Each has its own Class-D digital amplifier.

There are capacitive touch controls on the top to control play/pause, skip forward or back through tracks, and adjust the volume. On the back, there's both an ethernet port – in case you'd rather not use WiFi – and a 3.5mm input. The latter allows for an external analog source, such as a turntable, to be connected and streamed to all Sonos speakers in the same system.

Trueplay, Sonos' auto-configuring EQ system, is still supported as you'd expect. Strangely, though, Sonos didn't take this opportunity to add native smart speaker functionality as on the Beam. You can remotely control what's playing on the Sonos Five by talking to a Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa device, but the speaker itself doesn't have that integrated.

Sonos S2 OS

The change you don't see – or at least, only in the Sonos app – is the upgrade to the Five's onboard computer. Sonos has upgraded the memory and processor, for better performance with the new Sonos S2 OS.

2015's Play:5 is already on the compatibility list with S2, so existing owners will be able to upgrade it to the new platform when that's released on June 8. This update to the Five, though, brings its hardware in line with what the Arc and new Sonos Sub (Gen 3) support, among others.

One of the biggest draws of S2 is its support for higher-resolution audio. Sonos is using that on Arc for Dolby Atmos, but we're guessing the Five has better quality sound in store too. It does mean, however, that if you're adding a Five to an existing Sonos system you'll need to either upgrade all the components in that system to S2, or create a split system of old S1 and new S2 hardware.

Sonos Five pricing and availability

The new Sonos Five is up for preorder from today, in black and white. It's priced at $499, and the company says it will start to ship from June 10.