How Sonos Plans To Upgrade Its Wireless-Multiroom System - Twice

How Sonos Plans To Upgrade Its Wireless-Multiroom System

Stepping up top-end Play:5 speaker, adding room-acoustics correction
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An inside look at Sonos’ new $499 flagship Play:5 multiroom stereo speaker

Sonos is raising the performance and price of its top-end wireless-multiroom speaker and bringing room-acoustics correction to its platform for the first time.

The speaker and Trueplay room correction will be available sometime later this year. For now, Trueplay requires the use of Sonos’ app for Apple mobile devices to tailor a speakers’ response to a room’s acoustic characteristics. The company didn’t say when the capability would be added to its Android app.

The new $499 flagship Play:5 single-chassis stereo speaker will replace the current $399 version,  which was launched in 2009. The new model will add higher power and more drivers: three tweeters and three midwoofers in lieu of five drivers. Like before, two Play:5 speakers can be paired to operate as separate left-right speakers, but now the speakers can be placed horizontally or vertically when they’re paired, the company said.

When paired in vertical orientation, the speakers deliver a “focused and intense sweet spot,” Sonos explained. When paired in horizontal orientation, they create a larger stereo image, the company added. When a single speaker is used, it is placed in horizontal orientation like its predecessor.

The new model also adds the ability to operate as wireless surrounds, as do the current Play:3 speakers, when paired with a $699 Sonos Playbar, which also features Sonos’ wireless-multiroom technology.

The company also said the Play:5 delivers twice the power of the original and betteroff-axis performance, and its new dipole speaker array delivers a wider soundstage. An accelerometer recognizes its orientation to adjust tuning.

The Play:5 also replaces physical buttons with capacitive touch sensors that control start/pause, volume and skip forward/back.

The speaker will ship with Trueplay, but the room-correction technology will be rolled out later this year to the company’s Play:1, Play:3 and existing Play:5 speakers. Trueplay will be added to Sonos’ other products, including the Playbar, “over time,” the company said.

Trueplay works like this: Consumers launch the Sonos app on an iOS device, and a special tine emitted by a Sonos speaker is picked up by the mobile device’s microphone to analyze how sound reflects off walls, furnishings, glass and other surfaces in a room. Sonos then EQs the speakers’ sound to deliver flatter response.

Trueplay gives music listeners “confidence that they’re hearing what their favorite artists labored to produce, independent of the room’s acoustics and speaker location,” said CEO John MacFarlane.

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