If you're looking to kit out your home with a new wireless speaker system then the likelihood is you'll be perusing the collection of market leaders Sonos. Their latest offering - the new Play:5 - has earned the seal of approval from tech geeks everywhere for its clear, crisp sound and easy-to-use remote control system.
For all their flaws, Sonos have largely delivered in upgrading their technology at a pace roughly consistent with the release of new hardware, and the new Play:5 is no exception. Don't be fooled by its fairly nondescript exterior appearance - Sonos speakers are stylish in that less-is-more kind of way, but rather on the bulky side, though they are able to stand both vertically and horizontally to fit your designated cubby hole (and come in white as well as black to match your decor) - the real improvement is in the performance.
This year's Play:5 has been fitted with six powerful drivers worthy of a much bigger and more expensive model. The result is greater bass, greater definition, the ability to support greater range without the sound output becoming too muffled or indistinct - which is significant when you consider one speaker will set you back some £429, and you won't want to be buying a unit for every room in the house (though if you do take this route, rest assured you can play different tracks on each one simultaneously).
There is no getting away from the fact that the price is awfully steep, but you are paying for convenience too. Sonos speakers effortlessly sync up to your home Wi-Fi network without burdening the signal, able thereafter to be controlled remotely from your laptop, tablet or mobile device. And this is not just limited to shuffling the song selection and adjusting volume levels either, but fine-tuning the speaker's performance settings to ensure it is perfectly suited to the surrounding environment - a factor that can too often go unaddressed in the search for the perfect sound.
In the new Play:5, Sonos have also succeeded in making simple the process of connecting your speaker system to your online streaming service of choice. And there are quite a few choices too, with Spotify, Deezer, Napster, Google Play, Soundcloud and Amazon Prime among others making the list of compatible apps (this as well as being able to host any locally stored song collections). Playing music on this thing is pretty much as simple as punching in relevant log-in details and selecting your favourite track. You can even connect your Sonos to your TV!
This is surely all very exciting if you are new to Sonos, but how about those who already have the original Play:5? The good news is you are still the proud owner of a top-of-the-range piece of kit. The major difference between the two is in the hardware, the new model with six drivers to the original's five. In terms of software, the company have released the most recent version of TruePlay - the control app - in time for use with the new Play:5, but don't panic: this is also compatible with the old one (and users have reported only minor differences in its performance). You can even pair between speakers for an even better sound! The limit is 32 devices in one connection.
The new Sonos Play: 5 gives music fans with a spare £429 lying around the chance to experience an epic sound system from the comfort of their own home, and happily, it's one of those rare gadgets designed to be user-friendly, with hassle-free set-up and simple control settings. But whether you upgrade from the original model will hinge on much you value that extra little bit of sound quality.