HomePod vs. Sonos Play:5: Thoughts After 3 Months Of Listening
- HomePod has seven tweeters, a four-inch woofer, and six microphones.
- Even at the highest volume, there’s no distortion.
- It’s much quieter compared to Play:5. HomePod can easily fill a small room with sound, but if you’re looking to jam or throw a party, Sonos is the way to go.
- At super low volumes, I prefer HomePod’s sound to Sonos because the vocals are crisper.
- HomePod is omnidirectional and has an A8 processing chip (the same one used in iPhone 6). How does that affect the performance? HomePod calibrates its sound based on its surroundings like walls and furniture. After a song plays for two minutes, the music sounds identical from any position in the room. Close your eyes and most of the time you won’t know where the sound is coming from. There’s no setup; it works automatically.
- HomePod has an accelerometer. If moved, it detects its new position and automatically recalibrates the sound based on the surroundings.
- Even the founder of Sonos praised HomePod’s sound saying it’s better than Sonos One. HomePod sounds fantastic for its size, and you won’t find a better sounding speaker in this form.
- Setup is seamless through the iPhone Home app.
- HomePod lacks smart features compared to smart speakers like Google Home Max or Amazon Echo due to Siri’s limitations. But it is quite a bit smarter than Sonos Play:5.
- Siri can perform any HomeKit task, i.e., “Hey Siri, turn off the bedroom lights.”
- You can ask Siri to play any Apple Music song, album, artist, playlist or have it pick music for you based on your preferences.
- Siri has the best listening capabilities of any smart speaker on the market. It can hear you while whispering and it can hear when talking in a normal voice when the music’s at 100% volume.
- HomePod is beautiful, with a sleek mesh material.
- It comes in White and Space Gray.
- The power cord is the nicest I’ve ever touched and matches the mesh material of the speaker. The design is very detail-oriented.
- It has a six-inch diameter, making it one-third the size of Play:5.
- You can comfortably put HomePod in the kitchen without it getting in the way.
- You can’t set up HomePod without an iPhone.
- You can AirPlay any music service to HomePod, but the only service that gives you voice control via Siri is Apple Music.
- AirPlay works, but it has limitations. For instance, if you AirPlay Spotify to HomePod, any video that shows on your phone will interrupt the music and play over HomePod. This is a killer with apps like Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat when you’re scrolling through the feed because autoplay videos hijack the audio. It’s infuriating and makes using your phone while listening to music nearly impossible. (Stick to Apple Music for HomePod, and you’ll be fine).
- There are no plug-in ports.
- You can’t connect multiple HomePod speakers or pair it with other speakers from other brands yet. AirPlay 2 was announced a year ago and will enable multi-room pairing. It’s been in beta versions of iOS, but it still hasn’t been released to the public yet.
Sonos Play:5 (Second Gen)
- Inside the Sonos app, you can play your music from any of the major music services after you sign in (Apple Music, Google Play Music, Pandora, Amazon Music, Spotify and many more).
- Using Spotify Connect, you can play music on Play:5 inside Spotify’s app rather than Sonos’ app.
- On Android devices, you can “cast” music services (Amazon, Google, and Pandora) to Sonos.
- You can play music from any device by plugging it into Play:5’s headphone port.
- It has six custom-designed drivers with dedicated amplifiers.
- Sonos Play:5’s sound is crisp with perfect bass and mids. You can’t find a better sounding speaker for $500.
- It fills bigger rooms much better than HomePod because it’s much louder. It sounds twice as loud on the highest volume, and you’d go deaf at high volumes.
- The sound doesn’t get distorted at loud volumes like most speakers.
- The sound only comes from the front of the speaker. However, you can use TruePlay to create a custom sound based on your room’s configuration similar to what HomePod does automatically. The TruePlay set up is clunky, and you’ll need to set it up every time you move Play:5 to a different location.
- I prefer HomePod’s real-time sound configuration to Sonos’, but it sounds great once it’s configured.
- Play:5’s design is stunning. It’s a piece of art.
- There are no physical buttons. You use tapping gestures to change the volume and skip songs.
- It comes in black or white with a matte polycarbonate finish.
- I move my Sonos Play:5 around all the time, but I don’t recommend it. Carrying this 14-pound speaker is terrifying because you’d do severe damage if you dropped it with that much force.
- While Play:5 looks great, it’s big (14” long) and won’t hide away.
- You can pair and unpair with unlimited Sonos speakers, but it’s typically used as a standalone speaker.
- The Sonos app is awesome and my favorite feature. You can add any song from any music service to the same queue, and everyone who has the app and is on your WiFi can add songs to it. All of my friends have the Sonos app, and someone’s always loading the queue with new songs. It’s one thing everyone looks forward to doing when they come over.
- There’s no smart assistant on Play:5, but you can buy Echo Dot for $50 and have full control of Sonos with Alexa. For example, “Alexa, play my Discover Weekly playlist in the living room.”
- The TruePlay setup isn’t perfect and involves waving your phone around your body and room, like an idiot for three minutes.
- Getting it to work with Alexa is no walk in the park either.
Which one is for you?
Play:5 and HomePod are incredible. You’ll be happy with either of them, and it’ll be the best speaker you’ve ever owned. I own both and plan to keep them.
HomePod sounds better than one Sonos Play:1 or Play:3, but what about Play:5?
Get Sonos Play:5:
- You want the best sounding speaker under $500.
- You’re trying to fill a large room with sound.
- You want to take advantage of the Sonos app and load the queue with songs with your friends.
- You’re a Spotify, Google Play Music, or Amazon Unlimited user.
- You want to connect multiple speakers or have the option of adding more in the future.
- If you’re an avid Home app (HomeKit) user and your lights, thermostat, and other smart devices are configured in the Home app.
- Apple Music is your preferred music service.
- You want to move it from room to room.
- You want great sound for $150 less than Play:5.
Things will change as HomePod evolves. Right now, it’s a great sounding speaker with too many limitations. You can’t pair it with other speakers, and Apple Music is the only music service that works flawlessly. It’ll be interesting to hear how two HomePods paired compares to Sonos Play:5 when AirPlay 2 is finally released.