A Lower-Cost Entry Into the Best Wireless Speaker Ecosystem
Rating: 8/10 Excellent, with room to kvetch.
$300 on Yahoo! Shopping
When it comes to multi-room wireless music systems, Sonos has been one of the go-to choices for years now. Even with the proliferation of wireless AirPlay and Bluetooth speakers, no other system has been able to match the company’s unique combination of simplicity and sound quality. If there was anything holding the Sonos back, it’s been the fairly steep price of admission. After all, a Play:5 speaker plus the requisite wireless Bridge meant you were paying a minimum of $450.
The good news is that the Play:3 lowers that cost of entry by about $100. The great news is that it does so without cutting any discernible sonic corners. Yes, it’s smaller than its older sibling. And yes, you’ll lose two drivers and a wee bit of clarity in the mid and upper ranges. But when it comes to the things Sonos is really known for — the trademark ease of setup and lush, room-filling sound — this smaller speaker does not disappoint.
In fact, the Play:3 even knows a few tricks its big brother doesn’t. Thanks to an onboard accelerometer, the speaker can sense whether it’s placed vertically or horizontally and can subsequently auto-correct from stereo to mono. This means you get even more flexibility, and can slip one into a bookshelf or group two together in the same room to create a formidable stereo pair. While it lacks the sonic clarity of bigger wireless units I’ve tested, its lower price is truly cause for elation for anyone wanting a no-fuss entry point into a home full of music.
WIRED Easiest setup of any wireless speaker system. Quarter-inch 20-thread socket for easy wall mounting. Streams not only your library, but also nearly every audio service known to man, including whatever’s stored on your phone. Sonos makes one of the best (if not the best) remote apps for controlling your music.
TIRED Unlike the Play:5, no standard inputs. Requires the $50 Sonos Bridge or a direct Ethernet connection to your router. Bass could be more refined.
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