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A sneak peek at the Sonos Play:3 (S3)

Tara W. has worked for Crutchfield since 2004. She writes about whole-house music and video gear, and works on Crutchfield's video team.

More from Tara W.

Sonos Play:3

I first heard Sonos' newest and smallest music player in our training room a few weeks ago. I was pretty impressed, so I jumped at the chance to take the Play:3 for a test run in my own home.

First, some background on Sonos

Sonos music players let you play music from a computer and a variety of Internet services in any room — wirelessly. In my house, I have a player connected to my home theater system, a player connected to my computer speakers, and a Play:5 (formerly called the S5) in my kitchen.

Unboxing the Play:3

The Play:3 is the little brother of the Play:5, so I planned to put the Play:3 in my kitchen and test it against the Play:5 that I already have in that room. Comparing sizes, it's easy to see a difference — the Play:3 is only 10-1/2" wide, 5" high and a little over 6" deep (slightly larger than a loaf of bread). I keep the Play:5 up on my fridge because I'm not willing to part with that much counter space, but the Play:3 fit nicely on my countertop and left me plenty of room to work.

What does it sound like?

I'd already heard the Play:3 in our training room a few weeks prior, but I was excited to put it through its paces in the "real use" location of my kitchen. I used my iPhone* to pull up Adele's 21 album that's stored on my computer and started listening. Adele's vocals came through clear and strong, and with the player at 50% volume, it easily filled my kitchen with warm, soothing sound.

* Sonos players can be controlled with free apps that are available for iPhone® or iPod touch®, iPad®, and Android™ phones. Their touchscreen control app is the best wireless music control system I've seen on the market today.

Next up, I switched to Mumford and Sons. The strings and other instrumentals on the song The Cave were clearly defined and had depth that I didn't expect from such a small player.

Sonos Play:3
The Play:3 is also available in black.

Comparing the players

I was very interested to test the Play:3 against the Play:5. To do so, I grouped the two players into a single zone but operated the volume of each player independently — muting one player while listening to another and then quickly switching.

The Play:5 has more drivers than the Play:3 and a bigger cabinet, too, so I expected a substantial difference and I was correct. The Play:5 produces deeper bass, more defined highs, and a sound that's more open. But this doesn't mean the Play:3's a slouch in any way — it was perfectly suited for my kitchen (and my living room where I moved it later to see how it'd perform in a room with carpeting). If I were outfitting someone's home, I'd choose the Play:5 for rooms that were larger or more open and I'd use the Play:3 for bedrooms, a kitchen, and an office or a den.

Overall, these little players, especially the Play:3, produce a great sound despite their compact all-in-one design. And they offer Sonos' intuitive wireless system and control for an extremely enjoyable wireless music experience.

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