Sonos’ Redesigned Wireless Speaker Auto-Calibrates Itself
California-based home audio company Sonos has debuted a new design for its Play:5 speaker, as well a new software enhancement for the rest of its speaker lineup.
The Play:5 gets an entirely new skin, and it gains some subtle hardware improvements. New touch-sensors provide capacitive controls for changing volume and for playing and pausing music. Also, the speaker can now be set up in three discrete orientations: By itself, either horizontal or vertical; paired with another speaker vertically to provide a tight stereo image; or paired with both speakers sitting horizontally, to provide a wider, more room-filling stereo image.
There are more drivers inside, too. The old Play:5 had five speakers—two tweeters, two mid-range drivers, and one woofer. The new case holds six speakers total—three tweeters and three drivers that each handle both mids and lows. The Play:5 is still the largest of the Sonos stand-alone speakers (along with the Play:3 and the Play:1) and it’s also the most expensive. The price for the new unit is $499, and it comes in either black or white.
Tune It Up
There’s also a software enhancement rolling out onto all the Play speakers. It’s called Trueplay, and it lets you tune the audio output of your speakers just by tapping a button in the Sonos mobile app for iOS.
You stand in the room with the Sonos speaker, fire up the app, and press the Trueplay button. The speaker emits a tone, and the microphone on your handset picks it up. The app is able to determine the acoustic properties of the room, how different frequencies are represented, and what the reverberations are like. The speaker then adjusts its output. Sonos says this adjustment to the digital signal processing in the speaker improves the quality of the audio (We haven’t heard it yet). If you move the speaker to a different location, you can just run the test again and recalibrate it.
We’ve seen this sort of auto-calibration trick before, usually in home theater setups. They often require a precisely positioned calibration microphone. In some cases, a speaker system will ship with a special remote that has a microphone built into it. But Sonos’ use of the mic in your phone is a neat progression of the tech.
Trueplay will be able to tune the Sonos Play:5, Play:3, and Play:1 speakers at first. It’s also iOS-only at this time. The company says you’ll be able to calibrate other Sonos speakers, like the Playbar, in the future.