Sonos ships new smaller Play: 3 speaker

As rumored, Sonos has added a new, smaller wireless networked speaker to its lineup, the $299 Play: 3.

David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Kobo e-books and audiobooks.
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David Carnoy
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The Sonos Play: 3 is available in black or white (both versions shown) and costs $299. Sonos

Back in early June we reported that Sonos was in the process of prepping a smaller networked speaker, the Play: 3. Well, now that product has become official, along with its $299 price tag.

As part of the new release, Sonos is also undergoing a brand makeover, with a slightly different logo, a new naming system for its products, and a new tagline: "The wireless HiFi system." Moving beyond the smaller Play: 3, which comes in black and white versions, Sonos is now calling the larger S5 networked speaker the Play:5. It remains priced at $399, while the company's wireless Bridge drops to $50 from $100.

In recent years, as Sonos has added free iOS and Android apps to control its multiroom wireless audio system from people's existing smartphones and tablets like the iPad, the company has been growing rapidly. The introduction of the S5 (Play:5), which integrated a speaker with the wireless networking component, made setting up a multiroom system easier and has led to a big leap in sales. Sonos touts the ability to stream your iTunes music collection or easily connect to such streaming services as Aupeo, IHeartRadio, Last.fm, Mog, Napster, Pandora, Rdio, Rhapsody, SiriusXM Internet Radio, Spotify, Stitcher SmartRadio, TuneIn, and Wolfgang's Vault. (Last.fm is a part of CBS Interactive, which also publishes CNET.)

We got an early listen to the Play: 3 and thought it sounded very good for a small speaker (it also plays loud), though we were hoping Sonos would price it at $249. However, reps said that they would have had to cut corners too much to get to that price (we had a feeling they were going to say that).

In terms of specs, the Play:3 features three Class-D digital amplifiers and three drivers--one tweeter and two 3-inch mid-range drivers, as well as one passive, rear-firing bass radiator. The cabinet has volume and mute control and its dimensions are 5.2 x 10.5 x 6.3 inches (132 x 268 x 160 mm). It weighs 5.7 pounds (2.6 kg).

Here are some other highlights:

  • "Smart-directional" design: an internal sensor detects if the speaker is positioned vertically or horizontally and modifies the speaker's output to ensure "clean, balanced, room-filing sound" in any position. When you tilt the speaker vertically, the sound shifts to mono mode; horizontally, it plays in stereo, though due to the drivers being so close together you get very little stereo separation.

  • Multiroom: You put several Play:3s around your home and the sound synchronizes across each speaker (or you can play separate music on separate speakers).

  • Stereo pairing: Add two Play:3s to the same room and you can set one to be a dedicated left channel speaker and the other to be the right. You can do this with a pair of Play: 5 speakers as well.

Full Play:3 specifications and details on how to set up a Sonos system can be found at Sonos.com. We should be getting a review unit soon and will give you the full skinny on how the Play:3 sounds after we test it.

Lifestyle shot: The Play: 3 on a nightstand (click for larger image). Sonos