The Good You can control the Sonos Play:3 single-speaker streaming-audio system from any iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, or Android smartphone using a free app. It offers good sound, its compact, elegant design cuts down on cord clutter, and it can stream Internet-based radio and audio services, plus your own digital music collection, from any Mac, PC, or NAS drive. Also, it's simple to set up, particularly if you already own a Sonos system, and linked Sonos players (purchased separately) can cover up to 31 additional rooms.
The Bad The Play:3 has almost no stereo separation and doesn't offer the detail and clarity of the step-up Play:5. Also, while it can wirelessly interact with other Sonos products, you'll need a hard-wired connection or the $49 wireless Sonos Bridge accessory if it's your only Sonos component.
The Bottom Line While it doesn't sound quite as good as the larger Play:5, the Sonos Play:3 delivers a superior streaming-audio experience that you can control from any iOS device or Android smartphone.
Following the success of its Play:5 networked speaker--formerly known as the S5--Sonos has added a smaller, less expensive speaker to its lineup, the Play:3. At $299, it's the most affordable Sonos streaming-audio component to date.
For the unfamiliar, Sonos is a streaming-audio system that lets you enjoy all manner of digital audio. Another big part of the appeal of the system is that it can stream your iTunes music collection and also 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. (Disclaimer: Last.fm is a part of CBS Interactive, which also publishes CNET.) In recent years, as Sonos has come out with free iOS and Android applications for controlling its system from existing smartphones and tablets like the iPad, the company has been growing rapidly. The introduction of the 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.
We've long been big fans of the system and were happy to hear that Sonos was expanding its speaker family with the Play:3, both a more compact and a more affordable option for people wanting to add additional rooms to their systems. It's mostly a very good addition to the Sonos line, but going smaller certainly has its trade-offs when it comes to sound quality, so read on to find out how the Play:3 stacks up against the Play:5, as well as other small single-speaker systems.
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