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HOME / Audio / Google Home Max vs Sonos Play 5 vs Amazon Echo Plus
Google Home Max vs Sonos Play 5 vs Amazon Echo Plus
Looking for a Wi-Fi Speaker? These are three of the best!
Google is serious about competing in the smart home space. So much so that they rolled out two new speaks in the Google Home Mini and Max. In this post we will explore how the Google Home Max compares to the Sonos Play 5 and the Amazon Echo Plus. We’ve also included a few reference charts that may be helpful if you’re looking for a spec comparison.
Google Home Max is more affordable than Sonos Play:5
The Google Home Max has an MSRP of $399 [check current price at Walmart], which is a good bit cheaper than the Sonos Play:5, listed at $499 [check current price on Amazon]. It’s interesting that the Max is a hundred dollars cheaper, considering the two speakers are very similar in size and quality, but the Max actually has more features. Sonos is definitely going to have to evaluate their pricing strategy for the Play:5 if they want it to remain competitive.
Google Home Max
Google Home Max has Google Assistant Inside
Google first showcased the Google Home in 2016. It was intended to be a direct competitor with the Amazon Echo series of devices, which had become quite popular. Fast forward a year and the Google Home Max is both competing with Amazon and Sonos. And one of the critical differences between the Google Home Max and the Sonos Play:5 is the fact that the GHM has Google Assistant built in.
As such, you can prompt the speaker to, among other things, play music, control various smart home products, and shop on Walmart.com. You don’t have to pair the speaker with another device or use an app to control it, you can just talk to Assistant like you would a person. The Sonos Play:5, on the other hand, doesn’t have a voice assistant built-in, but it is now (as of late 2017) compatible with Amazon Echo devices. All you need to do is download the Sonos skill within the Alexa mobile app, enable it, and you’re ready to go.
It’s not quite as convenient as having a voice assistant built-in, but it’s a nice workaround so that you can make the Sonos Play:5 even smarter. It’s certainly not a reason to get the Play:5, but it closes the gap between all of these new smart speakers.
Google Home Max is also a Bluetooth Speaker – Sonos is not!
While both of these speakers use Wi-Fi, the Google Home Max also has the option of using Bluetooth, whereas the Sonos is strictly internet. Normally, that’s not an issue, but if your Wi-Fi is down for some reason, you’ll want that Bluetooth capability. It’s also nice for manually controlling the speaker. Sonos does have a wonderful and easy to use app, but if someone other than yourself wants to play music on the Play:5, they’re basically out of luck with Bluetooth (Play:5 and GHM both have AUX in ports, however).
Ports on Google Home Max
Multi-room Audio with the Google Home Max
This is a slightly complicated point, so bear with me. The Google Home Max is compatible with any device that either (1) has Chromecast Audio built-in, such as the JBL Link 300 or (2) has a Chromecast Audio device [see on Walmart.com] plugged in. If you have either one of these, you can setup multi-room listening to have the same song play throughout your house.
In a separate, but related point, you can use two Google Home Max speakers in stereo mode to have one play right channel audio and the other play left channel audio (think of surround sound). It’s a good idea to stand the speakers up for stereo mode.
With the Play:5, you can setup multi-room listening with any other Sonos speaker, including the Sonos One and Play 1. You can also (like the Google Home Max) setup two Play:5s in stereo mode.
Amazon also has a multi-room listening feature, but it only works with select Amazon Echo devices. It’s not a major feature for Amazon, but it means they don’t entirely lag behind Sonos and Google. For the most part, only Amazon-branded speakers can be used for multi-room listening.
The Google Home Max allows you change your EQ settings right in the app. That means you can easily adjust your trebles and bass to get the sound you want. This is particularly nice since the Google Home Max by default overemphasizes bass. You can turn that down (or up) within the Google Home app. While a similar feature exists for the Sonos One, you don’t have the option with the Play:5.
Screenshot of Google Home mobile app.
Google Home Max vs Sonos Play5 vs Amazon Echo Plus – Review Chart
To save you a little time, below is a chart that shows some of the major specs for each of these speakers. If you’re interested in the streaming services, you can find that in the Sonos section below.
Sonos is one of the best home audio brands and the Play:5 is their flagship, high-end speaker that you’re almost surely going to fall in love with. It has a lot going for it and below are the major areas where it gets the edge over the Google Home Max, in particular.
Sonos Play 5 works with Amazon Echo devices
So we mentioned that in order to use Alexa with the Sonos, you have to pair with an Echo device, and that could be considered inconvenient since Alexa isn’t built in. However, we also count the ability to pair with Echo devices as a plus, because Amazon Echo devices add a number of interesting functions to the device (some of which trump what Google has to offer). Among the new features are the ability to ask about current news, weather, sporting events, and movies. You can also prompt Alexa to play music, control smart home products, and shop on Amazon.com.
Sonos Play 5 has an Ethernet port
The Play:5 has an Ethernet port, which allows you to use wired internet if you’re concerned with streaming speeds and Wi-Fi outages. The Google Home Max does not have an Ethernet port, although you can purchase a USB-C to Ethernet adapter if you needed it.
The Play:5 has a very inclusive list of compatible streaming services. The Google Home Max pairs with the important ones, but it just doesn’t match the Sonos here. Even if you like to use more obscure streaming services for your music, there’s a good chance Sonos has got you covered.
The only caveat we have here is that if you pair the Amazon Echo Dot, for example, with the Play:5, you can only stream music using your voice with the services that Amazon supports. All of the other services you will need to access within the Sonos app.
Sonos Play 5 has the better audio quality vs Google Home Max & Echo Plus
This was a tough call because both the Play:5 and the Home Max sound great with accurate mids and highs. Ultimately, though, we decided the Max can sometimes be a little too bass heavy and the Sonos produces a slightly cleaner sound. Of course, you can turn down the bass within the Google Home app, but out-of-the-box, we think the Play:5 sounds slightly better. The Echo Plus, while a handy device, doesn’t match either of these speakers in terms of audio quality.
Controls on Sonos Play:5
Trueplay Tuning System with Sonos Play5
Trueplay is a tuning function from Sonos that analyzes the speaker’s surroundings in order to put out the best-adjusted sound. It automatically takes in the acoustics of the room and adjusts the Play:5’s woofers and tweeters. The Google Home Max is trying to implement something similar, but it’s not quite on par with Trueplay. This is partly why we say the Play:5 sounds better overall.
Amazon isn’t necessarily the first brand you’d think of in the audio space, but in smart home vertical, they’re a titan. The Echo Plus is Amazon’s flagship smart speaker meant to be in a class of its own. While it’s not our favorite speaker, there are a few areas where the Echo Plus certainly stands out.
Amazon Echo Plus is way more affordable than Google Home Max & Sonos Play 5
The Amazon Echo Plus has an MSRP of $149.99 [check price on Amazon]. There’s not much to say here other than “Wow, that’s a big price difference.” Of course, that price difference is a reflection of the what you’re getting from the device… it’s just not going to compete with the other two speakers in terms of audio quality.
Amazon Echo Plus
Echo Plus works with more smart home brands
One nice advantage of the Echo Plus is that it’s compatible with a huge number of smart home brands. Google works with the biggest players in the space. However, since Amazon was first to market with the technology, Alexa works with thousands of brands (small and big). With Amazon, you have the opportunity to save money on certain smart home products (such as light bulbs) by opting for lesser known brands. While we don’t see this as a major advantage, it is something worth considering in the Amazon v Google Debate.
If you’re a big Amazon shopper, you’ll really appreciate this feature of the Echo Plus. You can shop Amazon by simply telling Alexa what you want to buy. That’s especially great if you’re forgetful, but don’t like making lists – as soon as you think of what you need, tell Alexa. Google Assistant will let you shop Walmart, but we prefer the Amazon shopping feature. In our experience, it works better.
Amazon Echo Plus
Echo Plus has Zigbee bridge built-in
Instead of requiring a separate device to work with certain smart home products, the Echo Plus now has a Zigbee bridge built-in. As an example, with Philips Hue lights, you generally need a separate bridge in order to (essentially) grant the lights internet access. It’s more complicated than that, but suffice it to say that a lot of smart home products need a bridge and the Echo Plus has one inside. Now, for the record, Zigbee is different from Z-Wave, so any Z-Wave compatible products will still require a separate bridge. The Echo Plus is really just two products in one.
Echo Plus pairs with other Bluetooth speakers
One interesting place where Amazon sets itself apart from Google and Sonos is that you can pair the Echo Plus with other Bluetooth speakers. So, not only can you use the AUX port, but you can pair the Echo Plus with other Bluetooth speakers that you might have around your house.
UPDATE: As of 3/29, you can now pair Google Home speakers to Bluetooth speakers.