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Why a Discontinued Sonos Speaker Is Still in Absurdly High Demand

For owners of the much-beloved Sonos Play:5 (Gen 2), upgrading to stereo sound is an expensive hassle.

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The Play:5 — specifically the 2015-released "Gen-2" model — is one of the most beloved Sonos speakers of all time. For years, it was the company's biggest and best-sounding standalone speaker (and the only one with a line-in connection to hook up a turntable). The problem is that, today, it's really difficult to buy.

There's a very sensible reason Sonos doesn't make the Play:5 (Gen 2) anymore. Instead, it makes a version that looks and sounds virtually identical, and goes for the same $500 price, the Five. So what's the problem? Nothing for new buyers. But it's a bit of a headache for anyone, like me, who owns a Play:5 (Gen 2) and wants to turn it into a larger system by making a stereo pair.

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Sonos Five
Sonos sonos.com

Sonos says the upgraded internals of the Five are more future-proof, but that's at the cost of being past-compatible: The Play:5 (Gen 2) and the Five can't be stereo paired together. And, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but there's just no way around it.

This wouldn't be such an issue if the Play:5 (Gen 2) speaker was easy to find and buy. But it isn't. At all. A dwindling supply plus a growing demand for completing stereo pairs means these speakers are very much and even increasingly in demand. After all, until their resale price exceeds $1,000, it's still cheaper to buy one at a markup to complete your stereo pair than it is to buy two new Fives.

There is one silver lining: The difficulty of buying a new Play:5 (Gen 2) prevents you from doubling down your investment on aging hardware. Though speakers are typically timeless (vintage units still sound incredible), the digital guts in Sonos speakers means that, eventually, they are all but certainly going to be left behind by new software. That's a price you're paying for convenience. And while getting rid of your Play:5 now is a headache, it may put the pain of obsolescence a little further off into the future.

Meanwhile, if you have a Play:5 (Gen 2) speaker and you really want a true stereo sound, you have a few options — but none of them are super ideal.

The Play:5 (Gen 2) and the Five next to each other.
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Look out for a refurbished Play:5 (Gen 2) from Sonos.

Sonos doesn't sell new Play:5 speakers anymore, but it does occasionally sell refurbished models from the "Certified Refurbished" section of its website, which normally go for $399. The problem is that they're very rare. At the time of writing, the Play:5 (Gen 2) is the only new-ish Sonos speaker that you can't buy a refurbished model of. You buy refurbished models of the Play:1, One, One SL, Arc, Beam, Playbar and Sub — but not the Play:5. And when Sonos does make refurbished models of the Play:5 (Gen 2) available, which is almost exclusively during the holidays, they sell out fast. Like, almost instantly.

Best Buy also occasionally sells refurbished Play:5 speakers but I can't remember the last time they were available. (I've been looking for months.)

Buy a wicked expensive Play:5 (Gen 2) from Amazon.

If you go on Amazon, you can buy a new Play:5 (Gen 2) speaker — but it's so expensive that it's hardly justifiable. At the time of writing this, Amazon is currently selling them for $690 a pop, and that's down from a peak price of $750 earlier this year. It's an extremely hard sell considering that you can buy a Five, a newer version of that speaker, for several hundred bucks less. Or two Fives that you can actually pair for just a few hundred bucks more.

Buy a preowned Play:5 (Gen 2) from eBay.

The "best deal" you can get on a used Play:5 (Gen 2) speaker is if you were to buy one on eBay or from some other third-party seller. You can sometimes find them on eBay for less than $300. The problem that they aren't certified refurbished by Sonos or Buy Buy's Geek Squad, so you're wading into unknown territory. Most third-party sellers have pretty good return policies, but you're going to have to watch your step and be prepared for the possibility of an adventure if you take this route.

Bite the bullet and buy two new Fives.

Even if you don't want to buy on eBay, you can try to get rid of your own used Play:5 (2nd Gen) by selling it on eBay, Craigslist, or elsewhere, and use that money to fund the purchase of a new pair of current-gen Fives.

You can't trade in your Play:5 (Gen 2) speaker to Sonos which got rid of its controversial trade in program in 2020 and replaced it with an Upgrade Program. Instead, you can get a discount of up to 15 percent on new speakers if you provide proof of purchase for older ones. If you qualify for 15 percent discounts on both speakers (which you need to have two older Sonos speakers to be able to do), you're going to get $150 off ($75 off each), bringing your total to around $850.

Maybe, just maybe, if you get lucky with your own Play:5 resale, you can come out having spent nothing more than a chunk of your time.

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