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What is Sonos Trueplay and how does it work?

, Deputy editor ·

(Pocket-lint) - Sonos Trueplay is a software feature that allows anyone who owns a Sonos speaker to tune it specifically to the room it is in. In a similar way to how someone might tune a professional hi-fi system, Sonos Trueplay brings this technology in an easy to manage and understand format.

There are plenty of factors that affect the way a speaker will sound when placed in a room. The idea of Trueplay is to recognise these factors and calibrate itself accordingly in order to make the respective Sonos speaker sound as good as possible with these factors considered.

Sonos Trueplay is designed to allow you to put any Sonos speaker wherever you want. You could place a Sonos One behind the curtain or a Sonos Five in a cupboard and the idea is that it shouldn't matter - within reason - in terms of the sound output.

The Trueplay software will analyse all the acoustic factors that might impact a speaker's sound quality, such as room size, layout, decor and speaker placement. It will then adjust how each tweeter and woofer produces sound to make sure the speaker sounds as good as possible wherever it is.

The company says you shouldn't have to think about where you put a speaker. You should be able to put it wherever you choose and Sonos makes this more possible with Trueplay.

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In order for Trueplay to make your Sonos speaker sound as good as it can in the environment it is in, you have to go through a tuning process - unless you have the Sonos Move or the Sonos Roam, which perform Trueplay tuning automatically.

Unlike other tuning processes though, Trueplay tuning on all Sonos speakers apart from the Sonos Move and Sonos Roam, takes three minutes and it's very simple and easy. For the Sonos Move and Roam, it takes around 30 seconds to automatically make any required adjustments and this will work over Bluetooth and Wi-Fi following a software update on 9 March, 2021.

The Sonos app will prompt you to start tuning and after following the steps, it will eventually emit a series of test sounds. These sounds are made up of three properties - brown noise, pulse sounds that allow for echoes and a sweep of frequencies.

The microphone in your iOS device (Android devices not supported) detects how these sounds react to the room you are in by measuring how the sound waves reflect off the walls, furnishings, glass and other surfaces, while for the Sonos Move and Sonos Roam, the built-in microphone array takes care of this part. This information is then used to create an acoustic profile of your room by recording how loud various frequencies sound as you move around.

A combination of equaliser and filtering techniques are then created by the Trueplay software to correct these frequencies so music sounds the way the artist intended it to following the tuning process. 

Sonos says the speaker knows what it should sound like and Trueplay tells it what it doesn't sound like, allowing it to tune itself to sound better. The company also says that Trueplay won't change anything that doesn't need to be changed.

As we mentioned, the app will prompt you into steps if you have any Sonos speaker other than the Sonos Move or Sonos Roam. The room you are tuning needs to be as quiet as possible in order for the process to work, but Sonos has added algorithms that will cancel out noises such as a dog bark.

There is a video in the app to show you what to do, but when the sounds we referred to above begin, you're required to hold your iOS device in your hand and move it up and down, whilst walking around the room. Those with a Sonos Move or Sonos Roam just need to put the speaker down where they want it and Trueplay will happen without you touching anything, whether that's in your house or a public park.

For other Sonos speakers, you need to make sure you walk around as much of the room as you can, but not too quickly and you also need to make sure your arm is moving up and down from head to waist as the video shows you, otherwise the sounds will stop and the app will tell you to try again.

It takes 45 seconds to do the actual tuning bit if you do it right and you won't need to do it again unless you move the speaker into a different room or change its orientation. Even in a power cut, the speaker will remember the room configuration.

Sonos Trueplay requires an Apple device that runs on iOS 7 and above. It can be an iPad, iPhone or an iPod Touch and you only need it for those couple of minutes we mentioned earlier to do the setup. If you are on Android or Windows and have no Apple devices in your house, you'll need to invite an iOS buddy round and ask to borrow their device for a few minutes to get Trueplay setup.

Sonos is working on making Trueplay tuning work with Android devices but there is currently too much variation in Android devices when it comes to the microphones. The company says that even the same device on a different carrier will deliver varied results and therefore it is taking longer to configure.

All of our Sonos speakers have been tuned using Trueplay and the difference is definitely noticeable. We retune all of our speakers whenever we move them and we would definitely say it is worth doing.

Trueplay tuning doesn't take long to do, it's very easy to do and if it is going to make an existing speaker better, then why not?

Sonos Trueplay is available for free for all Sonos speakers comprising Sonos One, Sonos One SLPlay:1, Play:3, Play:5, Play:5 (2015), Sonos Five, Playbar, PlaybaseBeam and Arc.

It is also on the Sonos Move and Sonos Roam, but in the form of Automatic Trueplay, as we mentioned above.

Writing by Britta O'Boyle.