Sonos Playbar, what is it?
The Sonos Playbar could simply be described as a “sound bar” but this just would not do it justice.
Sonos, who have been around for over a decade now, kicked off the multi-room audio market and have proved they’re a force to be reckoned with, still standing as the undisputed kings of a marketplace they helped create.
The Playbar is Sonos’ version of a conventional sound bar; everything you would expect, but with a few tricks up its sleeve.
Firstly, the Playbar houses a total of 9 speaker drives in a 90cm wide housing delivering stunningly detailed and rich powerful sound.
If that still isn’t enough, you can add any of the Play speakers and have them act as wireless rear surrounds. The only caveat is that they must be two of the same; either two Play 1’s, 3’s or 5’s. There is even a wireless subwoofer available to give you the complete 5.1 setup.
Want to use your own speakers as rear surrounds?
If you already have speakers and would like to use them as rear surrounds, this can be done by purchasing the Sonos Connect Amp.
Connecting up the Playbar is as simple as plugging the unit into the mains and hooking it up to your TV’s optical output with the supplied cables. Easy.
Your TV will need to have an optical out, so double check that before buying. All your HDMI sources will plug directly into the TV meaning setup is kept very simple.
It’s worth mentioning that the Playbar only processes Dolby Digital signals, that means DTS or DTS-HD signals are down converted to Dolby Digital. This isn’t really an issue however as the likes of Sky and Virgin only broadcast in Dolby Digital anyway.
After that you will need to either download the free mobile app for IOS or Android, or the Windows or MAC desktop controllers.
Once that’s done you’ll be led to clear instructions on how to get started. Perfect for first time users, so simple to follow and you should be up and running in around 5 minutes or less. (It’s worth having your Wi-Fi credentials to hand if you’re not hard wiring the Playbar to your router)
Once you’re connected to your network the Sonos app will ask you to take the remote you currently use to control the volume on your TV and “press the volume up key”. Doing so will enable the Playbar to learn your remote control’s IR code. In classic Sonos style, this keeps everything very slick and simple, enabling you to use your normal TV remote to control the volume on the Playbar too. At the rear of the Playbar is a long built in IR repeater. This means that the Playbar won’t block any additional IR commands being sent to the TV. (You may need to go into your TV settings and disable the TV speakers to avoid hearing sound from the TV and Playbar at the same time)
Using your Playbar:
Once the above is all done, you’re ready to enjoy the power of the Playbar. This is guaranteed to be a vast improvement over your old TV sound.
2 of the drivers are situated on the left and right sides to help with delivering a more immersive listening experience, and it truly is! It’s amazing just how much of a surround sound experience you get from 9 speakers in a row in front of you.
Watching Sky Q with the sound coming through the Playbar, the improved sound quality is instantly noticeable, even on those ultra-annoying adverts! The sound has much better dynamics and where before the sound from our Samsung UE55JU6500 TV was more than a little thin, we now have some seriously powerful bass. There is also a new openness to the sound, with a real sense that the sound is coming from behind us and sweeping from theft to right, delivering a very commendable surround sound experience.
Don’t forget you can add wireless surrounds or a sub to your Playbar.
But the enjoyment won’t end there.
Switch off your TV, invite some friends over and spin some virtual disks because the Playbar is one seriously capable wireless HiFi.
Got music stored on your phone? No problem, the Playbar can handle that. Tunes stored on a PC, MAC, or even a NAS drive? No sweat – Sonos have you covered in all departments with just a few simple steps using the control app. You’ll be rocking out in no time.
‘But I only use streaming services,’ we hear you cry?
The Playbar can do that too. It has what is the most comprehensive list of streaming services currently available on any product of its kind. This includes all the big players such as Spotify, Tidal, Deezer and Napster. Whatever you use, Playbar can stream it.
It’s important to give Spotify a little more attention as Sonos are one of the only companies to offer a fully unified app experience. This means you don’t have to navigate away from the Sonos app to use Spotify like normal because they use something called Spotify Connect. Having Spotify built into the Sonos app is a big plus. Again, it makes the whole experience seamless.
Multi Room Functionality:
As mentioned earlier you can add additional speakers to the Playbar to give you a more immersive surround sound experience but as you’ve probably guessed by now- that’s not all you can do.
All you have to do is purchase any other Sonos item your heart should desire, set it up in a different room and that’s it – you’re now in the realm of multiroom. The opportunities with this product really are endless. Not to mention effortlessly cool.
In short, the Sonos Playbar is still one of the very best sound bars available at any price. It might not be able to decode DTS soundtracks, but, that’s hardly going to bother the majority of people in the sound bar market.
If you want to give your TV sound a considerable boost, but, don’t want a full blown home cinema setup, then you need to consider the Playbar.