Tutorial

Using Sonos as PC Speakers

Using Sonos as PC Speakers
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Image provided by PaulRBoon in this thread: Beam as computer speaker


At Sonos, we don’t make speakers specifically designed for your computer. However, if you are considering integrating your computer sound into your Sonos system, we want to help you get the most out of your products. With this being said, not all computers are built equal, so your mileage may vary, therefore it’s unfortunately not something Sonos can help or support you with setting up outside the general advice here.

In this article, we are going to be focusing on the best ways to get your computer audio coming through a Sonos Playbar, Playbase, Ray, Beam, Arc, Amp, Move or Roam. To get this to work, there are two things to look at: how to connect the products and the settings needed.

 

A quick note on Play:5, Five, Connect:Amp, Port and Connect

While it is possible to use these players with a PC by connecting to their line-in ports, this isn’t a recommended solution if you’re planning on doing something that requires audio/video synchronization. There will be a minimum of a 75ms delay on the audio due to the signal processing performed on the line-in side. If synchronization isn’t an issue for you, you can simply connect the device to your PCs headphone or line out jack like you would a pair of regular headphones.


Connecting: 

 

Depending on the product you’re trying to connect, the method of connecting it to your computer will be slightly different. I’ll group the products with similar connections together to make things a bit easier to follow.

 

Playbar, Playbase & Ray

These products use a TOSLINK/Optical cable to receive audio, so if you’re looking to use these as PC speakers, your PC must be equipped with an Optical Out port. Most PCs don’t come with these built into the motherboard, though some higher end ones do. In most cases, you’ll likely need to use an internal sound card to provide that connection. Simply use an Optical cable to link your Playbar/Playbase/Ray to the Optical out port on your computer; just like you would to hook it up to a TV.

Playbar - use the Digital audio IN port
Playbase - use the Digital audio IN port
Ray - use the Digital audio IN port

Beam, Arc & Amp

If you’re using a Beam, Arc or Amp as computer speakers, there’s one extra step. You’ll need to make use of the Sonos Optical Audio Adapter that is included with your product (excluding Amp). Most computers send a regular HDMI audio stream over their HDMI ports, whereas these products require an HDMI-ARC audio signal. These are not the same. Unless you are using a TV equipped with HDMI-ARC as your monitor, connecting via HDMI-ARC won’t be possible. If that does apply to you, you can check this FAQ to find out how to set up your Beam, Arc or Amp.

How to use the Sonos Optical Audio Adapter

 

With Amp, you also have the option to use the RCA Line-In ports, though you should be aware that there will be a minimum of 75ms delay due to the signal processing performed on this input. Therefore, it’s generally a better experience to use the HDMI ARC port with the optical adapter.


 

Beam - use the HDMI port with the Optical adapter
Arc - use the HDMI port with the Optical adapter
Amp - use either HDMI or Analog audio in connections

 

Move & Roam

With Move & Roam, things are a lot more simple. Hooking up these products is as easy as switching them over to Bluetooth mode, opening the Bluetooth settings of your PC and selecting them from the list, just like you would to connect a mobile device. We’ll show you how to do this in the next section.

Move - push the Mode button to switch to Bluetooth
Roam - push and hold the power button for 2 seconds to switch to Bluetooth

Settings:
 

Connecting via optical cable or Sonos Optical Audio Adapter

 

Once you are connected with an optical cable, you may need to perform some steps to get everything running smoothly. It would be almost impossible for us to list specific settings for every sound card or motherboard that has an optical port built in, but we can provide some basic recommendations.

 

Once the optical cable is plugged in, click the speaker icon in the bottom-right corner of your Windows taskbar, then click the speaker name above the volume slider to see if an “Optical” or “Digital” sound output has shown up. If it has, just click to enable it. 

Look in this drop-down list for “Optical” or “Digital” sound output

If the speaker doesn’t show up there, right-click the speaker icon in the taskbar, click Open Sound Settings, Sound Control Panel and then the Playback tab.

Right-click anywhere in the list, then click “Show Disabled Devices.”

 

Make sure “Show Disabled Devices” is checked


Once you’ve done that, a device named “digital output” or “optical output” should show up. Right-click it and click “Enable” to switch it on. Once you’ve done that, right-click it again and click “Set as default device.” You should now have optical audio enabled and be able to listen to your PC audio through your Sonos player. You may need to open your Sonos app and select TV from the browse menu if TV Autoplay isn’t enabled.

If this doesn’t work for you, double-check the cable is properly seated in the optical port (it should have a gentle bump or click when fully inserted), and make sure the latest drivers are installed for your sound card or motherboard’s audio processor. If all this checks out, but you’re still not seeing the options show up, get in touch with the manufacturer of your device for further assistance.




Connecting through Bluetooth


Connecting to Move or Roam through Bluetooth is relatively quick and easy. Take a look at the GIF below to see how it’s done in Windows 10. Note: not all desktop PCs have Bluetooth built in, so you may need to use an external adapter/dongle.

On Mac, the process is also fairly straightforward. You can use the same method for connecting to a Move or Roam through Bluetooth, or you can establish an Airplay stream to any Airplay 2 capable speakers. Check out our FAQ on Streaming Airplay audio to Sonos.

 

And that’s it! Once you’re connected in either of these ways you’ll be able to enjoy your PC’s audio on your Sonos player. If you’re using the cabled method you’ll be able to group other wireless players in with your PC connected device and have that audio all around your home, just be aware that the players treat the incoming signal as TV audio, so a strong connection is required between players in order to enjoy uninterrupted sound on a large group.

We love to see what our users do with our products, so if you have your Sonos set up in an interesting way with your computer we’d love to see it! Feel free to post your images in this thread :smile:


22 replies

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Interesting article.

I am using 2 x Sonos One SL for my MacBook + Widescreen Home office setup, with AirPlay when I need bright sound. Not convenient for all uses (due to the delay) but still.

Hello, thank your for your article, but when you are connected with bluetooth to a Roam, is it possible to group two Sonos One SL at the same time ? And choose stereo mode with the One’s ?

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Hello, thank your for your article, but when you are connected with bluetooth to a Roam, is it possible to group two Sonos One SL at the same time ? And choose stereo mode with the One’s ?

Yes, this is possible 🙂

The article says that to connect a Playbar, Playbase, or Ray, your PC must be equipped with an Optical Out port. To connect the Ray to my laptop which only comes with a 3.5” headphone jack, I purchased a $15 analog to digital converter on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07W5GNZX5. This works great to connect my laptop to the Ray and the converter box is very small (2.3” x 2.1”). The converter box gets power from a laptop USB A port. No need for a separate AC plug.

 

Why am I not getting surround sound with the toslink method from my pc to Arc? I get surround sound to my non Sonos receiver when using the toslink.

Go to Settings → System → About My System and check Audio In: for ARC. This is the audio format being presented to ARC.

“However, if you are considering integrating your computer sound into your Sonos system, we want to help you get the most out of your products”

So why not enable streaming over wireless from PC to Sonos? The whole point of Sonos speakers for many of us is that they are wireless. We have WiFi in our homes for the same reason, so why not enable that?

While I am fairly happy with my Sonos speakers, I cannot recommend them to others for this reason. Yes, I can use Stream What You Hear, but why should I have to use a third-party solution (that is also far from trivial to set up)?

“However, if you are considering integrating your computer sound into your Sonos system, we want to help you get the most out of your products”

So why not enable streaming over wireless from PC to Sonos?

 

 

Enable in what way?  Bluetooth?  Sonos has that available via Roam now. 

Are you asking for Sonos to write software to transmit audio from a PC to Sonos speakers over WiFi?  It’s not really ‘enabling’ streaming since streaming doesn’t exist.  Semantics, yes, but an important aspect to consider.  Also need to consder the various audio formats that audio could be in, including stereo 2.0, 5.1, atmos, etc, and the codecs possibly to consider who that will be properly handled.  Also need to factor in that PC audio will often accompanied with video, so the normal multiroom buffering with Sonos will not suffice.

 

 

 

 

I can stream from Android to Sonos over the wifi connection, just asking to be able to do the same from a PC. I would have to spend more to get a Roam. Yes, there are numerous formats available, but most of us use only a small number of them, so even if it was only possible for the formats supported already that would be useful. 

I can stream from Android to Sonos over the wifi connection, just asking to be able to do the same from a PC. I would have to spend more to get a Roam. Yes, there are numerous formats available, but most of us use only a small number of them, so even if it was only possible for the formats supported already that would be useful. 

 

How are you streaming from Android to Sonos?  Sonos can play music files stored on your phone and can play music files stored on your PC or a NAS.  I assume this isn’t what you’re referring to.  The original topic was to play any audio coming from your PC, whether it be music files, streamed podcasts, movies, youtube, games, whatever.

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I can stream from Android to Sonos over the wifi connection, just asking to be able to do the same from a PC. I would have to spend more to get a Roam. Yes, there are numerous formats available, but most of us use only a small number of them, so even if it was only possible for the formats supported already that would be useful. 

Are you talking about streaming files from your Android? You can do that on the PC already, just right click on the file.

The request here is for “live streaming” ie with no delay, capturing the PC audio output and stream it, for movie use. That isn’t possible.

Actually, “all” I am asking for is to be able to send PC audio to Sonos, as if Sonos were PC speakers, without having to use tricky to set up tools like Stream What You Here. Or maybe Sonos to incorporate SWYH into its app with an easy (or at least easier) interface and set-up.

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Actually, “all” I am asking for is to be able to send PC audio to Sonos, as if Sonos were PC speakers, without having to use tricky to set up tools like Stream What You Here. Or maybe Sonos to incorporate SWYH into its app with an easy (or at least easier) interface and set-up.

AIUI, the Sonos app is just a remote control device for the speakers. So something on the PC needs to send the data stream to the speakers, and the speakers need to be told what to listen out for.  The speakers have a finite amount of memory. Whilst I don’t know what the capacities and limits/free memory may be at present, I for one do not want to stream from my pc so would prefer the currently free memory kept for other purposes. I do have a music library on my PC; I’m happy to play live gaming or online video to my (wired) PC speakers. 

I connected my Roam to my Laptop by bluetooth & set it as the active speaker but I am not getting sound. I have a dell laptop running Windows 11. I downloaded updates for the Sonos software and a driver on the laptop. When I try to play a music file on Media Player I get this message: “Windows Media Player cannot play the file because there is a problem with your sound device. There might not be a sound device installed on your computer, it might be in use by another program, or it might not be functioning properly.” Any thoughts as to what might be the problem?  The Roam works fine when I stream music from my phone.  Thanks for your help. 

@TJMill . HI. Could you explain what you mean by ‘set as the active speaker’?  Do you mean Bluetooth paired?

Alternatively If you want to play music files that are stored on your laptop using your network then you need to set up and use a Sonos Music Library.  Have you done that?

@John B Hi, thanks. What I meant was that after bluetooth pairing, I opened the sound settings to make sure that the roam actually appeared as an available speaker and had the little mark (showing my technical prowess here) next to it showing it was the speaker that should be playing. I do have my sonos music library set up and have no trouble playing music from the laptop on the rest of my system.  All that I want to do with the roam is to be able to connect via bluetooth and use it for sound when I am watching a movie or videos on my laptop.  The built in speakers are not that great.

Hi.  I imagine this may vary between laptops, but I think the speaker selected in the sound settings is irrelevant once you are paired over Bluetooth.  Or rather, you would select the laptop speakers, and Bluetooth would redirect that to the Roam.

My other point is that if the Roam is connected to your your WiFi as part of your Sonos system then you will be able to play your music to it just as you cab to your other Sonos speakers.

I could be wrong on this - I never play from my laptop.

@John B Thanks again for trying to help me out.  I really appreciate it.  Yes, I can play music from my sonos library on the laptop over wifi to the entire system, including the roam.  What I am trying to do is use the roam as a speaker for watching videos on my laptop. Basically, I am trying to get the roam to act like any other bluetooth speaker I have ever paired to the laptop and provide the sound from videos and web sites. That is what I can’t figure out. 

TJMill,

When playing music the SONOS controller instructs the players where to find the music, then the players fetch the music directly from the source. At this point you could uninstall the controller and the music will continue. While Bluetooth sharing the computer must directly interact with the speakers.

OK.  Have you tried just playing the video on you laptop speakers and then, while it is playing, turn on Bluetooth and pair to the Roam?

Thanks for the content here James. 

This article appears to be as good a place as any to say this appears to be the end of my interest and investment into the Sonos ecosystem. I love my One / One SL combo and was excited by the idea of expanding it and having Sonos products in every room of the house. Open the wallet, no problem. Just show me the product that has a setting where you can use it as a regular speaker. Without knowing it was an issue I thought a pair of fives would do the trick. Or maybe I would play their ‘game’ and pony up for an amp or port or some little bypass switch built specifically for the ‘pros’ that would have the pricing to match tucked somewhere in a corner of the website. Surely this would exist! Sigh. 

Sonos started in 2002, that’s 20 years to regard this as a product gap worthy of attention. Clearly it’s not. DJs, PC gamers, content creators, Sonos is not for us. That’s pretty sad. 

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