AirPlay 2 with Sonos PlayBar 5.1 and two Sonos One's as surrounds


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I keep hearing different things on this. If I have a PlayBar with two Sonos One's as surrounds, will the group be AirPlay 2 enabled?

The official blog post (https://blog.sonos.com/en/airplay2-coming/) says that "When you group one of these Airplay-enabled speakers with older Sonos devices, you can bring AirPlay capabilities to your entire Sonos system."

However, I keep hearing that since the PlayBar is the master in the 5.1, that the Sonos One's set as surrounds lose their AirPlay ability. Why would these be handled differently than another group? Is there a way to overcome this?

Could someone please confirm if this is the case?

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Hey ShermanThruGA,

We spoke about this in another thread here, but for anyone new to the conversation, the Playbar, Playbase, or Beam in a surround sound setup will determine Airplay2 compatibility. That speaker is the one that does all the heavy lifting and handles controlling what audio is sent where. If you had a Sonos One, you could send the Airplay 2 signal to it and group the Sonos One with your Playbar (not bonded as surround speakers), and they'd play the same thing.
Ok, sorry to be this person whining on forums about things not being exactly how I want but...if I’m understanding this right, it seems like really terrible implementation. I entirely get why the playbar as older tech doesn’t support AirPlay2. But now having two sonos ones linked to it as surround sound also isn’t a solution? i bought them instead of the cheaper play 1s assuming it was good future proofing for exactly this purpose.

Is it really the case that, assuming I don’t upgrade two playbars for bases, my only fixes are either to buy a third One for both rooms with playbars to create a group, or to decouple the Ones from the playbars so that I no longer have the surround sound experience? The first seems like madness, and the second defeats the purpose for which I bought this combo of equipment.
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I get the frustration, but you can't really blame Sonos for implementing their 5.1 system this way. It was designed and created years ago before airplay 2 was even a thought. Putting all the heavy lifting in the playbar was the right choice, since you couldn't have a 5.1 system without it, it would always have audio input, and it would save costs(and price) in the other speakers.

And of course, they can't redesign how it works now. Even if the involved speakers had the right hardware, it would not a lot of development work, testing, and intrduce bugs into funtions that have been error free for years.

Another option idea is to buy 2play:1sfor one ofyour 5.1 setups. That way you now can re purpuse the 2 Sonos Ones to other roomsin the house, separately or as a stereo pair. If separately, then you can have 2 airplay streams going at the same time.

You could also look into getting an apple TV to steeam through.
Yeah, I know there might be reasons for it. But if I start music using Alexa with the One, the whole combo takes it. Different use case of course because I’m not actually sending music to the One when it’s initiated that way, so I shouldn’t have assumed the AirPlay potential would work the same. Just annoying because I’ve now sunk more money in a system for functionality i won’t have. my dreams of finally ditching the dreaded Sonos app are in ruins!


And I did think after my initial post about changing the speakers attached to one of the surrounds, but it’s just redundant to introduce two more speakers that aren’t going to offer any advantages in terms of sound quality. a shortage of them around the house isn’t an issue! Cheers for the suggestion though.
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If it helps, when using voice control, you are sending a command to the cloud, which will then instruct the playbar to stream music as normal. The Sonos One will play the 'slave' role while you are streaming music.

As i understand it, with airplay, you are streaming directly from your phone to the device, with the device required to have a lot of memory available for buffering the audio. Playbar doesn't have that much memory. So if it were to theortically work, your sonos one, it would have to receive the stream from your phone, send the stream to the playbar for processing, and the receive a stream back from the playbar with only it's part of the audio. Sonos doesn't have the hardware to do all that.

Of course, if the Sonos One is not part of rhe playbar setup, then it doesn't need to receive a stream back from the playbar.
Right. As soon as I thought about it, it became obvious that it wasn’t the case that AirPlay would work the same as streaming music to the surround sound combo. Unfortunately, it just hadn’t occurred to me to question my assumptions. I’m not blaming the company either, and in the scheme of things, it’s not a big deal. Just means I’ve got some choices to make about whether to upgrade to play bases or think about other AirPlay 2 compatible options.
What a ripoff! How disingenuous. I literally sold two Play:1 I had as sureounds and replaced with Ones based on your BS marketing statements. You really expected consumers to parse this and differentiate the technical differences between pairing, grouping, adding, etc? What a waste of time. I feel like an idiot for having you in every room of my house including bathrooms. That’s about to change. Better options for TVs anyway.
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I need two playbars badly but wont buy them until this issue is resolved. I can feel everyones pain here and these speakers are not cheap.
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I'm in the same boat. I bought the Playbar and the Sonos Ones and I saw that Airplay 2 was coming.... then I saw the beam come out.... Super frustrating.

What is my cheapest move to be able to get airplay 2 working? I'm paticularly interested in just being able to play from the podcast app on an iPhone to my sonos system. I hate navigating through the sonos app to find a podcast.
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If setting up with tv and surrounds. ... beam

Just stand alone speaker Sonos One
I'm in the same boat. I bought the Playbar and the Sonos Ones and I saw that Airplay 2 was coming.... then I saw the beam come out.... Super frustrating.

What is my cheapest move to be able to get airplay 2 working? I'm paticularly interested in just being able to play from the podcast app on an iPhone to my sonos system. I hate navigating through the sonos app to find a podcast.


Purchase a Sonos One, group it with the Beam room.
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I have two Sonos Ones ones. Are you saying I need to get rid of the Playbar and replace it with a Beam? Is that my only option?
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Jgatie meant that you can purchase a Sonos One, then group it with your playbar room
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Jgatie meant that you can purchase a Sonos One, then group it with your playbar room

Yes, if you want a working Playbar. The Sonos one will always work properly. I am glad I help off on the Playbar until they get this figured out. The only thing I do not like about Airplay 2 is that I spend most of my time on the 5G network and I need to be on the 2.4 GH network to get it to work. I also had to unplug the ethernet on my apple TV and move over to 2.4 GHz wireless to use the Connect to mix in my high end home theater system.
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I own two Sonos Ones already. What specifically does it mean to group it?

They are currently set up to be the rear speakers of the surround sound system. Thanks!
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Only the Sonos One and Beam will work. If you own other speaker they will not work.

Grouping means that the Beam and the Sonos One speakers can simulate 5.1. If you have a Playbar it will simulate 5.1 but not as Airplay2 (Only in the Sonos format)
I own two Sonos Ones already. What specifically does it mean to group it?

They are currently set up to be the rear speakers of the surround sound system. Thanks!


You would need a third, standalone one. The problem is you need an Airplay 2 capable unit as the primary speaker in the room. The Playbar is the primary speaker in your Playbar/surrounds setup and it is not Airplay 2 capable. So if you had a single One separate from your Playbar/surrounds, using the Sonos group feature, you could group the Playbar/surrounds with that single Sonos one. That way, you can send the Airplay 2 stream to the single Sonos One, and it will play on the grouped Playbar/surrounds.

You could also replace the Playbar with a Beam.
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Only the Sonos One and Beam will work. If you own other speaker they will not work.


Wrong. Perhaps you're thinking of speakers with built in voice assistants? Sonos One, Beam, playbase, and Play 5 (2nd gen) are all compatible with airplay 2. As jgatie said, you can then group these speakers (or the room in which they are the primary speaker) with other rooms that are not airplay 2 compatible.

https://support.sonos.com/s/article/1230?language=en_US


Grouping means that the Beam and the Sonos One speakers can simulate 5.1.


No it doesn't. In Sonos terms, you are describing 'bonding'. Grouping is temporarily playing one room to play audio in sync with other room(s).
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I own two Sonos Ones already. What specifically does it mean to group it?

They are currently set up to be the rear speakers of the surround sound system. Thanks!


You would need a third, standalone one. The problem is you need an Airplay 2 capable unit as the primary speaker in the room. The Playbar is the primary speaker in your Playbar/surrounds setup and it is not Airplay 2 capable. So if you had a single One separate from your Playbar/surrounds, using the Sonos group feature, you could group the Playbar/surrounds with that single Sonos one. That way, you can send the Airplay 2 stream to the single Sonos One, and it will play on the grouped Playbar/surrounds.

You could also replace the Playbar with a Beam.


So there's no way to create a 2nd group that has one of the existing sonos ones with the play bar?

If I buy a third one, can the play bar belong to two separate groups? When I create a group, how do I choose the Sonos One as the primary speaker?


So there's no way to create a 2nd group that has one of the existing sonos ones with the play bar?

If I buy a third one, can the play bar belong to two separate groups? When I create a group, how do I choose the Sonos One as the primary speaker?


"Group" has a very specific meaning in the Sonos context, which can be confusing when used as a generic term. These are the ways Sonos speakers can be combined:

Grouping: Non-permanent joining of two or more rooms to play the same source in sync. Grouping/ungrouping is a simple menu choice, and is meant to be fluid. Each room plays all channels of the source.

Pairing: Pairing the the semi-permanent connection of two like-model speakers to form a single room as a stereo pair. The speakers will play the left and right channels individually, giving superior stereo separation which is not possible with a single unit. Unpairing is not trivial, and all Truplay information is lost when you unpair.

Bonding: Bonding is like pairing, except you bond a Sub to other speakers, or a surround pair to a Playbar/Playbase/Beam. Like pairing, bonding is semi-permanent and not trivial to undo.
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So there's no way to create a 2nd group that has one of the existing sonos ones with the play bar?

If I buy a third one, can the play bar belong to two separate groups? When I create a group, how do I choose the Sonos One as the primary speaker?


"Group" has a very specific meaning the Sonos context, which can be confusing when used as a generic term. These are the ways Sonos speakers can be combined:

Grouping: Non-permanent joining of two or more rooms to play the same source in sync. Grouping/ungrouping is a simple menu choice, and is meant to be fluid. Each room plays all channels of the source.

Pairing: Pairing the the semi-permanent connection of two like-model speakers to form a single room as a stereo pair. The speakers will play the left and right channels individually, giving superior stereo separation which is not possible with a single unit. Unpairing is not trivial, and all Truplay information is lost when you unpair.

Bonding: Bonding is like pairing, except you bond a Sub to other speakers, or a surround pair to a Playbar/Playbase/Beam. Like pairing, bonding is semi-permanent and not trivial to undo.


So which one do I do to be able to use airplay with my current speaker setup ( 2 Ones, 1 Playbar, 1 Sub)


So which one do I do to be able to use airplay with my current speaker setup ( 2 Ones, 1 Playbar, 1 Sub)


You can't, unless you un-bond the surrounds from the Playbar and group one (or both) of them with the Playbar/Sub.
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So which one do I do to be able to use airplay with my current speaker setup ( 2 Ones, 1 Playbar, 1 Sub)


You can't, unless you un-bond the surrounds from the Playbar and group one (or both) of them with the Playbar/Sub.


Thats crazy. So I bought something that is supposed to be AirPlay 2 compatible (the Sonos Ones), but now they are not compatible because I have them paired with another device that isn't?
Yes, that is the case. It is due to the architecture of the 5.1 setup. When they are set up as surrounds, there is no way for the One(s) to decode the Airplay and send it to the Playbar, and still be able to play the single stream surround channel coming back to them after the Playbar decodes the 5.1.
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I can begrudgingly accept that there might be technical limitations to preventing you using airplay and actually getting surround sound.

But at least allow me to play music to that setup, even if its not in surround sound. I bought these speakers because the people in the store told me they were airplay 2 compatible. That is now turning out to be a gross misrepresentation.

I mean, I'd even be fine if I could just use airplay 2 to play to a single one of the Sonos ones, but it sounds like I would have to pair and de-pair each time to do that?