Convince me to buy Sonos Playbar over Bose 300

  • 21 April 2017
  • 69 replies
  • 109275 views

Hi All,

My wife likes the Sonos Playbar, while I like the Bose 300.

I have owned Bose products in the past.
Listening to the demo at Best Buy, the Bose sounds better. The sales people say the Sonos demo is not very good.

Being a professional nerd, I research everything.

I have been monitoring both user support sites and I am having second thoughts about the Bose.

There sure SEEMS to be a lot of basic issues with software updates on the Bose side. Slow or no responses.

Both are the same price so nothing to go on there.
As we get "older" it is more important to have clear dialog and not knock pictures off the wall when a car explodes.

We mostly watch movies, sports and TV. Some music but not the priority. Harmony remote and Alexa.

My main question is, from the communities perspective, would you buy it again and any comments of why Sonos is better than Bose? How has the support been? Are they listening to you? Do updates break more than they fix?

Another Note: My wife will ONLY be accessing through Harmony remote and maybe Alexa.
She is not a smart phone kind of gal.

Thank you for any guidance!

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69 replies

I share Stuart_W's experience. And your Sony TV should be fine, I had a couple of them that were around 10 years old, and they were exceptional TVs, and passed 5.1 just fine.

I'm a fan of Bose only for their Noise Suppression headphones. But I'm concerned about the lawsuit just announced claiming that Bose has been selling customer information improperly. And the fact that they've changed their music software several times over the last several years makes me thing they're still looking for a good streaming solution, where Sonos has been solid since they've released, and still supports most of the equipment they released.

Frankly, neither company is perfect. But if I were to recommend something to my friends today, it would be Sonos. All day, every day.
On the other hand, Bose is on the third generation of their multi-room system in a little over three years, with some older features now unsupported. Whereas Sonos units going on 12 years old are still supported fully.
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I have installed audio equipment professionally for many years, and I will tell you first hand the reasons to never consider buying Bose (HT products) ever again. When it comes to noise cancelling headphones, they do it better than anyone else. But HT should be left to anyone but Bose.

- Compatibility - Bose has continued to show that they are far behind in making past products work with future ones, especially as well as Sonos

- Sound - Although I agree Sonos has not shown up well in retail, I don't spend time there, I spend time in homes listening to it, and Sonos sounds far better, especially after their audio tuning SW Trueplay was released. This includes their 5.1 setups when paired with a decent TV (Sony does the best hear with 5.1 pass-through imho). I've done blind listening with folks that swear they're listening to a big theater system at a far bigger price point.

- Ease of setup/use - Sonos just works, you change inputs, fumble with remotes, or have to do anything when it comes to their Playbar over the Bose. Imagine just walking in, turning on your TV, and Sonos does the rest. Sonos is also compatible with Harmony (and any other universal remote) so you can program it in to that as well. You're wife will thank you, many have thanked me for installing Sonos over their previous HT systems (including many Bose)

- Reliability/Support - I have yet to have a single piece of Sonos not work, ever. In fact, I just had an installer I know call me and tell me (with pictures included) that a couple who's had Sonos for 12 years is still using original equipment. That's downright insane in the age of tech today. When I had a small issue with a FW update, their support guided me through simple steps to resolve WHILE ON THE JOB SITE.

- Software/App experience - This isn't even worth comparing, Bose's app is awful in every sense of the word. Also, the first versions of their wireless soundlink speakers required you to update them with a USB cable to your computer. Although it's better now, it's still no where near Sonos. You press one button to update every speaker in a home. And the selection of what you want to play and where, no one does it better in the business, and I've used them all. Also Sonos doesn't release half-baked versions of their SW like everyone else, including Bose.

- Music - Do we need to even go here? Sonos has support for every major provider of streaming music in the world (minus YouTube), your entire music library, NAS drives, Plex servers, and nearly every other option including your phone itself.

Coming from a professional in the business, get Sonos.

P.S. For anyone claiming Sonos doesn't work well, get better than a $30 router. I've installed Sonos wirelessly on even the cheaper side of WiFi routers, and it works just fine. If you want great wireless, you need good hardware in the first place. That's not Sonos' fault, it's your router providing the signal that Sonos needs. Or, get a Sonos Boost, problems solved.
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You don't say whether or not you would be looking to make the system 5.1 (IE Add a SUB and surrounds). Either way the biggest "challenge" may be to ensure that if you are concerned about getting 5.1 then you need to ensure that the Player is fed a DD5.1 signal - Some TVs won't pass through DD5.1 (They convert it to stereo) and if the Player receives DTS (Say from a BluRay) then you won't get any sound.

That being said. My experience is the polar opposite of MrPassey. The ease of setting up, sound quality and access to thousands of radio stations, all your music and many streaming providers means that you risk having a mini Sonos expansion very quickly.

NONE of the "limitations" mentioned by MrPassey have ever caused me any problems - There aren't that many updates and besides how can you on the one hand complain about lack of functions and then moan when new facilities are added (Think TruePlay, Spotify direct play and soon to come voice control)?

NOTE2: it's all about the customer support, and the large number of customers with unresolved issues on this forum suggests this is not a priority for Sonos.

Unfair and inaccurate comment; where is your data to back this up? - with unresolved issues being defined to be systems that aren't working as they should even after posting diagnostics here or elsewhere with Support, and not issues related to desired features that are not being implemented. There is always plenty of noise about the latter, some perhaps justified, but that is a different subject.

I have a 4 zone system that has worked flawlessly for 99% of the time since 2011. Some attention from my end to glitches and solving them as they arose with help from users here and from Support is responsible for that satisfactory up time. And there are many such people here and elsewhere. How else could Sonos be on an increasing sales curve for 12 years?
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Don't do it!! I've only had limited experience of the Bose system in highstreet stores, but the customer support can't be worse than Sonos.

To explain here's my review on GooglePlay:

"
I spent almost £3k with Sonos just before Xmas and it's the worst decision ever. It's a shame because the sound quality is superb and doesn't skip a beat in terms of room syncronisation, BUT I've wasted so many hours trying to resolve the many issues encountered; 1.No option to 'share with / send to / cast to' (i.e. music must be managed from within Sonos app only), 2.Sonos mini apps have limited functionality so familiar interfaces and functionality can't be enjoyed (TuneIn radio doesn't even allow you to login to your own account!), 3.No access to world's most popular steaming service YouTube (inc. YouTube Red), 4.Viewing music on local device 'by folder' option not available (but option is available in the library), 5.PowerLine network not supported, 6.Room volume limits cannot be set, 7.Cross-fade option not available, 8.Updates more often than Microsoft Windows! 9.Customer support is quick to respond to simple queries (i.e. issues found in the FAQ) but refuse to address or even acknowledge everything else.

SUMMARY: Sonos you really must try harder, you've been around for a while so your customer experience should be a example to other manufacturers. At the very least provide a formal explaination for the above issues which are repeatedly being discussed in forums (i.e. update your FAQ). Ultimately the customer and manufacturer relationship is symbiotic, customer feedback helps manufacturers design better products (and generate more revenue), hopefully the Sonos support team pass this feedback to the Product Manager and we see improvement in the near future.

#NotHoldingBreath
"


My wife likes the Sonos Playbar, while I like the Bose 300.

Listening to the demo at Best Buy, the Bose sounds better.
Another Note: My wife will ONLY be accessing through Harmony remote and maybe Alexa.
She is not a smart phone kind of gal.

Some more points to mull over:
1. Domestic harmony usually trumps all else
2. In just a little while, people get used to what is being used where audio sound is concerned, so focus more on features/ease of use/system stability and the like
3. Using Sonos is best done using a smart phone. I can't comment on how Bose will work via the quoted interfaces.
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As we get "older" it is more important to have clear dialog and not knock pictures off the wall when a car explodes.

We mostly watch movies, sports and TV. Some music but not the priority. Harmony remote and Alexa.


After a week or two with the Playbase, I am happy. I had to go through some hoops to get 5.1 via my TV (using an HDMI switch) and add a Harmony Remote, but things are working well. Sound wise it fits the bill - I needed something that would deliver clear dialog, reasonably deep bass and integrate in my current Sonos environment. After two Trueplay tunings, the Playbase sounds full and clear. I have separate HT setup with projector for bog screen movie viewing, but for most viewing, the Playbase on my 50" plasma is prefect for someone who wants a single box solution that delivers a clear, full representation of all forms of TV content.

As an aside, the support for Sonos is a factor - forums like this help facilitate a better listening experience.
Userlevel 7
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Currently I have a Sony model KDL55NX810, PS3 that is used for games as well as watching DVD/Blu Ray and streaming.
Charter HD cable box and Yamaha receiver. We do have the Alexa and would be very beneficial to control volume using that.

Everything is connected to the receiver with the TV being connected to the ARC HDMI.
That means the receiver is always on.

At some point the TV, PS3 (Maybe just get PS4) will be upgraded.
I want this soundbar to continue to function as expected.

I am sure the people at Best Buy are getting tired of me stopping buy.


Sonos have designed their soundbar solution with the simplest of connectivity - It connects to the audio source using an optical cable and can decode various audio formats (Stereo, PCM, Dolby Digital 2.0 and Dolby Digital 5.1). Given the Sonos track record we can assume that further iterations of the Sonos product line will still, at least, support those formats and inputs.

It is this simplicity of set-up that is at the very heart of much of the fiercest criticism for the Playbar - No HDMI audio input. This has 2 direct consequences - 1) The Playbar cannot support DTS nor Dolby Digital + 2) Many TVs do NOT pass through a Dolby Digital 5.1 signal OUT through their optical audio connection.

In other words Sonos rely to a large extent on how TV manufacturers deal with the audio signal that they receive via HDMI and then output via optical. Obviously in an ideal world all TVs would simply pass through what they received in terms of audio input and/or recoded to the format of the user's choice. But given that many TV manufacturer's also have TV soundbar offerings it is self evident that they would not necessarily design their hardware to function perfectly with that of a competitor - In other words there are also complicated commercial imperatives at play here.

That being said, if you take on board my first paragraph I don't think you can go far wrong.
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@AudioGuru
Coming from a professional in the business, get Sonos. DISAGREE

P.S. For anyone claiming Sonos doesn't work well, get better than a $30 router. I've installed Sonos wirelessly on even the cheaper side of WiFi routers, and it works just fine. If you want great wireless, you need good hardware in the first place. That's not Sonos' fault, it's your router providing the signal that Sonos needs. Or, get a Sonos Boost, problems solved.[/quote]

I have one of the best routers in the game and am an IT professional.
The issue is not the routers or the strength of the signal, it is the poor coding that reacts badly to any and all changes and appears to randomly stop working


Really? You sound like an IT professional who hasn't installed hundreds of wireless audio systems... Sonos' traffic is solely handled by the router, that's what a router does as you know. If you are having packet loss/drops, it's your signal (or cable if hardwired). The majority of Sonos' customers don't buy a Boost and blame Sonos for poor performance. Again, I install these systems, Sonos is the most robust and reliable wireless audio system available today. When coupled with a Boost/high-performing router, it's nearly bulletproof. I have never been able to say the same for any other brand.
Userlevel 5
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Router speedtested at 480mbs and 2ms latency.
Sonos is the problem, not my router
The real point is that it was working OK, I have changed NOTHING and now it isn't.

Things good IT people don't do.

1. Confuse Internet bandwidth and LAN congestion.
2. EVER, EVER bring up the whole "I didn't change it, so there's been no changes" argument. It's irrelevant to the functionality, and you're hardly the master of all variables.
Userlevel 7
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agree with wolfman comments I wanted to make a correction though.... he had typo saying most it will do is DTS5.1 .... actually it won't do DTS5.1. I'm sure he meant DD 5.1. Playbar and Playbase ONLY do Dolby Digital 5.1 (DD 5.1). For bluray since there are a lot of titles that are DTS your player device needs to be able to transcode on the fly from DTS to DD (there are many players that will for this very reason).
7.Cross-fade option not available [...]
Positively! 🙂
Userlevel 7
Badge +17
You can cast google play music directly to sonos using an android controller/tablet, avoiding the sonos app if you prefer (although other people have recently reported problems on here)
My sonos play1's never have missed a beat in 2years .It really is all down to how good your house wifi is. SkyQ forum is also full of people whose wifi is problematic, happy customers do not post online much.
If you are hardwiring your house with Ethernet, your sonos should be super reliable.

My playbar/playbase problem would be lack of DTS support ie no sound from PS4/PS3 blu-rays/UHD discs, which bose can support.
The op should look into whether new playbase would sound better as well.
It really is all down to how good your house wifi is.
Quite right. And for Sonos and for every make that offers streaming audio, the house WiFi needs to be working better than for most other uses for it, where small issues don't get noticed. Therefore the nature of the tech is such that some attention may be needed at times. If that can't be given for whatever reason, wireless streaming isn't for such people. Never mind who makes the kit.
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Back to your original post - yes, the Sonos store demo is terrible.

I've been using the Playbar in a 5.1 setup for about 6 months. Contrary to the 2 previous soundbars/surround setups I tried (Sony and Vizio) the Sonos system just plain works. I've never had to reset it or deal with any software glitches. With the Sony & Vizio systems this was almost a daily occurrence. I never tried the Bose system though. But I did listen to the Bose Soundtouch 300 in a store and thought it sounded as good as the Sonos.

My main gripe with the Sonos Playbar is the lack of an HDMI input and support for the newer codecs like DTS, Atmos. Do you plan on using a 4K Blu-ray player in a 5.1 configuration? If so I recommend the Bose system. With the Playbar only supporting the aging Dolby Digital 5.1, I had to spend a lot of time finding a 4K Blu-ray player that had the feature to transcode all of it's audio to DD5.1. So, I had to settle for the Samsung K8500 and couldn't get the player I really preferred.

If the DD5.1 isn't an issue for you, then I recommend the Sonos Playbar with the sub-woofer. It really sounds good and the software/firmware is very stable.
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I exist in both worlds, Bose and Sonos.
I have a Sonos music system which does exactly what it says on the tin and what I bought it for, music that is.
I also have a bose soundtouch 130 which is the precursor to the 300 system.
The bose is dead easy to use and sound really good with tv, movies and such. But when it comes to music I really don't care for the bose.
Thing is, I bought the bose system over the sonos playbar because and only because of the apparent lack of connectivity in the playbar. I actually preferred the sound from the sonos playbar by a small margin.

The bose still sounds excellent and when I had owned it for a year and a half I deceided to try the soundtouch app for the first time.
Took me about 5 mins to set up.
Both systems are stable on my network but for music I prefer Sonos.
Tv and movies, it's a matter of taste. For me I'm not missing anything using the Bose.

if I were to do it again knowing what I know now I would go with the playbar.
If you intend to listen to music using either of these systems, the playbar sounds better in that regard.

I think that connectivity limitation is a lot smaller problem than I first thought.

My main use of a tv is streaming, netflix and all that so a playbar would be all I needed.
But if you are a blueray fan and want an epic home theater set up, neither of these will do.

I hope this helps.

Brg

Geiri
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Lack of HDMI on Sonos has nothing whatsoever to do with lack of DTS decoding. Optical can pass that through just fine - it was just a decision that Sonos made, for whatever reason.

You're technically correct. But I don't think there's a TV on the market that passes DTS out it's optical port. Hence the need for an HDMI input. I think we all accept the fact that the Sonos Playbar/Sub/Play1 would be an inferior DTS or Atmos system. compared to a discreet system. But, we just want the ability for the Playbar to accept these formats so we can enjoy some semblance of surround sound instead of what we get now - either no sound or just stereo.

Sorry I don't follow. While an HDMI port would be nice, Sonos believes it wouldn't be 'simple' enough to connect to a system with one. I don't happen to agree with that but can see a tiny bit of what they mean. However, if people say the reason we have no DTS is due to the lack of HDMI port, it should be corrected because they're completely unrelated. There is no link - and if the Playbar/Playbase decoded DTS then things would undoubtebly be very, very much simpler for pretty much everybody. There would be no need for an optical splitter, no need for a new BD player to transcode DTS to DD - and ironically, probably LESS cabling and potential for confusion. It could even be directly connected to devices easier. It would also play full discrete 5.1 audio from DTS-HD discs too as that audio also carries the core DTS signal too.
I really don't at all see that most would agree that if the system with a Playbar and Sub and Play 1's that could decode DTS/Atmos would be inferior to a discrete system. Why do you think most would - I think the addition of DTS with a Sub and P1's would make a great system with many benefits above a 'discrete' system.
Oh, regarding there being no TV's on the market that pass through DTS, erm, mine does and I'm pretty sure there are others too. I take a DTS signal into my TV's HDMI and it passes it through the optical port into my Amp.
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they have stated that their research shows that the vast majority of video sources watched via Sonos do NOT have DTS or at least DTS exclusivelySelf fulfilling prophesy?? Surely it's pretty much 100%? If the system can't even play DTS what use is usage monitoring for files with DTS? While you don't agree it would make things easier for most, I'll rephrase slightly and say it would not make it any more difficult for any. Adding it can only help users.
While you haven't needed it, I'd say it's up there with the most requested feature request.
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Yeah, that could be catch 22, people don't buy the playbar if they want DTS, or they take it back when they find out, so asking current customers will distort the answer. These customers could be a large % of future potential sales, especially as UHD discs start to take off.

I'd be certain that Sonos ensure they don't exclusively ask their existing Playbar customers about DTS.

The point is that it's niche isn't it? Clearly those who find they want/need their Playbar to support DTS will be 100% unhappy it doesn't. I'm sure Sonos have a fairly good idea of how many products have been returned due to this particular "shortcoming" and no doubt they keep a close eye on that and also developments within the audio/visual market.
Buy Bose.
Sonos just appears to stop working randomly.
Surf the net. Check other peoples forums.
But Sonos has epic software issues despite a great sound if (and it is a big IF) you can ever get it to work AND to stay working consistently.
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Sonos' traffic is solely handled by the routerlol.
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You likely have your system now but here is my experience so far. I have had sonos for almost 5 years. I started with a play 5. I loved it. I then got a playbar ...because I wanted to clean up my livingroom with all the wires. Later I added a sub and then latter again I added two play one....now I am looking for something else.....and it is hard to find. I like waking up to my favorite radio station and setting it up is easy and reliable. Yes I did have an issue with dropped packet but I resolved that with a new router. Most people use what they get from their ISP...they don't understand much else. They don't realize all the connections to it and they don't understand wireless and that you can change your channels ( I did that my issue went away on my old router) if need be in the router. Yes I pay 400 for my router but it is the heart and soul of my network. It run sonos, google home my lights, my chromecast etc. Now back to sonos...the most it will ever do is DTS5.1 assuming your TV passes it. If you are connecting a bluray or others to your TV ATmos is out ..along with other formats ( and their are lots) . I had to buy a box to connect to and then pass out to my TV....here I am getting back into more crap. My New Tv passess it fine, but still it is by TV. Optical just can't pass enough bandwidth to do other audio formats...period. The bottom line is you want good sound and you want convenience.In the end my setup is like 2000.00 bucks.......that's crazy....for what it is. Better audio on my TV and play music. ...I got kinda excited when they came out with a playbase......... that in my opinion is garbage ...same tech different design...In fact my wife didn't notice when I added it until she tried to control volume...it changed how it presented itself on the screen.....she actually said honey that really is not 800 dollars better......and I have to agree (bedroom TV) If you do a search for great soundbars...Sonos simply does not come out on top and there is a whole lotta reasons why.It had it's time but until they switch from optical and having to have the right TV to pass the signal...they are doomed in the home theater space. There is a lot of ways to cast audio today and it continues to grow.
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How does the Playbase go with DTS-HD and TrueHD, the missing HDMI is only reason I holding off with Playbase, would I notice any difference without it? It sounds great in store, wondering if I should keep holding off for playbase with hdmi (hopefully not too far away) If I were a betting man - Sonos and HDMI will be at least 2-3 years away. They just released there new playbase...I was very disappointed in it...no HDMI. In fact you might start looking now for other options and perhaps one that includes rca then just use a Sonos connect. Even those don't have hdmi since they are audio only devices. Maybe a RCA to hdmi would help the sonos connect, just leave out the yellow cable in connecting.Also some soundbars now have Atmos and for sure sonos will be way behind the curve on that. Don't get me wrong bI love sonos but if they are not going to adapt to the market and what people want then they will loose in the end. Example I love the fact I can wake up to my own radio station - well apparently Alexa devices can do that for me now as well. In all honesty if sonos waits to bring features too long...people won't renew their devices they will switch devices. At the end of the day they want to listen to their music system and have better sounding TVs. Personally I don't think they can wait another 2 or 3 years to come out with a better sound bar ...meaning better connection options than optical and going through a TV and that TV having to be able to pass sound formats to the play bar/base without using a middle device...Just my thoughts
You all have helped me, thank you!

Here is where I am at....

I like the Bose. I think it just sounds better. My wife likes the Sonos. But......

What is holding me back honestly is the Bose software.
Just basic things that get reported not working.
The software was rolled out just to immature and they are scrambling to get it working besides adding meaningful new features.
I realize the moderators are doing their best to communicate between the user community and the developers but the feedback to the users is poor. The lack of real progress on the issues is disappointing.

I am a software developer and this would NOT be acceptable to me or any company I have worked for.

The Sonos is a more mature product that is mostly stable and has many more features. Sonos sounds great with True multi room sound.
My issue with them is the lack of bluetooth and HDMI. Seems limited for the future.

For now I am going to see who wants the premium sound bar market the most.
If Bose can dedicate the resources into fixing the software I am all in. Bose it is.
If Sonos comes out with a new model that has HDMI than I will be a Sonos man.

Honestly, I do think I can go wrong with either choice. Both sound fantastic.


Hii .. could u please let us know what u purchased at the end. Playbar or Bose .. and how are you finding it? Any recomendations or feedback. Great if u could update us..