It's now early April of 2019. Just a week ago I purchased the Sonos Playbase via used. (Sorry Sonos, your product pricing is uncommonly steep compared to most.)
I thought I did my research well enough and found the Playbase to meet my needs. In regards to it's sound within the soace I live in it's fantastic!... until I realized my research was woefully ignorant of the one big topic that's permeated through many forums here: Sonos's desire not to succumb to the growing market and past technologies of DTS 5.1 and Dolby Atmos.
Yes I've read their reasons and yes they make sense, but that doesn't negate the fact that if I'm to enjoy any AV media that utilizes, these formats Sonos finds so unpopular, I have to struggle blindly and feel my way to costly work-arounds.
DTS incompatability has been a heavy hitter in this particular arena. I actually don't mind the downgrade to Stereo (which was one of the reasons I chose the Playbase for my theater sound solution) The problem is that when a DTS audio Blu ray is playing and the code is downgraded my Playbase fails miserably when it comes to processing dialogue. It's as if it is playing back 5.1 but missing the center channel, the channel the majority of the dialogue is spoken. Voice enhancement, EQ tweaking, even adding my TV's speakers even has been tried and exhausted to no improvement. The moment a loud action sequence in the movie begins my fine tuned setup (to be able to hear the dialogue) is blown to smitherings as the audio crescendos 5-10 decibles. I then spend the entire time watching any action movie (that is in DTS/Atmos) in anticipation as the explosions (in volume) are swiftly dealt with my TV remote so I don't wake up the neigbors.
Again, I understand that Sonos has dismissed DTS as unimportant and why, however, in doing so any "purchased" Blu-ray I own becomes obsolete... that is, of course, unless I venture to another audio solution... one that dmbraces DTS. Something I'd rather not do now that I've invested in Sonos.
It is abundantly clear Sonos has no desire to come up with a cost effective solution... or even to create or invest in some kind of external transcoder or internal converter. I've read almost every forum dedicated to this short-sightedness, all culminating with the same work-around solutions, frustrations, venting, etc. Because this problem is very common and because many if the solutions are scattered throughout I thought I could begin a list of solutions. Unfortunately, bulky, wirey and expensive solutions/work-arounds.
Sonos products focus mainly on Dolby Digital 5.1 therefore it is imperative that that is what the speakers recieve. In my case anything less results in dialogue issues. The list below, although short, begins with solutions I've considered. I'm hoping more people will add to it... assuming this post doesn't get scrubbed.
1) Make darn sure your Blu ray player has the DD 5.1 re-encode option. I gambled and failed as my new $200 player does not. And I'm not buying second one. (It is my understanding that mainly Samsung Players are the only ones capable of this.)
2) If your TV is not able to pass audio through unscathed you'll need a splitter. Depending on your player's out-put (hdmi or optical) will determine which splitter you'd prefer. The goal is to by-pass the TV's audio. However, whatever audio code the splitter gets from your Blu ray player is what your Sonos speaker will recieve. In my case the Playbase will not play any audio.
3) Finding a reciever or external third party source that is capable of transcoding the DTS audio... but at this point you'd rather invest in speakers for the reciever. :/
4) Saying goodbye to your DTS blu ray collection and rebuilding your library on streaming/media sites. (As long as those websites/apps stick to Dolby Digital 5.1)
5) (This is the solution I'm currently trying) I'm taking every Blu ray movie I own that has the DTS 5.1 audio code and converting those entire movie files (straight from the source) into something the Playbase can understand via software on my PC. The software I have is capable of converting the DTS audio to AC3 5.1, the magic format Sonos accepts. My Blu ray player (luckily enough) is capable of playing a variety of media via it's USB port... therefore, theoretically, the Playbase should produce "quality dialogue" as it will be recieving a Dolby Digital 5.1 code.
Again, the list is short... and very generalized. It will take chapters to go into all the specific devices, software, and blu ray players that would help in this problem.
If I wanted Atmos I'd have invested in 7.1 system with a reciever. It was my "assumption" that Sonos would at least be able to convert or transcode the ever-growing (or the ever stubborn) audio formats to some level of respectable clarity... instead, nothing. Currently I have to rely on PCM to create a 2.0 stereo that runs havoc on movie dialogue.
For a system that has such a great sound, that is a shame.