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Important questions before buying Sonos home theater

  • 6 February 2019
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Dear all,

I'm really interested in getting the home theater setup, but as I'm from a part of the world with quite a bit lower average income, I view this as a "strategic" buying decision. Basically, if I start buying Sonos stuff, I'm committed, and Sonos stuff ain't cheap. But it sure does seem great.

To that end, I have a number of questions, since I'll be buying Sonos ordered from abroad, and I will have no way of returning it. I need to be sure what I'm getting. This is why I will be extremely appreciative for any and all the help I get here and now.

As a bit of a cash-strapped person, I plan 5.0 setup. Beam + 2x play:1(or Ones). It will be placed in a relatively small living room. If there is a cheaper sub sometime in the future, I might get it, but at 800€ (aprox. $900) that it would cost me, there's no way I can afford it. Mostly, I'm after directionality of the sound.

Q1: If I group Beam and two play:1s, the entire group is airplay capable, and basically, Sonos One is a waste of good money for the purpose of rear satellite speakers in home theater setup? Is there any feature I'd be losing in this case?

Q2: Has anyone used Beam with an optical adapter? Is it reliable? Any lag? My TV (LG 32LV3400) does not have ARC.

Q3: If I understand correctly, beam will work with the TV's remote for volume control even without HDMI-CEC over ARC? Does it also support mute button?

Q4: My room is L-shaped, and the TV is wall mounted near the inner bend of the L. Also, my sofa is right up the wall, and I'd put satellites on either side of it with wall mounts. From wall to wall, there is about 3 meters. Will this have a major effect on the quality of the surround setup?

Q5: How future-proof is the home theater setup? I've seen this question a few times, the only surround sound standard supported is Dolby Digital (AC3). In case another codec(DTS, maybe even lossless codec or two, maybe Dolby Atmos) is added later, is it something that is likely to be pushed via software update? If I want future-proofing, do I need to wait something else or is beam a good investment?

Q6: With regards to setting up Sonos, if I use ethernet cable for Beam, it will in turn create a special wireless network only for Sonos products? After adding 2 play:1s to HT setup, will it be too much(bandwidth capacity wise) if I add one or two more speakers in other rooms to this network?

Q7: A very technical question. I make backups of DVDs for my plex server. For some reason, the tool I used created ac3 tracks that have 3F2M/LFE format. That is 3 Front 2 Middle. Will this work with HT Sonos setup, or will I have to recode them to 3F2R/LFE (3 Front 2 Rear)? Can someone try a video file that works with their Sonos HT in VLC player and check media information->Codec Details for the file? What is the distribution of channels? In case it is 3F2M/LFE like for me, does it work well when played in surround mode?

Thank you very much for reading all the way down to here! :)

And thanks for the help.
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Best answer by Airgetlam 7 February 2019, 01:01

A1: Just like any Sonos speaker, once the sound is in the Sonos ecosystem, any number of speakers can play the input via grouping. In your specific use case, the Beam is the receiver of the AirPlay 2 stream, and the surround speakers are already part of that room (bonded to it, in Sonos terms), and can be set to either "ambient" or "full" to complement the Beam, or act as a set of stereo speakers.

A2: Yes, many people have. There should be effectively no lag in the adapter, but that doesn't guaranty that there's no lag in your TV, particularly if it's either an LG or Samsung, which seem to have the highest reporting of lag from the optical output.

A3: Yes.

A4: I wouldn't think so, no.

A5: Hard to tell. I can't imagine that the design of the Sonos soundbar is particularly suited to things like Atmos, it would require a different physical design. That being said, since the great majority of the extra codecs you speak of can not be sent via optical, but require an HDMI connection, it may be moot. If Sonos does update the current speakers, it would indeed be via software, as they've done multiple times for their entire line, adding things for instance, like AirPlay 2, to all of the speakers that could process the data properly. Completely a software update. Since Sonos doesn't share what their roadmap is for new hardware, generally speaking, it's hard to say anything concrete about buying now, or waiting until X for something new.

A6: Yes, the surrounds will "bond" to the Beam on a 5Ghz network, which you don't have access to. No, adding more speakers (well, up to 30 more) would be supported without issue.

A7: Not my expertise, you'll need someone else to answer.
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A1: Just like any Sonos speaker, once the sound is in the Sonos ecosystem, any number of speakers can play the input via grouping. In your specific use case, the Beam is the receiver of the AirPlay 2 stream, and the surround speakers are already part of that room (bonded to it, in Sonos terms), and can be set to either "ambient" or "full" to complement the Beam, or act as a set of stereo speakers.

A2: Yes, many people have. There should be effectively no lag in the adapter, but that doesn't guaranty that there's no lag in your TV, particularly if it's either an LG or Samsung, which seem to have the highest reporting of lag from the optical output.

A3: Yes.

A4: I wouldn't think so, no.

A5: Hard to tell. I can't imagine that the design of the Sonos soundbar is particularly suited to things like Atmos, it would require a different physical design. That being said, since the great majority of the extra codecs you speak of can not be sent via optical, but require an HDMI connection, it may be moot. If Sonos does update the current speakers, it would indeed be via software, as they've done multiple times for their entire line, adding things for instance, like AirPlay 2, to all of the speakers that could process the data properly. Completely a software update. Since Sonos doesn't share what their roadmap is for new hardware, generally speaking, it's hard to say anything concrete about buying now, or waiting until X for something new.

A6: Yes, the surrounds will "bond" to the Beam on a 5Ghz network, which you don't have access to. No, adding more speakers (well, up to 30 more) would be supported without issue.

A7: Not my expertise, you'll need someone else to answer.