My Playbar setup with Down and Out Mount, HDMI switcher, Harmony remote (long)

  • 23 January 2014
  • 42 replies
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We recently remodeled our family room, and the Sonos Playbar was a key component in the upgrade. I spent a good deal of time researching the various aspects of the remodel. I know this post is lengthy, but I wanted to include pertinent details to hopefully help others researching similar setups.

Previously we had a 40” TV inside a TV armoire, with an inexpensive surround system, bluray player, and cable box all in the same armoire. When remodeling the room, we decided that having the TV above the fireplace would work best with regards to room dynamics. However, there were two issues created by that decision:

1. I wasn’t crazy about the prospect of staring up at the TV constantly (being an Optometrist, I am keenly aware how eye position relates to eyestrain and headaches).,
2. I wasn’t going to accept the poor quality sound from most TV speakers. However, there was now nowhere in the family room to keep the A/V components, including a sound system.

Problem #1 was solved with the Down and Out Mount from Dynamic Mounting (dynamicmounting.com) (Full disclosure – Dynamic Mounting pays a rebate for customers who post their experience with their product to a message board). Although significantly more costly than stationary mounts, in my opinion it is worth the extra cost. There is no other product like it right now (I found one that was fully automated but it was about $2000 if I remember correctly). As you can see from the pictures (https://www.dropbox.com/sc/jldk19quv5h1vku/m1t8tcaOnV ) , the Down and Out Mount allows the TV (and attached Playbar) to move out over the mantle and down to a much more comfortable viewing height.

It is very easy to use – even my 13 year old daughter has no problem using it. The hydraulic arms allow the TV to stay in whatever vertical position you desire. It works as advertised, and we have had zero problems with it. When watching a 2 hour movie, it is much more comfortable to lower the TV to its’ lowest position. For shorter viewing times, we often keep the TV in its’ highest position.

As you can also see from these pictures (https://www.dropbox.com/sc/a79sk18nun9kmio/s-aJZiR3xk) , we were able to install the mount in a recessed area behind the TV, allowing the TV and Playbar to be almost flush with the surrounding trim and mantle. Preparing for the installation can be a bit tricky, as you have to do some calculations to determine how high above your particular size mantle to install the mount to maximize downward travel. I was impressed with the level of support in this area, as Kurt Massey, the owner of Dynamic Mounting, personally responded to my numerous emails very quickly. In the end, his help was invaluable to a successful install. I highly recommend the Down and Out Mount for above fireplace applications to reduce eyestrain and increase comfort, especially for long viewing times.

I knew that Problem #2 would involve a sound bar, since the better half had shot down any talk of placing speakers anywhere in the room (we already have a very good home theater setup in another room). Since we already had two Play:5s, a Play:3, and a Connect, deciding on the Playbar was a no brainer. Cost was a factor, but since we were spending so much on the remodel, a few extra hundred was easy to justify considering our already established Sonos addiction. So now we had to figure a way to mount the Sonos to the TV so that it would move with the TV when using the mount, as well as how to connect the cable box and Blu-ray player to it, which were to be located in another room.

Mounting the Playbar to the TV was surprisingly easy. We used Sewell Direct SW-29908 Universal Soundbar Brackets in conjunction with the Playbar wall mount bracket. As you can see from the pictures (https://www.dropbox.com/sc/yeciyj5cqcpg46y/vG7Z9GSpcb ), this allowed the back of the Playbar to be even with the back of the TV, which was important so that the Playbar didn’t hit the wall behind it when in the highest position above the mantle. I did have to buy shorter mounting screws (Home Depot, about $3) to attach the brackets to the Playbar, since the screws included with the brackets were too long and would stick out behind the Playbar.

For the A/V component connections, we had an audio guy run a 50 ft HDMI cable, a 50 ft Toslink cable, and two CAT5E network cables from the A/V room, through our crawlspace, and up to the area behind the TV above the mantle. We then attached the Blu-ray player and cable box to a Monoprice HDMI switcher, and attached the switcher to the TV via the 50ft HDMI cable and to the Playbar via the 50ft Toslink cable. Since our TV doesn’t pass 5.1 through its’ optical port from HDMI sources, this setup allows the switcher to send video to the TV and the 5.1 audio directly to the Playbar. After adjusting the audio delay in the Sonos software, everything works perfectly. Our Blu-ray player converts DTS to DD 5.1, so no silence or plain stereo sound with DTS only content.

To control the A/V components from the family room (the room with the TV and Playbar), we decided to use the Logitech Harmony Smart Control remote. Since the remote uses RF to communicate with a base hub located near the A/V components, we are able to control everything from the family room. We have even setup sequences so that, with the touch of one button, the proper components are powered on/off, the HMI switcher changes to the proper input, the TV sets the sleep timer, etc. It’s awesome, and so easy that the kids can use it.

For the Playbar volume control, we spliced an IR emitter to the CAT5E cable and attached it the IR receiver on the Playbar (picture - https://www.dropbox.com/s/9awgt2w5t673im0/Photo%20Jan%2022%2C%2010%2006%2046%20PM.jpg ). The other end of the cable is connected to the back of the Smart Control hub in the A/V room by a spliced on mini-jack. Using the Sonos software, we then taught the Playbar to respond to an old Sony TV remote we had laying around, and then told the Smart Control to use those remote codes to control volume. Works great, and avoids the TV volume dialog problem mentioned elsewhere on these boards.

In this picture (https://www.dropbox.com/s/h5s3cu5xexr4uxz/Photo%20Jan%2022%2C%2010%2001%2035%20PM.jpg ), you can see (from top to bottom) the HDMI switcher, the Blu-Ray player, the cable box, and the Smart Control hub with its’ attached IR emitter (the hub itself also acts as an emitter). This is all in a separate room from the TV and Playbar.

As mentioned, it took weeks of research to make decisions on how to implement this whole thing, and these boards were invaluable in that regard – thank you to everyone for your help. I hope this post helps others as much as you helped me. There are many details I haven’t included, especially with regard to configuring the various components. I have listed the brand/model of my A/V components below.

I’ll be glad to answer any questions anyone may have.

• Sonos Playbar (have since added two Play:1s for surround sound – amazing! Just do it!)
• TV – Samsung UN60F6350A 60" Class 1080p 120Hz LED Smart HDTV
• Bluray – Samsung BD F5900 Smart Blu-Ray Player.
• Monoprice 7974 4x1 HDMI®️ Switch w/ TOSlink & Digital Coaxial Audio Output (Audio Return Channel/3D/CEC Support)

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42 replies

Userlevel 6
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I'm impressed! Thanks for sharing.
I'm intrigued. Is the fireplace entirely cosmetic? If you used a real fire with the TV down the Playbar could get toastier than a marshmallow on a stick.
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I'm intrigued. Is the fireplace entirely cosmetic? If you used a real fire with the TV down the Playbar could get toastier than a marshmallow on a stick.

We have a stone wood-burning fireplace in another room in the house, so we never really used this one (gas). That being said, in the up position, the TV would be fine - not much heat at all above the mantle. It definitely wouldn't be a good idea to use the fireplace with the TV in the down position!
Userlevel 4
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Very Nice!!!

Thanks for sharing!
Userlevel 2
Was it necessary to use an emitter to control the Playbar volume? Couldn't you have programmed it to receive an IR signal directly from the remote? Or does the Smart Hub not allow that configuration? i.e., all devices must receive RF signals?
rollo131,

When possible, I recommend using an RF controlled emitter rather than direct IR. If there are several IR commands in a macro, the user often redirects the remote before all of the commands are emitted from the remote. This can leave the system in an undefined state and frustrate the user.
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The Harmony Smart Control remote itself is RF only. It sends an RF signal to the hub, which then does the IR emitting. Since the Playbar is not in the same room as the hub, we needed the emitter. If all your components are located in the same room as the hub, you wouldn't need the emitter. Or you could buy Logitech's top level remote, the Harmony Ultimate, which does have remote IR capability, but it is $200 more, and uses a touchscreen. I have 2 kids and a dog - in my house, that touchscreen wouldn't last a week. Besides, with RF and an emitter, you don't need line of sight.It's nice not having to point the remote at the Playbar.
Userlevel 2
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That is a nice setup. I have owned lots of expensive remotes over the years, some upwards of $500 and without a doubt the Harmony Smart Control, for which I paid $104, is the best remote I have ever owned. After having one for less then a week I bought 2 more. The simplicity and ability to work well with little work on the users part is amazing.
Userlevel 2
Was trying to access the pictures but link is not working. Would you mind sharing the pictures again?
Was trying to access the pictures but link is not working.
The links still work for me. Try flushing your browser cache.
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Still work for me as well.
Userlevel 2
I just wanted to say thank you for such a detailed write up. This will help me tremendously with my playbar install.
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I just wanted to say thank you for such a detailed write up. This will help me tremendously with my playbar install.

Your welcome! Glad it helped.
Userlevel 2
Thank you for the write up! Are you also receiving 5.1 when using the tv's apps (netflix etc..)? What about when using the tv's browser?

Thanks!
Userlevel 2
Thank you for the write up! Are you also receiving 5.1 when using the tv's apps (netflix etc..)? What about when using the tv's browser?

Thanks!


Yes was wondering the same thing! Everything looked great in the photos just want to know what happens with sound coming from TV apps or RF signal. Thanks
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The TV output is not connected to anything, so I don't get 5.1 from the TV apps, etc. Since I use my bluray player for Apps (Netflix, etc), I don't care about TV apps or browser for that matter.
Userlevel 2
Ok, just to follow up I could not get 5.1 from all my sources using the hdmi switcher. I was, however, able to using the "4x2 Remote Control Digital Optical TOSlink Audio Fiber Optic Selector Switch Switcher Splitter" (sorry not allowed to post links yet). Using this switch I now get 5.1 from my cable box, dvd player, and the TV's own apps.
Userlevel 2
Rash tx for this super helpful post. I just completed my setup similar to yours. I'm having some issues with the monoprice hdmi switcher not sending a toslink signal from my cable box after power up. The video would come thru but the playbar doesn't emit sound. Power cycling the hdmi switch didn't work either but unplugging and replugging it does. Anyone experience issues like this?
Userlevel 2
Thanks for posting.
Why didn't you use the soundbar mount that dynamic mounting sells? I ordered it and it doesn't seem the best and will probably have to order something else. I'm curious what you attached the soundbar mounts to on the down and out mount? I don't have space below for the playbar so will probably have to mount it above.
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Thanks for posting.
Why didn't you use the soundbar mount that dynamic mounting sells? I ordered it and it doesn't seem the best and will probably have to order something else. I'm curious what you attached the soundbar mounts to on the down and out mount? I don't have space below for the playbar so will probably have to mount it above.


The dynamic mounting soundbar bracket would cause the front of the playbar to be flush with the tv, which means that the back of the playbar would extend deeper than the TV. Since I needed the back of the playbar and the TV to be flush so that they line up flush with the wall when in the up position, it wouldn't have worked. The Sewell brackets I used allow the back of the playbar to be flush with the back of the TV. They attach between the tv and the vertical mount bar, held in place by the same bolt that attaches the vertical bar to the TV. Here's the pic: https://www.dropbox.com/sc/yeciyj5cqcpg46y/vG7Z9GSpcb#lh:1-Photo%20Jan%2012%2C%202%2029%2042%20PM.jpg
Userlevel 2
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Nice setup. Which model switcher did you use?
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Nice setup. Which model switcher did you use?
Check the first post.
Userlevel 2
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Geez. I am a goofball. I caught the Monoprice name mentioned in the middle of the post but missed the model number listing at the end....
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So I'm in the midst of a similar project and have been struggling with these exact issues (TV above new gas fireplace) and came across this post. Thanks to Rash for posting.

I have a couple questions if you're still keeping tabs on the thread. How high from the floor is the top of your mantle, and how high is the bottom of your TV when the mount isn't extended? Just trying to get some perspective with the space we're dealing with.

Assuming your TV is in the 55-60" range?

Thanks!
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So I'm in the midst of a similar project and have been struggling with these exact issues (TV above new gas fireplace) and came across this post. Thanks to Rash for posting.

I have a couple questions if you're still keeping tabs on the thread. How high from the floor is the top of your mantle, and how high is the bottom of your TV when the mount isn't extended? Just trying to get some perspective with the space we're dealing with.

Assuming your TV is in the 55-60" range?

Thanks!


I'll measure things this weekend and post back.