Playbar or Beam?

  • 23 July 2018
  • 6 replies

I'm in the market for a Sonos Playbar, or new Beam. I already have a few of the Sonos One's (meaning Alexa is already built in). So I'm wondering - with the Playbar and 2x Ones, will it work in the same way at the Beam in that I can ask Alexa do put some music on and she will do it across both Ones and the Playbar? Therefore meaning I don't need the Beam for Alexa functionality.

In the grand scheme of things, £200 extra for the Playbar isn't that big of a problem - I'll be hoping to keep the Playbar for some time anyway so the price per day (of use) is actually pretty cheap.

Main things pushing me towards the Beam at the minute are;

1: The Beam is brand new - meaning it has the latest technology and therefore more longevity (Maybe!)?
2: Its cheaper - I have a large front room and maybe it'll do the job I ask of it anyway?
3: I'm worried that the Playbar will be end of life soon with it being such an "old" product?

So price isn't the issue. I reckon Playbar will be louder and surely it must be better quality - although again because the Beam is newer maybe the latest technology is better?

I won't pretend to be an expert on speakers/sound systems. I just love the Sonos I have at the minute so I want to expand. Eventually getting the Sub too.

I guess I'm looking or someone who's had/got the Playbar, and now has the Beam and can comment on how they compare together.

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6 replies

Userlevel 2
Badge +4

I am the guy with both :-)

The PlayBar is the better choice for the larger room, theres no doubt about that and you already have a pair of 'Ones' so you have Alexa already. With the question of quality, both products are a quality product, the main differences is that the Playbar has more drivers and so can fill a larger room with crisp audio. The Beam may struggle to do the same.

I have the Playbar set up as a 5.1 with two Play:1 as rears and it works perfectly, in a living room. The Samsung Q7F passes the HDMI audio through to the optical connector so DD is no issue with this set up.

The Beam is set up on its own at present, in a bedroom, the connection being through the ARC channel using HDMI as the connection instead of Optical. I have experimented with both the HDMI(ARC) and the enclosed Optical adapter, HDMI(ARC) is a simpler set up with better audio sync. Again my Samsung UE46D8000 is passing the DD signal through to the HDMI(ARC) or the optical.

The Beam alone gives a much improved, as you would expect, performance over the TV's built in effort.

If you were to go down the route of a Beam, then you wouldn't need the Alexa enabling in it as your Ones' are going to be doing that. TV Voice control does work when connected over HDMI(ARC) but for me I won't use it as asking the TV to go off won't put the Sky Q into standby so I don't see the point! I also don't like the Anynet+ messages coming up on screen when I adjust the audio, this may push me to use the optical adapter and spend some time getting the sync right.

Although not widely documented, the Beam can be taught to recognise the IR signals from your remote, the marketing seems to focus on the HDMI(ARC) control instead. Its all in the App.

Currently looking to add a couple of Play:1s to the Beam set up, not sure that a Sub may be a step too far with a bedroom setup that the Beam is providing.

As far as longevity, Sonos products live on forever! I have received incredible support from Sonos, when one of my older ZP120,s gave up the ghost after a software update they were ever helpful & replaced it even though I had had it 5+ years. Just look on fleaBay and you will see second user Sonos equipment going for almost new prices. The PlayBar will be around for a long time yet.

I did have a minor issue setting up the Beam, wouldn't initially connect, first connection issue I have ever had with Sonos, connected it to the router with a cable, connected to the rest of my system then it connected perfectly to the rest of the system perfectly ('Boost' set up, although without the Boost, one of my Connect:Amps is doing that role).

Hope that helps!
Badge +1
I have both as John 93 and installed them in the same conditions 🙂. If it is for the living room no doubt on the playbar, as such as the beam for the bedroom. Moreover the beam includes the airplay which I am constantly using. Enjoy Sonos, I am really doing it 😃
That's a good point. If you're an Apple user who wants to use airplay 2, that's a point in the Beam's favor. You won't be able to do that with the Playbar. Sonos Ones as surrounds doesn't change that. And I do think you are on point regarding the age of the playbar.

I don't think there is really a bad decision here. You can get the playbar and you'll get good sound for years to come. It won't get a lot of the new bells and whistles that are coming out, but it will remain good. The Beam will get all the new stuff, but it won't be as good as the playbar in a larger room.

One option is to get a Beam now for your living area and try it out. If it's good enough keep it. If not, return it and go with the playbar. If Sonos comes out with an upgraded playbar, you can move the Beam to another room and get the best of both worlds. Again, no bad choices here.
Thank you all for your very detailed responses. My living room is quite large to be honest but as you've said, the Beam will likely fill the room with the Ones to compliment it. I think its a good idea to go for the Beam initially, and then move that to another room if/when I either want a Playbar or the Playbar has been given a facelift.

I remember speaking to a guy in John Lewis when I purchased my Ones and said because they've added support for Alexa they're bound to do the same for the sound bar range - he said definitely not within the next 18 months - he was clearly very wrong! I feel sure there will be an update to the Playbar soon but maybe I'm wrong.

Loving Sonos though. Maybe I should just bite the bullet and get both! Although I'm also considering a Playbase too so it could get expensive!
Userlevel 2
Badge +4
Yep it becomes quiet addictive. After I installed my Beam I decided to try it with a Sub and surrounds. Just to see! Temporarily transferred my ones & sub from the living room Playbar setup, if you ever do this, save time and factory reset them!!

Long and short of it, ordered another sub and a couple Play1’s!!
Which way did you go Robbie? I’m having exactly the same dilemma. I think the size of the room needs a playbar but worried about same points as you......but then great sound is great sound and having seen a few more reviews it looks (sounds) like the difference between the two in terms of sound is quite significant.