Playbar vs. Playbase in an AirPlay 2 compatible Home Theatre setup

  • 21 January 2018
  • 13 replies
  • 2245 views

Hi everyone!

I'm quite new to Sonos having bought a pair of Sonos Ones about a week ago. Being absolutely amazed by the sound quality, my next plan is to complement these either with a Playbase or a Playbar so as to setup a home theatre in my living room. I would like this setup to be AirPlay 2 compatible (once it is supported) and knowing that Playbar is not as likely to support AirPlay 2 as the Playbase, I wonder if I can still get away with it by having the two Ones as rear speakers connected to the Playbar as part of the home theatre setup.

In other words, if I had a Playbar (hypothetically not supporting AirPlay 2) and two Ones connected to the former as rear speakers, would I be able to stream music through AirPlay 2 to the whole Home Theatre or will I only be able to stream over AirPlay 2 to the pair of Ones?

I know any discussions on AirPlay 2 are still speculation, but I suppose the answer to my question should be predictable based on another currently possible setup: a Playbar with a pair of Play:5, one of the latter connected to an Airport Express and accesible through AirPlay. How does this work?

Looking forward to your comments.

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13 replies

Userlevel 3
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This is purely a guess but I would think that it would not work to stream from your iOS device to just the surround Ones to gain AirPlay compatibility since the Ones themselves would be bonded to the Playbar. It's not as though you can select just the surrounds now to play music on since they're part of the "room" with the Playbar/Playbase.

Any reason why you'd get the Playbar over the Playbase?

My other thought is if you were to go Playbar but want to be able to use AirPlay on it is to just get another One for somewhere else in your house. Then you can AirPlay to that One and then group in your living room setup.
Thanks for your reply. Maybe I wasn't really clear in my wording, sorry. I actually do want to stream through AirPlay to the whole room (so Playbar/Playbase + surround Ones), not just the two Ones. My doubt is whether this will be possible if not all three devices will support AirPlay 2.

I haven't fully made up my mind yet and was inclined to take the Playbar mostly for aesthetic reasons (wall-mounted TV). I might still end up taking the Playbase though, but since AirPlay 2 support has only been officially confirmed for the One so far I guess the issue is still the same (although less likely to arise with the newer Playbase than with the Playbar).

But now that you mention it, any suggestions regarding the Playbar vs. Playbase dilemma, especially considering that I don't plan to buy a Sub for now?
Userlevel 3
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I understand what you're saying but what I'm saying is that since it's not currently possible to select the surrounds in the app (since they're bonded ) then I doubt you'll be able to use them for AirPlay. But again I'm just guessing. It's kind of like asking if the Sub is AirPlay compatible, can you use that to make the entire 5.1 setup stream AirPlay. I would doubt it but again just guessing.

Ah, since your TV is already wall mounted then I see why you'd go Playbar. I assume you don't have an entertainment center or anything below the TV? The Playbase does have some sort of small subwoofer built into it but certainly nothing like the separate Sub itself. The Sub makes an amazing difference and is essential, IMO. Watching some shows yesterday which had a strong thunderstorm followed by WWII battleground noises was amazing.
Right, now I understand what you mean. Sounds logical. Might be another reason to get the Playbase then instead of the Playbar (given that it is more likely to support AirPlay 2 than the latter).

The small built-in subwoofer of the Playbase is another reason I've thought of, even though I can imagine what a difference the actual Sub would make. However that's a point I wouldn't be able to make with my wife right now...
Userlevel 3
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So the Sonos official message is https://blog.sonos.com/en/airplay2-coming/. Which says that grouping old and one of the new devices will allow AirPlay for the group. I'm really hoping this works well. I want to group a PlayBar and two Sonos One's. I'm really hoping that the group will be exposed together in Airplay 2. Does anyone have any insight to confirm this or not?
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I would look at the sonos beam, it is airplay 2 as well with HDMI ARC. So you can control you tv with it. airplay 2 comes in july with the beam.
Userlevel 7
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So the Sonos official message is https://blog.sonos.com/en/airplay2-coming/. Which says that grouping old and one of the new devices will allow AirPlay for the group. I'm really hoping this works well. I want to group a PlayBar and two Sonos One's. I'm really hoping that the group will be exposed together in Airplay 2. Does anyone have any insight to confirm this or not?

Grouping does work, but when you have a system configured in surround sound setups the home theater device is the one determines Airplay 2 compatibility. Using Sonos One or the Play:5 gen2 as surround speakers with the Playbar won’t bring Airplay 2 to the setup.
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Thanks for commenting Ryan. So, if I wanted to get AirPlay 2 with my combination of PlayBar, and two rear Sonos One's, is my only option to group them as a room rather than a 5.1?

Another option: If I got a third Sonos One and put that in another room, could I group that One with the 5.1 (set up as PlayBar with two Sonos One surrounds) to create a group that would be AirPlay activated?
Userlevel 7
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Both of those would work. You could even use a pair of Play:1s with the Playbar for surrounds, and add a Sonos One to group with the room surround setup to bring Alexa and Airplay 2.

And as shoturtle suggested, you could use a Sonos Beam which has Alexa and Airplay 2 built in, it'll be available July 17th. It doesn't quite have the same power as the Playbar, but it's impressive for the small size.
Badge +2
So the Sonos official message is https://blog.sonos.com/en/airplay2-coming/. Which says that grouping old and one of the new devices will allow AirPlay for the group. I'm really hoping this works well. I want to group a PlayBar and two Sonos One's. I'm really hoping that the group will be exposed together in Airplay 2. Does anyone have any insight to confirm this or not?

Grouping does work, but when you have a system configured in surround sound setups the home theater device is the one determines Airplay 2 compatibility. Using Sonos One or the Play:5 gen2 as surround speakers with the Playbar won’t bring Airplay 2 to the setup.


This is really disappointing, effectively owners of a playbar have no upgrade path, I was considering a Beam but reading it would appear the playbar is still the more powerful option. However it's lack of HDMI and touch controls means owners of these devices myself included miss out on newer features like airplay2 and alexa integration in the living room. More frustrating I purchased 2x play ones hoping to avoid this but it would seem per your comments above not to be the case.

I'm sure your product team are aware of this already but if you could please pass on my feedback and I'm sure that our many other playbar owners as appears to be the case reading the forum that we would like a playbar "gen 2" perhaps. Something that does not force us to make a compromise as is currently the case.
Userlevel 7
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I'll pass it along for you Mark.

When it's out in stores, you might want to check out the sound on Beam. It's quite impressive for the size, and though the Playbar can outshine it, I think it'll depend on your room a lot. Neither one is lacking.
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Thanks Ryan, i'll be sure to check one out or try and take advantage of the 100 day return period as I suspect this is something I'm going to need to compare in my own environment.
Userlevel 1
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So the Sonos official message is https://blog.sonos.com/en/airplay2-coming/. Which says that grouping old and one of the new devices will allow AirPlay for the group. I'm really hoping this works well. I want to group a PlayBar and two Sonos One's. I'm really hoping that the group will be exposed together in Airplay 2. Does anyone have any insight to confirm this or not?

Grouping does work, but when you have a system configured in surround sound setups the home theater device is the one determines Airplay 2 compatibility. Using Sonos One or the Play:5 gen2 as surround speakers with the Playbar won’t bring Airplay 2 to the setup.


This is really disappointing, effectively owners of a playbar have no upgrade path, I was considering a Beam but reading it would appear the playbar is still the more powerful option. However it's lack of HDMI and touch controls means owners of these devices myself included miss out on newer features like airplay2 and alexa integration in the living room. More frustrating I purchased 2x play ones hoping to avoid this but it would seem per your comments above not to be the case.

I'm sure your product team are aware of this already but if you could please pass on my feedback and I'm sure that our many other playbar owners as appears to be the case reading the forum that we would like a playbar "gen 2" perhaps. Something that does not force us to make a compromise as is currently the case.


All I can say is "wow". After returning from a 3 month deployment with a little extra cash in hand, I also foolishly invested in a playbar and 2 sonos ones being led to believe my setup would be airplay 2 compatible since I had the "ones". Now we're being asked to look at the beam which will not sound as good as the playbar as a solution!? Freaking ridiculous, not all of us are made of money and to have dropped a pretty penny already on these speakers pisses me off. I almost bought the subwoofer to add to my system but now I'm seriously going to look at alternatives. How hard can it be to make the play ones selectable in iOS as standalone speakers?