Playbase: Sonos no longer recommandable for home theater


Userlevel 4
Hello,

today I read the specifications of the brand new Playbase. What have I waited for a new gen2 Playbar, supporting DTS, DD+, maybe having HDMI or (now I am getting really crazy) supporting Dolby Atmos. There are even soundbars providing Dolby Atmos sound! Really, you can search for yourself, these things are possible in 2017...

And now the brand new Sonos Playbase is out... The only difference between the Playbar (based on the first test and specifications I read): It's flat and, oh yes, it will support Alexa.

Sonos, did you even listen to your customers? To the complaints about your old product, the Playbar? Did you recognize that the home theater world is moving into a future where you have 4k, HDR movies, losless audio formats, dolby atmos?

We (your beloved customers) should pay $700+ for a piece of hardware that supports only stereo if you use e.g. Netflix (Netflix uses DD+, the same for Maxdome in Germany). Not to mention that you could end up with no sound at all if you use 4k Bluerays (search the Sonos community).

Sorry, Sonos. That is not the way to go in my opinion.

I cannot further recommend you. You want to listen to plain music? You will be happy with the Play 1, 3 or 5 from Sonos, but there are cheaper and equally good products around. You want to integrate your living room in your sound setup, with your TV as a central element? Avoid Sonos at any costs, You will not be happy, there are better products around.

A very disappointed customer.

47 replies

Userlevel 2
I fully agree with the first poster; I am deeply disappointed too. The feature list of the "new" Playbar is the icing on the cake: You do not only refuse to communicate properly with your customers (say with a roadmap of future products), you simply ignore them. What a shame that I mis-invested into my first three Sonos speakers as I will need to replace them with a decently modern system.

If you do not want to properly integrate with modern streaming providers - fine. Just tell us so beforehand so we can adjust our purchasing behaviour, and remain in your market niche. The path you're following results in losing consumer's trust that you built up in the past.
Userlevel 1
My sentiments exactly.
Another article that sheds some light on Sonos strategy around the Playbase:

https://www.wired.com/2017/03/sonos-playbase-smart-home/
Userlevel 2
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Who cares about Alexa ? People who pay for Sonos are much more likely to be Apple customers and where is the Homekit integration. I want to integrate my lights and thermostats and create a "movie mode" in my lounge/theatre.
Just received an email from Sonos about this Playbase hardware and on closer inspection they have to be kidding. £699.00 is way overpriced for what this is. I didn't check out the dimensions so don't even know if it will sit under my TV but regardless I wouldn't even consider buying something like this without looking at reviews or even checking it out in a local audio store so pre-ordering. What a joke? Add, SUB and two PLAY:1 rear speakers for wireless 5.1 surround sound. Are they serious? There are much more cost effective options out there, so this is a definite no, no. Sonos, recently announced a price hike for their equipment and I'm saying they need to get real if they think this is worth £699.00
Two cables. That’s it.
One power cable. And one optical cable for your TV. You don’t even have to read a manual; the Sonos app guides you through every step of set up. Great, I'll take two. No I won't. An 'Optical cable'........ what year is this?
Who cares about Alexa ? People who pay for Sonos are much more likely to be Apple customers and where is the Homekit integration. I want to integrate my lights and thermostats and create a "movie mode" in my lounge/theatre.

1) Alexa integration is the only Sonos announcement to ever have people requesting admission to the private beta, hundreds of them in several threads. No other beta has ever had this type of overwhelming response of volunteers. I'd say that is the answer to "Who cares about Alexa?"

2) If you'd have read the article you are critiquing, you'd have seen the following:

When Spence talks about voice assistants like Alexa and Siri, he’s still talking about music.

. . .

Rather than build its own voice assistant or pick a one to work with, Sonos wants to work with all of them. That’s how the company has always operated. It didn’t build a music service, because the 80 that it supports wouldn’t be on the platform. Music services love Sonos because it provides millions of users and no competition. Spence thinks he can get Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, and others to do the same thing for precisely the same reason.
Userlevel 5
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There are much more cost effective options out there, so this is a definite no, no.

Can you name any?
Userlevel 4
Another article that sheds some light on Sonos strategy around the Playbase:

https://www.wired.com/2017/03/sonos-playbase-smart-home/


Thank you for the link, very interesting and I like the idea a lot. Sonos to be the center of my smart home; the connection to the intelligence offerend by Alexa, Google, Siri and whatever assistant to show up in the future. Sonos to focus on what they are good at: playing music.

The problem is we are talking about the Playbase. It's not focussing on music, it brings sound to your TV. Here you typically do not play music, you watch TV-Shows, movies and play Bluerays. Whereas music comes in stereo, the sound from TV-Shows and movies is not.

It feels like they decided to support only Spotify, and telling their customers: Hey, the majority is using Spotify, just do not use Google Music. It is not supported, but we will tell you anyway how great and integrative our product is. Nevertheless, we are simultaneously compiling a recommendation megathread in our community where we collect alle the cumbersome combinations of hardware if you really want to use Google Music or Deezer, or Apple Music...
Userlevel 4
There are much more cost effective options out there, so this is a definite no, no.

Can you name any?


For example Samsung: $1,300.00 for the soundbar, two rear speaker and a sub.
http://www.samsung.com/us/televisions-home-theater/home-theater/sound-bars/hw-k950-za-hw-k950-za/

Equally expensive: The Bose soundbar (support DTS)
https://www.bose.com/en_us/products/speakers/home_theater/soundtouch-300-soundbar.html#v=soundtouch_300_pkg_st_300
Userlevel 4
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There are much more cost effective options out there, so this is a definite no, no.

Can you name any?


For example Samsung: $1,300.00 for the soundbar, two rear speaker and a sub.
http://www.samsung.com/us/televisions-home-theater/home-theater/sound-bars/hw-k950-za-hw-k950-za/

Equally expensive: The Bose soundbar (support DTS)
https://www.bose.com/en_us/products/speakers/home_theater/soundtouch-300-soundbar.html#v=soundtouch_300_pkg_st_300


It's obvious that Bose's Soundtouch 300 is aimed squarely at the Sonos system. Exact same pricing. In addition the reviews of the Soundtouch are very good - on par with the Sonos. Of course Bose wasn't going to cripple it with omitting an HDMI port and DTS support. They aren't stupid. I think I'm switching over to the Bose Soundtouch
Userlevel 2
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It's abundantly clear that Sonos was really caught off guard in 2016. Layoff's, executive shuffle and no products in the queue that addressed where the market was heading. Last fall they panicked and issued press releases about voice-enabled products that weren't even on the drawing board yet - hence the later-in-2017 dates. The only thing they had was the playbase so they figured they'd release it as a way to show they had a roadmap. It seems like a non-starter. The whole on-wall, off-wall rationale seems contrived - never heard of that being a problem before. White? Really? Who would buy a white playbase to sit under a black TV on a black stand? I thought the whole point was to have the thing disappear sonically and visually. No DTS. No HDMI. No voice. Why integrate a sub and then recommend a separate sub. Wont it shake the TV? Aren't folks buying larger TV's these days? Many of those bases are arms that reach out to support the larger footprint of the TV.
While I'm not a manufacturer, I'd assume that the majority of the design for the Playbase was done long before the previous CEO bowed out. I can't imagine that they could design and spin up a production line that quickly.

Secondly, I have a white TV stand, and have often considered a white Playbar to have it match. They're offering both black and white versions, based on what I've read, so why are you so upset? It's been clear by a large number of posts here in these boards that there's an ongoing desire for white versions of things.

While it may not be all of the things you want in the "next" product from Sonos, I think it may satisfy a lot of people in their target market.

And I'm sure that they're getting a lot of feedback, both in these boards, and elsewhere. It's unfortunate that it takes a lot of time (I assume) and a lot of money (I assume) to spin up a production line, so I suspect that this is what they've got for now, and we all can hope that they're folding our evolving feedback into new designs. And I suspect the new CEO would have a greater amount of influence on what the next thing is, I'd bet his influence on this was wasn't 100%, even without making an assumption as to whether he likes it or not.


...It feels like they decided to support only Spotify, and telling their customers: Hey, the majority is using Spotify, just do not use Google Music. It is not supported, but we will tell you anyway how great and integrative our product is...


Off topic for a Playbar thread but if you want some perspective on Spotify you can check out this link:

http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/2017/02/02/spotify-bankrupt-ipo/
Agree entirely. I’m a bit gobsmacked by the glowing review from WHF that only contains this one little bit of criticism over something that the forum boards here have been crying out about for the last few years.

“While some might bemoan the lack of development in terms of specs and features - HDMI, DTS and high-res audio are three no-shows once again - the Playbase sticks to what Sonos knows”

The Techradar review (I think) came up with this explanation. Apparently, Sonos does listen to its customers… though I have a few thoughts to the contrary:

“The design for the Sonos Playbase is a result of the company’s extensive research on how people actually use speakers in the home. Sonos asked its customers how they setup their Playbar and was shocked to find that many people had less than ideal setups – with one customer claiming that they put their soundbar and TV on the floor.
As a result of this research, Sonos realized that most people wanted to place their TVs on top of their speaker for a compact solution. “

Really?? I’m amazed anyone who’s bought a playbar hasn’t worked out a set-up they’re happy with. And are you, Sonos, really suggesting that all those (that one!) people with their playbars on the floor are now going to splash out on a replacement playbase? I would suggest many more of your customers remain so disappointed that you still don’t have a device that will cope with DTS audio that is now pretty much standard on Blu Rays. And that’s apparently because most people stream and don’t watch Blurays? I guess in that case, I, along with a lot of other people are not your target market.
I can only further express my disappointment after all this time that the ‘playbar upgrade’ doesn’t have DTS or HD audio. I won’t be buying a playbase. And I rather suspect it’s time for me to move away from Sonos to something that keeps pace with the times. I wonder if I can find one of your “new” customers to sell my second hand stuff to at half the price.
Userlevel 2
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Bridge product. That simple. I agree this must have been in the hopper for a while. They want to keep "active" with product releases, so this is intended to be a little PR splash to tide everyone over. No different than a "7.1" software update, versus going from "7" to "8". We can debate the DTS audio support forever, but the company has been consistent in stating they have no plans to address this. So, in a weird way, if they had here, they'd be oscillating on their public stance (don't get me wrong, I'd love it!). I will just look forward to new products that bring new and interesting things to the table in the future. In the meantime, not going to get upset about this one. Just ignoring it, frankly.
Userlevel 4
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Really?? I’m amazed anyone who’s bought a playbar hasn’t worked out a set-up they’re happy with. And are you, Sonos, really suggesting that all those (that one!) people with their playbars on the floor are now going to splash out on a replacement playbase? I would suggest many more of your customers remain so disappointed that you still don’t have a device that will cope with DTS audio that is now pretty much standard on Blu Rays. And that’s apparently because most people stream and don’t watch Blurays? I guess in that case, I, along with a lot of other people are not your target market.
I can only further express my disappointment after all this time that the ‘playbar upgrade’ doesn’t have DTS or HD audio. I won’t be buying a playbase. And I rather suspect it’s time for me to move away from Sonos to something that keeps pace with the times. I wonder if I can find one of your “new” customers to sell my second hand stuff to at half the price.


I agree. I am just so frustrated because other than this fairly big oversight by Sonos, I really like system. I, like a lot of home video enthusiasts want to add a 4k player to my system. But, Sonos makes this extremely difficult.

However, on another thread here concerning Atmos Ryan from Sonos makes a statement that makes it all clear what's happening here. Sonos doesn't care at all about us. Here's his quote: "As Sonos is focused on modern listeners who predominantly steam, we have decided not to support Atmos at this time."

Obviously, those of us appreciating watching Blu-rays in either HD or UHD are some kind of Neanderthal in their minds.
Ryan makes it obvious that they just don't care at all about this. They don't see it as a glaring omission.

I wouldn't want to estimate the odds of there being a next generation Playbar with anything more than what it has now. Just pathetic how a company can get it so wrong.

Thread on lack of Atmos support:
https://en.community.sonos.com/home-theater-228993/dolby-atmos-6767029
Guys. The sort of people who come on these forums (me included) are not "typical" Sonos users. There is no "glaring omission". This is not a stopgap. This is how Sonos want it to be, and for their target market it may be fine. It's not for me, though. I would have liked DTS support and HDMI connectivity, but it's not there so I won't be buying. The price is a factor too!

But hey, I'll live without it and nobody has to buy it. The market will decide, and any comment as to whether Sonos has made a mistake or not is pure speculation and hot air at the moment.
Userlevel 7
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strange how most other soundbars manufacturers came to a different conclusion and include HDMI and/or DTS - even direct competitors with multi-room - Denon Heos and Bose to name two.
Userlevel 2
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I'm not surprised about the DTS omission- it's been said for years that it will be that way.

Personally, however, I think so much of it depends on your intended use. As a plan old soundbar it works very well and I'm pleased with how they sound. Having said that, I don't have a 5.1 setup and really don't intend to ever do that. So PCM "downgrading" works perfectly well for me.

As for the other systems - I've checked out the Bose and the Samsung. The Bose sounded OK but it did have the typical spiked midrange you'd expect from Bose. The Samsung sounded horrible. Flabby low end and harsh high end.

Sonos sound is overall well rounded.
Userlevel 4
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"Years ago" it would have been somewhat acceptable to omit DTS. But, not any longer. It is the most common audio format on recent release of HD & UHD Blu-rays (along with Atmos, etc). This just added to my amazement when Sonos still refused to open their eyes, and stuck with the single optical input on the Playbase.

Why, oh why do they hate the ubiquitous HDMI port? Every other soundbar on the market has one!
Userlevel 4
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+1 for this thread. Never seen a more ignorant company. Unbelievable. Much less people will buy a playbase compared to a playbar because now, much more of them know about the missing DTS support.

And regarding voice control: Forget it, it will never work until someone finds a way to real artificial intelligence.

If Alexa & Co will be sold, it will be finally a hype. Think about how many people you know that are using their smartphone mainly for voice control. You can count them on the fingers of one hand. Sonos is really on the wrong way supporting this.

P.S. it is not possible to support DTS or DD HD through Toslink (hardware bandwidth limitation). The playbar/playbase must add HDMI.


P.S. it is not possible to support DTS or DD HD through Toslink (hardware bandwidth limitation).


Not a hardware limitation at all. TOSLINK can support up to 125 Mbps. DTS HD Master Audio is maximum 24.5 Mbps. Dolby TrueHD 18 Mbps. The limitation is because you can do copy protection over HDMI, nothing to do with bandwidth.
Userlevel 7
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http://www.whathifi.com/news/denon-heos-bar-and-subwoofer-coming-to-uk-in-april
"Unlike the Sonos Playbar or Playbase, you can benefit from Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio processing."
http://www.whathifi.com/news/denon-heos-bar-and-subwoofer-coming-to-uk-in-april
"Unlike the Sonos Playbar or Playbase, you can benefit from Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio processing."


Amazon doesn't publish sales figures, but comparing review numbers are a pretty good indicator of relative popularity.

Sonos Playbar reviews: 911 - average 4.5 stars
Denon HEOS HomeCinema Soundbar & Subwoofer reviews: 52 - average 3.5 stars

I don't think Sonos is too worried about Heos.
Userlevel 4
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http://www.whathifi.com/news/denon-heos-bar-and-subwoofer-coming-to-uk-in-april
"Unlike the Sonos Playbar or Playbase, you can benefit from Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio processing."


You can add that tagline to any review of any soundbar on the market.

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