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.

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47 replies

Another article that sheds some light on Sonos strategy around the Playbase:

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


That's not a strategy.
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I recently added Sonos Connect to my existing home theater which I built around 30 year old Spica satellites and Janis subwoofer For our nightly movies Sonos is irrelevant, but now we can control music throughout the house where most rooms have hard-wired speakers, and to add music to other rooms we just get a Sonos speaker. All my digitized LPs that I can't find on Amazon Music, I have on a USB flash drive plugged into my NetGear router.
If I want Atmos for the theater, I just need a new receiver and to connect a couple ceiling speakers I'm not using now. (Suggestions for a receiver will be appreciated, maybe one with Chromecast built in.)
BTW: The old 400 CD carousel is connected to the Connect analogue inputs, but I'll probably phase that out by ripping some of the CDs to that flash drive.
I read all the bemoaning on here before I bought my Playbar (with my eyes wide open..).

My Samsung TV will not natively stream 5.1 from HDMI over TOSlink but I solved that problem with 2 HDMI EDID emulators (this is a TV issue not Playbar).

The Blue-ray DTS issue was solved with a £50 Samsung Blu-ray player which down mixes to 5.1, I needed a Blu-ray player anyway.

As for 7.1 DTS, the 5.1 is more than adequate for my living room, clear vocals through the centre channel which was very import.

The whole Sonus experience so far has been top notch and the quality and sound/ functionality of the Playbar has exceeded my expectations.


So you had to buy two devices to get your setup to work they way everything else does out of the box and cheaper...minus many of the latest home theater features and some of them have been out for years.
So I got the new Sonos One, two of them, and love them. But no Sonos Home theater products for me until they update their range to something that can handle the latest technologies. Plus neither the Playbar or Playbase will work with my Samsung TV without dropouts due to an issue with optical.
Maybe Sonos doesn't have there revenue to support R&D on HDMI equipped home theater products?
Nobody can seriously argue that optical is sufficient.
In any event it seems they don't want my money for home theater products.
Userlevel 5
Badge +12
I read all the bemoaning on here before I bought my Playbar (with my eyes wide open..).

My Samsung TV will not natively stream 5.1 from HDMI over TOSlink but I solved that problem with 2 HDMI EDID emulators (this is a TV issue not Playbar).

The Blue-ray DTS issue was solved with a £50 Samsung Blu-ray player which down mixes to 5.1, I needed a Blu-ray player anyway.

As for 7.1 DTS, the 5.1 is more than adequate for my living room, clear vocals through the centre channel which was very import.

The whole Sonus experience so far has been top notch and the quality and sound/ functionality of the Playbar has exceeded my expectations.
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Mine soubds awesome
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have to agree 100% with this thread. I only have the sonos as I got the playbase for free. Would have returned everything otherwise. I bought 2 play 1s to be used as the rear speakers but that won't be happening now. Will stick them in another room for music or might just return them... still debating that. Sonos == Blackberry & Nokia at this point. It's 2017, move the ... on and keep up with the competition. Your name and hype can only get you so far.... no wonder the company is looking for acquisitions
Userlevel 3
Badge +5
Very much agreed upon. I need systems that with decode DTS-HD, DolbyDD+ et. al.. Unless they have a great, new playbar2 coming out soon, they are being left WAY behind. I am looking forward to a newer, probably different brand, system. I would stick with Sonos if they pu tin HDMI 4k passthrough, decode ALL sounds for more theater and more. Music is always great, but 90% of the photos for the use of the playbar and playbase, show it with a HDTV. 😠
Userlevel 3
The problem here is the sales numbers. They are a lot like Apple in that they have their ecosystem - and people love it. Thus, new products come out and we are willing to forgo a few omissions to stay in this ecosystem.

But these new products are like the AppleTV to me. They are making decisions, primarily around the assumption that the TV market is the same as the audio market, and ignoring the demands of the customers. The AppleTV was ultimately a failure.

The Playbar and Playbase are solid products. Even better for someone too ignorant to know what they are missing (notice that you have to hunt in the Sonos app to find out if you are getting 5.1). But word is getting out and true cinema nerds are disgusted.

I just can't fathom how or why you would ignore your customers.

To say "we support the modern customer that streams movies and TV" ... explain to me how I can stream Dolby Atmos, DD+ and DTS ... but Sonos won't support it? Heck, if you don't have the right TV you are forced to either a single audio input or stereo ... it's just absurd.
Userlevel 1
I sadly have to agree with this thread. Alexa was boiling hot in 2016. Today, I'm ready to unplug it for good. This playbase product makes no sense to me, I've seen the stats of non wall mounted tvs and it still doesn't add up to me. How many with a non wall mounted TV want to spend $700 on audio when a 55" curved 4K Tv now days can be had for $600?

Everything this poster stated is really spot on with their primary core buyer. Should have made upgrades and improved version of sound bar.

Other quick grip is limited function of play 5. It should have had capability to run as the center channel in a 3:1 or 5:1 system. Additionally
The mid and highs in play:1 out shine the play 5s, which is mind boggling given the price difference.

Starting to lose some faith.
There are much more cost effective options out there, so this is a definite no, no.

Can you name any?


That's easy.
Start with Bluesound who also do MQA, Roon, and high res.
Yamaha Musiccast
Denon Heos
Bose
Many others...
Userlevel 6
Badge +14
Sorry, I was a bit confused as I assumed you were referring to DTS-HD (which seems to be the most prevalent these days).... in which case an optical cable should just transmit the DTS core signal and still be fine and not silent. :)
I think a lot of people forget this and to be honest don't think (m)any would ever notice when watching a movie at a decent enough volume.... :S
Userlevel 4
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Sorry, I was a bit confused as I assumed you were referring to DTS-HD (which seems to be the most prevalent these days).
Userlevel 6
Badge +14
Sorry, but I believe you're wrong about optical supporting DTS. Below is a link to an article from C/Net comparing optical vs HDMI. Under the paragraph titled "Better, a little.." they state "Regardless of the gear you use, as mentioned there's also no way to get Dolby TrueHD or DTS HD Master Audio with an optical connection."

https://www.cnet.com/news/hdmi-vs-optical-which-digital-audio-connection-to-use/

Here's another article stating the same - "It supports stereo audio and Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 multichannel audio for people with surround sound systems.

It does not support SACD, DVD-A or high-definition audio such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.
"

http://www.the-home-cinema-guide.com/optical-digital-audio.html

I'm not really sure of the point of your post to be honest, unless you're just very confused. Of course optical supports DTS - I've used it for years. You're quoting things like it doesn't support 'Dolby True HD or DTS HD' (that I haven't said it does support) and also that 'It supports stereo audio and Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 multichannel audio for people with surround sound systems.' which is what I am saying it does support.
Note: DTS HD is not the same as DTS - but a DTS HD stream will also contain a DTS stream and should be decoded and played just fine by devices capable of decoding DTS.
Userlevel 4
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Bandwidth of optical is more than capable of DTS.
In fact Sonos 'debated' for a while on adding it retrospectively to the Playbar, and decided not to, despite being aware of the very strong feeling regarding its omission.
Leaving it out of the Playbase was really shocking though.

Sorry, but I believe you're wrong about optical supporting DTS. Below is a link to an article from C/Net comparing optical vs HDMI. Under the paragraph titled "Better, a little.." they state "Regardless of the gear you use, as mentioned there's also no way to get Dolby TrueHD or DTS HD Master Audio with an optical connection."

https://www.cnet.com/news/hdmi-vs-optical-which-digital-audio-connection-to-use/

Here's another article stating the same - "It supports stereo audio and Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 multichannel audio for people with surround sound systems.

It does not support SACD, DVD-A or high-definition audio such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.
"


http://www.the-home-cinema-guide.com/optical-digital-audio.html
Userlevel 6
Badge +14
Bandwidth of optical is more than capable of DTS.
In fact Sonos 'debated' for a while on adding it retrospectively to the Playbar, and decided not to, despite being aware of the very strong feeling regarding its omission.
Leaving it out of the Playbase was really shocking though.
Userlevel 7
Badge +21
I thought they had said that the bandwidth available on the optical cable is not up to the job for DTS in which case the answer is emphatically NO. The hardware will need to change. Given they have just released Playbase it seems inconceivable a volte face is imminent on HDMI connectivity
Userlevel 2
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I have to agree. I recently had a couple of HDMI ports die on my cheap HTIB receiver. I was considering adding a Playbar or Playbase and downsizing my setup. Unfortunately, my TV (Panasonic 65ST30) doesn't pass through 5.1 and my Roku outputs Netflix in DD+. So in addition to the Playbar/Playbase, I'd be looking at getting an HDMI switch, an audio extractor, and replacing my Roku with another Netflix player (Apple TV?).

I might still go with a Playbar/Playbase because of the open-floor layout of the room and because I already have loads of other Sonos gear. But I'm having a hard time coughing up $700 for a soundbar that is technologically inferior to a low end $150 receiver like the Sony STRDH550, which supports DD+, DTS and acts as a 4-port HDMI switch. If Sony was able to incorporate these 3 crucial elements into a $150 package, shouldn't Sonos be able to incorporate it into a $700 package? Or at the least, sell a separate $100 4-port HDMI switch that converts DTS / DD+ into regular DD? It's true that you can buy HDMI switches and audio extractors as a band-aid, but it still doesn't address the bigger issue of the Playbar/Playbase being unable to play anything but stereo and DD.


My question is IF (and thats a HUGE if) Sonos decided to add DD+ and DTS support would it be possible on their current hardware? Or would it be an entirely new piece of equipment?

I don't know enough about decoding to know if its a simple firmware upgrade or something bigger.
Userlevel 2
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I just had my first DTS frustration with Sonos last night.

I bought a new TV over the weekend that happened to have DTS PassThru. Went the whole weekend watching stuff streamed off Plex through my Roku. No issues at all since it would automatically transcode to a compatible format.

Last night we bought Fantastic Beasts on BluRay and decided to watch it before ripping it to Plex. I spent 45 minutes messing with cables and settings in Sonos trying to figure out what the problem was. Then it occurred to me that the TV might actually have DTS Passthru (or some other unsupported format). Sure enough, after diving into the settings more deeply, I found an output setting and had to change it from "Auto" to PCM. It worked fine after that.
Userlevel 1
I have to agree. I recently had a couple of HDMI ports die on my cheap HTIB receiver. I was considering adding a Playbar or Playbase and downsizing my setup. Unfortunately, my TV (Panasonic 65ST30) doesn't pass through 5.1 and my Roku outputs Netflix in DD+. So in addition to the Playbar/Playbase, I'd be looking at getting an HDMI switch, an audio extractor, and replacing my Roku with another Netflix player (Apple TV?).

I might still go with a Playbar/Playbase because of the open-floor layout of the room and because I already have loads of other Sonos gear. But I'm having a hard time coughing up $700 for a soundbar that is technologically inferior to a low end $150 receiver like the Sony STRDH550, which supports DD+, DTS and acts as a 4-port HDMI switch. If Sony was able to incorporate these 3 crucial elements into a $150 package, shouldn't Sonos be able to incorporate it into a $700 package? Or at the least, sell a separate $100 4-port HDMI switch that converts DTS / DD+ into regular DD? It's true that you can buy HDMI switches and audio extractors as a band-aid, but it still doesn't address the bigger issue of the Playbar/Playbase being unable to play anything but stereo and DD.
Userlevel 4
Badge +1
+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.


Sonos know what is best for their Customers just like Black Berry people don't use touch screen keyboard and insist on that crazy keyboard pad until the party is over :-)

Votes with your Wallet is the best answer to this, #ReturnSonos


Hah, I hadn't thought of that, but the Blackberry analogy is quite accurate. A once dominant manufacturer that failed to recognize the changing needs of it's customers and subsequently failed to change with the times.
Userlevel 2
Badge +4
+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.


Sonos know what is best for their Customers just like Black Berry people don't use touch screen keyboard and insist on that crazy keyboard pad until the party is over :-)

Votes with your Wallet is the best answer to this, #ReturnSonos
Userlevel 4
Badge +1
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.
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 7
Badge +17
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."