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

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.
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.
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.
Userlevel 4
Badge +1
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.
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 4
Badge +1
"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 2
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
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 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.
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?
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 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."
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 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 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 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.
Userlevel 4
Badge +1


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
Userlevel 7
Badge +17
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 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.
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
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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, 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