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Purchased Sonos One's as surrounds to add Airplay - now I am told I can't


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I had a surround setup with a Playbar, a subwoofer, and two Sonos Play:1. I purchased two Sonos One's about 1 month ago to replace the Play:1's so that I would be able to get Airplay support. Now I am told that in this confuguration the Sonos One's will not support Airplay. Pretty lame of Sonos not to have been clear about this ahead of time!

Will a future software update remediate this?
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Best answer by inopinatus 13 July 2018, 14:06

Sadly, it's the difference between "you can group them and it brings Airplay to your your entire Sonos system!" (which is what they said e.g. at https://blog.sonos.com/en-au/airplay2-coming/) and "you can bond them and it'll make your Playbar an Airplay 2 target!" (which is what we all wanted to hear).

It was pretty weaselly worded if you ask me, since the difference between grouping and bonding is a technical nuance specific to Sonos's proprietary system so I am not surprised at your disappointment. It's not reasonable to presume that people outside of the Sonos echo chamber would know the difference.

There were some clarifications buried in the forum for those that could find them e.g. https://en.community.sonos.com/home-theater-228993/playbar-vs-playbase-in-an-airplay-2-compatible-home-theatre-setup-6799021/index1.html#post16240175 but again hardly reasonable to expect a regular consumer to dig that deep.

To your specific question, they have not indicated publicly that a future update will supply this behavior.
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Sadly, it's the difference between "you can group them and it brings Airplay to your your entire Sonos system!" (which is what they said e.g. at https://blog.sonos.com/en-au/airplay2-coming/) and "you can bond them and it'll make your Playbar an Airplay 2 target!" (which is what we all wanted to hear).

It was pretty weaselly worded if you ask me, since the difference between grouping and bonding is a technical nuance specific to Sonos's proprietary system so I am not surprised at your disappointment. It's not reasonable to presume that people outside of the Sonos echo chamber would know the difference.

There were some clarifications buried in the forum for those that could find them e.g. https://en.community.sonos.com/home-theater-228993/playbar-vs-playbase-in-an-airplay-2-compatible-home-theatre-setup-6799021/index1.html#post16240175 but again hardly reasonable to expect a regular consumer to dig that deep.

To your specific question, they have not indicated publicly that a future update will supply this behavior.
I don't know if I'd call it weaselly, as that implies that they intended to deceive. I don't see that as the case. I do believe that they intended for the message to be clear, and didn't fully anticipate misunderstandings of the word 'group' in the context they used it.
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Hard to say. I'm generally inclined to the default position that marketing copywriters have a nuanced grasp of how words convey meaning. It'd be a professional insult to assume otherwise.
Hard to say. I'm generally inclined to the default position that marketing copywriters have a nuanced grasp of how words convey meaning. It'd be a professional insult to assume otherwise.

Eh, maybe you're right. But at the same time, I'd argue that an attempt to intentionally confuse people into buying the wrong product makes no sense for a company that was built on repeat customers, and doesn't fit how the company has been operating in the past.
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doesn't fit how the company has been operating in the past.
They're not so squeaky-clean in that regard. I recently complained about Sonos's false advertising here in Australia re. Amazon Music support. But that's another topic.
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Have they slapped "works with Airplay2" stickers on all stocked products in the shops that actually do, to stop confusion...I'd guess not.
That would only cost money and could prevent a sale...
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On second thought, I can understand that when bonded, the Playbar’s processor is running the show and thus Airplay 2 capability would not be available. This was certainly not clear at all in the communications, and given that Playbar is a current product, I would deem it was SONOS’s duty to their customers to be absolutely clear about this. I am pretty disappointed.

However, consider this: When I use Alexa on one of the surround SONOS:One, and I ask it to play NPR or music from Spotify, it plays to the entire bonded system (Playbar+Sub+Surrounds). So there’s clearly a way to make the One’s core broadcast to the bonded set.

Why would this not work for Airplay?
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Have they slapped "works with Airplay2" stickers on all stocked products in the shops that actually do, to stop confusion...I'd guess not.
That would only cost money and could prevent a sale...

That would not help in the case of my original question, as the speaker should read: “Works with Airplay 2 except when the speaker is bonded to one that does not support Airplay 2.” And they would need difference stickers for Playbase, Beam vs the others.
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Sadly, it's the difference between "you can group them and it brings Airplay to your your entire Sonos system!" (which is what they said e.g. at https://blog.sonos.com/en-au/airplay2-coming/) and "you can bond them and it'll make your Playbar an Airplay 2 target!" (which is what we all wanted to hear).
I have a Playbar+Sub+Surrounds. The surrounds are Sonos:One. When I use Alexa on one of the surrounds and I ask it to play NPR or music from Spotify, it plays to the entire bonded system. So there’s clearly a way to make the One’s core broadcast to the bonded set - almost surely implemented by the One broadcasting to the Playbar controller.

Why would a similar solution not work for Airplay?
That's not what is happening. Alexa is telling the Sonos to play in the room name of the One. The room master is the Playbar, so the Playbar gets the commands from Alexa and plays the requested stream, sending the derived single channels to each One. You can't get around the fact that the only device capable of sending a separate channel to each One for it to play is the Playbar. There is no way for the One to both decode the Airplay 2 DRM and play the single channel it is being sent by the Playbar.
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That's not what is happening. Alexa is telling the Sonos to play in the room name of the One. The room master is the Playbar, so the Playbar gets the commands from Alexa and plays the requested stream, sending the derived single channels to each One. You can't get around the fact that the only device capable of sending a separate channel to each One for it to play is the Playbar. There is no way for the One to both decode the Airplay 2 DRM and play the single channel it is being sent by the Playbar.
Ok understood.

Does this mean that the Alexa implementation on Sonos is limited to what Sonos can do rather than what Alexa can do? For example, if I want to play from a service that is supported by Alexa Echo speakers but not Sonos, it would not work in the Sonos implementation of Alexa?

Ok understood.

Does this mean that the Alexa implementation on Sonos is limited to what Sonos can do rather than what Alexa can do? For example, if I want to play from a service that is supported by Alexa Echo speakers but not Sonos, it would not work in the Sonos implementation of Alexa?


There are definitely some features supported by Echo that are not supported by the Sonos Alexa devices. Not music services, because all Alexa supported services are supported on Sonos, but things like Drop In and Calling are only available on Echo devices.
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There are definitely some features supported by Echo that are not supported by the Sonos Alexa devices. Not music services, because all Alexa supported services are supported on Sonos, but things like Drop In and Calling are only available on Echo devices.
Ok understood. Probably why Sonos does not understand "Play NPR" and requries "Play NPR from TuneIn" while Echo understands it without any issues.