Replaced my PLAYBAR...

  • 31 August 2017
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35 replies

Userlevel 6
Badge +8
Both the Xbox One S and the PS4 are ... some of the best Blu-Ray players out there ... They can even handle the latest HD formats...

Interesting. Will they also play audio CDs?
Userlevel 5
Badge +3
Firstly, a Sonos 5.1 setup is crazy expensive. Just looking at the online shop, a Playbar/Playbase, Sub and 2 surrounds (Play 1s) costs £1,736. You could easily spend that money on a wired setup, as well as an AV Pro to come round, trunk the speaker cabling, set everything up and then have at least £200-300 left to spare. It would support all sound formats, and I would say arguably give you slightly better sound (but it's negligible).

My expectation is that a fair number of people are willing to pay the 15% premium for an easier setup. This is true assuming their "audio experience" is essentially the same, and I'll get to that in a second.

If you're having to make adjustments for this, it's not setup properly in the first place (save for the odd show/film with really bad mixing). Also, Sonos quite literally has a Speech Enhancement function!

For what it's worth, I've had no trouble understanding speech with my Playbase.

I also must say the people who seem to be worried about sound formats, etc IMO is a vast minority of overall Sonos users. Every single other person I know who has it simply connects to their WiFi and is done with it. Most don't even know about DTS, DD+, Atmos, etc. And if you care that much about it, I find it odd you'd run through all these hoops to get surround sound and not want a "proper" wired setup in the first place.

That is why I reply in this thread with my experience. It's not because I don't agree with many of the technical assessments that RO53BEN is stating. I simply don't think that most users care about these things, and I worry that if someone comes to these forums, and all they see is the enthusiast viewpoint that they'll be unduly concerned.

I have more than that. Sadly those HDMI ports are also on the left hand edge of the screen and stick out a bit, it's not good TV design.

I'd again be surprised if more than a small set of the market uses 3+ sources.

On the LG design, I believe they've done that to allow flush placement against the wall. The ports should be far enough inside the edge of the screen to keep them from protruding on the outer edge unless there's a difference in models I'm not aware of. I don't know that it'd look better "centered" since the stand is clear.

A "proper" set-up will likely only appeal to disc buyers, a somewhat decreasing market although 4k blu-ray seems to be increasingly popular. Netflix now streams in Dolby Atmos on supported kit, so maybe demand will grow from streaming owners.

Yeah, streaming is only widening the gap with disks, so people who prefer physical media will likely find themselves further frustrated as time goes on.

4K streaming is growing rapidly, but the Atmos availability remains very limited. Last I checked you even needed an XBox with Netflix to run it... the LG OLEDs were supposed to add support soon.

Interesting. Will they also play audio CDs?

XBox One, yes. PS3, yes. PS4, no.
Userlevel 7
Badge +26
Both the Xbox One S and the PS4 are ... some of the best Blu-Ray players out there ... They can even handle the latest HD formats...
Interesting. Will they also play audio CDs?

Skelton beat me to it.
XBox One, yes. PS3, yes. PS4, no.
The Xbox One S will play CDs too.

Personally, I don't use them, but know several people who do. I moved away from physical media a while ago. I'm exclusively moved on to streaming for my media consumption. My computer and media centers don't even have slots for optical disks.
Userlevel 3
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Userlevel 3
Badge +3
I’ve tried replying to this thread a few times but seems to keep going wonky, so I’ll do it without quotes.

I’m into my quality, but in terms of lossy vs lossless, I can make do with a 320kps mp3 versus a WAV file, and for AV stuff I am happy enough with DD5.1 over the lossless codecs. I have done an A/B comparison of The Force Awakens Blu-Ray DTS-HD soundtrack versus the Sky broadcast which carries a 5.1 DD encode. Believe me, I WANTED to hear a difference, but it just wasn’t discernible enough. I think maybe my gear just can’t give the nuances at the top end.

In terms of using Play 1s as surrounds, for a DD signal I really don’t think you’ll be able to tell a difference between that and, say, a wired setup. The Play 1s on their own are excellent speakers, great clarity and a really controlled solid bottom end from such a small speaker. So they should really be able to handle simple surround streams properly.

I did think the Playbase is just a plain weird product. Especially given it’s not adapted any of the connections, and I can’t imagine how there’s sufficient demand for people to shove a giant base under their TV. Like I said, there must be a HDMI soundbar in the works because there is just no way to take the product line forwards. But it would no doubt cause bandwidth issues with non wired surrounds I’m sure.

This is an excellent thread, and it’s nice to see Sonos staff reading too.
Just to pick up on one point. The Playbase seems to me only weird if you think all sound bases are weird as a concept (which of course you may do). The Playbase is actually rather more elegant than most of the alternatives, IMO. Just for the record, I have a Playbar, not a Playbase.

I'll also throw in the fact that, from my past experience as a Sonos reseller, many Playbar purchases were by people with no intention of getting surround sound. What those customers wanted was something that sounded much better than their TV's speakers for TV watching, and better than what they currently had for music (often a Bose sounddock or Bluetooth speaker). And that in one package. The Playbar meets those needs extremely well, and with very simple connections and setup. I suspect Sonos know their market.

I am personally sceptical that an HDMI Playbar will be along anytime soon, but would be happy to be proved wrong.
Userlevel 4
I was deciding between HEOS or a Sonos system for my home, and ultimately it came down to Sonos having a much better interface for my non-technical family members.

I predict the home theatre interconnect of the future will be USB Type-C, with smart ports on home theatre devices supporting multiple modes of operation. It will be very capable, but also a fresh world of support pain caused by poor cable selection.
Userlevel 4
Badge +2
I’ve tried replying to this thread a few times but seems to keep going wonky, so I’ll do it without quotes.

I’m into my quality, but in terms of lossy vs lossless, I can make do with a 320kps mp3 versus a WAV file, and for AV stuff I am happy enough with DD5.1 over the lossless codecs. I have done an A/B comparison of The Force Awakens Blu-Ray DTS-HD soundtrack versus the Sky broadcast which carries a 5.1 DD encode. Believe me, I WANTED to hear a difference, but it just wasn’t discernible enough. I think maybe my gear just can’t give the nuances at the top end.


Genuinely surprised you can't hear the difference. It sounds to me that perhaps your blu-ray player has been configured to work with PLAYBAR and transcode to Dolby Digital? The difference in those sources should be amazing. I'd be surprised if Sky even carried the full Dolby 5.1 bitrate.


In terms of using Play 1s as surrounds, for a DD signal I really don’t think you’ll be able to tell a difference between that and, say, a wired setup. The Play 1s on their own are excellent speakers, great clarity and a really controlled solid bottom end from such a small speaker. So they should really be able to handle simple surround streams properly.


I personally can hear the different between P1 and P3 for surrounds, the P3 gave much clearer audio but nothing like on the level I am getting from my Q Accoustics. These are not "simple surround streams" they are full range audio channels - albeit somewhat limited if restricted by Dolby Digital.


I did think the Playbase is just a plain weird product. Especially given it’s not adapted any of the connections, and I can’t imagine how there’s sufficient demand for people to shove a giant base under their TV. Like I said, there must be a HDMI soundbar in the works because there is just no way to take the product line forwards. But it would no doubt cause bandwidth issues with non wired surrounds I’m sure.

Sonos can handle lossless music audio from the like of FLAC and ALAC. If it can, there should be enough bandwidth for uncompressed movie audio - latency is the biggest challenge.

Playbase is indeed a minority product, a Richer Sounds manager told me the only people who bought it were those who couldn't fit a PLAYBAR on their TV stand.


This is an excellent thread, and it’s nice to see Sonos staff reading too.


Thanks, I like a nice friendly discussion.
Userlevel 3
Badge +3
I was quite eager to try the 5.1 vs Lossless demo again given RO53BEN's quite emphatic comments. So I tried chapter 18 of The Force Awakens (the Desert Falcon shootout). I had a PS4 on Bitstream output direct to a Sony 1050 Amp (DTS-HD Master in Pure Direct Mode), and I had the Sky Movies HD broadcast which outputs a DD5.1 audio.

And there is most certainly a difference, the DTS audio had all sorts of subtle details and definition in the lower end that was just great. Is it enough to make me switch to buying £10 Blu-Rays for each and every movie? Doubt it, DD5.1 is more than adequate for me most of the time. But it was fun to watch.
Userlevel 4
Badge +2
I was quite eager to try the 5.1 vs Lossless demo again given RO53BEN's quite emphatic comments. So I tried chapter 18 of The Force Awakens (the Desert Falcon shootout). I had a PS4 on Bitstream output direct to a Sony 1050 Amp (DTS-HD Master in Pure Direct Mode), and I had the Sky Movies HD broadcast which outputs a DD5.1 audio.

And there is most certainly a difference, the DTS audio had all sorts of subtle details and definition in the lower end that was just great. Is it enough to make me switch to buying £10 Blu-Rays for each and every movie? Doubt it, DD5.1 is more than adequate for me most of the time. But it was fun to watch.


Fair comment and obviously all this is subjective. I've obviously enjoyed PLAYBAR for many years to, the turning point for me was switching to OLED and 4k. Broadcast 1080p looks rubbish compared, even streamed 4k is quite limited on bitrate.

So 4k, and to some extent 3D, has provoked a renewed interest in discs. And with discs I get much improved audio, so I decided to upgrade. I get 6 of the latest blu-ray/3d/4k discs, 2 at a time, from Cinema Paradiso for a tenner a month. The best quality picture and audio for just over £1.50 a movie. I no longer have to worry about which player to buy and everything just works.