Replaced my PLAYBAR...

  • 31 August 2017
  • 35 replies
  • 4423 views

Userlevel 4
Badge +2
I recently replaced my 5.1 PLAYBAR set-up with a new Denon home theater system.

I now get HDMI audio, DTS and HD audio support. I no longer use optical audio and can use any blu-ray player I choose.

If I type up a full write-up of the switch I performed, pros & cons etc. would anybody be interested?

This topic has been closed for further comments. You can use the search bar to find a similar topic, or create a new one by clicking Create Topic at the top of the page.

35 replies

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.
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’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 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.
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 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.
Userlevel 3
Badge +3
Edit
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 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 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 7
Badge +26
Interesting discussion everyone, and thanks for keeping it all friendly.

Valid points. I have both an Xbox One S and a PS4. Couldn't I just change the output settings on the device if watching blu ray? Genuine question. Or would the audio extractor help there?
Both the Xbox One S and the PS4 are capable of converting DTS audio into Dolby Digital 5.1 on the fly and outputting it for your PLAYBAR or PLAYBASE needs. You get all six channels passed on through too. In my experience, those are some of the best Blu-Ray players out there because of this. They can even handle the latest HD formats the same way.
Userlevel 4
Badge +2
This is an interesting thread, but there are lots of things in here that I don't agree with, and seem just pure conjecture. To caveat, I have both a "proper" wired 5.1 AV setup in my main TV room, as well as Sonos throughout the house (including 2x 5.0 Sonos setups). So I feel fairly well placed to make comparisons.


Thanks for the response, I hoped this thread would provoke good discussion and feedback.

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).


I couldn't agree more, except the "slightly better" part. Modern audio codecs are way better. The Sonos speakers are more than capable, but simply can't accept a high quality TV source.


But set a Sonos surround system up, feed it a Dolby Digital 5.1 signal and it does a great job (as it should do, because it's crazy expensive). You can get a decent amount of bass without the Sub too (quite why it needs to cost £600 is really beyond me). So the "low quality Dolby Digital" comment is just pointless and incorrect. Sonos has superb software and the technology of SonosNet is fantastic, but comes at a hefty cost.


There are two ways to interpret my "low quality" comment. The first, what I intended, is that Dolby Digital itself is low quality compared to other formats. I'm genuinely surprised how much better other codecs sound. I've protested about DTS support for many years, purely for convenience. A lot of the time I simply couldn't get 5.1 when the movie came in a DTS format and it was a pain. I never realised how much better quality DTS was.

Dolby digital has a maximum bitrate of 640kbps - for FIVE (and a bit) channels. That gives you about 120kbps per channel. Did you rip your CD music in 128kbps? Most people rip their CD music much higher than that as 128kbps MP3s sound awful. Spotify and others suggest their music is "CD quality" as they support 256kbps or higher. Dolby Digital does not. On the other hand, DTS streams in movies are up to around 1500kbps - around double that of Dolby Digital. The difference is clearly noticeable, even by my wife.

Sonos is a great music system, you can clearly hear the difference between a 128kbps and a 256kbps mp3. Sonos could clearly show the quality of DTS, but it doesn't support it.

Neither can Sonos support (for hardware reasons) any of the newer uncompressed audio codecs like Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio. The different in quality between these and the compressed formats is outstanding. I doubt a PLAYBAR set-up could fully demonstrate this though, especially with P1 or P3 surrounds.

So we have "gold medal" Atmos/DTS:X format, "silver medal" uncompressed DTS-HD/Dolby THD format and "bronze medal" DTS compressed audio. Legacy Dolby Digital doesn't even get a medal these days, it's OK but 128kbps cannot be regarded as high quality in 2017.

The second way of interpreting my "low quality" comment is that Sonos does a bad job of reproducing Dolby Digital. You say it does a "great" job. I'd say it does a good job, but it's not great. The main compromise is with the surround speakers, which are good but nothing like the front channels on an acoustic level. Most 5.1 set-ups will use identical drivers front and rear. The Sonos ones are nothing like each other and you get totally different tone. A good DD 5.1 set-up sounds a lot better, especially on the surround and center channels.

Saying "I actually use fewer wires" for a Denos/Q Acoustics setup just means you didn't do your research properly. Any LG TV will pass on a 5.1 signal either from an internal or external source (and most Samsung or Sony ones do too), and differentiating between "thick" and "thin" cabling is seriously clutching.


My LGTV will (with an unsupported engineer hack) pass a 5.1 signal from up to 3 sources, 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. The design of my OLED, as you'll see above, has a clear stand with the panel visually "floating" above. The cables going to the cabinet are clearly visible and fewer cables is way better visually.

It's not just about "thick" and "thin" cabling. Speaker wires aren't just thin, they're also safe. Mains cables carry a mains current and voltage. As a result, it's illegal in most building codes to bury them in walls and health and safety prevents them being put under carpets or rugs. You can put speaker wires anywhere you like. Simply not the case with mains cables.

In my case, I removed an HDMI switch, an optical switch and a co-ax optical converter - it's still ironic that the only compatible blu-ray player at the time didn't have an optical port. These devices had 3 mains plugs between them, which meant an extra strip adapter behind my TV. It's all gone now. UK plugs are huge, so the saving was massive.


I fully agree that you can have issues if you're a serial DVD/Blu-Ray watcher, and I agree you can get pesky lip-sync issues. I'm wondering how many folk bought the last Star Wars films (DTS only for the main soundtrack, DD for description only!), plugged it in and realised they couldn't hear anything (although out the box, most TV/Sonos setups seem to default to 2.0 anyway). Lipsync issues though, in my experience, are more down to the TV manufacturer than Sonos (but it absolutely is a pain).


I believe many Sonos owners don't realise they are listening in 2.0. The basic Dolby pro-logic encoding usually present gives them a bit of sound from the rear so I think they believe it's working. It's not though and, critically, they're losing the discreet centre channel. End result is muffled speech and constantly having to turn the volume up and down during loud/quiet scenes.

I first got burned by the Superman blu-ray box set. It has Dolby Digital 5.1 in French and for commentary tracks. But the English movie audio was DTS only. It was a Birthday gift and I'd planned to watch all the films that day. I got silence. Ruined birthday, axe to grind. A new BD player kinda resolved the issue though, so it took many years to justify replacing my PLAYBAR - although I'd have done it sooner had I realised how poor the transcoded audio was compared to the original.


It is patently obvious that home theatre was an afterthought for Sonos, else there is no other reason to begin with a purely optical soundbar and charge £650. If I was a betting man, I'd give it a 90-95% chance that Sonos is R&D'ing a HDMI Soundbar. There is just no other way to take that product line forwards, but how they would make it work for surround sound is another thing. I'm guessing there would be serious bandwidth issues for anything beyond DD5.1 with non-wired surrounds.


PLAYBAR made sense and it fitted the market well. But they tried too hard and ticked too many boxes. It didn't need 5.1 support and the addition of this is what caused the problem. I guess without it they struggled with the price point, but adding on two more speakers for surrounds made this a major ticket item. At the time I was running a Bose Lifestyle cinema system and a Sonos Connect (ZP80). It worked but was fiddly as the Bose didn't support IR control and I was constantly juggling two controllers. PLAYBAR felt like a way out of that and I expected it would add newer codec support - my 1998 Bose system only supported Dolby Digital and I was already feeling DTS pain from some DVDs of the time. However PLAYBAR didn't live up to its home theatre promises - they swiftly change the website details after launch following complaints that it couldn't live up to the claims. A refund programme followed.

If they'd just offered good TV audio with Sonos music integration it would have been a fairly flawless product.


And just 2 points to make to the OP - if we want to start talking about so-called "true" AV setups, then things such as clear speech shouldn't even be an issue and you should be watching everything in Pure Direct mode. 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!


Totally agree, although Pure Direct is for people with a dedicated room. The Denon Audyssey tuning makes adjustments to compensate for varied speaker distances and furniture placement. After that, it just works. Sonos constantly needed the speech enhancement and, even then, there was a lot of yo-yo with the volume. The upgrade makes things clear at all times.


And buying speakers such as the (excellent) Q Acoustics ones and then quite literally dumping them all next to each other on your TV stand with little space between them (thus, little audio separation) and at a low level which must be way below your ear level, is just wrong - you might as well have just got a Playbar.


We all have to live with what we have. Compromises due to space and family life. It's not fully visible, but my TV is squeezed in a corner between a fireplace and a window. In the past I used to have my Bose cubes on floor stands either side of the screen. However I've since upgraded to a 55" panel and there is no room for the Q floor stands either side. They still sound amazing though, the Audyssey tuning does a way better job than TRUEPLAY to ensure the audio reaches the viewer as intended. The only change I may make is to buy two additional centre speakers to use on that shelf, instead of the supplied left/right speakers. The centre has an identical driver, but a better stand. I can then use the left/right speakers I free up for Atmos audio, which will be more balanced than my current set-up.


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.


Indeed, the majority of people watch all their movies from low quality streaming these days and don't care about 5.1. 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.

Jumping through hoops is never anybody's choice but with a family and a limited budget, you do what you can. I saw PLAYBAR as the ultimate solution but it never quite delivered - largely due to the DTS limitation. Other Soundbars wouldn't integrate with Sonos well and separate speaker solutions were very large or compromising on sound. We're in a position now though where good quality sound does fit in a small package. I put my Q speakers next to my old Bose and the difference in quality is amazing for something of around the same price point. Sure, they're a little bigger, but still plenty small enough to keep my wife happier. They fit on the TV stand and the built in stands create great value for the package - you usually end up spending £££ more for wall brackets.


Sonos is a music streamer and simple soundbar first, and an extension into Home Theatre second. It's the best in the market at the first, and does an admirable (if very very costly) job at the second.


Never going to dispute Sonos as a music device, been solidly the best in my 12 years of ownership. I think they need to ditch Home Theatre though and focus on the core market. The creation of PLAYBASE surprised me, especially given it too stuck to 90s codecs. The time would have been better spent on a battery powered Play:1 or something.
Userlevel 4
Badge +2

Valid points. I have both an Xbox One S and a PS4. Couldn't I just change the output settings on the device if watching blu ray? Genuine question. Or would the audio extractor help there?


I'm not familiar with watching blu-ray on a games console, I've always found them too noisy for that purpose. I understand there are some functions that may help, I think there is another thread which may contain this information.

The extractors are fairly basic, they will create an optical output of the audio data that is present in the HDMI stream. If that data is Dolby Digital (AC3) it will work. If it's DTS, it won't. Ensuring it is DTS is the tricky part.

Optical links are easy, you put a flashing light in one end, it comes out the other. That's it. With HDMI there is a big handshake, it's a two way thing. The devices talk to each other and discuss compatible video and audio formats - so if you plug a 4k player into a TV, it switches to 4k mode. But if you put the same player into a 1080p TV then it will automatically realise the TV can't handle 4k and send 1080p instead.

The same goes for audio. On my old Panasonic TV, I used to put on a blu-ray and it would talk to the TV and ask "do you support DTS?". The TV said "no, I don't understand DTS do you have a Dolby audio track?" If it did, I got Dolby (2.0) through the TV and 5.1 out of the digital audio port. If there was no Dolby track though, I got silence. It could only output DTS and Sonos didn't support it. The only option was buying a different Blu-ray player which allowed me to over-ride this.

On my LG panel, the blu-ray asks "can you handle DTS?". It says yes, so the output comes through DTS - which Sonos can't understand. Again, fiddling is required on a compatible player.

So extracting the audio is only half the game, you need to ensure that audio is in the right format and the HDMI handshake may complicate that.
Userlevel 3
Badge +3
This is an interesting thread, but there are lots of things in here that I don't agree with, and seem just pure conjecture. To caveat, I have both a "proper" wired 5.1 AV setup in my main TV room, as well as Sonos throughout the house (including 2x 5.0 Sonos setups). So I feel fairly well placed to make comparisons.

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).

But set a Sonos surround system up, feed it a Dolby Digital 5.1 signal and it does a great job (as it should do, because it's crazy expensive). You can get a decent amount of bass without the Sub too (quite why it needs to cost £600 is really beyond me). So the "low quality Dolby Digital" comment is just pointless and incorrect. Sonos has superb software and the technology of SonosNet is fantastic, but comes at a hefty cost.

Saying "I actually use fewer wires" for a Denos/Q Acoustics setup just means you didn't do your research properly. Any LG TV will pass on a 5.1 signal either from an internal or external source (and most Samsung or Sony ones do too), and differentiating between "thick" and "thin" cabling is seriously clutching.

I fully agree that you can have issues if you're a serial DVD/Blu-Ray watcher, and I agree you can get pesky lip-sync issues. I'm wondering how many folk bought the last Star Wars films (DTS only for the main soundtrack, DD for description only!), plugged it in and realised they couldn't hear anything (although out the box, most TV/Sonos setups seem to default to 2.0 anyway). Lipsync issues though, in my experience, are more down to the TV manufacturer than Sonos (but it absolutely is a pain).

It is patently obvious that home theatre was an afterthought for Sonos, else there is no other reason to begin with a purely optical soundbar and charge £650. If I was a betting man, I'd give it a 90-95% chance that Sonos is R&D'ing a HDMI Soundbar. There is just no other way to take that product line forwards, but how they would make it work for surround sound is another thing. I'm guessing there would be serious bandwidth issues for anything beyond DD5.1 with non-wired surrounds.

And just 2 points to make to the OP - if we want to start talking about so-called "true" AV setups, then things such as clear speech shouldn't even be an issue and you should be watching everything in Pure Direct mode. 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! And buying speakers such as the (excellent) Q Acoustics ones and then quite literally dumping them all next to each other on your TV stand with little space between them (thus, little audio separation) and at a low level which must be way below your ear level, is just wrong - you might as well have just got a Playbar.

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.

Sonos is a music streamer and simple soundbar first, and an extension into Home Theatre second. It's the best in the market at the first, and does an admirable (if very very costly) job at the second.
Userlevel 3
Badge +9
What it really comes down to for me is to make up my mind on what I want to do. It would be much more cost effective for me to keep the AVR setup I have and figure out the surrounds, Connect, etc. issue versus going all in on the Sonos 5.1.

I personally think you'll save so much money by running a wire that you could even buy a new carpet if needed. Likely it may just need refitting.

Your audio codec requirements are apparently minimal but pretty much every blu-ray is now DTS based and doesn't contain a Dolby Digital track. This may not be an issue though.

What will be an issue is the center speaker. You're used to having one that provided a very clear vocal track from whatever you watch. PLAYBAR won't do this so well. They offer a speech enhancement mode for a reason, without it you may find dialog very hard to hear. Even with it on we struggled a fair amount on TV shows - movies generally have a better mix. On a true AVR set-up, you can adjust the EQ and balance on the speakers as required. With PLAYBAR you're limited to the preset it arrives with, or using TRUEPLAY tuning which can be hit and miss - it changes slightly every time you tune it, even in the same room.


Valid points. I have both an Xbox One S and a PS4. Couldn't I just change the output settings on the device if watching blu ray? Genuine question. Or would the audio extractor help there?
Userlevel 4
Badge +2
What it really comes down to for me is to make up my mind on what I want to do. It would be much more cost effective for me to keep the AVR setup I have and figure out the surrounds, Connect, etc. issue versus going all in on the Sonos 5.1.

I personally think you'll save so much money by running a wire that you could even buy a new carpet if needed. Likely it may just need refitting.

Your audio codec requirements are apparently minimal but pretty much every blu-ray is now DTS based and doesn't contain a Dolby Digital track. This may not be an issue though.

What will be an issue is the center speaker. You're used to having one that provided a very clear vocal track from whatever you watch. PLAYBAR won't do this so well. They offer a speech enhancement mode for a reason, without it you may find dialog very hard to hear. Even with it on we struggled a fair amount on TV shows - movies generally have a better mix. On a true AVR set-up, you can adjust the EQ and balance on the speakers as required. With PLAYBAR you're limited to the preset it arrives with, or using TRUEPLAY tuning which can be hit and miss - it changes slightly every time you tune it, even in the same room.
Userlevel 4
Badge +2
I think what this thread proves is that the best solution varies by individual, what their priorities are, what equipment they are starting with, and how much they want the TV audio to be integrated into a whole-home audio system. And there is no perfect solution for anyone.

There is no bigger fan of Sonos than I, but even I'm a bit baffled by the hoops Sonos forces SOME people to go through because of only having optical input and not supporting DTS. So I understand the OP's choice to go for a traditional AVR, if that suits him best. I am sticking with Sonos. Neither of us is right or wrong.


Absolutely, this is nothing to do with right or wrong. I'm sure there are many happy owners out there. This thread isn't for them. This is for those who, like me, struggle with daily challenges and are looking for a way out.

Many of us have owned PLAYBAR for many years now and may have written off the cost. I'm moving mine into the room where we have our gym equipment. Currently it has my old Panasonic Plasma and a Play:5 for audio. Throwing the PLAYBAR in there will give me audio that's in sync with the music videos I play when exercising and the redundant SUB will offer more base which helps get the heart pumping.

So I've upgraded the audio in both rooms for the cost of one and it works well, for me at least.
Userlevel 3
Badge +9
What it really comes down to for me is to make up my mind on what I want to do. It would be much more cost effective for me to keep the AVR setup I have and figure out the surrounds, Connect, etc. issue versus going all in on the Sonos 5.1.
I think what this thread proves is that the best solution varies by individual, what their priorities are, what equipment they are starting with, and how much they want the TV audio to be integrated into a whole-home audio system. And there is no perfect solution for anyone.

There is no bigger fan of Sonos than I, but even I'm a bit baffled by the hoops Sonos forces SOME people to go through because of only having optical input and not supporting DTS. So I understand the OP's choice to go for a traditional AVR, if that suits him best. I am sticking with Sonos. Neither of us is right or wrong.
Userlevel 3
Badge +9
In a word: wires. I don't want to run wires for surrounds and then try to hide them. Our living room is fully carpeted and I can't squeeze any wires between the carpet and baseboard.

For the Sonos I'd just need to get an audio extractor for the optical as my TV doesn't pass through 5.1. I could hide the extractor/switch in my entertainment center and just run one HDMI out to my TV and the optical to the Playbar. And the switch is compatible with my Harmony remote so no worries with switching inputs.

We watch 95% of our TV through a 4th gen Apple TV so I'm not as concerned with the lack of audio formats supported. Plus I have a Play:1 in our dining room and a Play:1 in the home office downstairs, so it'd be nice if they were connected to the TV (music through Apple TV, football games, etc.). I know I could get a connect but then it would only play in stereo versus 5.1 if we had the Sonos setup.


Could you not use something like the wireless surround speaker device I linked above? Although I've never seen a carpet under which you can't hide wires - they're thinner than the gripper around the edge of the room.


I've thought about a wireless adapter but was concerned about audio quality, delay, etc. I'm just not looking to do any major work to hide the wires.
Userlevel 4
Badge +2
In a word: wires. I don't want to run wires for surrounds and then try to hide them. Our living room is fully carpeted and I can't squeeze any wires between the carpet and baseboard.

For the Sonos I'd just need to get an audio extractor for the optical as my TV doesn't pass through 5.1. I could hide the extractor/switch in my entertainment center and just run one HDMI out to my TV and the optical to the Playbar. And the switch is compatible with my Harmony remote so no worries with switching inputs.

We watch 95% of our TV through a 4th gen Apple TV so I'm not as concerned with the lack of audio formats supported. Plus I have a Play:1 in our dining room and a Play:1 in the home office downstairs, so it'd be nice if they were connected to the TV (music through Apple TV, football games, etc.). I know I could get a connect but then it would only play in stereo versus 5.1 if we had the Sonos setup.


Could you not use something like the wireless surround speaker device I linked above? Although I've never seen a carpet under which you can't hide wires - they're thinner than the gripper around the edge of the room.
Userlevel 4
Badge +2
That's unfortunate. I was able to get mine synced up nicely.


Mine synced up just fine, most of the time. It just randomly had annoying faults, even when using internal apps like Netflix. Sometimes rebooting the TV fixed it, other times rebooting the PLAYBAR did.

Aside from having 2 surround speakers that will give you low quality Dolby Digital?



Lots of axes to grind - there really was never any good reason why a £2000 5.1 system couldn't at least support basic DTS. If it did, I'd have really struggled to replace it. Kudos to Sonos for offering a refund to mislead buyers but, at the time, there really were no decent alternatives on the market. Now pretty much everything includes Spotify, digital radio, WiFi and other options - it's USP has been eroded and now it's just a legacy soundbar.
Userlevel 3
Badge +9
In a word: wires. I don't want to run wires for surrounds and then try to hide them. Our living room is fully carpeted and I can't squeeze any wires between the carpet and baseboard.

For the Sonos I'd just need to get an audio extractor for the optical as my TV doesn't pass through 5.1. I could hide the extractor/switch in my entertainment center and just run one HDMI out to my TV and the optical to the Playbar. And the switch is compatible with my Harmony remote so no worries with switching inputs.

We watch 95% of our TV through a 4th gen Apple TV so I'm not as concerned with the lack of audio formats supported. Plus I have a Play:1 in our dining room and a Play:1 in the home office downstairs, so it'd be nice if they were connected to the TV (music through Apple TV, football games, etc.). I know I could get a connect but then it would only play in stereo versus 5.1 if we had the Sonos setup.
Userlevel 5
Badge +3
My LG OLED TV fixed my 5.1 pass-thru problem but still couldn't handle DTS elegantly. It also has terrible lipsync problems when using optical.

That's unfortunate. I was able to get mine synced up nicely.

Aside from having 2 surround speakers that will give you low quality Dolby Digital?

Userlevel 4
Badge +2
I'm actually looking into doing the opposite. I have a 3.1 system with a Denon AVR at the moment and I'm looking into getting rid of the setup for the Sonos 5.1 setup.

Interesting, how come? What do you feel the main advantage would be? Aside from having 2 surround speakers that will give you low quality Dolby Digital?