Sonos AMP Center Channel

  • 6 January 2019
  • 7 replies

I am very excited to try the new Sonos AMP but dont understand how to drive a center channel. Under the description it states you can have a phantom center channel but is this a phantom using the L and R or can it actually drive a center channel speaker across the R and L outputs?

7 replies

Phantom means it doesn't physically exist. It's a combination of the signal from the left and right audio from those speakers.
Does it work ok?
When reading reviews, the opinion varies a lot. Some reviewers mention that it works, but quality is far from using an actual center. Others marvel at how close it gets.

I would love if someone could tell of their real world experience, preferably someone who knows how a real center setup sounds.
I have tried running 2 stereo speakers on my traditional setup, using LG's VirtualSurround on the tv-set (also dsp'ed phantom center), and it is very disappointing compared to a physical center speaker.
Amp is a very interesting product, but center is really important in movies (for dialogue), and I guess lots of people hesitate to make the switch. Opinions requested!
Did you get a reply to this?
This probably isn't the answer you want, since I haven't had a TV hooked up to a center channel (or any external speakers) in over 10 years. I just got an Amp as my first Sonos unit. Hooked it up to two floor speakers and external sub, all positioned for music. I think it's pretty decent. Decent enough that I haven't gone back to my tiny TV speakers. My wife hasn't had any particular negative comments either.

I didn't buy the Amp for TV connectivity as a priority, but it is a nice bonus. I'd be interesting in comparing this setup with just a Beam. I am *not* interested in buying a Sonos Sub to pair with the Beam. I already have a sub. I would buy a Beam (or a mini Beam) and a pair of Ones if Sonos could figure out how to do a proper 5.1 setup with the Amp running L, R, and the .1.
I think it is given that it beats internal tv speakers. The question is whether it compares somewhat decently to a physical center.

In other words, should you go all sonos or keep the old clunky surround receiver.

There is much to like about the amp, small and easy to fit. I just dont want to buy, and then realize phantom center is marketing hype.
I am using it with two Jamo towers. The only problem I am having was that I had built-in shelving that was designed specifically for a console that I have. I have a center speaker but the Jamos also have Atmos top firing speakers. Sounds great on music and love that I can stream throughout the house to Plays and PLay1s. For the TV, the phantom center works great when you are in the middle of the room with the speakers angled. I find that on the sides of the room though the nearer speaker is dominant. It isn't a very large room so the spread of the speakers is more amplified. I think if you have the speakers closer to the actual TV it would sound better. I am going to add the center channel speaker that came with the Jamos to the optical out and see if I can play both at the same time or just use it when I'm watching something. My other question, has anyone tried using a play as a center?

For what it’s worth, I have 2 Sonos Amp with Architectural Setup (2 pairs of Sonos In-Ceiling + Sub) but even if the phantom channel does roughly the job, I found that it wasn’t clear that the sound came out of the TV set (because all my speakers are in the ceiling). 


So I hardwired a center speaker to one of my front speaker, which means that one of the in-ceiling is plugged in the same banana-plug as my center speaker. I know it’s not ideal because it’s a kind of dirty DIY, but Sonos still recognizes the speakers for Trueplay, AMP is powerful enough to power two speakers at once and now it’s clear enough that the sound is coming from the center of the TV :)