Sonos Amp: Phantom Center worth it?

  • 16 July 2019
  • 9 replies
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I'm considering the new Sonos AMP, for the solely purpose of improving the speech/dialog on movies using the Phantom Center. Is it good enough to justify buying the AMP?

Currently, I have an Apple TV connected to a stereo amplifier and a pair of bookshelf speakers. I'd love to add a centre channel to improve dialog. Just not sure if the Sonos Amp will be a huge improvement or if I'd be better off with a AV receiver.

9 replies

The phantom center effect greatly depends on seating position. If you are directly in front of and in between the left and right speaker pair, the effect is excellent. If you are off-center, or to the side as on an L shaped couch, the effect goes away.
Userlevel 6
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As it’s only a phantom effect, I suspect an a/v receiver - or a Beam, Playbase or Playbar, of course - would be better for you.
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Yes, the position of my speakers is pretty good actually. I have a 2,5 people couch and the speakers are aligned more or less to its extremities. So each one of us will be sited closer to one of the speakers and not perfectly centred between them.

I've tried the Sonos Beam (and loved it), but I can't take advantage of the HDMI connection. My Apple TV is at the back of the room connected to the projector. I had to stream the audio to the Beam using Airplay, but it loses all the Speech Enhancement, Night Mode etc. So I returned it.

I guess it will have to be one of those ugly-looking, old-school a/v receiver.

Thanks for the answers!
Userlevel 5
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I guess it will have to be one of those ugly-looking, old-school a/v receiver.


Hey now! Some of the new ones are kinda slick looking.


OH! or the vacuum tube ones!
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Considering you do not have a real central channel at the moment, the answer is yes. I started buying the amp as alternative to a Sonos 5 that my partner “vetoed”. Our set up have the speaker over separated to each other and the tv is not ever in the centre, it is close to the right speaker. I tried first as you with and old Apple TV 3rd generation over airplay to listen to YouTube as the quality was better over a small 5.1 mini speakers system by Sony, Finally I found a long HDMI cable and I connected the TV to it, the speech was immediately improved and the 2.1 plus Phantom centre blow away the mini 5.1 and I have not disconnected it ever since. As per if it works, definitely yes but I tilted the speaker in angle as per a Dolby manual instructions and I used a laser pointer to make sure the speakers were oriented to the centre of the couch, as a good comment the speech was clear and present on a wide stage. It can be impressive with right speaker positioning. Please let us know how it goes.
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I'm considering the new Sonos AMP, for the solely purpose of improving the speech/dialog on movies using the Phantom Center. Is it good enough to justify buying the AMP?

Currently, I have an Apple TV connected to a stereo amplifier and a pair of bookshelf speakers. I'd love to add a centre channel to improve dialog. Just not sure if the Sonos Amp will be a huge improvement or if I'd be better off with a AV receiver.

Hi there, interested to know if you went ahead with the sonos amp or AV receiver? I am also contemplating a sonos amp with bookshelf speakers for tv, also what kind of stereo amp do you use to connect to apple tv?

Thanks. 

I was curious about the phantom channel myself. My setup is a playbar connected to connect:amp and sub in a 5.1 setup. The playbar is connected to the tv via optical audio cable. My wall speakers that the connect amp is connected to is on both sides of the couch but a little higher than the head on both sides. I have the new amp connected to outdoor speakers but I wanted to try the phantom setup. 
 

I unplugged the connect:amp and playbar and did the sonos:amp to get the phantom channel but it didn’t sound that well. I basically just heard the tv dialogue on the wall speakers and the phantom channel (where the playbar was) was faint and not that good. When I grouped it with the playbar I got the stadium effect (which I expected). 
 

I did notice that since I left the optical audio cable connected to playbar and the hdmi arc was connected to the sonos:amp I got the same tv output sounding the same in perfect sync and I like it way better than the 5.1. My wife and kids agree too. Its an expensive way to due the multichannel setup like a regular receiver but we like it and will keep it this way. The only thing is the xfinity remote doesn’t always control the volume on the playbar and amp at the same time. Playbar is always dominate and the amp doesn’t always respond but its not a big deal. Hope this helps.

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I have something to add, my TV is Sony and is excellent passing through Dolby Digital from all sources, I did not like the results trying to transfer the TV audio through Airplay from an Apple TV 3rd generation. In fact, please correct me, I think Airplay doesn't do Dolby Digital of any kind. If you want to use the Amp as AV receiver I recommend you use the HDMI connection rather than  Airplay.

AirPlay 2 to a Sonos device is only stereo, I believe, but if you use it to send to an Apple TV, I believe it can do Dolby Digital.

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