Sonos doesn’t really do “5.1”


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Before you buy any SONOS equipment to achieve a 5.1 setup please consider this: a Denon AVRX2400 AV Amp, Elac CINEMA 5.1 speaker system, all cables professionally installed behind the walls gives you true home cinema with all the surround sound codecs you could ever want with no cables showing for way less than £1000 (see Richer Sound web site for prices). Or spend £1700 on a SONOS setup and get stereo or Dolby Digital only plus you may have to buy a new DVD player to play your UHD DVD’s, a HDMI Switch then deal with lip sync issues etc, etc.

SONOS do speakers, great speakers, but only for music. They are stealing money from people wanting 5.1 for their TV. The system I suggest costs at least £700 less, hides all the wires (what we all want) and sounds much, much better. Go mad, stick a couple of speakers in the ceiling and get real Dolby Atmos for £150 more and still save yourself £550. I have begged SONOS to tell me if they are developing a surround sound product with HDMI and more choice of listening eg DTS, Dolby X etc but they point blank refuse to discuss future products stating they are catering for the “modern listener”. That put me in my place. SONOS remind me of great companies who made world class products like Blackberry, Blockbuster, Compaq and SAAB, just a minute, they all went out of business because they didn’t produce what their customers wanted at a competitive price (no pedants please, I know there were other factors which meant these companies went bust, I am just illustrating a point). Are SONOS going down the same route? Think about it while you are watching your new laser disc.

I would be interested to hear any arguments against my proposed SONOS alternative system.

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Well I’m a bit of a modern TV listener and I chose the new Sonos Beam. I wanted a wireless system, as I did not want to re-plaster walls, lift flooring, or have cabling showing. I had existing Play-1’s in the room already and I’m more than happy with the sourroud sound it produces. I added a Harmony Hub for full voice control of the TV and it’s peripheral devices.

The best £399, that I have spent in 'modern' times. So no regrets here.
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Ken, I am genuinely happy for you. What I said was SONOS do not do proper 5.1 and I stand by that. Play any of your DTS DVDs and you will have stereo or silence. If you are happy with the limitations then fine although for £400 I would have purchased a good sound bar and wireless sub. Also, your two Play 1s were not free so you 5.0 system actually cost you about £700. Quite a lot for a very limited system.
As a side note, the 'argument' "They are stealing money from people wanting 5.1 for their TV" does not exactly make for a lively discussion.
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You have some valid points and I do agree on some aspects, especially the DTS part! I went with the Playbase with 2 Play:1s (which I bought pretty cheap used, not the Playbase) cause I also wanted something for great music on top of having the 5.1 ability. Also having the Sonos app, trueplay, and multiroom capability is super handy.

Plus, don't think my wife will want someone running new cables through the walls! I know, it's irrational! LOL

So while I don't totally agree or disagree with you, I found the Sonos a better fit for my needs.
Ken, I am genuinely happy for you. What I said was SONOS do not do proper 5.1 and I stand by that. Play any of your DTS DVDs and you will have stereo or silence. If you are happy with the limitations then fine although for £400 I would have purchased a good sound bar and wireless sub. Also, your two Play 1s were not free so you 5.0 system actually cost you about £700. Quite a lot for a very limited system.
But the Beam does so much more besides the TV audio... and I accept what you say about the cost of my Play:1’s, but I had made that purchase, years ago. I was just saying why I chose the Beam (now) in my case. I was already partly invested in the Sonos architecture.

I will add, because Sonos is already now all around my home, were they to produce a new PlayBar Gen-2 with HDMI ARC and built in voice control services, I would still buy that device, over your Denon device, even if the new PlayBar supported codecs, were the same as the Beam.

I’m quite happy with the 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound and I do prefer to use the streaming video/movie services subscriptions nowadays and my Beam has no problems playing decent audio from either Netflix or Amazon.

I see that Apple have said that they will move their movies over to the Dolby Atmos Audio format later this year for Apple TV users ...I suspect Sonos could also move towards Atmos eventually (virtual or otherwise), before they may ever move towards supporting DTS or DTS:X.

But it’s each to their own, I guess. My Beam does do all the things I need it to do.

I should add that I do currently have a Sony DTS 5.1 Home Theatre System on my main Sony Bravia TV, but I would swap it for a new PlayBar (2nd gen) just because of all the other things (Audio/Voice/Smart features) that it will do, plus I prefer less cables in my room and there is just no way am I channelling out plaster in our walls to embed cables to then have to re-decorate.

Like I said, I truly don’t have any regrets with my purchases so far.
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Ken, I am genuinely happy for you. What I said was SONOS do not do proper 5.1 and I stand by that. Play any of your DTS DVDs and you will have stereo or silence. If you are happy with the limitations then fine although for £400 I would have purchased a good sound bar and wireless sub. Also, your two Play 1s were not free so you 5.0 system actually cost you about £700. Quite a lot for a very limited system.
But the Beam does so much more besides the TV audio... and I accept what you say about the cost of my Play:1’s, but I had made that purchase, years ago. I was just saying why I chose the Beam (now) in my case. I was already partly invested in the Sonos architecture.

I will add, because Sonos is already now all around my home, were they to produce a new PlayBar Gen-2 with HDMI ARC and built in voice control services, I would still buy that device, over your Denon device, even if the new PlayBar supported codecs, were the same as the Beam.

I’m quite happy with the 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound and I do prefer to use the streaming video/movie services subscriptions nowadays and my Beam has no problems playing decent audio from either Netflix or Amazon.

I see that Apple have said that they will move their movies over to the Dolby Atmos Audio format later this year for Apple TV users ...I suspect Sonos could also move towards Atmos eventually (virtual or otherwise), before they may ever move towards supporting DTS or DTS:X.

But it’s each to their own, I guess. My Beam does do all the things I need it to do.

I should add that I do currently have a Sony DTS 5.1 Home Theatre System on my main Sony Bravia TV, but I would swap it for a new PlayBar (2nd gen) just because of all the other things (Audio/Voice/Smart features) that it will do, plus I prefer less cables in my room and there is just no way am I channelling out plaster in our walls to embed cables to then have to re-decorate.

Like I said, I truly don’t have any regrets with my purchases so far.


Yea I agree with everything you said, I've done both and got tired of the wires and grabbed a beam already had play 1s and a sub, setup 5.1 and love it and would also buy a playbar gen 2 in a heartbeat but I am crossing my fingers it will also do Atmos ?
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But Sonos is wireless. Why faff about with wires. If you can’t configure your hardware to output the correct audio signal then maybe you shouldn’t be trying to set up a wireless system anyway.
And linking the speakers into other rooms. Moving your speakers. Tuning speakers to your room, Et al.
Functionality, convenience and results are trade offs. Your system has nothing going for it other than watching TV whilst the Sonos version does.
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Moving your speakers.
Forgot to mention that as a plus! You change rooms or houses, you have to pay to get the wires done again? Not with Sonos.
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SONOS supporters above. You are missing my point a wee bit. I have SONOS products for music and I am more than happy with them and would not part with them. As I have also stated, if it meets your 5.1 requirements then terrific. What it is not (yet) is a proper, modern surround sound system. It will still meet the needs of some, just not me. The Beam, Base and Bar do many other things as stated above but guess what? It’s meant to be a TV speaker first and foremost and I argue that none of these products do that job well. Good fun this.

Last point, what I suggested, and it is not “my system” hides all the wires. True, if you move, you start again but that is one of hundreds of variables that drill too far down into a general discussion. Someone else take it up 😃
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djsgrant, I see your point. My father has a home theater in his house, projector, 5.1 system with receiver, etc. He asked if Sonos system can replace it after hearing Sonos speakers. I told him, absolutely not! As much as I love my Sonos speakers, they will never replace a proper 5.1 system with separate speakers. At least not yet. Perhaps Sonos will create a system with independent speakers in the future.
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But Sonos is wireless. Why faff about with wires. If you can’t configure your hardware to output the correct audio signal then maybe you shouldn’t be trying to set up a wireless system anyway.
And linking the speakers into other rooms. Moving your speakers. Tuning speakers to your room, Et al.
Functionality, convenience and results are trade offs. Your system has nothing going for it other than watching TV whilst the Sonos version does.


Harsh Big Guy. I can configure my SONOS system, who couldn’t? It only does Dolby Digital, Stereo and of course silent. Stop biting SONOS fans ( I am a fan for music) it is wireless but it is very, very limited. Don’t take my word for it, read the Forums, read all the 5 star reviews, they all comment on SONOSs lack of future proofing and HDMI in/outs. If you are happy, groovy man, that is not my point so stop being so defensive guys. I want a SONOS 5.1 system that does it all! Is that to much to ask for £1700? Ding ding, round 3
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Sonos are a speaker company. I don’t think they claim to be pushing out gear for home cinema enthusiasts. I think that is their whole mantra. Make it simple, give people functionality but don’t sweat it on speaclist home theatre stuff that other specialised companies do.

Meanwhile a simple Xbox one S or X will decode DTS on the fly to DD5.1. Not a tricky solution if you want to use Sonos. It has a market. Probably not those with cinema rooms on the whole. But still.
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Sonos are a speaker company. I don’t think they claim to be pushing out gear for home cinema enthusiasts. I think that is their whole mantra. Make it simple, give people functionality but don’t sweat it on speaclist home theatre stuff that other specialised companies do.

Meanwhile a simple Xbox one S or X will decode DTS on the fly to DD5.1. Not a tricky solution if you want to use Sonos. It has a market. Probably not those with cinema rooms on the whole. But still.


People of the world unite! Please read what I say before you reply. Do I hate SONOS? No. Do I love SONOS? Yes. Are SONOS “pushing out gear for home cinema enthusiasts“? Well according to them, YES! If you spend £1700 on a home cinema system you are entitled to expect it to do EVERYTHING a home cinema system can do at that price point. If you are happy with what SONOS has to offer re a 5.1 system then fab, this discussion is not for you. If you are a potential customer however seeking the Holy Grail of wireless 5.1 that will play anything you can throw at it then SONOS is potentially not for you. Additionally, if you have just coughed up a huge amount of cash you should not be expected to throw another few hundred pounds/dollars at it just to listen to your DVD collection on a Xbox, new DVD player etc. Remember, there are people like me who can’t get fibre internet and cannot stream HD or UHD so rely on DVDs for fun filled evenings with the family

New rule, cut down on the vitriol guys. This is a discussion about the merits or otherwise not a civil war. As always, read my first post first.

Enjoying the debate? Me to. Just make it a debate not a “my Dads bigger than your Dad” arguement. Missing you already xxx
A few things I agree with in the original post: you can get better sound for the money, certainly. And better audio format support, saving a certain amount of hassle. Sonos is better at music than home theatre. And it is definitely correct that the market will decide.

But are Sonos 'stealing' people's money? No, that is preposterous. Many customers buy the Playbar,/base or Beam because they want TV sound that's a lot better than the TV's own speakers and also does music well. And integrates with their nultiroom Sonos. And surround is an option for those who want it, albeit sometimes with hassle and extra expense

It is just a different offering from a trad home theatre. People weigh up the features then spend their money.

I think Sonos does music brilliantly and home theatre pretty well, but not brilliantly. But I suspect they know their market, the package works for lots of people, and Sonos won't be following Blackberry or Saab any time soon.
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A few things I agree with in the original post: you can get better sound for the money, certainly. And better audio format support, saving a certain amount of hassle. Sonos is better at music than home theatre. And it is definitely correct that the market will decide.

But are Sonos 'stealing' people's money? No, that is preposterous. Many customers buy the Playbar,/base or Beam because they want TV sound that's a lot better than the TV's own speakers and also does music well. And integrates with their nultiroom Sonos. And surround is an option for those who want it, albeit sometimes with hassle and extra expense

It is just a different offering from a trad home theatre. People weigh up the features then spend their money.

I think Sonos does music brilliantly and home theatre pretty well, but not brilliantly. But I suspect they know their market, the package works for lots of people, and Sonos won't be following Blackberry or Saab any time soon.


Love this comment John. It is exactly the type of reply I was hoping to stimulate. You hit the nail on the head when you say people weigh up the features then spend their money. I didn’t do this when I purchased my Playbase and regretted the purchase. I assumed that when SONOS said on their website that it was simple, wireless and played everything, that it did just that. More fool me, I take full responsibility for my lack of research. I trusted SONOS because they had never let me down before. It’s not sour grapes, I was completely covered by their 100 day return policy so I lost nothing more than a dream.

I propose that SONOS have entered into a world that they do not really believe in. For those who don’t read all the posts remember I am a SONOS owner and fan. They are late to the market with Alexa, Siri etc, there is no DTS/Atmos/Dolby X support (not ground breaking tech), no HDMI, all of which I think a lot of people want. At the risk of repeating myself again, if you have a SONOS 5.1 system and you are happy then great, this discussion probably is not for you. But SONOS are so good at speakers they should produce a TV equivalent as good as their musical ones or get off the bus and not bother???
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As a side note, the 'argument' "They are stealing money from people wanting 5.1 for their TV" does not exactly make for a lively discussion.

The discussion is averaging one reply an hour so not too bad so far. Forgive my lack of imagination trying to think up a title, Shakespeare I am not... Not sure how your comment contributes to the discussion. If you are not interested then treat it with the contempt you obviously feel it deserves and ignore it.

I think Sonos does music brilliantly and home theatre pretty well, but not brilliantly. But I suspect they know their market, the package works for lots of people, and Sonos won't be following Blackberry or Saab any time soon.

The first part sums it up nicely, and this isn't the first thread where this has been said, and said in more than one thread. For TV, Sonos makes compromises, but for many people what is lost thereby is less than what is gained - by them. Which leads to the second part of the quoted - it is such people that are the target market, and even if there are gaps in the Sonos knowledge of the market, I suggest they know it better than folks writing here.
As I see it, the only problem with the Sonos TV solution is that people need to know a little about what it will not do with reference to the different formats/codecs, before buying it.
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The current implementation of the Beam is that it connects to the TV via HDMI ARC. As such, it is limited by two factors: the HDMI handshake between the TV and the media source, and the TV's ability to pass through digital audio over its HDMI output.

My TV (A Sony), and I assume this is the typical experience, will handshake itself as a stereo device. So, when I set my Apple TV audio output to be "best quality available", it will output stereo PCM. This is not for lack of better audio, but because of a handshake problem. The Apple TV's only other output option is "Dolby Digital 5.1", which is what I ultimately selected. Second, the best quality my TV can pass through via HDMI is Dolby Digital Plus (so no DTS or other formats).

Sonos decided to implement their soundbar as a "sink" device. That is, it is the last device in the chain. The TV acts as the switch between media sources. A different implementation might be to have the Sonos connect directly to all your media sources, and then output the video to your TV. Such an implementation might enable better audio formats, but is invariably more difficult to set up.

I, for one, would prefer the latter implementation, where audio is routed directly to the beam, and then the video is forwarded. However, the home theater space is a difficult one, and such implementation is not without compromise. It is a more difficult setup for the customer, for one. Moreover, the audio device when then have to support various pass-through options (my previous audio system, for example, had such an installation, but could not pass through HDR).

Here's hoping that the playbar 2.0 (or, as I think it might be called based on recent naming conventions, the SONOS BAR) --- that is probably in the works --- will solve some of this by offering direct connection to the audio sources.
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The current implementation of the Beam is that it connects to the TV via HDMI ARC. As such, it is limited by two factors: the HDMI handshake between the TV and the media source, and the TV's ability to pass through digital audio over its HDMI output.

My TV (A Sony), and I assume this is the typical experience, will handshake itself as a stereo device. So, when I set my Apple TV audio output to be "best quality available", it will output stereo PCM. This is not for lack of better audio, but because of a handshake problem. The Apple TV's only other output option is "Dolby Digital 5.1", which is what I ultimately selected. Second, the best quality my TV can pass through via HDMI is Dolby Digital Plus (so no DTS or other formats).

Sonos decided to implement their soundbar as a "sink" device. That is, it is the last device in the chain. The TV acts as the switch between media sources. A different implementation might be to have the Sonos connect directly to all your media sources, and then output the video to your TV. Such an implementation might enable better audio formats, but is invariably more difficult to set up.

I, for one, would prefer the latter implementation, where audio is routed directly to the beam, and then the video is forwarded. However, the home theater space is a difficult one, and such implementation is not without compromise. It is a more difficult setup for the customer, for one. Moreover, the audio device when then have to support various pass-through options (my previous audio system, for example, had such an installation, but could not pass through HDR).

Here's hoping that the playbar 2.0 (or, as I think it might be called based on recent naming conventions, the SONOS BAR) --- that is probably in the works --- will solve some of this by offering direct connection to the audio sources.


I think this is a very intelligent and eloquent answer with sums up my main points very succinctly.

I would love the next generation Playbar/Base to have that direct connection to audio sources, I would buy it today in a heartbeat. Here is my last thought on the matter: if you have just spent £700 on one component and 101 days later SONOS bring out the product you really desire, what do you do? Spend another £700 and sell the original purchase at a huge loss? Most people (not the absolute enthusiast) will keep their equipment for 5, 10, 15 years before upgrading. Many people, myself included, will not be prepared to keep spending good money after bad and will loose faith in the brand. My Base goes back this week, if there is no new SONOS product announcement within the next few weeks I will buy a separated system and be lost to SONOS for good as far as AV Speakers go. I am pretty sure I will not be the first or the last who feel like that. I will still have my Play 1s and 3 but a Base/Bar and Sub, their most expensive products, will be off my shopping list.

Just off to Woolworth’s in my SAAB to buy a video.
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Sonos are a speaker company. I don’t think they claim to be pushing out gear for home cinema enthusiasts. I think that is their whole mantra. Make it simple, give people functionality but don’t sweat it on speaclist home theatre stuff that other specialised companies do.

Meanwhile a simple Xbox one S or X will decode DTS on the fly to DD5.1. Not a tricky solution if you want to use Sonos. It has a market. Probably not those with cinema rooms on the whole. But still.


People of the world unite! Please read what I say before you reply. Do I hate SONOS? No. Do I love SONOS? Yes. Are SONOS “pushing out gear for home cinema enthusiasts“? Well according to them, YES! If you spend £1700 on a home cinema system you are entitled to expect it to do EVERYTHING a home cinema system can do at that price point. If you are happy with what SONOS has to offer re a 5.1 system then fab, this discussion is not for you. If you are a potential customer however seeking the Holy Grail of wireless 5.1 that will play anything you can throw at it then SONOS is potentially not for you. Additionally, if you have just coughed up a huge amount of cash you should not be expected to throw another few hundred pounds/dollars at it just to listen to your DVD collection on a Xbox, new DVD player etc. Remember, there are people like me who can’t get fibre internet and cannot stream HD or UHD so rely on DVDs for fun filled evenings with the family

New rule, cut down on the vitriol guys. This is a discussion about the merits or otherwise not a civil war. As always, read my first post first.

Enjoying the debate? Me to. Just make it a debate not a “my Dads bigger than your Dad” arguement. Missing you already xxx


What I was trying to suggest was that you aren't entitled to anything. Sonos have always been very much "we make this to do this" you either like that or you don't. As a consumer you are entitled to make a choice based on your own circumstances. Sonos appeals to a certain type of customer. I don't know of any real home cinema enthusiasts who use Sonos as their surround sound solution. I do know however some home cinema folk who use Sonos in their living room or second TV room. Because it is easy, their partners can use it, and it produces great sound. And in those cases they don't care about DTS/Atmos etc etc. And then their families can also use the kit as wireless speakers.

It is a product for a certain type of person. They make no bones about that. It probably just isn't right for your particular needs.
You posted on a Sonos forum telling people not to buy Sonos products?

Sure, the geeky audiophile who lives in his mum's basement can probably say why Sonos is pants but the vast majority of us couldn't give a to55.

I am happy with my Sonos purchases, one of the benefits was not having to cut holes in my walls to run cables and this is a big selling point for me and I would suspect others also.
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You posted on a Sonos forum telling people not to buy Sonos products?

Sure, the geeky audiophile who lives in his mum's basement can probably say why Sonos is pants but the vast majority of us couldn't give a to55.

I am happy with my Sonos purchases, one of the benefits was not having to cut holes in my walls to run cables and this is a big selling point for me and I would suspect others also.


Laurie, if you are going to post on someones conversation at least have the decency to read the thread through before commenting. I will repeat for your benefit; if you are happy with your SONOS setup then fantastic, this conversation is not for you. There isn't really a place for this sort of passive aggressive, defensive commenting on these Forums, although there is a lot of it about. By all means, join in but at least have something constructive to add to the chit chat. Had I done more research prior to buying my Playbase then I wouldn't be sitting in all day waiting for DHL to collect it.

Please direct me to where I say people shouldn't buy SONOS products? I have lots of them for music and I am delighted with them. Of course, if you had read the thread you would know that. I started this discussion to see how other people felt about the whole SONOS 5.1 experience for the cost. I had a poor experience and people who are smarter than me that do proper research prior to purchasing a Base/Bar/Beam may or may not find these shared experiences helpful. That is why I posted on a SONOS Forum.
A question: from a compatibility with formats point of view, does the Sonos solution meet the needs of those that watch movies on TV via streamed sources like Netflix or Amazon? If that is the case, a very large and growing market is well covered.
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A question: from a compatibility with formats point of view, does the Sonos solution meet the needs of those that watch movies on TV via streamed sources like Netflix or Amazon? If that is the case, a very large and growing market is well covered.

So it is my fault for not being able to get fibre broadband in my area and my desire to watch DVDs:? A growing market without a doubt Kumar and growing markets expand and keep up with the latest technology. Apple TV is already moving to Dolby Atmos, how long before the major streaming providers follow with Dolby X etc? That is starting to look like a very expensive brick under your TV sometime soon and there is nothing SONOS can do to help you because you are connected with an optical cable...


So it is my fault for not being able to get fibre broadband in my area and my desire to watch DVDs:? A growing market without a doubt Kumar and growing markets expand and keep up with the latest technology. Apple TV is already moving to Dolby Atmos, how long before the major streaming providers follow with Dolby X etc? That is starting to look like a very expensive brick under your TV sometime soon and there is nothing SONOS can do to help you because you are connected with an optical cable...


So because Apple TV puts out an entirely optional audio format, one which is completely backwards compatible with DD 5.1, all of a sudden your Sonos "is starting to look like a very expensive brick under your TV sometime soon"?

What utter nonsense.

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