Sonos vs Heos

  • 4 October 2017
  • 22 replies
  • 12044 views

I currently have a couple of Play 1's around the house and a Playbar in the living room, with two Play 1's as rear surrounds. As has been covered to death on this forum, Sonos will not (or cannot due to hardware limitations) support any surround formats other than Dolby Digital 5.1. As is also well understood, the vast majority of Blu Ray discs and streaming services output in DD 5.1 HD or DTS, and most TVs do not transcode, which makes my rear speakers pretty much useless as far as true surround sound goes.

I've looked at Heos in the past but never took any real interest as although it had everything the Playbar lacked, the one thing it couldn't do was support rear surround. It appears that the recently released Heos Bar can pair with any of the other speakers in the Heos range to use as rear surrounds. On paper, it looks perfect, as it has the two things that the PlayBar has always lacked: HDMI and support for modern audio codecs.

In practice though, have any Sonos owners actually heard the new Heos Bar and can compare it to the PlayBar? I've always been very impressed with the PlayBar's sound, even without a sub, and need to know if Heos can match it. Also, how do the two apps compare? The Sonos app is generally very good, and I have heard in the past that the Heos app is a bit klunky by comparison, but that was at least a year ago. Maybe I should be asking this on a Denon forum and not Sonos, as anyone who has jumped ship will likely not be reading these forums any more, but I thought it worth a shot.

While I appreciate any and all comments, I'm really only interested in hearing from people who can give an honest comparison between the two systems based on personal experience.

With respect, what I don't need to hear is how I can fix my existing system. Yes, I know that Blu Ray players are available that will transcode to Dolby Digital 5.1. Yes, I know that HDMI to optical converters are available. Yes, I know that the PlayBar will do virtual surround. However, like many others, I have been patiently awaiting to release of an upgraded PlayBar with the basic features (i.e. HDMI and more codecs) that are a necessity when using the PlayBar for surround sound in 2017, and to me at least, the SoundBase release was a huge disappointment.

The truth is that I can't really afford to replace my system right now, but I have lost faith in Sonos to release a new PlayBar any time soon, and I can see the resale value of my system completely tanking over the coming year as competitors have caught up with and even overtaken Sonos, so now is the time to act. If, from a sonic and UI perspective, Heos is a realistic competitor to Sonos, I will probably end up buying it.

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22 replies

Userlevel 5
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I can see the resale value of my system completely tanking over the coming year as competitors have caught up with and even overtaken Sonos

Thanks, I needed a laugh.
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I have heard the HEOS Home Cinema bar (which is just a soundbar+sub), and it sounds good. I can't really get any more detailed as it was just in a demo room, but nothing sounded off to me. I haven't, however, heard the newer HEOS Bar which I guess is the closest Playbar competitor (and can be connected up for 5.1).

I'm kitting out a family member's living room and have to make this exact decision. It came down to these things:

(1) HEOS maxes out at TrueHD/DTS-HD. From everything I can see, the streaming services, Sky, BT etc have all gone from adopting DD5.1 straight to Atmos. Now Atmos is backward compatible, but it really doesn't make sense to me to adopt something that seems to accept all sound formats, but doesn't decode the newer one "properly".

(2) The fact that HEOS isn't widely used grates on me a bit. I feel like there is way more chance that Sonos adopts new music services and gets them quicker rather than Denon.

(3) Pricing - I got a Sonos+Connect:Amp quoted versus the equivalent Denon, and it was about £50 cheaper. If it was 200-300 less, then I would consider, but given the price difference there's really no incentive for me to go for it.
Thanks D33p5t3r, that's given me a few things to think about. I'm not so sure about your first point, given that your options are basically the PlayBar with wireless rears offering downmixed stereo (so the rears are just expensive bookends), or Heos with wireless rears offering true 5 channel surround downmixed from an Atmos source. That said, Sonos is undoubtedly cheaper than Heos - certainly, in the UK, the Heos Bar is anywhere between £50 to £100 more than a Sonos PlayBar depending on where you look. There's also the issue of uptake with Heos, and I guess that's why I'm looking for user opinions. The Bar has only been out a few months in the UK and, although there are a few professional reviews that paint it in a good light, I always prefer to hear from people who have actually used the product for more than a couple of weeks and really gotten to know it.

I think I probably need to wait it out a couple of months and see what happens with Heos prices. If they come down to match Sonos then it makes the decision a little more clear-cut. I also need to factor in that I have a device that needs a line input, which my current Sonos setup doesn't give me. I could buy a Connect or a Play 5 to get access to a line input, but that's at least another £300 plus the commitment to stick with Sonos. If I go the Heos route, even a Heos 1 will give me a line input, and I could get two of them for the price of a Connect, giving me an extra stereo zone.
I’m a new owner of Sonus products as well. I have two player 1 speakers and I’m very happy with the quality and sound. Before purchasing I strongly considered HEOS, Bluesound and Paradigm. I chose Sonos on the recommendation of a dealer of does extensive installs and cost. He stated at this time Sonos is the most trouble free system as far as callbacks. I already have a dedicated home theater with fairly nice gear,so I did not pay close attention to the specifics of the PlayBar in comparison to its competition. My plan was to add a second surround setup in the master bedroom. The decoding issue has me in a holding pattern. I would love to purchase more speakers but I don’t want to commit if this issue is never addressed. Here in the US the prices are basically the same, actually cheaper if you buy from the Denon refrub site.

Hopefully something will be announced at CES
I have heard the HEOS Home Cinema bar

Heos Home Cinema SoundBar and Heos Bar are two different, completely different devices the former costing almost a half less of the latter.
Heos just lost a major patent infringement lawsuit to Sonos in a jury trial. I wouldn’t count on Heos continuing to be available.
Heos just lost a major patent infringement lawsuit to Sonos in a jury trial. I wouldn’t count on Heos continuing to be available.

Can you please paste any link to this info?
Heos just lost a major patent infringement lawsuit to Sonos in a jury trial. I wouldn’t count on Heos continuing to be available.

Can you please paste any link to this info?


https://www.strata-gee.com/sonos-injunction-stop-heos-infringing-technology/
Can you please paste any link to this info?

https://www.strata-gee.com/sonos-injunction-stop-heos-infringing-technology/[/quote]

Thank you. I think it's going to take some time to settle this, needless to mention the patents are territorial, so another legal battle in e.g. EU may be pending and take even longer. On the other hand I don't believe any judge would just rule to discontinue a product. So overall, I guees it's just a matter of determining royalties for Sonos. I know they want Heos out, but would Denon risk all its reputation to merely copy Sonos technology? I believe this case is not that simple. We'll see anyway.
Well I received a Play 5 for Christmas so I’m fully in the Sonos camp. I did listen to the Heos stuff last week and it sounds good. Really good. However I love Sonos. Will probably be adding more products soon
I did listen to the Heos stuff last week and it sounds good. Really good. However I love Sonos.

Can you please wtite sth more about the quality comparison?
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Denon is starting to include Heos technology in Marantz products, this would increase the market share of the heos eco system.

And the legal stuff is a nonsense...
“Even if they made a better mousetrap, it’s still a mousetrap, and Sonos invented the mousetrap.”
Who invented the pieces a mousetrap is made?

What has invented?
Wireless audio in sync?
Logitech invented it first...

I really don't understand i think Sonos should focus on implementing features in their speakers.

Update published on Sonos blog
http://blog.sonos.com/en/update-sonos-v-denon/
Denon is starting to include Heos technology in Marantz products, this would increase the market share of the heos eco system.

And the legal stuff is a nonsense...
“Even if they made a better mousetrap, it’s still a mousetrap, and Sonos invented the mousetrap.”
Who invented the pieces a mousetrap is made?

What has invented?
Wireless audio in sync?
Logitech invented it first...

I really don't understand i think Sonos should focus on implementing features in their speakers.


Your proof? Show us the patents, please, or you’re blowing smoke.

Sonos has more patents in the Electronics segment than any company but Apple. They are just beginning to monetize them. Heos will need to license the patents it has stolen from Sonos.

What has invented?
Wireless audio in sync?
Logitech invented it first...


Slim Devices invented it... Logitech just bought them out.
I did listen to the Heos stuff last week and it sounds good. Really good. However I love Sonos.

Can you please wtite sth more about the quality comparison?


Nothing else to say really. Heos sounds great. I didn’t have Sonos speakers in the room for a direct comparison.

I have Thiel speakers that cost about 6x the cost of the play 5. I’ve listened to both in a non scientific comparison. The thiels are more dynamic, have more depth and generally sound better.

That shouldn’t be a surprise. What is surprising is among myself, sons and wife, we preferred the Sonos on certain songs. The Sonos highs are rolled off a bit which makes it very easy to listen to over extended periods of time. With a crappy recording the thiels can be a tad shrill.

I say all that to say this.

I think Sonos makes the best product in the category. From a sonic standpoint it gives up no ground to anything out there unless you are spending 1400 for a Naim and I venture a play 5 with the addition of a sub will do just fine in that comparison as well for less money.

The Heos is a great product but unless you need Bluetooth for some odd reason or one of the connection options Sonos doesn’t support I see no need to go that route.

I do think packaging Heos into denon and Marantz receivers is going to really help get Heos out into the masses

I’m happy with Sonos. I wish they supported DTS but it’s not a deal breaker for me

The best endorsement I can give is Where I spend my money and I’m putting it on Sonos

I do think packaging Heos into denon and Marantz receivers is going to really help get Heos out into the masses


I dunno, i think "the masses" are perfectly happy with soundbars, especially if they perform as well as Sonos', and can be expanded wirelessly with sub and surrounds. Those big ugly black receivers, with wires running to speakers all over the room have pretty limited appeal, IMO. But I'm just guessing, maybe they are still popular. Just not in my house.
Shepdog, I agree with so much with what you say however, I am very upset with SONOS. I am building a cabin and want to put Sonos in there with Control 4 integrated lighting control and a fluid whole home experience, but Sonos has killed the Control 4 connectivity. Now SONOS is FORCING me and so many people that LOVE your products to buy competitors products like Denon's Heos or something else because they are not playing nice with companies like Control 4 and even Apple.

Sonos are you there??? FIX THIS!!!! I don't want to to buy Heos, I shouldn't even be reading this thread and looking at other products.

FYI, I have 10 zones of SONOS in my house, (many play1's, playbars, subs, connect's and lots of connect amps, with Lutron Radio RA2 lighting and Hunterdouglas automated shades using HomeKit and keypad to connect it all together) Homekit and Siri or Alexa arn't too bad but where internet sucks we need something that works better.

Fix this SONOS, just fix it. I have spoke to 3 integrators and who all said used to sell Sonos religiously...convincing friends, family and customers to buy a somewhat overpriced product. It IS a quality, simple, elegant and with 5.1 home theater a quite complete product offering.

Let it flourish, things like fighting with Apple (HomeKit) and killing the once strong Control4 integration is the kinds of mentality and can kill a company, slowly but it can and in my opinion will if you continue down this road.

Sorry for the rant
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Another contender

DTS Play-Fi Adds Whole-Home TV Audio Streaming Feature

https://m.highdefdigest.com/news/show/DTS/Play-Fi/Speakers/dts-playfi-adds-wholehome-tv-audio-streaming-feature/40839
Another contender

DTS Play-Fi Adds Whole-Home TV Audio Streaming Feature

https://m.highdefdigest.com/news/show/DTS/Play-Fi/Speakers/dts-playfi-adds-wholehome-tv-audio-streaming-feature/40839



I’m not familiar with that particular product but I’m very familiar with the Play Fi offerings from Paradigm and Klipsch.

I’m a huge supporter of Paradigm.
Great speakers.
However the dealer I use here in Texas warned of connectivity issues that still need to be ironed out and a support nightmare.

Play Fi promotes the number of companies using the standard and the ability to mix and match. However when problems arise the individual companies point the finger at the other guy.

With Play Fi you get better sound (if you believe you can hear a difference in the lossless streams) and you start entering high end equipment territory with offerings from brands like Martin Logan, Sonus-Fabre, McIntosh, and Paradigm among others.

I think the ability to mix and match brands and the strength of those brands will provide a clear threat to Sonos in the future,

In the present, I think Sonos is still the best option in the category of wireless multi room speakers. Many other companies can win on a particular feature but when you combine the value of quality construction, ease of use, reliability, sound quality and a proven history of supporting products a decade old is amazing in this digital world.

I have confidence that Sonos will stay relevant moving forward.

Let’s hope they are not like my beloved Thiel. Once Jim Thiel passed away the company quickly tanked. A never ending parade of CEOs with no connection to high audio or Thiel dealerships network or customers They destroyed one of the most respected brands in high end audio. Thiel is now defunct.

So it can happen. I just don’t think if will happen
Userlevel 6
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I bought my Playbar for TV but have found it used more for music now!.

For me spending £50 on a Samsung Blu-ray player that downmixes DTS to DD 5.1 wasn't a deal breaker. The same Blu-ray also plays Netflix in full 5.1 so my Play:1 surrounds aren't uselss book ends.

My Tivo also outputs 5.1 when available so no worries there.

If you want native DTS and Atmos then the Playbar isn't in the running, but it's more than just a soundbar imho.
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The legal battle goes on, updates here:

https://www.strata-gee.com/battle-sonos-dm-takes-another-blow/
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There is a really precise and complete article about the battle Sonos vs Denon Heos here:

https://www.cepro.com/article/sonos_vs_denon_heos_understanding_the_patent_lawsuits

Really interesting.