"Stereo +" with Playbar?

  • 10 October 2016
  • 5 replies

Just got a Playbar, Sub is enroute. Trying to kill multiple birds with one Sonostone. Playbar is great for TV, not bad for music. One thing I'd like is a wider stereo stage for music listening. Wondering if I can add a pair of 1s (or 3s or 5s) as L-R speakers to augment the Playbar. Not talking about surround rears (and 5.1), but rather what would amount to a 3.1+ setup.

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5 replies

Userlevel 7
Unfortunately that is not possible with the Playbar as you'd like to do. However, you can set the Play 1's, 3's or 5's as surrounds and switch them to act as full on L/R stereo speakers for music via the Sonos Controller app. That's if you don't mind not having the speakers up front and switching them back and forth between stereo and surround use. I'll also add that Play 1's, 3's, or 5's cannot be mixed as one each to form a pair.

Hmm...I assume I could have two setups, one with Playbar + sub for TV and pair of 1s/3s/5s + sub for music? Curious what regular stereo music would sound like sent through the 5.1 setup - maybe that will open up the stage. I'm not going for perfect replication, just a bit wider sound.
Userlevel 7
I have a dual setup.
TV = Playbar + Sub + Play 3's for surround.
Music = Play 5(Gen2) x 2 in horizontal mount + Sub (some will argue that a sub with Two Play 5's is not needed, but I prefer the setup with Sub)

Personally IMO the Playbar adds coloration to music. But your experience may be different. So my suggestion would be to go with:
Playbar + Sub (as you are doing) and add Play 1's or 3'a for surround. Test the listening environment by switching the surrounds to Music to see how it suits your taste.

FYI, the Play 5 is a huge speaker; although it can be used for surround (x2) it requires horizontal mounting at ear level or above to perform well IMO (as a surround). Due to weight of Play 5 l'd be suspect of a vertical mount without substantial support. Also mounting the Play 5 or 3 vertically changes the output to mono. The mono effect using two 3's or 5's is suitable for surround mode but will narrow the sound stage when switched to stereo pair for music.

So if you really want to try all variations at once... buy your Sonos from a dealer with a liberal return policy. Most allow 15 days....Sonos l believe has a 45 day return (in the US) with no questions asked. Just be sure to keep all packaging materials pristine as well as the speakers
Just to update this- ended up sending back the playbar and going with a pair of play 1s and the sub. As I incrementally added speakers I found that I concur with you on the coloration of the playbar. The bigger issue to me is narrow soundstage. In the end I decided we don't watch enough proper 5.1 material to make the 5.1 setup worthwhile, and it was too much of a compromise for music. Music is not important to me than Tv sound, so there ya go. I will say the sub is a must have to my ears.
Userlevel 7
Hi nostatic

Glad to know that you decided on a Sonos configuration that suits your lifestyle. Although the Playbar didn't fit the bill for music you may still find it an enhancement for TV audio overall. Even for non 5.1 broadcasts it adds depth. If you only on occasion watch 5.1 material and as you already have the sub it can be removed from the Play 1's and bonded temporarily to the Playbar. When doing so you will in effect get 3.1 sound as the Playbar simulates L/C/R speakers. When you are done with movie watching you can re-assign the Sub to the Play 1's. I realize the back n' forth with the Sub can be a pain if constantly in a flux, but maybe the occasional switch might be worth it. Only you can decide. Enjoy and welcome to Sonos!