Think I Found my Sonos Replacement

  • 11 January 2018
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Sonos has made it pretty clear Home Theater is not a priority for them. I was really hoping for an announcement at CES but while other companies were running laps around their decades-old audio codec support, Sonos was nowhere to be found (unless you count their panel on gender equality in the industry).

Sennheiser's CES offering seems to deliver everything I am looking for and more. Can't wait until this comes to market.

https://www.engadget.com/2018/01/11/sennheiser-ambeo-3d-soundbar/

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55 replies

Sonos hasn't said anything yet.
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It's been a little whole since I posted here

Has there being any new rumours of a playbar v2?

I'm still loving the sound quality of my sonos 5.1 setup, but of course I'd upgrade in a heartbeat for an updated soundbar
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These last few comments are interesting as it now appears Amazon is slowly moving into Sonos' market with their latest offerings.
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I doubt Apple or Amazon will get into the home speaker business in the upper end. Just not sure that market is big enough for them. But they make a lot of products better by doing a lot of the integration for you. If I were Sonos I would define my Company as offering a whole home audio solution on every device in every part of my home. As part of that I would develop an outdoor speaker offering. They could use the same technologies as the Play 3 or 5 for this just probably different speaker material and the enclosure. Others have done the weather adaption and it would be easy to replicate. I would do the outdoor speaker with a rechargeable battery so I could simply unplug it and bring it anywhere in my home by simply unplugging it. I would also include an outdoor option with Bluetooth so I could bring it camping or to a tailgate or other activities without Wi-Fi. I don’t follow the home audio market like I used to but spend a lot of time in retail and the next generation of customers and even baby boomers want simple solutions. I am not saying Sonos is bad I really like their system but it could be better. And in this age of technology why should I have to replace a DVD collection? For that matter if I still had a Betamax why couldn’t they just have an RCA input on the play bar. Ok so that last one is a stretch but having an RCA type input like on the play5 on the Playbar would not be a bad idea. I want to see Sonos do well because I like the platform and think it has a lot of upside to do more. If you are an electronics company and you aren’t doing significant updates each year to your products and innovating new products the company will be gone. They could easily be the choice for whole home audio solution in the upper end and Amazon and Google will definitely make that easier for them. But they need to invest in more features and products or risk someone else taking market share from them.
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Thanks for sharing. I hope you enjoy it. I would say that Sonos have never aimed at serious HT enthusiasts. So I think you are right there. But I suspect Sonos know their market, you just aren't it.

Youre right i many ways - but still cant understand why Sonos, wont take a bigger cut in this marked.

I my self have skipped my traditional 5.1 for Sonos and i have many Blu Ray i cant play because of dts codex.
If they just made a passthrough here, many who likes simplicity would embrace Sonos.
Its quite a dealbreaker for those who still likes there Blu rays.
I have (nearly) ripped my Blu Ray collection and luckely Apple tv can convert a dts signal to Dolby digital.
Otherwise i have only Oppo or Samsung and turn to.

Passthrough and we are all good to go:)

Hdmi and hd sound-codex is not that importent in as oundbox in my opinion anyways.
Spdif is bulletproof an in most cases flawless
People are looking more and more for single solutions to all of their entertainment needs
Are they really doing that? Certainly the market at this time is such that best outcomes need cherry picking by customers. As another example, the outdoor/on the road market is better served today by the huge variety of bluetooth weatherproof battery equipped portables. Why bother with Sonos there even if the home is fully covered by Sonos kit?

And at the other end Apple will launch HomePods with TV sound not addressed. Ditto with existing offerings by the other two giants in the space, Google and Amazon.

Will there not be more rather than less fragmentation in the home automation space for a long time to come?



I think everything you said is true. Sonos demise has been predicted it seems many times.

However. I think Google, Amazon and especially Apple will attack this segment if they see a opportunity. It’s fragmented now but what will the market look like in 2-3 years? Is Sonos ready and agile enough to respond if the big three get serious.

I bought the very first batch of echos as a prime member and I reminder thinking whoa! This is a game changer. It has continually gotten better and Amazon has continued to bring more products at different price points to the market. In basically 2 years it has created a totally different landscape.

I love Sonos and I know they are not aware of what’s happening. Opening up to allow developers is huge and getting in with AirPlay 2 I think is big as well.

No one knows if the HomePod is any good but I would bet money it will create a nice ripple when it’s released and Apple has a history of starting slowly and slowly ramping it up
People are looking more and more for single solutions to all of their entertainment needs
Are they really doing that? Certainly the market at this time is such that best outcomes need cherry picking by customers. As another example, the outdoor/on the road market is better served today by the huge variety of bluetooth weatherproof battery equipped portables. Why bother with Sonos there even if the home is fully covered by Sonos kit?

And at the other end Apple will launch HomePods with TV sound not addressed. Ditto with existing offerings by the other two giants in the space, Google and Amazon.

Will there not be more rather than less fragmentation in the home automation space for a long time to come?
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Any Company saying that they are a whole home audio solution should have full surround capabilities for parts of the home that have a TV. I do like the Playbar surround system but do find it frustrating that some audio sources require me to go in and mess with them to get sound (DTS DVD). That said it is a great system and was easy to set up and sounds pretty good. But as others have stated many people find DTS noticeably better for movies. That was not a deal breaker for me but if I were setting strategic direct for Sonos I would embrace the whole home solution that does incorporate full surround solution for the TV. I am not an engineer but I would think that DTS decoding is really a software programming issue and not a hardware issue. DTS has been around for a long time and it would seem to me that this would be really easy to incorporate. I guess it could be a licensing issue also but if a $60 DVD player or a $150 AV receiver can have the technology, how much can it really cost. People are looking more and more for single solutions to all of their entertainment needs and others will make Sonos future tough if they don't continue to evolve their products.
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I googled "sonos dolby atmos" and found a Reddit thread from September 2017 from a guy who said he had emailed the Sonos CEO and the CEO told him that they are actively looking into incorporating Atmos. Interesting.
Sonos has made it pretty clear Home Theater is not a priority for them. I was really hoping for an announcement at CES but while other companies were running laps around their decades-old audio codec support, Sonos was nowhere to be found (unless you count their panel on gender equality in the industry).

Sennheiser's CES offering seems to deliver everything I am looking for and more. Can't wait until this comes to market.

https://www.engadget.com/2018/01/11/sennheiser-ambeo-3d-soundbar/


This new soundbar sounds incredible:

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/creative-showcases-award-winning-x-fi-sonic-carrier-at-ces-2018-300579383.html



Lol.
I expect it to sound as described for $5800 dollars.

That amount can buy you a very nice wired system.

I know it’s not the main job of a sound bar, but I want it to be able to stream and connect to multiple rooms
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Sonos has made it pretty clear Home Theater is not a priority for them. I was really hoping for an announcement at CES but while other companies were running laps around their decades-old audio codec support, Sonos was nowhere to be found (unless you count their panel on gender equality in the industry).

Sennheiser's CES offering seems to deliver everything I am looking for and more. Can't wait until this comes to market.

https://www.engadget.com/2018/01/11/sennheiser-ambeo-3d-soundbar/


This new soundbar sounds incredible:

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/creative-showcases-award-winning-x-fi-sonic-carrier-at-ces-2018-300579383.html
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It’s pretty clear to me that people who complain about Sonos not supporting this Codec or that Codec probably don’t have the slightest idea of how to properly setup a HT system (old school); even a conventional 5.1 with separate LF/C/RF/LS/RS/Sub.

Using a Playbar (anyone’s playbar) is not going to produce a true cinematic theater experience…period! Do you really think that when you go to a theater they’re using some gigantic playbar upfront?? I mean really people!

Furthermore, the so-called playbar systems that proclaim to re-produce true Dolby-Atmos are using a lot of processing tech trickery. However, more importantly; regardless of the tech employed, those claims are based upon a rectangular room with four walls, flat surfaces and minimal materials that absorb sound (not an open space such as kit/family room /dining room combo) . The entire concept is based upon angles and sound bouncing off the walls. To be clear that’s not to say that the Sonos PlayBar and PlayBase doesn’t employ some of the same tech trickery.

Moving beyond the PlayBar (in any setup regardless of manufacturer) positioning of the surrounds is crucial. Typically they are placed left/right of the seating position no more than 1 foot to the rear. In case you didn’t know…surrounds have a sweet spot just like front L/R speakers. Sonos TruePlay will adjust each speaker in the HT 5.1 setup for optimum performance based upon room acoustics.

A typical Sonos HT 5.1 system consists of a PlayBar, Sub and Play 1’s x 2 or Sonos One’s x 2 for the surrounds. If you find you want more umph from your surrounds you can substitute Play 3’s x 2 or Play 5’s x2. The Play 3 and Play 5 have the added advantage to allow for a increased separation L/R and to the rear. Just don’t go overboard when increasing the speaker separation.

All said if you really have to have the TRUE Dolby-Atmos listening experience at home an don’t mind running wire either exposed or hidden….Here are your configurations - click the link….guess what…they don’t include a soundbar.

https://www.dolby.com/us/en/guide/dolby-atmos-speaker-setup/index.html

Bottom-line…stop whining about Sonos and go out and buy a system that outputs Dolby-Atmos. Even if Sonos were able to include the Dolby-Atmos codec in a future update you would still have to purchase at least two more speakers in addition to the current 5.1 Sonos configuration. Cheers!
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It's already been said in many different ways, but you're comparing apples to oranges. Although the products obviously have similarities, but they clearly have different features and functions, chasing after slightly demographics. it's also quite easy to see how a person may buy one product when they other may suit them better, simily because they don't care to research any further.

Like many others, Sonos meets my needs as far as audio quality, I really don't care to put more money and effort into gett a better sounding system. The law of diminishing returns as far as I'm concerned (me, not everyone else). The features that Sonos provides that you typically don't get from other systems is what makes the difference for me.

To be fully honest, I did not buy my sonos 5.1, I kind of got lucky in that it came with the house. I already had sonos products though, just not for the family room. Before then, I went with the typical mid range products (not 5.1 in a box) and was happy with that too. I doubt I would have bought sonos 5.1 on my own. Although, I am thinking about a playbar for other rooms in the house.
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And just a few random observations. The Sennheiser "3D" soundbar is retailing for like 2K. I think comparing it to the Playbar is a bit off.

Short of an overhaul in the Sonos architecture, I can't really see how they implement anything beyond DD 5.1 UNLESS they buy the Denon HEOS patents. HEOS seems to be able to decode most formats including DTS and happily spray it around whatever other speakers in their network you want.

If you want a Dolby Atmos setup, get either a Dolby Atmos soundbar (expensive and generally trash), or kit out your respective rooms with the appropriate ceiling speakers and a new AV amp to get the desired effect. A properly calibrated 5.1 setup (even with a "standard" 5.1 soundtrack rather than DD+, TrueHD, etc etc) will blow away a "simulated" Atmos setup every time.


It seems they already own the denon heos patents...
Sonos sued Denon 3 years ago... And it is going on.
😃
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And just a few random observations. The Sennheiser "3D" soundbar is retailing for like 2K. I think comparing it to the Playbar is a bit off.

Short of an overhaul in the Sonos architecture, I can't really see how they implement anything beyond DD 5.1 UNLESS they buy the Denon HEOS patents. HEOS seems to be able to decode most formats including DTS and happily spray it around whatever other speakers in their network you want.

If you want a Dolby Atmos setup, get either a Dolby Atmos soundbar (expensive and generally trash), or kit out your respective rooms with the appropriate ceiling speakers and a new AV amp to get the desired effect. A properly calibrated 5.1 setup (even with a "standard" 5.1 soundtrack rather than DD+, TrueHD, etc etc) will blow away a "simulated" Atmos setup every time.
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This exact thread pops up every few months in this sub-forum, generally with exactly the same comments. So I will just quote reply with my post from 4 months ago. It's still valid for the majority of this conversation:

This is an interesting thread, but there are lots of things in here that I don't agree with, and seem just pure conjecture. To caveat, I have both a "proper" wired 5.1 AV setup in my main TV room, as well as Sonos throughout the house (including 2x 5.0 Sonos setups). So I feel fairly well placed to make comparisons.

Firstly, a Sonos 5.1 setup is crazy expensive. Just looking at the online shop, a Playbar/Playbase, Sub and 2 surrounds (Play 1s) costs £1,736. You could easily spend that money on a wired setup, as well as an AV Pro to come round, trunk the speaker cabling, set everything up and then have at least £200-300 left to spare. It would support all sound formats, and I would say arguably give you slightly better sound (but it's negligible).

But set a Sonos surround system up, feed it a Dolby Digital 5.1 signal and it does a great job (as it should do, because it's crazy expensive). You can get a decent amount of bass without the Sub too (quite why it needs to cost £600 is really beyond me). So the "low quality Dolby Digital" comment is just pointless and incorrect. Sonos has superb software and the technology of SonosNet is fantastic, but comes at a hefty cost.

Saying "I actually use fewer wires" for a Denos/Q Acoustics setup just means you didn't do your research properly. Any LG TV will pass on a 5.1 signal either from an internal or external source (and most Samsung or Sony ones do too), and differentiating between "thick" and "thin" cabling is seriously clutching.

I fully agree that you can have issues if you're a serial DVD/Blu-Ray watcher, and I agree you can get pesky lip-sync issues. I'm wondering how many folk bought the last Star Wars films (DTS only for the main soundtrack, DD for description only!), plugged it in and realised they couldn't hear anything (although out the box, most TV/Sonos setups seem to default to 2.0 anyway). Lipsync issues though, in my experience, are more down to the TV manufacturer than Sonos (but it absolutely is a pain).

It is patently obvious that home theatre was an afterthought for Sonos, else there is no other reason to begin with a purely optical soundbar and charge £650. If I was a betting man, I'd give it a 90-95% chance that Sonos is R&D'ing a HDMI Soundbar. There is just no other way to take that product line forwards, but how they would make it work for surround sound is another thing. I'm guessing there would be serious bandwidth issues for anything beyond DD5.1 with non-wired surrounds.

And just 2 points to make to the OP - if we want to start talking about so-called "true" AV setups, then things such as clear speech shouldn't even be an issue and you should be watching everything in Pure Direct mode. If you're having to make adjustments for this, it's not setup properly in the first place (save for the odd show/film with really bad mixing). Also, Sonos quite literally has a Speech Enhancement function! And buying speakers such as the (excellent) Q Acoustics ones and then quite literally dumping them all next to each other on your TV stand with little space between them (thus, little audio separation) and at a low level which must be way below your ear level, is just wrong - you might as well have just got a Playbar.

I also must say the people who seem to be worried about sound formats, etc IMO is a vast minority of overall Sonos users. Every single other person I know who has it simply connects to their WiFi and is done with it. Most don't even know about DTS, DD+, Atmos, etc. And if you care that much about it, I find it odd you'd run through all these hoops to get surround sound and not want a "proper" wired setup in the first place.

Sonos is a music streamer and simple soundbar first, and an extension into Home Theatre second. It's the best in the market at the first, and does an admirable (if very very costly) job at the second.
It sounds a bit like the Yamaha sound bars. I auditioned the ysp5600. It was $1700. I felt it was lacking in bass.

I’m sure the Sennheiser will sound better but I would be shocked if it’s less than $2k. I would also need to know the cost of the rest of the multi room speakers including the sub and the system would need to stream Apple Music.

Although I just purchased my first Sonos product a month ago I guess I’m a fanboy since I’ve quickly bought three more products.

I’m Sonos’s target. I have no desire to go past 5.1 and I listen to music 100% through a streaming service.

I have a main home theater rig with a 120” screen and its 5.1. I’m just not interested in adding more channels. I’ve heard some amazing systems over the years but I have no urge to go above 5.1 unless it’s adding a second sub.

I would love for the Playbar to decode everything so I don’t have to pay attention to my next television purchase. But if not, I will adjust.
I still have a 5.1 system with floor-standing front speakers, etc. in my basement home theater.

This can go on and on...you have your heart set on the new Sennheisser option...go for it.

Quite. That said, I very much doubt that the single box Sennheiser can better the sound from the first referred 5.1 system above.
Yamaha sound bars that employ a raft of tricks in using mic calibrated delayed sound adjustments to incorporate wall reflections to approximate the sound from widely placed speakers need a room that will allow this to happen well when, at best, they will conveniently approximate the experience of fully wired 5.1/7.1/9.1. Often, they will sound noticeably sub par if the space isn't suitable for those acoustic tricks to work. I don't expect Sennheisers's solution in a box to do a lot better than the Yamaha line does. It simply isn't about codecs alone and progress there being enough to defeat the limitations of any one box solution, convenient though it is.
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I find it ironic. People buy Sonos for its primary purpose, to have whole home audio. Yet find reasons to dislike the product that are beyond that intended purpose.


AMEN BROTHER


Who needs a sound bar for whole home audio?

Is the soundbar’s primary purpose not Home Theater? I would say it is. And for that purpose it is woefully outdated. No one is arguing Sonos is not a fine whole-home audio system or speaker.


Yes, it's primary purpose in my case is for TV use. However, coupled with the Sub, it sounds very very good for music as well, and is used daily for TV, music, and talk radio. And with the convenience of integration with the entire home's audio system, an immensely useful and enjoyable piece of hardware.


Sounds like it fits your needs but that is not a 5.1 solution. Talk radio, streaming music, and TV broadcasts are not really its intended purpose.


No, please don't misunderstand. I am using "TV" as a catch all for all of my viewing, including Dolby 5.1 TV shows and movies. I fully and completely understand the "limitations" of the codecs and connectivity options of the Playbar, and love it 100% nonetheless.

About 3 years ago I replaced a "mid-level" 5.1 AVR system with decent speakers with the Sonos 5.1 system and could not be happier. I say mid-level meaning not a "HT in a box" solution, mine was about $2,500ish. Further, I still have a 5.1 system with floor-standing front speakers, etc. in my basement home theater. That setup was roughly $3,500. Does it sound better than the $1,800 Sonos system? Yeah, it does. It can go louder too. But that also comes with a completely higher level of complexity to operate, and quite honestly is not "That" much better.

This can go on and on...you have your heart set on the new Sennheisser option...go for it.
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I find it ironic. People buy Sonos for its primary purpose, to have whole home audio. Yet find reasons to dislike the product that are beyond that intended purpose.


AMEN BROTHER


Who needs a sound bar for whole home audio?

Is the soundbar’s primary purpose not Home Theater? I would say it is. And for that purpose it is woefully outdated. No one is arguing Sonos is not a fine whole-home audio system or speaker.


Yes, it's primary purpose in my case is for TV use. However, coupled with the Sub, it sounds very very good for music as well, and is used daily for TV, music, and talk radio. And with the convenience of integration with the entire home's audio system, an immensely useful and enjoyable piece of hardware.


Sounds like it fits your needs but that is not a 5.1 solution. Talk radio, streaming music, and TV broadcasts are not really its intended purpose.
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I find it ironic. People buy Sonos for its primary purpose, to have whole home audio. Yet find reasons to dislike the product that are beyond that intended purpose.


AMEN BROTHER


Who needs a sound bar for whole home audio?

Is the soundbar’s primary purpose not Home Theater? I would say it is. And for that purpose it is woefully outdated. No one is arguing Sonos is not a fine whole-home audio system or speaker.


Yes, it's primary purpose in my case is for TV use. However, coupled with the Sub, it sounds very very good for music as well, and is used daily for TV, music, and talk radio. And with the convenience of integration with the entire home's audio system, an immensely useful and enjoyable piece of hardware.
Userlevel 4
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I find it ironic. People buy Sonos for its primary purpose, to have whole home audio. Yet find reasons to dislike the product that are beyond that intended purpose.


AMEN BROTHER


Who needs a sound bar for whole home audio?

Is the soundbar’s primary purpose not Home Theater? I would say it is. And for that purpose it is woefully outdated. No one is arguing Sonos is not a fine whole-home audio system or speaker.

Having the Sonos 5.1 setup in my family room

We don't have TV in shared areas, but the above is exactly what I would do if we had one, and use it for music as well in full mode, in association with other Sonos speakers if necessary. Anything more TV oriented is best left for dedicated HT rooms, or, better still IMO, to multiplexes.

And to the subject of the title thread, for home audio I am yet to see a Sonos replacement that ticks all the boxes that Sonos does.
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I find it ironic. People buy Sonos for its primary purpose, to have whole home audio. Yet find reasons to dislike the product that are beyond that intended purpose.


AMEN BROTHER
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I find it ironic. People buy Sonos for its primary purpose, to have whole home audio. Yet find reasons to dislike the product that are beyond that intended purpose.

Is the Sonos 5.1 setup a direct replacement to a modern 5.1 / 7.1 / 9.1 AVR with all of its inputs, codecs, speakers, and wiring? Of course not. If you desire those capabilities, look elsewhere. And as Kumar said, the issue with any soundbar setup is physical separation of the left and right channels, which any and every soundbar cannot do (physically, I am not referring to emulation of sound).

What no other 5.1 or higher TV-based / family room / home theater system can do is completely and seamlessly integrate into the Sonos ecosystem in a home.

Having the Sonos 5.1 setup in my family room, which is open to my kitchen and by far the most used area in my home, saves me from having to have multiple systems. If I had a standard AVR 5.1 setup (which I used to have), then I would need a Sonos Connect. Which also means I'd have to separately control power and inputs on the AVR with a separate remote. Yuck. Or, I'd have to have a bunch of Sonos Play 1/3/5 speakers in my family room and kitchen in addition to the TV's system, at a cost of ~$1,000 in addition to the AVR 5.1 setup. Double and triple yuck (in terms of cost and having multiple systems).