Using Beam as center channel with Connect supplying left and right channels


I have a stereo integrated amp and a pair of speakers I've had forever and love. I've had them hooked up to our television to add better sound for video on one input and a Sonos Connect in another input for music. I really like the Airplay integration for our Play:5 and was disappointed it wasn't included for the Connect.

I was thinking to get around that and to only keep my amp on one input I could get a Beam and hook it up to our TV's audio. I would then group it permanently with the Connect so any music I play to it would automatically come out both the Beam and the Connect's speakers and the same would happen for video. Has anyone done a similar setup? Any thoughts on its feasibility? Thanks!

17 replies

Userlevel 7
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Hi, gfardon. Technically, this is possible. However, grouping for the purpose of television audio can present some issues. This is due to the fact that the audio from the television is uncompressed. This will be more sensitive to dropouts due to higher susceptibility to interference. However, you are always welcome to buy it, try it out, and return it if not deemed fit for your needs. Buy directly from us and be sure to review the returns period. This varies depending on where you are, if you're in the States you will have 45 days to try it out.
Hi Edward,

could you please describe the setup and the settings in detail? I'd like to setup a 5.0 system with two Play:1 as Rear speakers, two Play:3 as Front speakers and the Beam as the Center Speaker...

Thanks a lot!
Michael
Hi Edward,

could you please describe the setup and the settings in detail? I'd like to setup a 5.0 system with two Play:1 as Rear speakers, two Play:3 as Front speakers and the Beam as the Center Speaker...

Thanks a lot!
Michael
Sorry, but this just isn't possible. The Beam provides the front three channels and cannot act purely as a centre. You could get sound out of the setup you describe, but the sound would not sync and it would not remotely resemble 5.0 surround sound.
If sonos would develop a dedicated center channel/5.1 processor unit that would allow for the use of playX for main and rear speakers, I would buy it in a heartbeat. Even at the price point of the current playbar, this would be a much better sounding option.
Understood. You've posted this in multiple threads, I think we all get it...and we all agree. In fact I would be willing to bet that it's been a request since the PLAYBAR was first announced.
Yes but Sonos seems to think the community would rather have cheaper entry level options (Beam, and playbase) but...they promote that they are a "high end" audio solution in the wireless category. So why not focus on the high end options a little more? Or developing something that they don't already sell in 2 or 3 similar form factors. It is a bit frustrating when I see that they have a big announcement coming up and then they roll out some crap that I dont have any use for, that is meant to attract the budget minded "new" sonos customer. I've been a Sonos customer for over 9 years...the last 3 or 4 have been a bit of a let down. I would love to see them develop something that appeals to the existing customer base that already have significant investments in their solution. AKA a nice all weather outdoor speaker. A good center speaker/5.1 processor. A tad larger sub, or the capability to sync 2 subs to the same theater system. Point is, the iphone was a pretty nice device until Apple decided they needed to build a cheap colored version of it for the average consumer. It's been down hill from there. I would say a majority of the Sonos customers are not "average" electronics consumers by any means.
I hear where you're coming from, but I've never perceived marketing that they were a "high end" audio solution, much less focused on the Home Theater. All the marketing I've seen is more about "whole home music". But then again, I've not been paying much attention to marketing claims, so I may have missed them.

As I said before, there are many of us who have agreed over the years with your request.

I just don't expect any company that I don't run to do all the things that match my exact needs. I do expect them to do things that they think will make them the maximum amount of money by selling to the masses, like most public companies, and I recognize that I am not one of those who fit perfectly in that category. That's what companies do.
yeah true...all my lifelong hopes and dreams are crushed now. 😞
Userlevel 7
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Think how cool a "Beam Center" Sonos box would be! Just the center channel sound there and the rest on SonosNet.

Make it identical to the current Beam (to save tooling and production costs) except leave out the right and left channel amps and speakers. Allow the original left and right channels to go out to Bonded Sonos speakers while keeping the Sub and rear channels exactly as they are now.

It would likely sell well, as well as selling a number of Play units for the right and left channel positions.
Don't give up on your (our) hopes and dreams. I still expect that eventually (!) Sonos will implement this, but they haven't yet, and I'm not expecting it for a couple more years at best.
hashtag - please Sonos!
Userlevel 7
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I would expect it would have to wait for Connect V2 (which I would assume we will see by early next year at the latest since they need to refresh all of their non-Airplay2 compatible units).

Big question to me is - will there be a Play:3 v2 (as it has always been the ugly stepchild of the Play series).

That just leaves Connect and Playbar V2 versions required for release. I think they are both going to be BEASTS!
Userlevel 7
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JMO...Sonos could produce the Beam just as is to negate a separate assembly and just upgrade the firmware/software of the current Beam and add a switch to designate use as a dedicated Center Channel or L/C/R. In that manner the Beam becomes a versatile unit for future expansion if the person doesn't want to payout an addition cost of two Play 1's as L/R speakers (for example) at the initial purchase. I could also see Sonos One's or Play 5's being used as well (possibly the Play 3 if still around). So what about it Sonos? :8

Cheers!
I haven't listened to the beam yet, but expect it would pair well with Play1s in the front. If you went to Play 5 mains, it would need to pair with something more in line with the current playbar to have similar sound qualities. The problem with the playbar is that it doesn't have all forward firing speakers, so switching it to center channel mode would turn off the R/L channels completely. It would be a better option to have the processing built into a connect unit allowing you to pair with any center you want. Then you could consider a Play 3/5 for a point source center until Sonos releases something more aesthetically pleasing to mount under the TV. Something the size of the playbar with 4 forward firing mid woofers, and 2 tweeters would be awesome. I have always hated mini system center speakers because they sound shallow and tinny like a TV speaker. A larger center speaker will reproduce the +80hz and booms, crashes, deep vocals, etc. The playbar already does this fairly well, it just needs a bit more separation and oomph in a large room. Maybe the beam is decent here too, but it is quite a bit smaller so I would worry about it running out of gas on the louder stuff.
Userlevel 7
Badge +22
I haven't listened to the beam yet, but expect it would pair well with Play1s in the front. If you went to Play 5 mains, it would need to pair with something more in line with the current playbar to have similar sound qualities. The problem with the playbar is that it doesn't have all forward firing speakers, so switching it to center channel mode would turn off the R/L channels completely. It would be a better option to have the processing built into a connect unit allowing you to pair with any center you want. Then you could consider a Play 3/5 for a point source center until Sonos releases something more aesthetically pleasing to mount under the TV. Something the size of the playbar with 4 forward firing mid woofers, and 2 tweeters would be awesome. I have always hated mini system center speakers because they sound shallow and tinny like a TV speaker. A larger center speaker will reproduce the +80hz and booms, crashes, deep vocals, etc. The playbar already does this fairly well, it just needs a bit more separation and oomph in a large room. Maybe the beam is decent here too, but it is quite a bit smaller so I would worry about it running out of gas on the louder stuff.

I hear you..brad7348. However, I wouldn't be too concerned about a Play 5 x 2 over powering the Beam as a Center Channel because in a standard L/C/R (separates) setup the Center channel carries most of the audio to anchor it to the screen. The L/R speakers are given less to basically translate movement to either side. Granted they (L/R) have more oomph than rears but not to the point where I think they would blank out a Beam as center. Also, I'd hope that True Play tuning would even everything out. Just speculation based upon my listening experience, as I'm not a speaker design engineer. :8

Cheers!
Userlevel 7
Badge +21
I don't think I like the idea of the Beam as a center channel only speaker. As I understand, some of it's speakers are angled outwards, as opposed to straight ahead, in order to get better stereo separation feel. I'd assume you'd really need to turn those speakers off if you wanted center only, and I don't know that would be a good fit for center channel in a larger room.

I'd actually prefer if they came out with a play:3 v2 that can double as a center channel. If the design it in a similar form factor to the Beam, just not as wide, then it would look good underneath a TV, or even on a bookshelf. It could also do well underneath a kitchen cabinet, as seems to be a popular use for the Beam. If this were the choice for a center channel though, I don't think Sonos would build in the 'HT brains' into the device, as it would mean this new speaker is too costly for any other use than a center channel. I'd guess pushing the cost fro $250 to $350 or more.

Overall though, the big concern I see is the size of the market. I look at it this way. Of all the TV owners in the world, how many of them even want external speakers. Then out the remaining pool, how many of them would just prefer a soundbar or separated stereo fronts. Then from that pool, how many are going to want a Sonos option instead of the many available wired options? It seems quite possible that the pool is pretty small, and the fact that Sonos has never done anything in this area tends to support that conclusion.

Maybe there is enough market. Maybe Sonos can use speakers that have more use than in a HT setting, and maybe the Beam, or a Connect V2 can have the right functionality built in at a reasonable extra cost. But Sonos still has support costs for the setup, still has to do al the testing and tuning to make sure the setup works well, and so on.

And If I'm perfectly honest, as much as like the setup, I don't know that I can justify the extra cost in speakers for a true 5.1 setup, not sure I can do the electrical wiring and such to get it to look right in my living room, and not sure that the increased sound quality is going to be worth all that effort.
Hi gfardon, did you buy Sonos beam and hooked it up as you originally considered?
If yes, how does it work?

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