Question

Using my Sonos (and other) equipment to create a surround sound system

  • 24 September 2017
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40 replies

Userlevel 4
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I do appreciate all of the input. While the discussion has gone into depths I had not imagined, I have learned a lot and come to the conclusion that a PLAYBASE will serve me well in my application. Now my only problem is to figure out how to get a wired connection from my router to my TV area. Both are in ideal spots and it is almost impossible to accomplish. I will have to get down & dirty in the crawl space and see if it can be done. Wish me well.

Cat5 network cabling is surprisingly easy to route, if needed, although try to route cable without the plug as it's easier and prevents the tab breaking off - which they have a habit of doing.

Don't be tempted to use those ethernet power adapters. They don't work very well, degrade quickly with age, and most importantly are not supported by Sonos - you need a proper wired network.

One option to consider, if your property permits, is to go out and in. I have an ethernet cable running on the outside of my house as I couldn't find an internal route past the chimney breast of my fireplace.

Good luck with your set-up
Userlevel 5
Badge +3
I do appreciate all of the input. While the discussion has gone into depths I had not imagined, I have learned a lot and come to the conclusion that a PLAYBASE will serve me well in my application.
Good luck. Hopefully the cabling isn't too bad.

One option to consider, if your property permits, is to go out and in. I have an ethernet cable running on the outside of my house as I couldn't find an internal route past the chimney breast of my fireplace.

Strongly recommend you do not do this unless you've got actual experience in proper networking. Running cat5 in without entrance protection is a great way to fry everything it touches.

I take a lot of criticism on here for being opinionated, and you're welcome to take it with as much salt as you like. I just want potential buyers to go into the big purchase with their eyes open.

I hate to veer of topic, but since the original poster is set...

You may take some criticism for being opinionated. You take a lot of criticism for carrying a bias that apparently prevents you from perceiving how people's use cases may result in different requirements than yours.

Look, you have several important points that are valuable for people considering the product. If you could provide that detail without projecting your very specific concerns onto every request you wouldn't be occasionally criticized for your posting style. Instead, it comes across as you posting the same complaint in every Playbase/playbar thread because you won't.

Further your current position, as best I can tell, is that there's no good scenario for Playbase/Playbar, and that everyone whose experience is positive simply isn't as intelligent as you. We don't have to debate whether that's what you actually mean, but that's the impression you clearly give to some people here. This is the other reason why you receive the criticism. It's certainly your decision on how what and how you post, but if you want to avoid the criticism that you mention then a change in your approach would do wonders. Hopefully this helps.
Userlevel 4
Badge +2
Skelton - thanks for the feedback, noted.

It's worth pointing out that I do feel there are some good scenarios for Playbase/Playbar, although there are fewer than they used to be.

Around the time of PLAYBAR launch, most competing soundbar products were compromising and, frankly, quite rubbish. HDMI audio was in its infancy and Sonos was (and still is) the best solution for streaming music. For Sonos owners, who enjoyed home cinema, it was a pain to have two sets of speakers in the Living Room - so many of us opted for a Sonos Connect device that connect to our existing cinema system.

It wasn't without its problems, you had to be on the right music input, you often ended up with two volume controls and it was all a bit confusing. PLAYBAR was to be the saviour, by combining both systems together as one. Good quality TV audio and music in one "wife friendly" speaker unit with the added bonus of being able to stream TV audio into other rooms.

It worked perfectly, but it didn't. We crashed and burned when it came to DTS. The noise generated by this vocal minority was huge but, ultimately, Sonos decreed that it was never going to happen. Credit where it's due, Sonos offered affected owners a full refund of a speaker what was, for many owners, well beyond the returns period.

But what were the alternatives? There actually weren't many, if any at all. There were lots of soundbars on sale, but none of them could integrate with Sonos, or indeed handle streaming audio very well. Any alternative you chose would compromise on the music options. As far as I know, very few owners returned their devices. It was still the best option, despite known limitations. I waited over a year for the DTS decision, having had an early test unit for the best part of a year before it went on sale. If you think I'm critical now, you should see the feedback I gave the product developers during that time :O)

Ultimately, PLAYBAR wasn't the product I wanted it to be but it was still the best option on the market and I stuck with it for some five years. During that time I learned every positive, every negative and all the little quirks. The launch of Trueplay helped revitalise the audio and improved speech from the unit but, in the end, I finally had enough money in the bank to look at alternatives.

The world had moved on in those five years. There are now some outstanding soundbar products on the market. The majority of Sonos owners only listen to Spotify these days, and the latest products all handle that. Sonos now encourages us to use Spotify through the Spotify app instead of the Sonos controller. It works well and utilises "Spotify Connect". However other speaker manufacturers can now do this and my new home theatre set-up integrates in exactly the same way. If I press the "cast" button in the Spotify app, it gives me the choice of all my Sonos speakers or my new home theatre. I click in exactly the same way. If the Denon isn't turned on, it powers up automatically. No other controls needed, I can control volume from the Spotify app too. It's the same experience I had with Sonos, only I don't use Sonos for it.

The world moved on whilst Sonos stood still. Five years ago I decided whether to go full AV home cinema or use PLAYBAR. Sonos were so far ahead with streaming music etc. it was a no brainer. But now, it's a very different market. People still love bluetooth connections, something Sonos never offered. Everybody links to internet radio and Spotify and offers software updates. In most cases, the options are considerably cheaper.

The base product is still reasonable value though. At £699 it offers good TV audio in a tidy package that integrates tightly with your existing Sonos music system. It costs a little more than 2 x Play:3 speakers but offers the necessary digital audio in and is a compact unit for its contents. For wall mounted TVs it's a particularly tidy solution, although it was always a little large for many TV stands - which is where the Playbase comes in. I have no doubt there is a good market for both products and they are priced fairly as value added Sonos music speakers.

I'd be quite happy to recommend either product to an existing owner on a standalone basis, just for the convenience factor alongside other speakers. I can understand why people buy one and then get another for an adjacent room.

My concerns only come when there is a plan to add surround speakers or a SUB for "surround sound". Sonos doesn't do this particularly well and isn't compatible with modern movie audio codecs and connectivity.

Adding a SUB basically doubles the price. Adding surround speakers is at least half the cost of another PLAYBAR. You go from a £699 TV speaker to an £1800 cinema system that doesn't even support DTS.

To compare, here's a £569 home cinema system that can handle anything up to Dolby Atmos 5.1.2

https://www.richersounds.com/tv-home-cinema/home-cinema-systems/onkyo-atmos-5-1-2-package-system-inc-speakers-excluding-dvd-player.html

It won't directly integrate with Sonos but you can buy 2 x PLAY:5 speakers for the saving, or just plug a Sonos Connect in the back.

Instead of going low end, I used a PLAYBAR 5.1 set-up cost to help budget for my separates system. I looked at what I could get in cinema world for £1800. I ended up with a speaker set that's around £1000

https://www.richersounds.com/tv-home-cinema/speaker-packages/q-acoustics-7000i-plus-black.html

Then I added a Denon receiver worth £500:

https://www.richersounds.com/tv-home-cinema/av-receivers/denon-avrx3300-blk.html

As I bought them together, I got a good discount so only paid £1300 for the lot - less than a PLAYBAR and SUB without surround speakers.

It handles everything I want, across two rooms. I can still send the TV audio to the next room like I could with Sonos. I still have the Spotify connection etc. It just works, and it costs less.

I'm not somebody who listens to a request from somebody who wants to spend £250 and tells them they want to buy a £10,000 speaker system instead. I'm telling them to spend LESS money to get MORE functionality.

The price of home cinema systems has tumbled in recent years, you get serious bang for your buck.

So if somebody wants a home cinema cinema, or even might want to expand to one in the future, no I don't recommend Sonos. It's a good TV audio solution and I'd recommend it for that, but it can't even compete in the home theatre world.
Userlevel 3
Badge +3
I started writing a response to this but the mistakes in the above are just too voluminous to counteract each and every point. The lack of awareness that not everyone might have the same requirements just smacks of pure arrogance. Really surprised that Sonos Mods allow this, but in short it cannot be right that people who come onto this forum to look for advice and are basically trolled with the same response from a disgruntled user who didn't realise their requirements soon enough.
Userlevel 4
Badge +2
I started writing a response to this but the mistakes in the above are just too voluminous to counteract each and every point. The lack of awareness that not everyone might have the same requirements just smacks of pure arrogance. Really surprised that Sonos Mods allow this, but in short it cannot be right that people who come onto this forum to look for advice and are basically trolled with the same response from a disgruntled user who didn't realise their requirements soon enough.

The biggest mistake here is when you said you'd made your last post. It was a good discussion for a while there.

Talk about the products, not the people. I'm getting tired of your constant personal attacks which I am sure are in contravention of the forum "Code of Conduct".


- Stay courteous. Everyone wants to have a positive experience on The Sonos Community - so make sure that you are not detracting from anyone else's experience. In particular, refrain from posting anything unlawful, libelous, defamatory, inflammatory, obscene, pornographic, indecent, lewd, harassing, threatening, harmful, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, abusive, or otherwise objectionable or injurious to third parties. Your opinions are always welcome, but personal attacks and harassment ("flaming") on either The Sonos Community or through private messaging are not acceptable.


Enough! I will flag any future off-topic personal attacks for moderator attention.
Userlevel 3
Badge +3
I would love for the mods to step in and give their views on your persistent trolling. (BTW if you can't work out that what you're doing is wrong even when the people who agree with you get annoyed, there's really nothing to say)
Userlevel 4
Badge +2
Reported.
Userlevel 7
Badge +26

- Stay courteous. Everyone wants to have a positive experience on The Sonos Community - so make sure that you are not detracting from anyone else’s experience.


Re-quoting for emphasis, let’s all remember to keep it friendly. Differing opinions are good, they lead to conversation and progress. But we should all remember not to go off the rails when answering questions. Let’s please stay on point with the question at hand and the conversation of the thread. There’s especially no reason to throw around personal attacks.
It really is unfair to call @RO53BEN a troll. Trolls set out to provoke and annoy, and that is clearly not the intention (although for some it may be the result).

There also has to be room for dissenting voices on here, and I am sure the intention is to help.

But are we doomed to see these identical posts on every Playbar/base thread for years to come? That is a dispiriting thought for me I am afraid, however well-meaning the intention.
Userlevel 4
Badge +2
I'm sudden reminded of why I took a break from these forums. Too many fan boys who don't appreciate that the only way to improve a brand is to provide constructive criticism and suggest ways it could be better.

I'll crawl back under my bridge, at least the Three Little Pigs are courteous with their responses.
I'm sudden reminded of why I took a break from these forums. Too many fan boys who don't appreciate that the only way to improve a brand is to provide constructive criticism and suggest ways it could be better.

I'll crawl back under my bridge, at least the Three Little Pigs are courteous with their responses.
The validity of some of your criticisms has been repeatedly acknowledged. If that was your aim then you have been successful. Although the same criticisms have been made and acknowledged since the day the Playbar was launched.
Badge +4
Just as I was about to pull the trigger on buying a Playbase, this news comes out and I thought I should at least ask the question of those who are much more familiar with the potential of SERIOUS competition from them:

https://www.theverge.com/2017/9/27/16372578/new-amazon-echo-speaker-announced-price-release-date-2017

Do you see them as a threat to future of Sonos?
I don't, although I've not "heard" one yet. And I've not seen any intimation that you can link them for stereo, or connect them to a TV for audio in that fashion. But I'm certainly not saying it's a bad device, it would be fine for lots of people, I suspect (and Amazon does too, otherwise they wouldn't be bringing it out).

But if it were me, it certainly wouldn't stop me from buying a PLAYBASE.
Badge +4
Ok, it's time to think about the mechanics of the installation. The router is staying put in a utility closet in the center of the house. The TV in question is also staying put in its location about 50' away. Since I will be using a CONNECT:AMP to drive existing ceiling speakers as the rear, I need to get a hardwire connection from the router to the Playbase. Fortunately there is a workable crawlspace to run the cable. So the question is what type of cable to use? From what I have read, it seems cat 6 is the way to go. Any insights would be appreciated.
Badge +4
Getting ready to run the cable. Due to space restrictions, I need to use a flat cable (using cat 6) to get through existing holes in the floor. However, the hole is not big enough for the mod to fit through so I will have to cut the mod off, slip the cable through the hole in the floor and then re-attach a new mod with a crimping tool. Watched some videos on you tube and seems simple enough. The question is what standard to use when I re-attach the new mod - 568A, 568B, straight through or crossover?