Will Airplay 2 ever be supported via Surround with Playbar and Ones?


Userlevel 2
So I just recently bought a playbar a little less than 3 months ago. As many I was excited about AirPlay 2 so I went out and got two Ones to support my surround.

Well after the updated you can’t use airplay 2 even though I have the Ones that are compatible because the playbar isn’t.

The only way to use airplay 2 is to separate my surround and then do a group with my stereo Ones and my playbar+sub. Only problem is there a slight delay when watching tv when they are grouped which is completing annoying.

I didn’t get the playbase because my TV mounted and the beam wasn’t even announced if I remember correctly.

I’m really sad about this since I’ve seen plenty of people buys Ones so that they can support AirPlay 2.

So the grand question. Will they support surround at some point with playbar.

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53 replies

Userlevel 2
I agree. I fully expected that with this update I could use AirPlay 2 with my Playbar and two Sonos Ones added as surrounds. Like you, I bought the Playbar recently on the assumption that provided the Sonos Ones were part of a surround sound grouping with the Playbar all would be well. I could have bought a Playbase but didn’t think it made any difference. I was disappointed and puzzled when I couldn’t find my surround system as an Airplay 2 destination. I didn’t realise there was a difference between grouping the Playbar and Sonos One speakers as a group, when it apparently will work, or grouping in a surround system, when it doesn’t. Please fix this, Sonos.
Userlevel 1
Same boat here, and such a shame. It's so frustrating to constantly having to switch between grouping and bonding to be able to use the Play One's as surrounds or with Airplay 2 compatibility. Is this in anyway not fixable? Seems like should've been a non-issue to be honest.
Userlevel 2
I have to hope it can be fixed. Exactly the same hardware is involved, and it’s just a software configuration to switch between surround sound (which doesn’t work) and grouping (which does). Surely it must be possible to address this through software?
Userlevel 3
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It’s a hardware limitation. So it would require a new soundbar or you can group with a speaker that is compatible to bring airplay 2 into the mix.
I have the whole surround system that I’ve purchased within the last year, Playbar, sub, and two play: 1’s. Can’t use airplay 2. Cant replace either play 1 because Playbar is the brains of the surround and it is not compatible. I can replace my $700 soundbar with a $300 beam to get it to work. The only reason I invested in sonos to begin with was because of the promise of Airplay 2 and now it has all these restrictions making my $2,000+ in equipment useless. I have been frustrated beyond no end having to use Sonos interface because it is terrible but kept telling myself it’s just until airplay 2 comes out. I will be selling my extra standalone speakers and will just have to keep my surround sound separate from the rest of my house that I will be filling with HomePods. Have loved Sonos sound quality but this turn of events has put me over the edge and I will have no problem sharing the experience with my customers. It’s one thing to be exclusive when you have a great product but when your user interface is terrible and extremely inconvenient and you force planned obsoletion, stay away!
Userlevel 3
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It’s a limitation based on the new protocol from Apple. The older hardware will continue to work and have support from Sonos. They have been pretty upfront about what devices will support AP2 and the only confusion has been around grouping older speakers to gain airplay.
They have not been upfront about it. I purchased my equipment after sonos announced support with air play 2. I am heavily invested in  and would not have invested so much into Sonos until after it released had they said anything about products not being compatible. All they said was they were supporting it and it wasn’t until it came out that they started saying only their newer hardware would support it. I just got an email from sonos that says the Playbar is compatible with air play 2 but when you click on the link to the website you learn it that it’s not. I’m sure it’s a typo but when you are dealing the money they charge for their products you would hope for a little more professionalism but it feels more like they want to be premium but act like Walmart. Very regretible. As far a a protocol limitation, you want me to believe that a $700 speaker can not get a software update but buying a new $300 speaker will solve it?! I can’t even buy new Ones to resolve the issue?! Here is the link to my other speaker if anyone is interested. Sonos no more.

https://syracuse.craigslist.org/ele/6642997972.html
Userlevel 3
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They announced It as soon as they had enough information, it was reliant on Apple. It has nothing to do with software, it’s based on hardware, the older speakers don’t have the memory to support airplay 2 (which Apple have done to prevent buffering). You can buy a One and group it with your system to make it work with airplay. You just can’t do it if the one’s are used as rears since they are bonded with the Playbar and that is the driving force of the setup so it is the speaker that needs to be compatible in that case. I understand the frustration, but it’s not as simple as blaming Sonos.
Hey All,
I purchased a HomePod and was instantly pissed when finding this out. I did find the work around. Once you play using airplay open the Sonos App and go to rooms. Hit Group on the speakers shown playing through airplay and it will allow you to add all of your other Sonos speakers. I hope this helps.
Userlevel 1
Everyone's unnecessarily steered away from the main conversation into how playbar is not supporting etc. Please go and discuss that in the relevant discussion. This is a post about how Playbar + 2 Play:One's won't support airplay 2 if they are in surround mode. That has nothing to do with Apple or the protocol, it's on Sonos to fix this. You can not expect end users to constantly change between grouping and surround setups so they can both use airplay 2 and have decent surround setup, especially when you promote and sell playbar/base/beam with ones and sub to promote 5.1 setups. Sonos, will you reply?
Userlevel 3
Badge +5
That is incorrect. It very much has to do with the protocol as it is a hardware limitation that prevents the playbar from being compatible based on the further memory required by AP2. In a HT setup the playbar is the main component so it won’t work. The main speaker needs to be compatible as that is what will be taking care of airplay and then it will be grouped with other speakers, which will in turn send airplay to those older speakers. It is not something that Sonos has control over to fix.
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As a true Sonos fan I've also been waiting on the arrival of AP2. Love Sonos for updating and renewing things. Now I have my $3,000 set and I'm not able to use AP2. I've just asked Sonos to come with a minimum priced solution for a Sonos One, but reading these messages... not even that will be a satisfying solution at this moment. It's a pity!
Userlevel 1
Everyone clearly understands that vazandrew, thanks for stating the obvious. We're talking about a software fix where it can easily switch between grouping and surround setups, where when I'm playing through my tv, it goes back to a surround setup vica versa. Anyways, i'd rather hear from a Sonos rep.
Userlevel 3
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Actually no, it was not clearly stated that everyone understood it. If that is what you are looking for then that is more reasonable.
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I agree with 'azizk' - it will be up to Sonos and maybe Apple to solve this. Let's see what the future will bring!
It must be very difficult for Sonos to fix this, as the bonded surrounds are just mere 'Slaves' to the PlayBar 'Master' device and Apple AirPlay cannot even see the slaves at the moment. The Sonos System just sees, displays and talks to the main Playbar Room which in turn sends out the L/R audio channels to its slaves.

What happens if someone is watching a film on a TV in 5.1 'bonded' surround sound... and another household member has the ability to break the bond by simply playing an AirPlay audio source via one of the bonded surrounds, which in turn then needs to 'group' with another room in the house to play the AirPlay audio, notwithstanding the fact the surround (airplay) speaker may also have to switch from a 5ghz WiFi connection over to the 2.4ghz band in order to do this.

I can’t see the Sonos One being capable either, of staying bonded to a PlayBar and playing a TV audio channel, whilst, at the same time, also then acting as an AirPlay (Master) controller device.

My money is on the fact that Sonos can’t easily fix this issue and it’s probably not really cost effective to do so.

The best alternative is to add another Sonos One to a users network for them to use for 'grouping' with the PlayBar Room. That’s the easiest solution in my book.

I reckon it won’t be too long before we see the next generation PlayBar anyway, which will have improved hardware and capable of playing an AirPlay source, many community users thought that was going to happen this year, so it can’t be too far away, perhaps?

I think Sonos will keep moving forward, rather than choosing to go back and fix this, but I know also that’s not what some 'PlayBar with bonded Sonos Ones' owners will want to hear.
I just ordered a Playbar and SUB (eBay, so no returns) - and just got two Play Ones for a 5.1 setup. Is the grouping / re-grouping really a hassle? Can I have a 5.1 group for TV and also a "Living Room" group for music?

I also have a Play:5 (separate room), so can I use that as the "Airplay Source" and group it with the 5.1 group?

I've really become a fan of Sonos since setting up my first Connect:AMP, but their home theater product line up is so confusing and weird. I think they should have re-released the Playbar and Playbase with the Beam so it would all be apples to apples.
Userlevel 7
Badge +21
I just ordered a Playbar and SUB (eBay, so no returns) - and just got two Play Ones for a 5.1 setup. Is the grouping / re-grouping really a hassle? Can I have a 5.1 group for TV and also a "Living Room" group for music?


'Hassle' is a subjective word, but I think most people would say yes. I'd also say that it's unnecessary. You can set it up so the surround speakers play full stereo when playing for a music and surround for tv.

sidenote: Technically, that's not 'grouping', that's 'bonding' in Sonos terms. Your 5.1 setup isn't a 'group', it's a 'room'...or zone. Temporarily playing two rooms together is a group, and that is not a hassle. I know it's semantics, but is very easy to get confused about what you can and can't do without Sonos if you aren't careful with the terminology.


I also have a Play:5 (separate room), so can I use that as the "Airplay Source" and group it with the 5.1 group?


Yes, you can group your Play:5 room with your 5.1 room. :-)


I've really become a fan of Sonos since setting up my first Connect:AMP, but their home theater product line up is so confusing and weird. I think they should have re-released the Playbar and Playbase with the Beam so it would all be apples to apples.


Yes, it can be. It's sort of a necessary evil though, if you want old units to work with new units AND try and get all the latest features possible in your system. I'd really hate to have a multiroom system where you can't expand with new products and it quickly becomes obsolete.

The playbase is pretty much 'up to date'. The only thing it's missing is direct voice control, and that's easily fixed by using a echo dot nearby or sonos ones as surrounds. The playbar can get voice control the same way, it just lacks the ability to do airplay. A new playbar would be nice, but I don't know how quickly Sonos can spin up updated products. Not the same scenario, but I read the Beam was in development for 2 years.
Technically, that's not 'grouping', that's 'bonding' in Sonos terms. Your 5.1 setup isn't a 'group', it's a 'room'...or zone. Temporarily playing two rooms together is a group, and that is not a hassle. I know it's semantics, but is very easy to get confused about what you can and can't do without Sonos if you aren't careful with the terminology.

Thanks - that was really my question. So I'll have a 5.1 Living Room room, and I can Airplay 2 to another room and then group that room with the Living Room.

I do appreciate the long lifespan of Sonos devices; I just wish the higher end products were updated before or at the same time as the lower end ones.

I see the Sonos Airplay 2 FAQ is now super clear about Playbar compatibility; it's the second question: https://www.sonos.com/en-us/airplay
Make no mistake... not supporting Airplay 2 in a 5.1 setup with a Playbar and two rear Play Ones is a strategic decision. One that I believe they will regret in time as more affordable, Atmos/AirPlay 2 compatible soundbars hit the market. Sonos should be doing all they can to retain their existing customers as the market becomes democratised. Instead, their focus is on customer acquisition (e.g. Beam), which won’t be sustainable for long.
Make no mistake... not supporting Airplay 2 in a 5.1 setup with a Playbar and two rear Play Ones is a strategic decision. One that I believe they will regret in time as more affordable, Atmos/AirPlay 2 compatible soundbars hit the market. Sonos should be doing all they can to retain their existing customers as the market becomes democratised. Instead, their focus is on customer acquisition (e.g. Beam), which won’t be sustainable for long.

So why did they support Airplay 2 on the Playbase?
Userlevel 7
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Sonos need to put more development into their grouping, stero pairing, surround bonding to make it a lot easier and far quicker, like drag & drop using graphics, like google home or even sonophone for example. Then you could snap bonded surrounds out into a stereo pairs for airplay2 etc., and drop back in for tv watching surround duties.
Sonos need to put more development into their grouping, stero pairing, surround bonding to make it a lot easier and far quicker, like drag & drop using graphics, like google home or even sonophone for example. Then you could snap bonded surrounds out into a stereo pairs for airplay2 etc., and drop back in for tv watching surround duties.
I would like to see the Playbar surrounds allowed to breakout as a ready made 'stereo pair' and that any such 'pair' could also be quickly dropped back into a bonded setup.

In fact, I quite like the idea of user-created profiles for speakers, so that the user can create and save their speaker arrangement in different profiles. The user then selects a saved 'named' profile and the speakers then automatically group/ungroup, pair/unpair, or bond/unbond as required ...and the user is then ready to play. It would be simple process, though a user may have to wait a short while, whilst the speakers sort themselves out and to let the user know when they are good to go.
I agree this could be fixed by making Grouping/bonding much faster/easier, it has anyways been a tiresome affair.

Maybe we can hope they will implement Siri shortcuts for these functions? That would be great, asking Siri to group or bond stereo pair with just one click or phrase
What is the cheapest easiest way to add AirPlay 2 to a Playbar? An Amazon Dot or should I purchase an Apple TV? I only have Sonos in my living room with a Playbar and Play 1s as rear speakers. Any help would be much appreciated. I just need a way to easily and quickly stream music from my iPad and iPhone without using the Sonos app. I don’t need to worry about bonding and unbending. Thank you!