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


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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

@affrae. I don't think anyone was saying that adding Airplay 2 was 'non core activity', as you seem to have interpreted some comments.

@johnb actually, I never thought, said or interpreted that at all - the only time I mentioned the word "core" was asking if Google Home or Alexa was considered core activity by @bockerjv - as they mentioned "core" products and was trying to understand what they meant by that.

The only other thing I said that was even remotely similar to that was that if Google Home or Alexa was Sonos' focus, then great, but that it was not mine.

So forgive me, but I'm not sure where you are coming from - like I said I am not being a disgruntled or angry customer, nor am I accusing Sonos of not supporting, or wanting to support, AirPlay. The functionality as it exists now simply is not available in a way that assists me as I don't need more speakers so I'm just exploring my alternatives, is all.

Let's agree to differ.

yeah no worries, mate - It was just an idea. Definitely not having a go at you.
Sonos have stated that it is a hardware limitation that means the Playbar, Play:1 etc cannot be made to work 'natively' with Airplay 2. There is no software fix for that. Could software be written that would change the nature of the connection between surrounds and Playbar from 'bonded' to 'grouped'? Possibly - I don't know. If so, would it be easy and would it be quick? I very much doubt it, given the fundamental difference between bonding and grouping, and the failure of all past requests for such auto-reconfiguration. And then there is Trueplay....

Would the gain, even if possible, justify the development resource? Not in my view, given the options already available.
Regarding what Sonos said before and at launch, this is Sonos blog from that time:

'Even though AirPlay 2 is only supported on Sonos One, Beam, Playbase and Play:5 (2nd generation), grouping your other speakers to any of these and you can use AirPlay across your entire home sound system. So even non-AirPlay compatible speakers like Playbar or Play:1 can reap the sonic benefits of our AirPlay 2 integration, provided they’re grouped with one of our newer, AirPlay-friendly devices in the Sonos app.'

That accurately describes the position. Group a compatible speaker with the Playbar and you can Airplay 2 to it.
Smilja: what does "for its currently technically not feasible" mean? You mean, without them changing the software? of course!! That is what I am seeking. I give up trying to explain it. I will see if someone from Sonos replies or if they ignore it as they have been for months.
The third-party apps Macronos (Android) and SonoSequencr (iOS) showcase what's currently possible and what's not: predefining of groups - Yes; turning surrounds into stereo pair 'on the fly' and vice versa - No.
Over the years there have been many requests to reconfigure on the fly for quick transitioning of room configurations; Subs, surrounds etc. Sonos has repeatedly stated it is not possible. Up to you if you believe that or not.
Smilja: what does "for its currently technically not feasible" mean? You mean, without them changing the software? of course!! That is what I am seeking. I give up trying to explain it. I will see if someone from Sonos replies or if they ignore it as they have been for months.
Wish in one hand . . .
I will describe the simple software fix. When being driven by the Playbar, my two Ones would operate in Surround mode. When being driven by AirPlay, they would cease being surrounds, and would play as a joined set. If Playbar is actively driving the surrounds, the preferred would be to interrupt the playbar, but I would be fine if the Ones just ignored the airplay request until Playbar stopped sending audio their way. There are probably ten different ways to address that issue, and I would be fine with any of them.
There is no simple fix for it's currently technically not feasible to switch between configurations (i. e. Surround setup vs. Stereo pair).
Smilja, Thanks for the link but that has no further information on the subject than what is already known/discussed.

I will describe the simple software fix. When being driven by the Playbar, my two Ones would operate in Surround mode. When being driven by AirPlay, they would cease being surrounds, and would play as a joined set. If Playbar is actively driving the surrounds, the preferred would be to interrupt the playbar, but I would be fine if the Ones just ignored the airplay request until Playbar stopped sending audio their way. There are probably ten different ways to address that issue, and I would be fine with any of them.

Rob
If one does not have the time, one should probably not use mention of one as a decidedly lame attempt to bend Sonos to your will.

The phrase "put your money where your mouth is" comes to mind.
John B, what was ill-informed? You really think this is caused by hardware? There truly is no software solution? It is very obvious that there is one (by the very nature that you can split off the Ones and it works, then re-add them to the surrounds....the software could simply automate that process).

I do not have time to be the lead plaintiff in a class action suit. But I would join if someone else took the lead. I just want them to fix this problem they created.

Still waiting for Sonos to comment.

Here is what you are waiting for.
John B, what was ill-informed? You really think this is caused by hardware? There truly is no software solution? It is very obvious that there is one (by the very nature that you can split off the Ones and it works, then re-add them to the surrounds....the software could simply automate that process).

I do not have time to be the lead plaintiff in a class action suit. But I would join if someone else took the lead. I just want them to fix this problem they created.

Still waiting for Sonos to comment.

Rob
@affrae. I don't think anyone was saying that adding Airplay 2 was 'non core activity', as you seem to have interpreted some comments. What would be non-core would be developing a non-speaker device that would add no functionality that isn't available already. Development resource is limited, and I find it impossible to believe that Sonos would do this ahead of other uses for that resource. Let's agree to differ.
rhill0123, I suggest you consult with a lawyer about that class action suit. Let us know how it goes.Yes. Hilariously ill-informed post from @rhill0123. Before he takes Sonos to court I hope he at least gets his facts straight on why the Playbar doesn't have Airplay 2.
I have almost the same set up only I have an Apple TV as a source to my TV. Using an iPhone or iPad, I bring up the quick launch sheet by swiping down, next you the music source I see two little quarter moons. Once that is pressed, I have a number of airplay options (see screenshot), one is the Apple TV connected to my Living TV, if I connect to this, I am then able to play anything from my iPad to any Sonos device. I don’t use this that much but I just tested it using a Sonos Video on YouTube and played it to all my five Zones. Note that I also have a airport express feeding one of my Connects which also does the same thing. All good if you also have one of these two products.
rhill0123, I suggest you consult with a lawyer about that class action suit. Let us know how it goes.
I find it interesting that there isn't a reply from Sonos in this thread. Do they monitor these forums? I am in the same boat as the original poster. I bought a playbar before Beam came out and two Ones as surrounds (and a sub). I require airplay2 support (anyone who really uses Apple Music will be driven crazy by the limitations of the Sonos app). I extensively researched it, and Sonos said they would be able to "upgrade" the old hardware (i.e., the playbar) as long as had Ones. No problem, so I drop a very large amount of money on this setup.

When the upgrade day arrives, I upgrade and learn the tragic truth, that this setup isn't supported with Airplay2. Contrary to all available information at time of purchase.

Then I go on the forums to seek an answer at the time of the original post. I get told its a hardware limitation with PlayBar, which quite frankly, is totally wrong. This is a software issue where they don't support automatically "detaching" the surrounds when AirPlay2 is being used. They could choose to do this, and they should do it. I am honestly surprised that someone hasn't brought a class action law suit against them. They should have been very clear that the playbar in the surround orientation wouldn't support it. Or at a minimum said that they don't know what will be supported. But they were clear in describing the exact opposite situation (that the Ones would be able to upgrade it).

I am really disappointed in my first interactions with Sonos that they haven't stepped up to the plate and offered a real solution. Quite frankly, I'd take a solution for a big discount on a beam (lets say, at 100$), which would solve the problem.

This company is a public company now. They need to grow up and act like a real business.
I was just tossing up an idea. Its all good. Really appreciate the responses. Just to clarify, I am not bagging Sonos or the products, nor am I a disgruntled customer. My last resort is to move on, not my first reaction - I'll explain why below. I'm just looking for a win win scenario - I'm in sales if you hadn't noticed :)

Yes, you do. The proprietor (i.e. Apple) would have to agree with the idea of licensing 'Airplay Dots'.


Good point. I had not thought about that. Thanks! I just hoped it would be covered under an existing development licence. It isn't impossible, but not as straightforward as I hoped.

Me, I'd rather Sonos concentrate on their core product of the speakers and improving the apps.


Question: do you consider Alexa support and Google Home support part of that core product? Trying to get a general perspective here. No wrong answer.

The Airplay 2 Sonos "Dot" has been discussed before. Realisticly, at the price point discussed, you are only going to be able to process one stream. That means if you wish Airplay 2 on your entire system, you need one "Dot" for each room, a costly endeavor.


I'm not worried about the price, I just don't need the extra speakers. I'd even consider relatively close to the same price as a Sonos One - it would still be cheaper for me than turning gear over just to accomodate airplay or adding speakers I do not need.

I would expect Sonos to do market research, my point is the vast majority of development would already be in the can. But as per above, there is a licensing thing I had not taken into account.

I am quite prepared to buy one per room, or a "super dot" to cover each room. This allows me to keep doing what I am doing in the past, add the functionality for what I'd like to do now and in the future, and give Sonos money it might not otherwise get from me - or other customers. That's a win/win situation.

But it looks like it may not be economically viable or license-difficult. No worries.

But this talk of even thinking of dumping Sonos over this is TOTALLY illogical. Can we review the facts here? Sonos has added functionality where it can, at zero cost to the customer. Everybody has at least as much as they had before, for the money they thought was worth it. Some have added functionality, others have added options. So if a person was not contemplating dumping Sonos before they added Airplay for free, why would that person think about doing so afterwards?


That is a good point and I did think about this. My take is that new features come to the market in many industries and this is no different to that.

If a new feature is:

- something the customer decides they really want;
- is compelling; and
- the company they currently work with does not provide it in a way that works for that particular customer

then it is natural to consider alternatives. This is a natural consequence of competition and market maturity. The fact that Sonos has provided Airplay for free is not derided here and is appreciated. But it looks like it is not quite addressing customer needs in that area for many customers. Note: I am not saying all customers, nor that what Sonos have done is stupid nor that any responses to my post are stupid. Far from it.

There is no logical reason why I should not look at alternatives and if a solution is out there meets my needs more appropriately to then consider adopting it.

I am not a disgruntled customer at all and I am not angry at Sonos. I am just assessing my needs in the whole multi room speaker landscape. Both the market and my needs are changing and is not the same as it was when Sonos hit the scene or when I bought my gear < a couple of years ago.

For me AirPlay is more compelling than Alexa or Google home - but that does not make me think "Sonos should not explore digital assistants". If that is their focus then great! It just is not mine. That does not mean Sonos is a bad company or that they produce a bad product. It just may not meet my needs as much anymore. We have all changed products and brands - tvs, disc players, cars, suburbs we live in - even jobs! - because of what each offer vs what our desires/needs are at the time.

This happens everywhere. In my industry (software development) on average tools are swapped out every 7 months because something new comes along, captures the community attention and when they can't get it from their current provider look elsewhere. It does not invalidate the fact that what you bought was fine before that new feature comes along. It's just market evolution.

Same here - you are 100% correct in that before Airplay was announced and added I did not consider dumping Sonos - but now that cat's out of the bag, the situation is different - and I am just reassessing my situation and what my needs are at this time. Moving to another platform is just as valid a choice as staying here. It is just a matter of adding up what I get vs what it costs to do either.
The Airplay 2 Sonos "Dot" has been discussed before. Realisticly, at the price point discussed, you are only going to be able to process one stream. That means if you wish Airplay 2 on your entire system, you need one "Dot" for each room, a costly endeavor. Or, the alternative is a single "Dot" able to process the 32 max streams Sonos is capable of, pricing it out of the budget for most people.
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I think we are going to see a lot more products rolling out and things will start moving quicker with Sonos now that its a publicly traded company, I for one have never been more excited/hopeful with my Sonos gear.. I have been pissed at Sonos and in the past ranted and raved sold my gear and tried everything under the sun it feels like lol well my wife and I both agreed we liked Sonos the best even with the current caveats and bought back into it and im not about to ditch them.
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Being realistic a dedicated Sonos airplay2 unit will never happen. There is licensing, R&D, Approvals, Production set up etc etc. All this would probably equate to within £50 of a One, then 2 years down the road Apple abandon Airplay!

The option is to buy a Sonos One, maybe on ebay of look for Black friday deals.

Me, I'd rather Sonos concentrate on their core product of the speakers and improving the apps.
[...] Or am I missing something?
Yes, you do. The proprietor (i.e. Apple) would have to agree with the idea of licensing 'Airplay Dots'.
[...] So if a person was not contemplating dumping Sonos before they added Airplay for free, why would that person think about doing so afterwards?
It's always worth a try to put pressure on Sonos...
As I said, it is an interesting idea, and certainly worth floating and discussing. Neither of us knows for sure whether it's a good idea or not.

But this talk of even thinking of dumping Sonos over this is TOTALLY illogical. Can we review the facts here? Sonos has added functionality where it can, at zero cost to the customer. Everybody has at least as much as they had before, for the money they thought was worth it. Some have added functionality, others have added options. So if a person was not contemplating dumping Sonos before they added Airplay for free, why would that person think about doing so afterwards?
Hi John B!

Thanks for your response. That makes sense.

In response, I'd propose that the majority of the work has already been done - the very fact they developed some airplay compatible new hardware would suggest they see some business in it.

Just needs a form factor that loses the speaker part. And use the same logic board already in existence.

Given that I just offered to buy three and this whole AirPlay thing has been going on for a while, it seems they are leaving money on the table.

I'm not going to turn over my gear as it is all less than two years old. I'm sure I'm not the only one and it seems that they are missing revenue from me and others.

Another option I have is that I drop all my Sonos and sell it on eBay for cheap - which could cost Sonos an additional customer in the short term. I'd really not rather do that.

I'd also say that the smart speaker functionality is also a nice to have that many wouldn't use either, however it is also on the table. I do concede that there may be more smart speaker supporters here than AirPlay ones.

It was just an idea. If it isn't possible that would be sad. I'd like to continue to support Sonos. But I'm years away from buying more speakers. I'd preorder a 'Sonos Dot' or three tomorrow.