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.
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.
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 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.
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!
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Userlevel 3
Badge +5
You would need an Apple TV, but the playbar itself wouldn’t have airplay support so you would need the TV on to stream to the Apple TV, which then outputs to the playbar.
Seems to me that a small, relatively inexpensive Sonos One but without the speaker parts could solve this - it just needs the processing capability.

Just get a few to group one up with each of my legacy systems. I'd buy three of those to get beyond this - but I have no need for Sonos Ones to add more sound as my rooms are already well served there.

Kinda like a Sonos... Dot.

You can still have your surround system as the playbar would be still the master for processing that - the 'Dot' would just pass on anything it gets via AirPlay.

I'd also use one with a pair of 3's in my wife's office and a connect in mine.



Or am I missing something?
Userlevel 2
Badge +3
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.
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.
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.
rhill0123, I suggest you consult with a lawyer about that class action suit. Let us know how it goes.
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.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.
@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.
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
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.