Some clarification in Airplay 2 support please

  • 13 January 2018
  • 18 replies

We have a new Playbase, several Gen 1 Sonos Play:1's, a couple of Play:3's and a couple of Play:5's (Not the newest ones, bought a few years ago).

Sonos have announced support for Airplay 2 on the Playbase and Sonos 1s and Play 5s. I'd like to know if we will be able to play music through ALL of our speakers using the Playbase as an entrypoint for Airplay 2, or if it is limited to just the Playbase itself. Also, I'm unclear on whether the Play 5's we have will natively support Airplay 2.


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18 replies

Userlevel 7
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They haven’t actually announced any as airPlay2 compatible. It is all assumption right now. However as you have the Playbase it will most likely be supported. And if Playbase is playing the airplay2 signal it can surely be grouped with any older speaker in house old or new to play the same.
OK, thanks Chris. I really hope Airplay 2 gets rolled out for more than just the latest speakers if Sonos do support it.
Userlevel 7
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Remember. If it does require a new speaker. Ol soeakers will still be able to play it at least just by grouping with the newer speaker.

Example worst case: You have a Play:3 and a Sonos One. You want to play airplay 2 to the play:3. Just group it with the Sonos One, you can mute the Sonos One if you want it silent. Then play airplay all you want to the play:3. That would be worst case.
Userlevel 7
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I'm hoping that it would work more like a Line In connection, so any speaker in your system can play the Airplay 2 connection; the host device doesn't have to though. That's at least a step better than Chris' worst-case scenario, IMHO. 🙂
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Yes that would be better for sure
I have no clue about what speakers will eventually support AirPlay 2. I don't even known when to expect AirPlay 2 to arrive from Sonos at all.

But you will for certain be able to get playback working on all your Sonos-speakers as long as at least one of your speakers supports AirPlay 2. That would would just like line-in on the Play:5 and optical-in on the Play Bar and Play Base works today.

I have a AirPort Express connected to my Sonos Play:5 in the hallway using line-in and through the Sonos-app I can configure which of my Sonos speakers the line-in will default to so even when my AirPort Express is connected to the Play:5 in the hallway it always defaults to playing through my Sonos system in our bedroom as that's what we prefer. I could also set it to automatically default to whichever and even default it to a group of speakers in multiple rooms.

And after playback has started you can always head into the app and just group it with whatever you want. And you don't need audio to be playing from the original speaker either, you can simply group it with others and the remove the original speaker and the content will keep playing in your selected locations. Its a great system.

The major downside with AirPlay1 using Apple TV or AirPort Express is how fiddly it is. You get two separate volume controls, on in iOS that controls the AirPlay volume and a separate which is the actual speaker volume itself that is controlled through the Sonos-app. And I don't really enjoy the Sonos-app all that much. I love what it offers, but I don't like the app. It drain battery life unlike anything else on my devices, I don't like its UX-design etc..

I'm currently testing AirPlay 2 on iOS 11.3 BETA1 and tvOS 11.3 BETA1 and it looks really promising. What you will miss out on if you don't have AirPlay 2 support on each speaker is the capability of ditching the Sonos-app altogether. With AirPlay 2 you handle grouping and everything directly in iOS and you can also handle it directly from your Apple TV or even within whatever app you are currently using that you want to start AirPlay from. This is so much better and more natural than jumping into the Sonos-app all the time. It looks better, its much less fiddly and you can play audio from EVERY app on iOS to whatever speaker you want without restrictions.

Its so much better being able to use the actual Apple Music app and simply do all the grouping and whatnot within that app instead of using the Apple Music integration within the Sonos-app as its much more limited and fiddly to use. If I want to play something using Overcast (my preferred podcasting app) no problem. Hit the AirPlay icon and select as many speakers as you like and you are golden. No more select AirPort Express, head into the Sonos-app to do the grouping and volume levels etc..

There is really no reason for me to fire up the Sonos-app besides doing firmware updates. But of course, there is no AirPlay 2 on the speakers themselves at this time so I can only use AirPlay 2 to my Living Room, Fitness Room and Bedroom as they have Apple TV's. So I can't fully utilise this until AirPlay 2 gets integrated into all the speakers themselves but I cannot wait for that to happen!
Thanks for the detailed walk through RamGuy. What about the music source under a hypothetical Airplay 2 Sonos system? If you go through your iPhone and select a song from the native music apple (Apple Music) and select a Sonos Airplay 2 enabled speaker, is the source of song on that Sonos speaker or on your phone?
If it's on the phone, then that's kinda defeats a lot of the good points about having a Sonos.
That's a really good question. AirPlay 2 is only in early BETA on iOS so it's quite qirky. When I AirPlay from Apple Music to my Apple TV I can start "now playing" on the Apple TV and get album art, I can even pause and play the song on the Apple TV itself and when I disconnect the iOS devices from the WiFi the song keeps playing. So its obviously doing some kind of caching. But if I get a notification sound or something on my iOS device while playing, something that interferes with the playback on the phone it will stop the AirPlay playback. It even manages to move to the next song in my playlist even after disconnecting my phone from the network so there has to be some direct connection going on.

But all this seems really disconnected at the moment, but again its early BETA. So who knows how its actually supposed to work? When disconnecting my phone from the network the playback will continue for about 2-3 min, at it will even go from one song to the next on the playlist but then it suddenly stops.

When using AirPlay 2 from Overcast (podcasting app) it will stop as soon as I disconnect from my network. So playback from non-Apple apps seems to function in a different way.

I have no clue on how the software stack is supposed to work and Apple hasn't really disclosed anything either.. And this is the very first BETA containing AirPlay 2 so its hard to make much sense out of it. And its hard to say if AirPlay 2 on a Apple TV will behave the same as AirPlay 2 on a Sonos-speaker? There might be several ways to implement the feature, ways with and without caching and direct streaming.

But you bring up a good point. If AirPlay 2 is supposed to behave just like AirPlay 1, aka in a point-to-point streaming solution it won't be able to actually replace Sonos as a huge benefit with Sonos is how the speaker itself handles the streaming so you can do whatever with your devices after you have queued and started the playback.
Airplay 2 supports the direct acquisition of streams by the target speaker, so if Sonos does a full implementation while you completely control from your phone, the actual streaming would be done by the Sonos unit selected.
That sounds great, and anything else would be awkward. But where did you get this information? I can't seem to find any information on, I can't find any on and when asking on the developer forums I can't get any response.

And using iOS 11.3 BETA1 and tvOS 11.3 BETA1 there for sure is no direct streaming, unless the direct stream itself cuts-off automatically when the iOS device that started the stream disconnects from the network but I see no reason why you would ever make it behave like that as it defaults the whole purpose?

But then again the current AirPlay 2 implementation is a early test version and its really buggy.
Airplay 2 supports the direct acquisition of streams by the target speaker, so if Sonos does a full implementation while you completely control from your phone, the actual streaming would be done by the Sonos unit selected. Exciting to hear this. Do you have a source for this info?
I can't seem to find any official sources myself.
Userlevel 7
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We don’t know exactly how the implementation will work. Will assume for now the Sonos One is only airplay capable speaker (we don’t know beyond that).

Then it will be two fold. Either the Sonos One will show as the only airplay speaker or Sonos One will act as airplay server and enable all other Sonos speakers to also show as airplay.

In case 1 you would have to play to the Sonos One (which in turn you could group with other speakers to play across house)

In case 2 (Similiar to an old Sonos air aetup) yoonwould be able to play direct from iOS device to any speaker.

We do not know which case it will be. If I were placing bets I would say probably case 1. But with Sonos One, play:5gen2 and playbar all being capable.
Userlevel 2
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Chris, do you mean Playbase? I have seen elsewhere that Playbase will likely be compatible, but I haven't seen anything about Playbar. I have a Playbar and am really hoping that it will get native Airplay support, either through firmware or adding a Sonos ONE to the system. Worst case of grouping might work as mentioned above, as my Playbar and paried speakers are my only Sonos products, but I'd rather not have a speaker grouped with that system while watching TV (or mess with muting/unmuting the speaker).
All of us who are not Sonos employees are making complete guesses as to what functionality is being implemented. We don't have any knowledge specific to this implementation, and are basing our assumptions around what has occurred in the past. But there's no Sonos information that is being given to us, and not to you.

We're all waiting anxiously for the reveal when it's ready, and all of these questions will have answers, hopefully.
Apologies if this has already been covered, and just wanted to understand if I wiuld be able to play audio for films etc via Apple TV either through the Apps like Netflix or iTunes films on a single or pair of Sonos One speakers only without the need of a Play Bar or speaker with an line in? Thanks
It's unknown at this point in time. We will need to have a release from Sonos as to what their implementation is, and how it works. As far as I am aware, Apple hasn't even finished the complete feature set yet, so it's premature for Sonos to be releasing any data at this point.