True 5.1 sound with PLAYBAR, SUB and 4 PLAY:1 or PLAY:3 speakers?

  • 24 September 2014
  • 11 replies
  • 2816 views

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I would really like an option to get true 5.1 surround sound using 4x PLAY speakers, the PLAYBAR and the SUB.

I have a decent sized lounge room and I've had a listen to the PLAYBAR + 2x PLAY:1 speakers + SUB at a mate's house and I'm disappointed at the soundstage across the front. 
Whilst you get an idea of stereo sound from the PLAYBAR (and the PLAY:1s at the rear do a great job) you can still hear that all the sound from the front three speakers is really coming from one spot in the middle.

I currently have a very decent 5.1 system with 2x floor standing speakers for Front L & R, a matching speaker for the Centre and 2x smaller floor standing speakers for Rear L & R as well as a sub. These speakers, particularly across the front, deliver really good stereo imaging and a very wide soundstage. I want to reduce the clutter and cables though and the idea of replacing this with some Sonos kit is very appealing.

I'd love to be able to hook up 2x PLAY:3 speakers + the PLAYBAR at the front, conned the sub and then add 2x PLAY:1 at the rear.

In such a setup, I'd envisage that the PLAYBAR would still handle Front L, C & R, the PLAY:3s at the front would each be Front L or R and then the PLAY:1s at the rear would be rear speakers as they can be now. So, the main addition is that the L & R sound plays through the PLAYBAR as well as the respective front speaker for a wider soundstage across the front. Oh, and the SUB would handle the .1 as per usual.

And, while I'm at it, I'd then like to be able to play stereo music across all 5 speakers for general listening.

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11 replies

Userlevel 7
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Good idea - I heard a Bose soundbar are at a local store and the front soundstage was far wider than on the sonos
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Some playbars with more speakers and (I assume) more DSP power can do a pretty convincing soundstage by bouncing sound off the walls (assuming the room is set up correctly, as the room with the BOSE would have been).To tell the truth, I was almost ready to go out and purchase $2600 worth of SONOS kit without having listened to it first as the other SONOS gear I have sounds so good, but I'm glad I went and listened to it first in a similar size room to mine as it was surprisingly lacking.
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I'll second this.. Please give us a software update that will turn the playbar into a center speaker and let us add 2 more Play:1's or 3's for a wider stereo image at the front
Userlevel 5
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You can add additional players but they will not become part of the 5.1 setup and server as L/R speakers in stereo - similar to a dual zone setup on an AVR where zone 1 provides full surround and zone 2 feeds only stereo. 

The pair would be configured as 2 individual rooms (e.g. Lounge Left, and Lounge Right) and grouped as Lounge. Lounge can be grouped with the room holding the 5.1 setup with Playbar, Sub and Play1's as rears.

Two things to keep in mind here:

The additional speakers in Lounge will only receive stereo signal (L/R) and don't respond to any center / rear encoding from a DD 5.1.

You could experience lipsync issues. From my experience this only occurs when watching DVD's converted to ISO format where video and audio were not rendered correctly and sometimes with streaming content. 

Original material like on BluRay or from the TV where the playbar is connected to does not present such issues.Streaming content from Youtube, Netflix also don't show any issues in my setup when watched on the SmartTV.

However, as this is not a supported configuration, be aware that Sonos may not provide any firmware updates or other corrective measures (outside of the lip sync slider on the playbar settings) if said config would be out of sync

Hope this helps
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Thanx Bernhard for your reply. I did read about this workaround and i wil set it up tomorrow using my pair of 1's from the bedroom. Just to give it a try. I guess watching TV the added 1's will give me also everything coming from my TV. This means speech and other sounds. That's why i'm still hoping Sonos will make things possible without this workaround so especially voices only come from the center (Playbar) and not the added Play:1's
Userlevel 5
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Thanx Bernhard for your reply. I did read about this workaround and i wil set it up tomorrow using my pair of 1's from the bedroom. Just to give it a try. I guess watching TV the added 1's will give me also everything coming from my TV. This means speech and other sounds. That's why i'm still hoping Sonos will make things possible without this workaround so especially voices only come from the center (Playbar) and not the added Play:1's
Expanding the sound stage in regards of L/R range on the Playbar is likely possible with a firmware upgrade. Maybe Sonos will consider this as an Idea to have a slider function that allows virtual "expansion" - only concern i can think of is the additional processing time and latency impact to the overall room synchronization.
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Thanx Bernhard for your reply. I did read about this workaround and i wil set it up tomorrow using my pair of 1's from the bedroom. Just to give it a try. I guess watching TV the added 1's will give me also everything coming from my TV. This means speech and other sounds. That's why i'm still hoping Sonos will make things possible without this workaround so especially voices only come from the center (Playbar) and not the added Play:1's
I've listened to a few soundbars - whilst the Sonos one is up there with the best of them, there's no substitute for three speakers across the front of the room. My hifi system has wonderful imaging - you can sit there and listen to the sound coming from across the front of the room. If you close your eyes, you're unable to pinpoint where the three speakers are, it's just continuous sound. This is across a distance of 6 metres.For smaller rooms, where the soundbar can bounce sound off the side walls, it will sound better, but for larger rooms it just sounds like it's missing something.
So if you added the two other speakers then wouldn't that That be a 7.1 surround sound system?
Userlevel 7
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So if you added the two other speakers then wouldn't that That be a 7.1 surround sound system?

That's correct. The Playbar/Playbase can have the Sub and 2 surrounds added to create a Dolby Digital 5.1 set-up.

You cannot add any further speakers to that set-up. You can set up two other (same) speakers as a stereo pair and then GROUP them with the DD5.1 room. But that would be absolutely horrible with a 70 ms delay in audio behind the other speakers in the DD5.1 set-up
That makes sense If the delay is that great then why would a person put more then the speakers needed to make a 5.1 true surround set up in the first place?
For the desire to have a 7.1 system, and not understanding that Sonos doesn't support it at this point in time.

There are also those who have members of their household that are hard of hearing, and want to place at least one other speaker closer to where that person sits, so that the volume of the entire system doesn't have to be louder.

Again, not what Sonos is designed for or good at, but some people have needs outside of those we have.