No AirPlay to a surround setup room with two Sonos Ones as the surrounds?


As the title says. I have a Sonos 5.1 Surround setup with a Playbar, a Sub, and 2x Sonos Ones. If I remove the two Sonos Ones from the surround setup, and set them up in a Stereo Pair, they appear as AirPlay targets. If I then re-add them back to a Playbar/Sub/2xSonos One Surrounds configuration, they disappear from AirPlay and the Sonos App says "You don't have any AirPlay-compatible speakers."

This surely can't be intended. I went out and purchased 2x Sonos Ones to use as surrounds and replaced my 2x Sonos Play:1s because Sonos stated that grouping AirPlay compatible speakers with non-AirPlay speakers would make the whole group AirPlay capable.

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44 replies

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Had the same problem, quickly resovled by purchasing a Apple TV for one room, and purchased a cable to run from a spare iPad to the tv in another room. So have airplay to all speakers and no longer need the Sonos app to play music which is great when there is no internet connection and I can rely on the downloaded music from Apple Music subscription.
For the price point, Sonos should be putting better hardware into older models and/or coming out with gen 2 of everything. The beam sound quality is inferior to the playbar and yet playbar is “too old” for airplay 2...


Heck... the $199 Sonos One and $399 Beam both have better hardware than the $699 playbar!?!


That all said, I’m an avid fan of Sonos and have it in every room at home, just wish it was even better.
Get an Apple TV and connect via optical to a playbar. Then you have Airplay 2 plus a boatload of other stuff.
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seems such a shame and such a waste of technology not allowing it to easily switch from being a rear speaker to a proper left or right channel speaker
Simply put - it's technically not feasible at this stage.


not sure if you work for Sonos or just know a lot about their products.

Surely it would be feasible to save 2 profile settings though so you can easily switch. Obviously you'd still need to do the lengthy pairing and true sound set up etc initially, but there is surely no reason why those settings cannot then be saved and remembered somewhere either in the devices or in the phone app and then you can easily switch between set ups.
seems such a shame and such a waste of technology not allowing it to easily switch from being a rear speaker to a proper left or right channel speaker
Simply put - it's technically not feasible at this stage.
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seems such a shame and such a waste of technology not allowing it to easily switch from being a rear speaker to a proper left or right channel speaker
Rival products work the same way.
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As I said before, you can add 2x Play:1s as surrounds instead of having 4x ONEs next to each other.

Yes but I'd still have to have 2x Play1 for surround and then 2xONE for stereo music, and for how I want them placed in my room the left ONE will end up being next to the rear right Play1. And will I need 2 SUBs as well? one to pair to the BEAM for tv use and one to pair to the ONEs for music use.

No way am I going to spend out on double the equipment for this set up, so I may as well look at how rival products work.
As I said before, you can add 2x Play:1s as surrounds instead of having 4x ONEs next to each other.
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Well thats annoying, and honestly pretty much puts me off buying the Sonos system at all. having the ONE purely as a surround speaker is such a waste of technology! And I dont want 4x ONE with 2 sitting next to each other just so I can listen to music in stereo and have a cinema set up.

Very poor system planning from Sonos
Several minutes. You'll have to separate the stereo pair in order to bond the ONEs as surround speakers; and vice versa. In addition to that you'd be prompted to re-tune Trueplay each and every time. Believe me, you will grow sick and tired of the procedure(s) very quickly.

https://support.sonos.com/s/article/2927#remove_surrounds
https://support.sonos.com/s/article/1066?language=en_US
https://support.sonos.com/s/article/3251?language=en_US
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Hi, Im new. Not yet bought any Sonos but disappointed to read this thread as this was the functionality I was hoping for.

Planning to buy a BEAM and 2x ONE speakers so I could have them set as a cinema set up for TV use but also use the ONE's in stereo for music use from my iPhone.

I now understand this is actually not possible?

So I'd need to buy 4x ONEs!? 2 connected to the Beam and 2 just set up as a stereo pair?

Either way, the system doesn't have the ability to switch automatically between configurations (surround vs. stereo pair); you would need to do it manually. You can buy 2x Play:1s and set them up as rear speakers.


thanks for the reply.

So how much messing around and how long does it take to change the set up from the ONE's as stereo pair to adding them to the BEAM as surround speakers?
Hi, Im new. Not yet bought any Sonos but disappointed to read this thread as this was the functionality I was hoping for.

Planning to buy a BEAM and 2x ONE speakers so I could have them set as a cinema set up for TV use but also use the ONE's in stereo for music use from my iPhone.

I now understand this is actually not possible?

So I'd need to buy 4x ONEs!? 2 connected to the Beam and 2 just set up as a stereo pair?

Either way, the system doesn't have the ability to switch automatically between configurations (surround vs. stereo pair); you would have to do it manually. You can buy 2x Play:1s and set them up as rear speakers.
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Hi, Im new. Not yet bought any Sonos but disappointed to read this thread as this was the functionality I was hoping for.

Planning to buy a BEAM and 2x ONE speakers so I could have them set as a cinema set up for TV use but also use the ONE's in stereo for music use from my iPhone.

I now understand this is actually not possible?

So I'd need to buy 4x ONEs!? 2 connected to the Beam and 2 just set up as a stereo pair?
Pairing and grouping is a software thing. If unpaired but grouped with Playbar it works perfectly fine. Why it is a bandwith issue?
It's all in how the audio profile and network connection are set up. When bonded as surrounds, the speakers connect to the Playbar's 5GHz broadcast and are sent audio from that device instead of directly connected to over the network. When configured as their own room, and grouped with the Playbar, they are on the 2.4GHz wireless network that's being used and are sent their own audio streams.


It just not explains why it is so hard to temporary give up the bonding with the 5.1 and bond again when airplay stops. It is one swipe with my fingers in the sonos app to unbond the surrounds. If they would memorise the configuration of the 5.1 bonding, they could turn back in to 5.1 mode as soon airplay stopped.

But I think we turning circles here. When at least the Airplay information site in the Sonos app get improved it was not worthless to discuss this issue.

At least you communicate with the customers and try to help not like other companys, highly apprechiated!
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Thanks Ryan - did not realize this was still possible
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Pairing and grouping is a software thing. If unpaired but grouped with Playbar it works perfectly fine. Why it is a bandwith issue?
It's all in how the audio profile and network connection are set up. When bonded as surrounds, the speakers connect to the Playbar's 5GHz broadcast and are sent audio from that device instead of directly connected to over the network. When configured as their own room, and grouped with the Playbar, they are on the 2.4GHz wireless network that's being used and are sent their own audio streams.

Can anybody name any reason why to use Sonos Ones in a 5.1 set-up instead of Play1s? If all smart features are disabled when set as surrounds why spent the extra 100 for a pair of Ones? I’m thinking many people getting a 5.1with Ones expect something extra.
Alexa is still enabled on the Sonos Ones when they're configured as surrounds, it's just AirPlay that's disabled. The core difference as to why it works this way is that the audio streams sent from Alexa go through the cloud, and are targeted at the Playbar (because it's the room coordinator), instead of needing the same backhauling and double bandwidth that would happen with AirPlay, which would need to be sent directly to the Sonos One, then to the Playbar, and then back.
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Can anybody name any reason why to use Sonos Ones in a 5.1 set-up instead of Play1s? If all smart features are disabled when set as surrounds why spent the extra 100 for a pair of Ones? I’m thinking many people getting a 5.1with Ones expect something extra.
Pairing and grouping is a software thing. If unpaired but grouped with Playbar it works perfectly fine. Why it is a bandwith issue?
I dont asking for making airplay on playbar available, I`m asking to stream back to the system as a Sonos one would in a standalone config. This would need some flexability in the pairing process.
I could imagine that it takes some efforts to program that, what means it is expensive.


Ryan S already answered this above. Even if it were theoretically possible, the bandwidth needed would not allow for reliability. Airplay is already a bandwidth hog.
I dont asking for making airplay on playbar available, I`m asking to stream back to the system as a Sonos one would in a standalone config(...and improving the missleading Airplay Information in the Sonos App). This would need some flexability in the pairing process.
I could imagine that it takes some efforts to program that, what means it is expensive.
Hi Ryan


(Yes still dont get it why it is a hardware issue)


This begs the question: If not a hardware issue, what is it? The only other explanation is Sonos is holding back the capability in order to sell new hardware. Except that theory completely falls apart when you realize Airplay 2 is backward compatible to the Playbase and the Play:5 gen 2. Why enable them for Airplay 2 if your goal is to sell new hardware? Why screw Playbar users, or Play:1 users, and not Playbase/Play:5 users?

Also, Sonos has never withheld new functionality from older units before, including cutting edge stuff like Alexa. If it were possible to enable older units for Airplay 2, why wouldn't they, when they enabled everything for Alexa?
Hi Ryan

Was a "typo" with Play:1.

It should be possible to bypass the surround pairing and making the Sonos one acting like it would be as an standalone setup, as soon I feed a airplay signal into Sonos one,
5.1 isnt needed anymore, and the system should go in "music-" or "airplaymode".
As soon airplay has stopped or the TV is coming up the pairing get back and I`m in 5.1 mode again.
The speaker`s can communicate with each other and are smart? Or not? ;)

But yeah, I was not aware of this issue and I was not aware that the Sonos Playbar is already 8 Years old.
Nevertheless, you still sell the Product for a premium price, I would expect support and improvements of the Software.
(Yes still dont get it why it is a hardware issue)
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You wrote: "you start playing AirPlay to a compatible Sonos player (Play:5 gen2, Playbase, Sonos One, Sonos Beam, or Sonos Amp (coming soon)) and after that stream is going"

So why can a play one not bypass the connection to the 5.1 pairing and stream direct back to the system as it would do in Standalone configuration? This is a software limitation in my eyes. I just dont understand why?


To be clear, the Play:1 isn't AirPlay 2 compatible, it's the Sonos One which is voice control enabled and has the specs needed for AirPlay 2 compatibility. The short answer is because AirPlay 2 is a local stream that needs to be sent to a specific player. The way surrounds are configured, audio streams are sent to the main home theater and then converted and distributed to the others from there. Exploring the theoretic possibility of this, the audio from AirPlay 2 would need to go from the iOS device into the network and eventually to the Sonos One (currently, passing through the Playbar as surrounds get network connectivity from the HT coordinator), get converted, then be sent back to the Playbar for distribution across the rest of the system, including going back to the Sonos One that got the signal in the first place. This would take at least double the bandwidth and at least twice the time. With an increased amount of potential failures at every step, it's not a recipe for a good playback experience.

I'll make sure to add your name to the list requesting this as an option, the team is always looking to hear what people want to see.

So why can a play one not bypass the connection to the 5.1 pairing and stream direct back to the system as it would do in Standalone configuration? This is a software limitation in my eyes. I just dont understand why?

It was already hard to understand that the playbar itself isnt equipped with airplay (and any other bluetooth) functionality. Its espacially hard to understand cause you already limitate the input options for your system way too much.


To the first question, the 'flow' of data in a 5.1 setup is that a stream comes in to the playbar, and the playbar then streams to the speakers it's bonded with. That's the way it was designed years ago. So in order for airplay to work for the scenario you subscribe, the Sonos One would need to receive the airplay stream (which it's not designed to do in a 5.1 setup), send it to the playbar (which is not designed to receive a stream from one of it's 'satellites'), then send back out to the other speakers, one of which is the Sonos One that is already working to receive the airplay stream. That Sonos One now has to deal with 2 streams simultaneously, which it was not designed to do. I have no doubt that Sonos developers tried to get airplay to work for this scenarios, but that's a lot of things to do that it was not designed to do.

The playbar was created, what, 8 years ago? Long before airplay and it's tech requirements were defined. There are actually relatively few speakers that have the tech specs to meet airplay requirements.