Play bar over powers Play One's

  • 27 January 2017
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I have the Play bar, Sub and 2 Play One's. when all are hooked up (for TV) the Play one's don't put out much volume and the Playbar is very loud. I have gone through the set up was not sure where each speaker can be adjusted or IF the sound bar should be that overwhelming

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23 replies

While I don't have this kind of set up, I know enough of this to know that if the 1 units are set as surround speakers they will not be very loud by design, except when effects are supposed to come from the rear. Most times, their presence is subtle so as to not distract from the sounds that are supposed to emanate from where the action is happening on the screen in front.

One way to check this is by playing effects heavy movies - the disaster, war or epic sci fi kind, and see how they respond during intense action scenes, when their presence should be felt more than usual.
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Hey Gator. I have a 5.1 bonded set with 1s as surrounds like you, Yes, the 1s are not very heavy for movies, but that is mostly how a 5.1 set-up is designed... the audio through the surround channels is generally ambiance type audio and not primary audio of speaking, etc... if you are certain you are actually producing 5.1 audio, I totally agree with Kumar.. there are a lot of Sci-fi type movies that will make stronger use of the surrounds that may help you see how the create the atmosphere they are designed for... It should still feel, in general, like characters' speaking voices are coming from in front of you and not like you are "in the middle of them talking" ... if you know what I mean.
Thank you Kumar and Sharkb8t.... I have set them up today for the first time all together. Went through the set up and it said it was all set up for 5.1. Will have to try with a movie and see how it sounds. Thanks again
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While I don't have this kind of set up, I know enough of this to know that if the 1 units are set as surround speakers they will not be very loud by design, except when effects are supposed to come from the rear. Most times, their presence is subtle so as to not distract from the sounds that are supposed to emanate from where the action is happening on the screen in front.

One way to check this is by playing effects heavy movies - the disaster, war or epic sci fi kind, and see how they respond during intense action scenes, when their presence should be felt more than usual.


May I answer with a question? If the Blaybar is intended (with or without a Sub) to be a nice upgrade from a typical TV owner's sonic experience, would a Playbar, Sub, and two "surround" Play 1s be "almost" as good a surround system as would be the case with two front side channel Play 1s, included? Uuntil I read the OP's question, I didn't know that his setup was even possible).

How about for listening to music? As a Mahler junkie, I long for the day when I'll be able to listen to Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony recreate the spectacular Davies Symphony Hall spectacular experiences of the "Resurrection" (2nd) and "Symphony of a Thousand" (8th) sonic extravaganzas in Dolby Surround right next to my kitchen!

One review I read this morning (my wife wonders if I'll ever stand up from my laptop, while yesterday I didn't even know what Sonos WAS) implies that the Sonos PlayBar, Sub, and four Play1 for fronts and surrounds aren't as appropriate for the classical music enthusiast as they are for someone watching The Martian in 4K).

Here's a quote from that review:

If high-performance audio is your primary concern and you don’t want to be locked into the Sonos ecosystem, we still think our previous top pick, the Paradigm Soundscape, is the all-around best soundbar you can buy today. It offers the best combination of sound quality, features, and usability of any soundbar that we can find, and when we pitted it directly against other top models in our hands-on testing, it handily beat them all. If you want high-quality audio without the hassles of multiple boxes and wires, the Paradigm Soundscape is tough to beat. Really, the only drawback is its price, which is outside the budget range of most of our readers.

http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-soundbar/

I've been here only a few hours and I'm trying to come up to minimal comprehension of what Sonos does, what it does well, and what its limits are before depositing a large amount of money in someone's else's pockets while making one of my adult children happy with some quite nice electronic hand-me-downs.

Thanks so much!
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Hi jsrnephdoc,

Unless I've missed a major update, 😉 no you cannot use additional 1s as front left and right channels. The 1s in the OP are being used as surrounds and should be placed at the side of the viewer. Many people find that surround setups for movies tend to have less 'surround' audio / volume than they expect.


The PlayBar, or PlayBase, will take the front left, front Center, and front right audio channels, the sub will take the .1 bass audio channel, and the 2 1s would take the additional 2 side, 'surround' channels from a 5.1 set-up.

The benefit of is for me is that I have an awesome and simple wireless 5.1 for tv audio that provides excellent and integrated music audio with he rest of my home.

Hope this helps.
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Hi jsrnephdoc,

Unless I've missed a major update, 😉 no you cannot use additional 1s as front left and right channels. The 1s in the OP are being used as surrounds and should be placed at the side of the viewer. Many people find that surround setups for movies tend to have less 'surround' audio / volume than they expect.


The PlayBar, or PlayBase, will take the front left, front Center, and front right audio channels, the sub will take the .1 bass audio channel, and the 2 1s would take the additional 2 side, 'surround' channels from a 5.1 set-up.

The benefit of is for me is that I have an awesome and simple wireless 5.1 for tv audio that provides excellent and integrated music audio with he rest of my home.

Hope this helps.


I should have begun by stating that I'm coming from Bose, and eyesight trumps understanding inside my cranium. I have 3 identical "front" Bose "jewel cube" speakers, joined by two (also identical) "jewels" that serve as surrounds and an Acoustimass module.. My feeble understanding was that in the older Bose home theater systems, the center channel "stole" some of the "speech-laden" sound frequencies from the stereo R & L channels to present speech to the listener as though it was coming primarily from in front of him or her. My question was actually whether the physically more imposing visible appearance of the sound bar (generic term here) implied that it could actually assume the roles of the R & L channels and whether the R & L "front" satellites might now be superfluous. Of course the fact that Bose sells a sound bar and 4 satellites in its own surround theater systems implies that's not the case, but I just had not considered it (and the OP seems to have his setup configured like that: he has a PlayBar and two surround Play 1s, unless I read his post incorrectly.

Thanks again!
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Hi jsrnephdoc,

The benefit of is for me is that I have an awesome and simple wireless 5.1 for tv audio that provides excellent and integrated music audio with he rest of my home.

Hope this helps.


Paying a bit more attention to what I'm reading, I'm inferring that a PlayBar, Sub, and two surrounds is a fairly common Sonos setup. When I made my first pilgrimage to Magnolia yesterday I got the impression that the front side speakers were an essential part of the setup. Is that not the case? Would they be totally superfluous? Would they add anything to the movie OR the classical music aural experience?
They'd add nothing to the movie experience. However, if you're listening to music (not on the TV), they'd be spectacular.

The Playbar/Playbase is the center and left/right speakers. It does a pretty good imaging job. And it does well in listening to 5.1 music (from DVD/Bluray, etc). That being said, if I'm listening to stereo music (such as Mahler!), I want something with a tad more separation. So the extra right and left speakers in the setup you describe would be part of another "room" and be used for listening to radio, or other music sources (ripped CDs, etc).

That all being said, I think the guys at Magnolia are doing their best to sell you as much as they possibly can. Were I you, I'd start with the simple 5.1 setup, i.e. a Playbar/Playbase, a SUB, and a pair of Play:1s for surround. See if you like them. If you then feel like you need more, you can go back and get it. I've got a pair of Play:3s set up in my bedroom for critical listening, and a pair of Play:1s set up in my breakfast area/kitchen for when I'm cooking or eating. Both sound excellent. If I were to set up a stereo pair in my living room, I'd probably go with a pair of Play:5s. But in all honesty, I've found that a pair of Play:1s is plenty for my ears. I'm not quite 70 yet, but not too far away. And for the music that I listen to, ranging from classical, to jazz, to prog rock, to celtic, a pair of Play:1s with a sub might be just perfect. I'm constantly surprised at how much sound, including bass, can come out of those relatively small speakers.
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The Soundbar does have 9 independent speakers. Essentially 3 left, 3 Center, and 3 right. The width f the device, and speaker placement/direction, does enable some separation that delivers broad audio perspective from the front.... depending on the size of the space it may fully meet the need. Much larger spaces may benefit from a system that could allow further front speaker separation and e soundbar would t be a suitable product to use (IMO) The side 'surrounds' are generally taking a channel of audio that is already crafted and defined by the recorder of the audio to augment the audio experience. Alternatively, Sonos does have methodology to segment some audio from a traditional stereo audio mix to simulate the surround experience but how it does that is beyond me. (Although I like the results era)
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They'd add nothing to the movie experience. However, if you're listening to music (not on the TV), they'd be spectacular.

The Playbar/Playbase is the center and left/right speakers. It does a pretty good imaging job. And it does well in listening to 5.1 music (from DVD/Bluray, etc). That being said, if I'm listening to stereo music (such as Mahler!), I want something with a tad more separation. So the extra right and left speakers in the setup you describe would be part of another "room" and be used for listening to radio, or other music sources (ripped CDs, etc).

That all being said, I think the guys at Magnolia are doing their best to sell you as much as they possibly can.
..;.

But in all honesty, I've found that a pair of Play:1s is plenty for my ears. I'm not quite 70 yet, but not too far away. And for the music that I listen to, ranging from classical, to jazz, to prog rock, to celtic, a pair of Play:1s with a sub might be just perfect. I'm constantly surprised at how much sound, including bass, can come out of those relatively small speakers.


My God! I need another input! a 78 turntable so I can listen to Harry Lauder "roamin' in the gloamin" (assuming I can find my dad's record collection)!
Heh. That's pretty schmaltzy stuff for me. I tend to stick to bagpipe music of various types (Uilleann, Great Highland, Small, or Northumbrian), although there's a lot of other Celtic stuff in there, too.
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I pretended I could play the pipes in college (we had a band with a superb Pipe Major, official permission to wear a famiy tartan (must admit I cannot remember which one), and I had a dress tartan kilt of my own Clan Donnachae. If I plugged the drones with corks I could keep the bag inflated well enough to do very bad imitations of The Rowan Tree, The Skye Boat Song, and of course Scotland the Brave and Amazing Grace while we marched in collegiate academic processions. My parents both had a piper at their funerals. It's been 22 years since my dad died, and just this year I finally bought a new ancient hunting tartan kilt to wear with his Argylle and Prince Charlie jackets that had been sleeping in my closet since he passed. It's been fun to take more time to get dressed than it takes my wife!
Sonos does music as well as any HiFi system out there, via two front speakers, and if the speakers are small in size, with a Sub to take care of the low frequencies. There are no compromises.

But for TV, Sonos is a compromise solution compared to Home Theater systems with even just 5 speakers and a Sub. Instead of two front speakers for sound effects originating from outside of the screen and panning left to right or in the other direction, and a third centre speaker dedicated to dialogue available in the 5 speaker set up, this functionality is all done in Sonos via the play bar or the new play base. The advantage of the compromise is less wiring and clutter. The disadvantage is the absence of enough width to the sound effects compared to the two front speakers of the 5 speaker HT, and also a limitation of the extent to which the center speaker of the play bar can be tweaked so as to let dialogues be heard clearly without having overpowering sound effects that then go too loud - this is easily done in a dedicated to dialogue centre channel speaker that a 5 speaker HT has. There is also another disadvantage of this compromise - listening to stereo music through a HT receiver set to stereo mode, with just the front two speakers playing is just as good for music sound quality as from a good HiFi system, if the two front speakers of of adequate capability. But using the Sonos HT, the missing two front speakers that instead are bundled into the bar means that music listening also is a compromise compared to that from a two front speaker based HT/HiFi system.
Were I you, I'd start with the simple 5.1 setup, i.e. a Playbar/Playbase, a SUB, and a pair of Play:1s for surround. See if you like them. If you then feel like you need more, you can go back and get it.
I don't understand this, Bruce: How can you add something to the above referred set up to get more/better sound for TV from it? One can't buy another 1/5 pair and add it to the front, flanking the TV to add more width to the sound stage for TV. The only thing one can do with an addition like this is to use just the addition for stereo music, while using the standard 5.1 set up for TV.
And would not playing it as one group have the sync issues caused by the different ghz where the TV is the sound source?

How about for listening to music? As a Mahler junkie, I long for the day when I'll be able to listen to Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony recreate the spectacular Davies Symphony Hall spectacular experiences of the "Resurrection" (2nd) and "Symphony of a Thousand" (8th) sonic extravaganzas in Dolby Surround right next to my kitchen!


If high-performance audio is your primary concern and you don’t want to be locked into the Sonos ecosystem, we still think our previous top pick, the Paradigm Soundscape, is the all-around best soundbar you can buy today.

I really cannot see how any sound bar can do justice to music of the kind you refer to. And anything that is "all-around", be it from Sonos or anyone else, has to be a compromise. Which doesn't mean it is bad, but just that; a compromise.

If high performance audio is to be heard to the extent it can be heard in the home, you need a quality 2 speaker stereo set up. Supplemented by a Subwoofer, if the speakers cannot go down deep enough owing to design constraints - the Sonos 1 units are a good example of such. But what they do well, they do very well.

For audio, and just audio, I would suggest a Sonos 5 pair. Set as far apart from each other as you are from them such that ideally, you and each speaker are points of an equilateral triangle, with the 5 units at the level of your ears in the listening position and pointing slightly inwards, run Trueplay to optimise the sound for the room acoustics. The outcome will be spectacular if your recording does justice to the performance, and if your room is not overly large. Some would add a Sub to take this to its peak performance, but I would not suggest that as a first step.

And with music/audio, life is simple. None of the agonies of formats and alphabet soups that TV involves. Having a dedicated to movies TV room at home, I still use just a old but powerful stereo amp with 2 front speakers that do decent bass as well, for all my audio needs for movies seen on a 55 inch plasma screen. This for me works as well for Apollo 13 as it does for Casablanca - or for the opening parts of the Dark Knight extravaganzas. I don't know or care what format is being used for the audio because it is irrelevant to me; 2 channel, without even a Sub, shakes the room. The two speakers also deliver a phantom centre channel that has dialogues to sound like they emanate from the screen.
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For audio, and just audio, I would suggest a Sonos 5 pair. Set as far apart from each other as you are from them such that ideally, you and each speaker are points of an equilateral triangle, with the 5 units at the level of your ears in the listening position and pointing slightly inwards, run Trueplay to optimise the sound for the room acoustics. The outcome will be spectacular if your recording does justice to the performance, and if your room is not overly large. Some would add a Sub to take this to its peak performance, but I would not suggest that as a first step.

And with music/audio, life is simple. None of the agonies of formats and alphabet soups that TV involves. Having a dedicated to movies TV room at home, I still use just a old but powerful stereo amp with 2 front speakers that do decent bass as well, for all my audio needs for movies seen on a 55 inch plasma screen. This for me works as well for Apollo 13 as it does for Casablanca - or for the opening parts of the Dark Knight extravaganzas. I don't know or care what format is being used for the audio because it is irrelevant to me; 2 channel, without even a Sub, shakes the room. The two speakers also deliver a phantom centre channel that has dialogues to sound like they emanate from the screen.


So there's no programmatic setup for the Sonos powered speakers that delivers surround sound through the PlayBar and Sub, supplemented by 2 front satellites as well as the 2 rear surrounds? Am I reading your post correctly if I infer that I could have two widely spaced Play 1 (or 3 or 5) units in addition to the standard surround setup, and configure it so that if I'm listening to a Symphony, the sound gets routed to the two widely spaced fronts and the Sub, whereas if I'm adutioning a surround sound encoded movie I could route sound to the PlayBar, Sub, and surrounds white sending NOTHING to the front laterally spaced Play1 (or 3 or 5) units?

(obviously barely scratching the surface of what there is to know about how one configures a Sonos system)
No; it can only work in incremental step of play bar/base, Sub, one Play 1/3/5 pair. And the last can work in surround mode or full mode which is supposed to deliver full content through the speakers for music. But only one such speaker pair, that can be placed where you want to obviously, Sonos doesn't know or care.
In the same space you can add another pair of speakers, and place them flanking the TV and facing you, and that can be selected to play just music. Or it can be grouped with the Sonos HT speakers to play music through all speakers for a surrounded by music effect that some like.

But you cannot use it for TV sound in the same way for two reasons - one, there isn't a way the decoder that sits in the play bar can send just the left and right signals to the respective speakers. And two, although you could group it with the Sonos HT, there may be a small delay in the sound from the two speakers in front that have been added.

And, the last sentence in your edited post above - the answer to the question there is - Yes. Except(!) - the Sub will stay with the speaker set it is bonded to. Unless rebonded as the speaker selection changes, a pesky task to repeat often. But if you chose a 5 pair that does decent bass on its own for the front pair, you could do without it for music, and leave it bonded to the Sonos HT set up - the bar and the rear surrounds, where it will deliver more value.
Further on the subject:
If you can get sorted all the other issues that you have raised on the other thread - that I don't dare to venture into because I have stayed away from the TV thing as I have already written here - I suggest a start for music AND TV with just the play bar or base, the Sub and play 1 pair for rear surround duty. It should do very well for TV if you can get it to work with your preferences for formats, sources and remotes. And you may well find that it suffices for Mahler as well, even in compromised form. In that case, you don't need the front speaker pair at all, and keep clutter down to a minimum. Indeed, I would even start with just the bar/base and Sub; I am not sure that the rear surrounds are essential for TV, but that's just me. Or you may find that adding a 5 pair in front for just music is more relevant to your needs than is the 1 pair for rear surround duty for TV.

The point I am making is that adding incrementally is a good way to go about things.
Were I you, I'd start with the simple 5.1 setup, i.e. a Playbar/Playbase, a SUB, and a pair of Play:1s for surround. See if you like them. If you then feel like you need more, you can go back and get it.
I don't understand this, Bruce: How can you add something to the above referred set up to get more/better sound for TV from it? One can't buy another 1/5 pair and add it to the front, flanking the TV to add more width to the sound stage for TV. The only thing one can do with an addition like this is to use just the addition for stereo music, while using the standard 5.1 set up for TV.
And would not playing it as one group have the sync issues caused by the different ghz where the TV is the sound source?


Sorry, Kumar. I wasn't as clear as I should have been. The extra speakers i was referencing would only be for music, not for additional TV sound. All of the points you make are correct, to my knowledge. I was trying to, apparently unsuccessfully, to separate the 5.1 system from a stereo pair for music use.

Based on your subsequent posts, it does appear that we agree, you just have written it in a more concise manner than I.
A recent user comment on the newly released play base quoted below suggests that it may be a better way to start a Sonos HT set up instead of the play bar:
"Look, when MY WIFE says she's impressed, that means something, since most of the time she simply tolerates my fascination with technology without comment (even when prompted for an opinion, I get, "Are you happy? If you're happy, then I'm happy."). But in this case, she stopped dead in her tracks when she walked in the room and said, "Wow! That's really good!"
Sounds like a marketing quote to me!
If so, one of the better ones.