Question

Built in speakers and and a Sonos soundbar - what to do?

  • 6 September 2017
  • 11 replies
  • 1677 views

Hi there!

We just bought a new home and we're having a wall mounted TV installed tomorrow. I had an AV guy come in and he suggested we go all Sonos. Much of the house has built-in speakers which is great and he suggested we use Sonos Connect Amps to take advantage of them. My question is about our living room config.

We have two built in speakers that will surround the TV (based on where it will be mounted) One on the left, one on the right. They're installed high in the wall and probably around 15' apart. The TV will be mounted in between them.

I was thinking to use a Sonos Soundbar and Subwoofer for the TV. What about the two in-wall speakers though? Should I get a Sonos Connect Amp for those? Would they work in conjunction with the soundbar and subwoofer for TV/Movies or would they be used only to play music? If playing music then would all the speakers in that room be involved like the soundbar, 2 in-wall speakers and the sub? Same question for when watching TV/Movies...

Looking for some solutions and advice as to what to do here as I'd like to buy all the equipment and get started! Thanks in advance for the help and advice.

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11 replies

You could certainly get a CONNECT: AMP for the two front mounted speakers, but they wouldn't be used for the TV, you would use them for music only. Sonos' interpretation of Dolby Digital doesn't provide an external front right and front left signal, but keeps that all within the PLAYBAR.

That being said, you would set the CONNECT: AMP up as a separate room from the PLAYBAR and associated devices, and then you could indeed group them together for music purposes.

Note that the SUB is only bonded with one set of speakers at a time. You can have it bonded to the PLAYBAR, or you can have it bonded to the CONNECT:AMP, but it's tedious to switch it back and forth. In the case of playing music, if you group the two "rooms" together, you'll have it playing anyway, so I'd keep it bonded to the PLAYBAR so it works with movies/TV.
Thanks @Airgetlam. Coincidentally I ordered the 3 things you spoke of today - PLAYBAR, SUB, and the CONNECT:AMP. I figured I would need a few CONNECT:AMPs anyways since I have multiple rooms with in-wall speakers.

So what I'm hearing is this... We'll use the room paradigm for this example.

Room 1: PLAYBAR and SUB
Room 2: CONNECT:AMP (2 in wall speakers)

Room 1 is for movies. Room 2 is for music. They are technically the same room as you know. Now are you saying I should group room 1 and 2? I could then play music through the group and it would play out of the in-wall speakers, the SUB and the PLAYBAR? Am I getting that right?

Thanks for your help!
Yes, you can group rooms 1 and 2, especially for music, and get the music out of all the speakers. I probably wouldn't do so for TV/movies, because the stereo coming from the in wall speakers would probably mess with the PLAYBAR' surround capabilities (not electronically, but in terms of what you hear). But there is no reason not to try it, and see what you think. My preferences do not have to be yours :)

Edit: And you're most welcome!
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You know, if you only have two speakers, a dumb (relatively speaking) stereo amplifier and a Sonos Connect will do the trick just as well - without all of the extra equipment hanging around.

However, 15' apart for the pair is a long way for a TV to not have a center channel, so a sound bar would do better ... but that same stereo pair will be much better than a sound bar for music in most cases. That said, there's nothing that screams "USE SONOS!" to me about having a sound bar and sub that you'll use just for TV - in fact, quite the opposite. Equivalent models for sound quality (and even models with better sound quality) without built in music streaming will cost less and support newer audio connections (often HDMI). You also avoid having that extra room always hanging around the Sonos interface, so it's a bit cleaner as well, and you avoid a software update causing problems with your TV watching. Just my $0.02 though.
@jec6613, thanks so much for your reply. You are right, there is nothing that screams Sonos about the current setup. Here's what I'm thinking based on your logic. I bought a Sonos Playbar, Connect:Amp and Sub. I will return the Playbar and keep the Connect:Amp and the Sub.

What I'm thinking to do instead is this:

1) Buy the Yamaha YAS-203 Sound Bar with Bluetooth and Wireless Subwoofer. This is $279. There will be a soundbar and dedicated subwoofer for TV and movies. Saves me about $300+ from the Sonos Playbar. Open to other recommendations.

2) Connect the first Connect:Amp to the in-wall speakers in the same room as the TV for music. Use the Sub in conjunction with the Connect:Amp for music in that and other rooms in the house.

That way the theater stuff is theater stuff, and the music will use in-wall speakers throughout the house + the added Sonos Sub which will ideally add base throughout the house since a few of the in-wall wired rooms are all just a wall away from where the Sonos Sub will be.

Let me know if that makes sense and thanks for your input guys!

-Alex
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I'd skip the Sub for now, and just get Connect:Amps to power each zone independently and see how you like it. The Connect:Amps don't really have the power to drive more than a single zone, unless they're tiny zones, and there are possible impedance issues as well.

Most good in-wall speakers can drop out nearly as much bass as a Sonos sub can, as they typically feature larger drivers than the Sub, and a larger resonant cabinet (your wall space), so you may be very pleasantly surprised, the usual limit of in-wall bass performance is amplifier power, as bass notes just require a lot more energy to create than treble. And, that being said, the Sub won't work properly outside of the one room you have it in - that's not how even long sound waves work. Plus, it can only be paired with a single room.
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Just to give a 3rd option, you could keep the playbar, and just not use the in-wall speakers in that room. Cost wise, it really is about the same. The playbar is $700. Your option 1 isn't really saving you much money because you'll need to the $400 connect:amp to power those in-wall speakers. So really, your option 1 is $400 (for the connect amp) plus $279 for you tv audio setup...or just under $700. Same difference.

Since you already have the playbar and connect:amp, I would try both scenarios to see what you like before returning it. I know it seems wasteful to have unused speakers in your house, but it's also somewhat wasteful to have 2 separate audio systems in the same room.

That said, I like the idea of using a receiver with Connect (non-amp) to build about a conventional 5.1 or more system that uses the existing in-wall speakers and is still tied to the sonos system. You lose a little bit of control with that, but it can work very well.
Thanks @melvimbe. The one option I haven't mapped out which has come up twice now is using Connect with my receiver. I'm open to it, but I don't love it. Help me understand... Connect (non-amp) is $349 (probably about what my receive cost 2 years ago). My Receiver already does streaming (it's a Yamaha). I want to be able to have the same music playing in all rooms with no hassle. Most rooms except the one in question will be using Connect:Amps for the in-wall speakers so in order for it all to work together I'd still need the Connect (non-amp) for my receiver.

So the room setup could be:

1) Yamaha Receiver with Connect (non-amp) - +$349
- this powers the two in-wall speakers + a new center channel which I would need to buy.
2) Center channel speaker for 3.1 setup using the 2 existing in-wall speakers - +$100 - $250 (could do in-wall)
- this could be installed in-wall which would probably look better then a sound bar

My big question here is this... How much control does the Connect (non-amp) give over my current receiver? When I want to play music, I don't want to have to turn on the receiver in that room, or change the input. I want to simply play music.

Questions about Connect (non-amp):

a) Will the Connect (non-amp) power up my receiver if it's off?
b) Will the Connect (non-amp) change the input on my receiver to play music if it's on HDMI 1 for instance and I start to stream?
c) Will the Connect (non-amp) allow me to control the volume.

If the answer is "yes" to B and C, then I can leave the receiver on and this option might be the best thought it will require $$ for cable routing which I'm fine with if I land with the best end solution. Thoughts?
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All Sonos and using their 5.1 setup is just so easy and seamless, all on your phone app. I'm over the moon with my Playbar it just works very well.

I'd forgo the in wall speakers and use the 5.1 (Playbar, Sub, 2x Play 1's) for a week to get to know it (they come with a trial period). It just works with everything.

I wasn't that fussed about the music side of it but after seing how capable it is with internet steaming and feeding it my own music through laptop/ NAS I've become a convert!.

You can build a system all ways but the Sonos is just perfectly integrated.

I had to think long and hard due to the price but it's worth every penny IMHO.
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My Receiver already does streaming (it's a Yamaha). I want to be able to have the same music playing in all rooms with no hassle. Most rooms except the one in question will be using Connect:Amps for the in-wall speakers so in order for it all to work together I'd still need the Connect (non-amp) for my receiver.

That is correct. Your receiver's streaming capabilites isn't really going to help you very much with a multi-room system.



So the room setup could be:

1) Yamaha Receiver with Connect (non-amp) - +$349
- this powers the two in-wall speakers + a new center channel which I would need to buy.
2) Center channel speaker for 3.1 setup using the 2 existing in-wall speakers - +$100 - $250 (could do in-wall)
- this could be installed in-wall which would probably look better then a sound bar


I'm sure it's personal preference, but you can mount the center channel under the tv the same way you would mount a sound bar. I've got that setup in my gameroom (cable behind the wall). Really, my gameroom is setup 3.1 as you have mentioned above. I have in-wall speakers, center channel mounted below the speakers, subwoofer, and receiver to power it all. I used to have a CONNECT in there, but I never used it as we never listen to music there.

I don't dislike the system, but honestly, I regret putting the speakers in wall and have considered scrapping everything for a playbar. Like you though, I'm not crazy about unused speakers in the wall, and I want to use the equipment I already have.


Questions about Connect (non-amp):

a) Will the Connect (non-amp) power up my receiver if it's off?


No. There isn't going to be any control between your receiver and connect. It's really not that much different then if you hooked up a CD or DVD player to your receiver.

In comparison, a playbar is going to be always on.


b) Will the Connect (non-amp) change the input on my receiver to play music if it's on HDMI 1 for instance and I start to stream?


No, but the reverse may be true, depending on your recevier and tv. I don't know that much about it, but hdmi connection do have that sort of functionality.

In contrast, the playbar/playbase will definitely do this. If your listening to music and turn on the tv, the playbar can switch to tv audio automatically. The reverse case doesn't really apply since you'll use your phone (or whatever) to select the music source and the system doesn't make you change inputs separately.


c) Will the Connect (non-amp) allow me to control the volume.


You can control the volume of the signal CONNECT sends to the receiver, but it won't control the receiver volume. It's really best to turn off volume control so that you don't have to mess with manage volume over two systems.

And of course, it's not an issue with a PLAYBAR since it's all in one. And you can use your tv/cable/universal remote to control the volume as well as your phone. I find that to be tremendously convenient.

If the answer is "yes" to B and C, then I can leave the receiver on and this option might be the best thought it will require $$ for cable routing which I'm fine with if I land with the best end solution. Thoughts? [/quote]

It sounds like simple control is important to you. It maybe that adding a logitech harmony remote may be a good option for you. I don't have it myself, but I believe switching inputs and volumen control are made a lot easier and intuitive with harmony. Others here are very happy with it.

It also matters who else besides you is using the setup. You don't want a setup where the spouse (or kids) doesn't want to touch it because she/he thinks it's too much trouble to switch inputs and such.

Opinions are going to vary, but I personally think going with a playbar makes sense for a living room where you're casually watching tv and listening to music. It's the dedicated serious theatre rooms where it makes more sense to go with a more traditional setup. You probably don't listen to music much in a dedicated room, so switching inputs should be rare.
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I should add that my gameroom setup is really just used for playing video games. So there is never really a need to switch inputs. Volume control isn't an issue either. So not a true theatre environment, but not multi-use either.