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Help picking 5.1 speaker set

  • 6 April 2019
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Sonos sells a lot of different 5.1 speaker sets:

https://www.sonos.com/en-us/shop/speaker-sets

What sounds best for a 20x15 living room with cathedral ceilings, the soundbar, soundbase, or beam? By "best" I mean stereo separation and the feeling of immersion when playing a DVD or streaming a movie with Dolby 5.1 soundtrack from Fire TV or Chromecast. I have separate speakers for music listening, so that's not important.
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Best answer by AjTrek1 15 April 2019, 15:27

Hi 10basetom

Your question regarding stereo separation and immersion when playing DVD are really at opposites to each other. The Playbase, Playbar and Beam are first designed for TV enhancement over its built-in speakers. The next step for those speakers is to build a DD5.1 (or any combination in between) Sonos home theater setup with those speakers handling L/C/R channels.

IMO the Playbar to fill a large room provides the best acoustic for TV enhancement performance. However, I find all three add a bit of coloration to music just by design (just as any other soundbar would IMHO). All three will perform to their best with a Sonos sub in the mix to handle the low-end. The differences between the Playbar and Playbase IMO are slight with the latter a consideration for space requirements.

The Beam IMO is not an option based on your room size. Although it is more feature rich than the Playbar and/or the Playbase which do not natively offer Airplay2, HDMI-ARC, Alexa voice assistant.

If you are looking for pure stereo separation (primarily for music) your choices are Play 5 , Sonos One (Gen1 & Gen2) and the Play:1. Each of those speakers would be purchased in pairs.

Here's the caveat...The Playbase, Playbar and Beam can be used for music but they will not produce the Stereo separation achieved by the Play 5 , Sonos One (Gen1 & Gen2) and the Play:1 in pairs. Also, the latter three cannot be mixed to create stereo pairs with the exception of the Sonos One (Gen1 & Gen2).

Click the link for a Sonos speaker comparison chart: https://en.community.sonos.com/what-to-get-228989/sonos-speaker-comparison-charts-6821929

Feel free to post back with additional questions. Cheers!
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Userlevel 7
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Hi 10basetom

Your question regarding stereo separation and immersion when playing DVD are really at opposites to each other. The Playbase, Playbar and Beam are first designed for TV enhancement over its built-in speakers. The next step for those speakers is to build a DD5.1 (or any combination in between) Sonos home theater setup with those speakers handling L/C/R channels.

IMO the Playbar to fill a large room provides the best acoustic for TV enhancement performance. However, I find all three add a bit of coloration to music just by design (just as any other soundbar would IMHO). All three will perform to their best with a Sonos sub in the mix to handle the low-end. The differences between the Playbar and Playbase IMO are slight with the latter a consideration for space requirements.

The Beam IMO is not an option based on your room size. Although it is more feature rich than the Playbar and/or the Playbase which do not natively offer Airplay2, HDMI-ARC, Alexa voice assistant.

If you are looking for pure stereo separation (primarily for music) your choices are Play 5 , Sonos One (Gen1 & Gen2) and the Play:1. Each of those speakers would be purchased in pairs.

Here's the caveat...The Playbase, Playbar and Beam can be used for music but they will not produce the Stereo separation achieved by the Play 5 , Sonos One (Gen1 & Gen2) and the Play:1 in pairs. Also, the latter three cannot be mixed to create stereo pairs with the exception of the Sonos One (Gen1 & Gen2).

Click the link for a Sonos speaker comparison chart: https://en.community.sonos.com/what-to-get-228989/sonos-speaker-comparison-charts-6821929

Feel free to post back with additional questions. Cheers!
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@AjTrek1 thanks so much for the informed answer. You helped me big time in my decision making. FYI the Sonos system I get will be dedicated to movie watching, so music sound quality is not important (I have a separate stereo setup for music listening). Sorry I chose the wrong term: by "stereo separation" I meant a wider soundstage to improve the feeling of immersion (i.e. how the Playbar would compare to a 5.1 system using separate FL and FR speakers).
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10basetom

Glad to help. Regarding separate FL and FR the Playbar IMO will do a better job as it has a Center channel. The FL and FR separates will only produce a “phantom” center channel. To out perform the Playbar (here again IMO) you would have to have add a dedicated Center speaker to the FL and FR.

Cheers!
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Yeah, I originally wanted to get three Play:5s for FR, C, and FR, but found out the Play:5 doesn't have onboard 5.1 SS processing like the Sonos soundbars. Sad.
So far, there's been no indication that Sonos ever intends to support such a function. I think they're focused more on the "ease of setup" part of the market, moreso than the high end segment.

Not significantly complaining, but I would likely replace both of my PLAYBARs with such a setup, if/when they ever decided it was a thing. 🙂
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Totally. Three Play:5s up front, two Play:1s in the rear, and fortified with two Sonos subs -- all automatically set up and projecting proper 5.1 (5.2 in this case) in harmony by simply setting the role of each speaker -- would indeed be wireless SS bliss ^_^.
I don't know that I'd go with two SUBs, the one seems pretty potent for the rooms I have, but I'm with you 🙂
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I don't know that I'd go with two SUBs, the one seems pretty potent for the rooms I have, but I'm with you :)

Yeah, maybe my neighbors would agree 😉.
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2 Subs? ;)

Guess your neighborhood doesn't require the rooster crowing -- just call on 10basetom.

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