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Sonos PlayBar Soundbar Wirelessly Streams Music for $700

The Sonos PlayBar Soundbar wirelessly streams music from a variety of sources and can be expanded with a Sonos Sub and two Sonos PLAY:3 speakers to become an actual 5.1 surround sound system.


Sonos PlayBar Soundbar

The Sonos PlayBar soundbar, which will be available March 5, 2013 for $699, takes all of the Sonos streaming and wireless music benefits and puts them in a device designed to sit in front of the couch.

There has been some buzz for nearly a year about Sonos getting into the home theater speaker market. Why not, in a relatively short time Sonos has made a name for itself in the home audio world.

Now its official with the Sonos PlayBar Soundbar, which takes all of the Sonos streaming and wireless music benefits and puts them in a device designed to sit in front of the couch.

The PlayBar does three main things:

  • It allows playback of music from a wide variety of streaming sources (nearly 20 by my last count) plus the user’s own local collection
  • It connects to a TV to replace the TV’s low-performing speakers
  • It can be expanded with a Sonos Sub and two Sonos PLAY:3 speakers to become an actual 5.1 surround sound system

The device includes a total of 9 drivers - six midrange drivers and three tweeters, all custom designed in-house and manufactured by Sonos. The arrangement is interesting. The drivers are mounted on a 45 degree angle allowing the speaker to be mounted flat on a wall or rest on a tabletop with no change in the directionality of the speaker. A built-in orientation sensor changes the system’s EQ to accommodate the speaker’s position. Two of the three tweeters are mounted on the ends of the unit, at anglers that help create a wide, enveloping soundfield. Each drive unit it powered by its own Sonos-designed class D amplifier. 27 different automatic tunings help create the PlayBar’s sound.

Integrating the PlayBar into an entertainment system appears to be pretty simple. All TV sources get connected to the TV, then a digital optical input is available for connecting the user’s TV to the soundbar. Like all other Sonos devices, the primary way to control it is through the Sonos app (iOS or Android), however, since this is also meant to be used with a TV, Sonos built in an IR receiver and the ability for the PlayBar’s volume to be controlled by any TV remote (the PlayBar is always on, so it doesn’t require an on/off command). Any IR universal remote can also be used. Within the PlayBar, TV audio takes priority, so if you’re playing Pandora music, and then switch on the TV, the PlayBar automatically switches to the TV’s audio signal.

Related: Soundbars Step into Spotlight

The PlayBar doesn’t have a virtual surround mode (because those don’t really work well anyway), but it does produce a very wide and deep soundfield for both TV audio and music listening. The unit decodes Dolby Digital for movie and TV playback. If users want to expand the system in the living room, Sonos PLAY:3 speakers can be added for surround and a Sonos Sub, thereby making a complete 5.1 system. The software will recognize when other speakers are added to the system and automatically make adjustments to how it decodes and distributes the audio signal.

Like any other Sonos product, the system plays what the company refers to as “all the music on earth,” through a large selection of streaming services. In addition, audio from the TV (anything that comes from the connected optical input) can also be streamed to other Sonos zones in the house. For instance, if people are watching a sporting event on the TV, the audio from that event can also be played on a Sonos PLAY:5 speaker in another room, so no one needs to miss a play.

The PlayBar can be used by itself, connected directly to a router via an Ethernet cable, or wirelessly with a $49 Sonos Bridge and part of a whole-house system.

I was recently invited to a Sonos event in California to demo the system, and the sound, simplicity and performance was impressive. Sonos doesn’t list amp specs, but the system gets loud, and the depth and dimensionality of the audio went far beyond the small footprint of the soundbar. In a typical-sized living room, the PlayBar will easily be able to create an immersive sound experience.

Sonos will make the PlayBar available on March 5, 2013 for $699 directly from Sonos.com or retailers, including Amazon.com, Best Buy/Magnolia Home Theater, P.C. Richard & Son.



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Sonos PlayBar Soundbar Wirelessly Streams Music for $700


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Article Topics

News · Product News · Slideshow · Audio · Speakers · Home Theater · Sonos · Soundbar · All topics

About the Author

Grant Clauser
Grant Clauser is the technology and web editor for Electronic House. Grant has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had audio training from Home Acoustics Alliance and Sencore.

9 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by Grant Clauser  on  02/12  at  06:17 PM

I know the subject of an IR remote was important on Julie’s Sonos rumor story last week, so I want to make sure everyone understands how it works with this product—there is no IR remote, however, the PlayBar will work with any existing IR remote. Most users will probably choose to use their own TV remote for volume. The PlayBar includes codes for volume control for most TV brands, but it can also learn ones it doesn’t know already.

Also, the PlayBar (like all Sonos gear) never gets turned off, so it doesn’t need to know any IR command except volume. Any other Sonos operation (such as selecting a Pandora channel) is done through the iOS or Android app.

If the AV system you install includes other products such as a DVR, Roku, Blu-ray player…) you can integrate all those commands on any universal remote you want, run the audio from those devices into the TV, and then use the universal remote to control the Sonos volume.

I’ll have a full review when the system is out on March 5.

Posted by Alban  on  02/12  at  09:50 PM

In place of the pair of Play:3 for rear channels, is it possible to use a Connect:AMP ? I’m thinking of it for existing in-ceiling speakers.

Posted by Grant Clauser  on  02/12  at  09:56 PM

Alban,
I don’t think so—but I’ll confirm that with Sonos before I post my review.

Posted by Sbox  on  02/12  at  10:06 PM

How much electricity does the Playbar use?  This unit must not be able to be used in LEED certified applications therefore??

“PlayBar (like all Sonos gear) never gets turned off”

Posted by Joe Custom  on  02/12  at  11:52 PM

Here’s my favorite part of the article:

Sonos will make the PlayBar available on March 5, 2013 for $699 directly from Sonos.com or retailers, including Amazon.com, Best Buy/Magnolia Home Theater, P.C. Richard & Son.

As a Sonos retailer (custom integrator), this really chaps my behind. Not a single nod to the custom channel. Could they have least said “and from your favorite CEDIA dealer, or CE Professional”. Would that be so hard?

Enough is enough. Build a brand through the CEDIA channel, then completely dump on us by selling direct and through every retail NON custom channel.

No margin, no “Pro” channel specific products, not custom friendly (at least not without hacks), and programs designed for a 1982 stereo RETAILER.

WHY ARE WE SUPPORTING THIS BRAND PEOPLE?

Yeah, I know. They have the coolest interface in the business. You can wireless stream, blah. Doesn’t everything today?

Let’s get custom everyone. Remember, CUSTOM.

Remember that cool Sonos app you installed on your customers iPad yesterday, controlling a Zone Amp, powering a pair of In-Ceiling Speakers? Guess what, their 14 year old son could have bought it all online and installed himself. Did they really need you?

Posted by Joeav  on  02/13  at  05:30 PM

@joecustom. Well Said! So true. Use our channel to create, develop, improve a product and then hit us in the back of the head with a shovel. Sure things change, but not even care to mention our channel pisses me off as well. If we don’t get back to supporting those firms who support us then we are the stupid ones!!!! They still exist!  Any line where an end user can buy the same product EVERYWHERE else devalues us, you, our channel and our expertise. Pure and simple.

Posted by Tuck  on  02/13  at  06:05 PM

The pic with the on wall installation, are they violating code by having the cord in wall?

Posted by Grant Clauser  on  02/14  at  08:37 AM
Posted by JohnA  on  02/14  at  06:51 PM

@Joe C and Joe AV

Have you looked at the new NuVo wireless system?

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