Sonos Playbar Review

In the world of audio, Sonos has hit a sweet spot. Its wireless technology and ability to stream music from nearly any source (cloud or local storage) have earned it a lot of geek cred, but its simple setup still appeals to a wide range of people.

Of course, none of this would matter at all if Sonos’ systems didn’t sound good, but thankfully, the Play:3, Play:5, and Sub have all wowed with their audio quality. The Sonos Playbar is the family’s newest member, and Sonos is aiming firmly at the home theatre market with this product. Is it suitable for use in your living room? Continue reading to find out.

Sonos Playbar Dimensions

The Sonos Playbar has dimensions of 35.5 x 5.6 x 3.4 inches. It has a weight of 11.88 pounds and can be mounted on a wall.

Sonos Playbar Review

Pros 

  • Easy to set up
  • For a soundbar, it has a great, room-filling sound.
  • High-quality construction

Cons

  • Expensive
  • The user interface( UI) of the mobile app should be improved.

Hardware and setup

The Playbar is a well-designed, albeit an understated, piece of gear. You’ll have little trouble placing it beneath your flat screen at 3.35 x 35.43 x 5.51 inches (85 x 900 x 140mm). It has been tested with a 42-inch and a 47-inch TV and found the measurements to be suitable in both cases.

The bar’s exterior is covered in black speaker fabric and has a pewter-coloured inlay along the length of each side. The mesh grilles on either end are surrounded by a pair of similar inset bands, which brings back the design language of the Sub, with the Sonos-standard volume toggle, mute button, and an LED power light on the right side.

The long metal edges are extruded aluminium, and the wider of the two allows for an inlaid IR receiver and IR repeater strip and a slot cut out on the underside for the power, two Ethernet connections, and a Toslink port. The build quality is excellent — the openings are relatively uniform, and our evaluation unit has no visible flaws.

Software

There are three control panes for larger screens: the leftmost shows all of your connected Sonos speakers, the middle shows a tracking queue and what’s presently playing on a selected speaker, and the right window shows your available audio sources.

The volume, EQ, play/pause, and track controls are at the top, along with a universal search-as-you-type area. At the bottom are controls for emptying your current queue or saving it as a playlist, as well as a simple but effective sleep timer and alarm clock.

All of these capabilities are available on mobile apps. However, they are hidden behind menus rather than being accessible. For example, if you want to adjust the bass and treble settings on the mobile app from the “currently playing” screen, you’ll have to go through five menus to get to the appropriate controls. That’s hardly an ideal user interface.

Sound

While compared to its soundbar competitors, the Playbar sounds excellent, especially when playing music. It’s a versatile speaker. The bass is tight, and the vocals are presented straightforwardly. Similarly, the Playbar excels at producing strong simulated surround sound during TV and movie audio playing. Overall, it’s a significant upgrade over many other speakers on the market.

Is it a viable alternative to your home stereo? No. The Playbar’s sonic output will please casual listeners. Still, if you expect it to match the depth of sound and stereo separation produced by a good set of desktop speakers or a complete component stereo, you’ll be disappointed.

The Playbar succeeds as a soundbar, offering a significant increase over your TV’s speakers and serving as a respectable stereo replacement that allows you to listen to all of your music in one handy location.

Night Sound and Speech Enhancement are two unique capabilities that enhance the Playbar’s home theatre performance. Night Sound is for folks who enjoy late-night television but don’t want to disturb their neighbours.

When you turn it on, the dynamic range of the speakers’ audio is reduced as the volume is dropped. The volume of mild noises, such as dialogue, increases, while louder sounds, such as explosions, decrease. It’s okay for watching movies, but this feature made discussion shows seem a little hushed.

Sonos Arc vs Sonos Playbar

In 2020, Sonos released the Arc soundbar, which replaced the older Playbar from 2013, leaving many people wondering if they need to upgrade.

After all, after seven years, a lot can happen in the world of technology, and the Sonos Arc brought specific capabilities that weren’t available or popular when the Playbar was first released.

Connection and Design

The Arc is slightly larger, longer and taller, but with a shallower total depth. The Playbar’s shape makes it look considerably different when it’s flat versus when it’s under a TV, although the Arc looks comparable in both modes.

When it comes to the connectors on the back, they are different. The Arc has an HDMI port that supports HDMI eARC. The Playbar, on the other hand, only features one optical digital audio input (TOSlink).

You do get an optical audio adapter with the Arc in case you still prefer that connection (from an older TV, for example), but most TVs now accept HDMI ARC or eARC from at least one of its ports.

Sound

The Arc was the first Sonos speaker to enable Dolby Atmos, so there’s a noticeable difference in sound between the two bars.

With a speaker array that includes six mid-range drivers, three tweeters, and nine Class D amplifiers, the Playbar remains an exceptional sound system. Two of the drivers are tilted at either end to provide a larger soundstage, primarily when used in conjunction with the front-facing drivers on the left and right. Two woofers and one tweeter serve the centre channel for crisp, clear vocals.

It’s essentially a 3.0 system that can be used with a few Sonos One speakers and the company’s Sub to create a home theatre setup.

On the other hand, the Arc has been redesigned and returned to provide a 5.0.2 experience from the same soundbar. The drivers on the far left and right are even more slanted to give wider side channels, while the drivers on the front face work on the centre, left, and proper channels.

This time, two more drivers are oriented upwards to create the height channels required for Dolby Atmos. These speakers bounce supported soundtracks from the ceiling to the listening location, enhancing immersion in a film, athletic event, or Atmos-mixed music.

This time, there are eight elliptical woofers and three tweeters, each powered by one of the 11 Class D amplifiers.

How to setup Sonos Playbar

  • Connect your Playbar to electricity and place it where you want it.
  • If you’re mounting the Playbar on your wall, be sure it’s in the proper position.
  • Connect the provided optical audio cable from your TV’s digital audio “out” (optical) connector to the Playbar’s audio input.
  • Quickly install the Sonos app on your iOS or Android device. The mobile app will then walk you through the simple process of getting everything set up. Before it can play TV audio, the Playbar must be set up with the Sonos app.

Set up a new Sonos system with Playbar

  • Click ‘open’ to start the Sonos app on your iPhone or Android device.
  • After tapping Set up a new system, create or sign in to an existing Sonos account.
  • On the popup that displays on your Sonos product, tap “Add”. Continue > Set up products if you’re using the Sonos S1 Controller.
  • To set up your Playbar and add your music services, follow the steps in the app.

Add Playbar to your existing system.

  • Open the Sonos app on your iPhone or Android device.
  • Tap System > Add Product from the Settings menu.
  • To connect Playbar to your Sonos system, follow the instructions in the app.

If you encounter any issues during setup, see the troubleshooting guide.

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