Top critical review
851 people found this helpful
Not for home cinema
on 28 November 2013
Let me start by saying I'm a big fan of Sonos, with several rooms in my house already equipped with Zoneplayers, as well as a Play:5. So, when I recently bought a new TV, adding a Playbar seemed like the logical thing to do to upgrade from the in-built speakers.
So, for me, I'm not overly interested in the Playbar's qualities as a wireless music player. After all, this is a soundbar, fitted under my TV, specifically designed to give a home cinema experience according to Sonos - just take a look at all their current advertising, encouraging you to buy a couple of Play:1s to hook up with it for that 5.1 experience. The problem is, the Playbar doesn't deliver on its promise.
How do Sonos advise you to connect the Playbar to your system? Well, the only method they recommend (or will support if you have an issue) is that you take an optical output from your TV. Not from an amp, BluRay player or cable TV box, just from your TV. The problem is, if you feed your TV with an HDMI signal, then you will struggle to find any TV that will pass a 5.1 signal through its optical port - you will only get stereo. This means you won't get 5.1 from your Playbar and you won't get a surround channel to any Play:1s you've bought and connected. (You will get a pretty dire pseudo-5.1 that the Playbar will create from the stereo source).
OK, let's go the unsupported route and give the Playbar a 5.1 feed direct from your source. The problem here is that the Playbar will only play Dolby Digital 5.1, not DTS. Go and have a look at your current BluRay collection and see how many have a DD soundtrack - about 15% if you're lucky. All you will get from your Playbar is silence.
If you want a soundbar which accepts both DD and DTS 5.1 signals to play all your DVD/BluRays then there are plenty on the market that will do that not just for less, but for a fraction of the price of the Playbar.
Sonos is generally good, but the Playbar is a very ill-judged bit of kit. If you just want a better speaker for your flatscreen, you can get a good one for a third of the cost of the Playbar. If you want home cinema, then the Playbar can't provide it, despite what the Sonos advertising might tell you.