Sonos Playbar Review: An Excellent Wireless Multi-room And TV Speaker

The Sonos Playbar, like the smaller and more compact Sonos Beam, is designed to sit beneath or above your wall-mounted TV, whereas the Sonos Playbase is designed to sit beneath your TV, acting as a base for sets that sit on top of furniture.

Of course, you are not limited to these configurations, and despite being the oldest of Sonos’ three home theater solutions, some may prefer the elongated Playbar. Others will prefer the Beam’s compactness, while others may prefer the Playbase’s slimness.

It has had numerous software updates over the years, as well as a price hike of £100, so with all that in mind, does the Playbar work, should you bother, and what does it sound like?

Review: Sonos Playbar
Review: Sonos Playbar

SONOS PLAYBAR SOUNDBAR DESIGN

  • Only available in black and measuring 85mm x 900mm x 140mm.
  • It is possible to mount it on the wall or to place it on top of furniture.
  • IR receiver, two Ethernet ports, but no HDMI or RCA inputs

The Sonos Playbar is dark, long, and moody. That’s the first thing you notice when you take the Sonos Playbar out of its box to set it up. It’s nearly as wide as a 47-inch television and can be wall-mounted or simply placed on top of furniture in front of your television.

The bar, like other Sonos speakers, is very simple in design, though it appears to be much older than the more recent additions we mentioned above.

When compared to the Playbase, Beam, Play:5, Sonos One, Sonos One SL, and Sonos Move, newer Sonos speakers have a cleaner, more streamlined appearance with plastic playing a key role, whereas the Playbar has black material and grey metal trimmings alongside plastic, resulting in a fussier and older appearance.

SONOS PLAYBAR SOUNDBAR FEATURES

We have a couple of cautions here: first, the Playbar sounds best to us when oriented with the wider edge facing out, so even if you’re not wall mounting it, we recommend standing it on the thin edge if possible. If you choose the standard laid-down orientation, keep in mind that the Playbar’s feet don’t lift it very high, so it won’t straddle a TV pedestal like the Yamaha YSP-2500 does.

Set-up is dead simple using the Android or iOS app, which takes you through adding the Playbar in the same way as any other Sonos component as well as taking you step-by-step though the connection process.

One neat little touch is that tucked away with the other connections is a pair of ethernet sockets, which allow you to connect other components, such as a smart TV, to the internet via the Sonos network.

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WHAT’S THE SONOS PLAYBAR SOUNDBAR LIKE AS A TV SPEAKER?

  • Nine Class-D digital amplifiers
  • Connects via optical audio cable
  • Requires TV to be on

Because the Sonos Playbar is connected to your TV via an optical audio cable, any sound played through the TV is automatically sent to the Playbar. This makes it easier to manage, but it means your TV must be turned on in order for you to hear sound from it.

If you listen to a lot of radio on your TV via an AV receiver and prefer to have the TV turned off while doing so, keep in mind that you won’t be able to do so here unless you use TuneIn Radio or another radio streaming service through the Sonos app rather than your TV.

The flip side to that is the Playbar detects when the TV is on however and performs the “handshake” automatically, ensuring you get TV audio rather than music audio and vice versa. That’s handy because it means you don’t get that frustrating moment of “why isn’t there any sound?” and in our experience, the Playbar performs the handshake perfectly every time.

When in TV mode, there are two additional sound settings available: Speech Enhancement and Night Sound. When turned on, the former will quieten and suppress loud sounds, while the latter will quieten and suppress loud sounds.

Both make a significant difference, and the Night Sound feature is especially useful for those with thin walls and easily irritated neighbors. If necessary, an audio delay (lip sync) can be set.

Sonos Playbar Soundbar
Sonos Playbar Soundbar

WHAT’S THE SONOS PLAYBAR SOUNDBAR LIKE AS A SONOS SPEAKER?

  • Stream music from over 100 music services
  • Group with other Sonos speakers
  • Voice control via an Alexa-enabled or Google Assistant-enabled device
  • Trueplay tuning compatible

The Sonos Playbar, on the other hand, is more than just a TV speaker. One of its key selling points, as well as Playbase’s, is that they are also speakers that fit neatly into an existing Sonos system (if you have one) or form the foundation of a Sonos system that you can expand.

That means you can use the Playbar as a regular Sonos speaker as well as a TV speaker, streaming music from over 100 music streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, and your own hard drive of music on the network for a two-in-one solution.

The Playbar, like all Sonos speakers, can function as a standalone speaker or be grouped with other Sonos speakers throughout your home to create a multi-room audio system and experience.

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It also means that the Playbar has all of the same features as other Sonos speakers, including voice control for those who have an Alexa-enabled device, such as an Amazon Echo, or a Google Assistant-enabled device, such as Google Home, or the Sonos One, Sonos Move, or Sonos Beam, all of which have built-in voice control.

The Playbar also supports Trueplay tuning, which we’ll go over in more detail later in the setup section. In addition to all of the standard Sonos features, it is possible to send TV audio from the Playbar to other speakers in your system, which is useful for things like listening to game commentary while cooking, for example.

To do this, the Playbar must be placed in the same zone as the other Sonos speakers where you want to hear the TV audio, but it’s a fantastic feature that comes in handy.

WHAT’S THE PLAYBAR LIKE AS PART OF A HOME CINEMA SETUP?

  • 5:1 Dolby Digital system with Sonos Sub and two Sonos speakers
  • No Dolby Atmos support
  • Wireless and was setup

The Sonos Playbar, on the other hand, is only one piece of the puzzle – the starting point – for listening to your TV. Its ability to connect to a Sonos Sub and two Sonos One, Sonos One SL, Play:1, Play:3, or Play:5 speakers to create a 5.1 Dolby Digital system is where it really shines.

While it quickly becomes expensive, the results are fantastic, with the Sonos Sub adding heaps of boom to what the Playbar already achieves.

Only the same Sonos speakers can be used to create a stereo pairing, so it won’t work with one Sonos One and one Play:3, for example, but the benefit of adding stereo speakers to the Playbar and Sub combination is worthwhile, even with two Sonos One, a Sonos One and a Sonos One SL, or Play:1 speakers.

They may be small, but the Sonos One, Sonos One SL, and Play:1 speakers are powerful, so depending on the size of your TV room, you may not need to spend an extra £500 or £1000 on two Play:3 or Play:5 speakers. It’s simple to add a Sonos Sub or surround sound speakers, and you can control the equalization via the app.

Alternative Video: Sonos Playbar Soundbar Review

Sonos Playbar Soundbar Review

HOW EASY IS THE SONOS PLAYBAR TO SETUP?

  • Requires Sonos app to set up
  • Requires Wi-Fi connection
  • Trueplay tuning requires iOS device 
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The Sonos PlayBar setup is like any other speaker within the Sonos system in that you open the Sonos app (available on Android, iPhone, iPad or desktop), go into settings from the “More” section in the bottom right, tap on “Add Speakers” then follow the instructions.

These instructions boil down to making sure the device is plugged in, waiting for a green or white flashing light to appear on the side of the Playbar next to the volume buttons, and then pressing the volume up and mute buttons simultaneously, as we briefly mentioned earlier, to begin adding the Playbar to your new or existing Sonos system.

You’ll need Wi-Fi, but a Sonos Bridge is no longer required to connect your Playbar to your Wi-Fi network. The TV side of things takes a little more effort to get working on the Playbar, but it’s all very simple and the process is simple enough with step-by-step guidance from the Sonos app.

Finally, in these steps, you’re telling your TV that you’re going to use an external speaker, which you can do via the audio settings menu on your TV.

CONCLUSION

The Sonos Playbar is a fantastic piece of equipment that delivers on all fronts. While the price may appear to be high at first glance, you are getting a speaker that replaces your AV receiver, a stack of speakers, and the ability to integrate it into a larger streaming system.

Of course, there are limitations. The Playbar assumes you have a TV capable of serving as your entertainment hub, negating the benefit of an AV receiver’s additional HDMI support.

Sonos Playbar
Sonos Playbar

FAQs About Sonos Playbar Soundbar

Can you add speakers to Sonos Playbar?

The Playbar can be combined with two surround speakers and a subwoofer to form a 5.1 surround system. That’d be one “Room.” You can also combine that room with any others you have. Each system can support up to 32 separate Sonos devices.

Is it possible to add speakers to the Sonos Playbar?

1) The Playbar can be combined with two surround speakers and a subwoofer to form a 5.1 surround system. That’d be one “Room.” You can also combine that room with any others you have. Each system can support up to 32 separate Sonos devices.

Is Sonos discontinuing the Playbar?

Sonos is discontinuing the Playbar and Playbase home theater speakers with the release of this new full-size premium soundbar, and Arc and Beam will become the two home theater-focused options.

Barry Moroney

Hi, Barry here. I'm a tech writer and blogger. I write about the latest technology, gadgets, and software. I also provide the best how-to and guides on the latest sound systems. I'm always excited to share my knowledge with others!

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