Sonos Playbar review | What Hi-Fi?

Sonos has all the time finished things its personal way. It does not care about bouncing beams or 5.1 surround sound. When the Playbar, the first Sonos soundbar, at the start came out, there was not anything moderately love it - and there still isn't.

We've all the time applauded and revered Sonos for being different. But there now are numerous similarly priced competitors, together with from the corporate itself, so it is time to reconsider.

While the claims that the Sonos Playbar introduces ‘hi-fi sound’ for your TV are little over the top, as this review will make clear, this is a really nice sounding unit, and whilst it’s simple, it does a heck of much more than maximum soundbars, too.

That’s because, at center, this is a full Sonos unit. That method it offers you get admission to to large quantities of streamed song.

This Sonos soundbar will play everything (except for hi-res audio tracks) that you simply’ve were given stored on your pc or NAS instrument; you'll send audio at once from an Android or iOS telephone or tablet; and it connects you to web radio and hundreds of thousands of tracks by the use of Spotify, Tidal, Deezer and more.

Despite the fact plenty of other players have entered the wireless, multi-room marketplace, the Sonos proposition stays an excessively compelling one, because of a slick interface and a willingness to support new features and services and products.

MORE: Sonos tips, tricks and features

Set-up

Of route, you'll buy a easy Sonos One or Sonos Move if all you need is quite a lot of song. The distinction is that the Playbar additionally connects for your TV. Disappointingly, there’s just one means to try this, and that’s by means of virtual optical cable.

This has advantages relating to simplicity – all your units stay hooked up in your TV as commonplace and you have only one cable connecting the TV and Playbar – nevertheless it’s not as neat as those programs with more than one HDMI inputs and a single HDMI output for video. 

And whilst optical outputs on TVs are lovely not unusual these days, they haven’t been for that lengthy. You without a doubt wish to test in case your TV’s got one ahead of forking out on a Sonos Playbar. The Sonos Beam has since introduced with HDMI, will have to you prefer a Sonos TV speaker with this connection.

If you do take the plunge you’ll start to believe it money neatly spent once you take the unit from the box. This is a truly nicely made and minimally styled unit that blends in well. It may also be wall-mounted using an optional mount or laid flat in entrance of your TV, with the built-in accelerometers robotically sensing the orientation and adjusting the sound accordingly.

MORE: Sonos Beam v Playbar v Playbase - which is best?

Features

We have a few little warnings here: in the beginning, to us the Playbar sounds very best when orientated with the wider edge dealing with out, so even though you’re no longer wall mounting we’d recommend status it at the thin edge if you can.

If you do opt for the usual laid down orientation, you additionally wish to bear in mind that the Playbar’s feet don’t lift it very prime, so it won’t straddle a TV pedestal in the best way the Yamaha YSP-2500 helpfully does.

Set-up is lifeless easy using the Android or iOS app, which takes you through adding the Playbar in the similar approach as another Sonos part as well as taking you step-by-step despite the fact that 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 elements, akin to a sensible TV, to the internet via the Sonos network.

And speaking of neat touches, the IR sensor approach you can teach the Playbar to reply to the volume controls of your TV’s remote, and there’s even a repeater built in so that your whole faraway’s other instructions get in your TV, even supposing the Playbar is in front of it.

Unlike the newer Sonos Beam, there is not any voice keep an eye on choice here. You'll want the Beam if you wish to have Google Assistant, Alexa or Siri.

MORE: Sonos Play:1 review

Performance

The big question, of course, is how the Sonos Playbar sounds, so we kick off (excuse the pun) with a spot of Premier League soccer.

Within just a few seconds it’s clear that this can be a large improvement over even probably the most impressive-sounding flatscreen TV. The width of the soundstage that’s created is mighty impressive, and there’s element, weight and tonal steadiness that a TV on its own simply can’t deliver.

Having stated that, it seems Sonos has long past for a legitimate that’s more atmospheric than filled with have an effect on. It sounds as if it’s firing sound upwards fairly than out into the room and to the listening position, especially in the event you’ve laid it flat. That seems extra of a design determination than a fault to us, nevertheless it does imply the presentation is rather less involving than it might be.

Switch to Ed Harcourt’s stunning The Cusp and the Wane and that trait remains to be obtrusive, but at the similar time the sound is impressively detailed and dynamic, and that suggests you get all the natural emotion of the monitor, although it’s only a streamed MP3 from Spotify.

MORE: Sonos Play:3 review

Switch to a lossless rip of James Blake’s Limit To Your Love and the excellent news continues, with element levels making the most of the upward thrust in bit-rate, and the separate strands of the monitor inhabiting their own house within the soundstage while fitting in combination to create a unified whole.

The Playbar is able to going beautiful darn deep for a fabricated from its kind, too, although it does fight with the very lowest bass word at the observe. The fact that it even gets close is spectacular, but if you wish to listen even those close to sub-sonic notes you do have an option – add a Sonos Sub.

Adding the Sonos Sub in your system by means of the app is an easy process that includes a few steps for trimming ranges in order that it blends successfully with the Playbar, and the sound obviously improves with its addition.

Not most effective does it imply the system can now succeed in James Blake ranges of bass with rousing power, it additionally adds weight to special movie effects and helps the entire presentation fill the room extra totally.

It’s all gain then, however its gain that it's important to pay a perfect deal for – and given the Playbar’s level of quality in its personal right it’s a stretch that simplest the rich or very devoted must truly believe.

MORE: Sonos Sub review

Surround sound system

If you do are compatible into a type of categories you could wish to move even further and add two Sonos Play:3 audio system to create an much more immersive gadget. The Sonos system can decode Dolby Digital or produce pseudo-surround from a stereo sign.

But it's a disgrace the set-up cannot deal with DTS or any of the higher quality soundtracks reminiscent of Dolby TrueHD – the latter due to the limitations of the bandwith of the optical connection.

It's additionally value noting that many TVs best output stereo sound by the use of optical, as a way to get proper Dolby Digital 5.1 your set-top box or DVD/Blu-ray player will need to do the decoding, and be attached without delay to the Playbar.

MORE: Sonos Play:3 review

Verdict

So should you through a Playbar in any respect? Well if what you’re after is simply nice movie sound there are most likely higher options, such as the Yamaha YSP-2500 which offers one of the more convincing virtual surround sound experiences to be had.

But in the event you’re searching for a simple device that may hugely beef up the sound out of your TV (as opposed to a bona fide surround sound set-up) and come up with quick get admission to to more tune than it is advisable to ever in all probability hope to listen to, the Sonos Playbar is a superb possibility. 

The major choices come within the type of other Sonos audio system; the Playbase is a soundbase for less than your TV reasonably than a soundbar, however we aren't fairly as enamoured with the sound, while the Sonos Beam is a extra compact, superb sounding sensible TV speaker, entire with voice control. Find out more in our in-depth Beam vs Playbar vs Playbase feature.

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