In my last SONOS post, I talked about using the SONOS system to play music all over my home. Today, I'm going to share some of my experiences using the SONOS wireless speaker system as a home theatre.
My big screen TV in the living room doesn't have great sound (hey, tiny speakers inside the TV, what to do?), so I wanted to see if adding the SONOS Playbar would help.
With nine speakers inside, the Playbar really made my TV sound good. The Playbar connected to my TV with an optical cable and the only other cable was the power cord. The Playbar also wirelessly and painlessly became part of my SONOS speaker network.
By itself, the Playbar already had very decent TV sound. You may be able to get better separation with a left and right speaker setup but this one-piece solution works fine and can be wall-mounted or placed on a console, taking up very little space. It also looks quite sleek.
My next experiment was to add the SONOS Sub to the mix. Woah, what a difference. Suddenly my Playbar with the Sub was a 3:1 system (Left-Centre-Right and Subwoofer). I could place the Sub anywhere in the living room, as long as it was near a power socket, because the Sub talks to the Playbar wirelessly too.
Then I took two Play:3s and set them up behind my sofa. Instant 5:1 home system! I was in surround heaven as I played back some of my movies on my Apple TV. You can get 5:1 surround even with HD channels on your cable box, as long as the show is broadcast in 5:1 surround.
Again, the Play:3s as left and right rear speakers were easy to set up because they are wireless but just make sure you are near a power socket. I used the SONOS app to add and set up all the home theatre stuff very easily. The app even help me optimize the system based on how near or far my speakers were from the viewing area.
Another really neat feature was how the app helped to pair my TV's remote control to the Playbar. I then disabled the TV speakers from my TV setup, and the TV remote now controls the volume of the Playbar instead.
During the times the Play:3s were not used as rear speakers for the home theatre system, I moved them to the bedrooms to be used there. It was nice to have dual-duty wireless speakers. The Play:1s can also be used as rear speakers.
If you have a TV that doesn't have enough HDMI ports, and you own multiple devices, like a PS4, Xbox One, Blu-ray player, Cable Set-top box, and an Apple TV, you can solve the problem with an HDMI port switcher. My Monoprice one has four HDMI inputs and one HDMI out (to the TV), and an optical Toslink output (to the Playbar). This lets you connect all your devices without needed a big AV receiver.
You can place the Playbar lying down or standing up but I found the sound to be better when the Playbar was standing on its thin end.
One caveat with the Playbar as a home theatre system: it currently supports Dolby Digital 5:1 and not DTS or Dolby TrueHD. But my Apple TV, Netflix, and cable tv provider broadcasts in Dolby Digital 5:1 anyway, and many of the movies I own support both DTS and Dolby Digital 5:1.
My kids are now used to hearing the sound quality coming out of the TV via the Playbar and the rest of the SONOS system in the living room (and the wife plays music out of them too). I am not sure if I can unhook the Playbar after this review without some kind of revolt now.
You can win yourself a SONOS Playbar! Contest details at the SONOS SE Asia Facebook fanpage: http://mrbrwn.co/SONOSmb4 (Link works from desktop browsers only, not mobile)
Contest ends on the 31st of December, 2013. Go join now and win that Playbar!
Update: The winner is Christina Lim Peck Hwee! Congrats!