Lived-In Review: Meet the Sonos PLAYBAR

Sonos PLAYBAR Review: Exceptional Home Theater
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* The Sonos PLAYBAR delivers exceptional sound to home theaters
* The PLAYBAR can integrate with other Sonos speakers for multi-room audio setup
* The PLAYBAR is perfect for small to medium-sized home theaters

Soundbars tend to get a bad rap among home theater purists, but the truth is, for many of us, a soundbar is an easy way to beef up our TV’s audio without a mess of wires. Who needs the headache of buying and installing a ton of different speakers when you can get great sound from just one?

Thanks to Sonos, you can get room-shaking home theater audio in a single speaker that blends with any home design. The Sonos PLAYBAR is the company’s first foray into home theater speakers and a natural progression from their home audio speaker line.

Using the PLAYBAR to Create a Home Cinema

From the gun-metal black grille down to the dead-simple setup steps, the experience of the Sonos PLAYBAR is luxurious. Sonos has managed to marry the deep, rich audio quality they’re famous for, with the ease-of-use we love about soundbars.

After plugging in the PLAYBAR, the Sonos app walks you through connecting it to your WiFi network, and you’re up and running. It works with any source you can plug into your TV, so you can enjoy thundering bass and crisp, prominent highs from your favorite TV shows, movies, and video games.

sonos playbar review Image courtesy of Walmart


Why It’s Worth It to Go All-In with Sonos

Like Apple’s ecosystem of complementary products, Sonos speakers combine and unlock new functionality when paired together. In the case of the PLAYBAR, you get some more-than-decent perks. For example, if you buy two Sonos Play:1 speakers, they can be connected and used as separate surround speakers with your PLAYBAR.

The big draw with Sonos, however, is multi-room audio, and the PLAYBAR is a nice addition to Sonos’ stable of speakers that work together. The PLAYBAR is a strong performer on its own, but when linked with other Sonos speakers, it creates an experience that other brands struggle to deliver. With the Sonos app, you can set music to play through any of your Sonos speakers, and the PLAYBAR lets you bring that music to your living room without having to add more hardware.

sonos playbar review Image courtesy of Sonos

Trade-Offs Sonos Made (That You’ll Never Notice)

No tech gear is perfect, so if you’re going to drop significant coin on a PLAYBAR, it’s good to know about any limitations ahead of time. As it turns out, the PLAYBAR’s flaws might be minor annoyances, but they likely won’t matter to most people.

Like all Sonos speakers, the PLAYBAR doesn’t support Bluetooth connectivity. Instead, Sonos uses WiFi to stream music from your phone, allowing for faster speeds and higher fidelity. If you’re a big fan of Bluetooth, WiFi streaming may take some getting used to, but it’s convenient enough that the change is worth it.

The biggest concern about the PLAYBAR is that it plays back content in Dolby Digital 5.1 only. That sounds worse than it is: while it’s true that the PLAYBAR can’t play back high-end surround-sound formats like Digital Theater Sound High Definition Master Audio (DTS-HD-MA) or Dolby Atmos, the reality is that Dolby Digital still packs a punch, and the PLAYBAR is adept at making the most of every one of its 5.1 channels. It’s also worth noting that most cable and streaming box content is delivered in Dolby Digital anyway, and high-end audio formats are typically only found on Blu-ray discs.

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