Hardware Reviews
Sonos Playbar Review

Devin Connors | 12 Mar 2014 19:00
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Performance

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The Playbar comes equipped with nine drivers in what Sonos describes as a 3.0 array or center, front-left, and front-right). If you choose to be so bold, you can pair the Playbar with the $699 SUB subwoofer for a 3.1 experience, or go two steps further and add two Play:3 or Play:1 speakers for a full 5.1 experience. In order to use several Sonos speakers in a home theater arrangement, one of the speakers needs to be connected to your network in one way or another. Power connectors aside, the SUB and Play speaker additions are completely wireless.

Ultimately, the addition of Play speakers for a "surround sound" experience are underwhelming overkill. Your Playbar is connected to your TV via digital optical, and most TVs, even in 2013, don't pump out Dolby Digital through their digital optical port. Because of this, I'd recommend sticking with just the Playbar, or the Playbar + SUB combo.

5.1 reservations aside: The Playbar itself sounds phenomenal. It's a dramatic upgrade over whatever speakers your TV has, and then some. The 3.0/3.1 solution offered by the Playbar/Playbar + SUB is loud, clear, and does any sort of media justice. Movies sound amazing, music sounds even better, and games are right at home as well. If most of your time is spent gaming, the Playbar might not be the best choice, if only because of how it processes 5.1 audio, but music and movie buffs will love this hardware.

Gaming aside, the highs, mids, and lows are come through brilliantly, whether you're using the SUB or not. The SUB and its dual facing speakers add a tremendous amount of bass without any risk of annoying vibration. The Playbar + SUB pairing is a match made in audio heaven, without a doubt.

Conclusion

The Sonos Playbar is not the greatest soundbar available today, but it is the most music-friendly soundbar. The streaming app support, stellar audio quality, and thoughtful yet understated design make the Playbar a winner, even if it's on the pricey side at $699. The SUB will run you another $699, which is a lot of cheddar for a subwoofer.

But the Playbar is not an entry-level soundbar. It's not meant for the college dorm/recent grad crowd. Instead, it's designed for the music buff who doesn't want to go full-tilt audiophile, but has money to spend.

The Bottom Line: The Playbar will best most soundbars and entry- to mid-level Home-Theater In-A-Box arrays in sound quality, while offering unmatched streaming capabilities. $699 is a lot of money to spend on a soundbar, but it will sound at least as good as similarly priced HTIAB's.

Recommendation: The music geek who wants to give their home theater a shot in the arm would be wise to consider the Playbar, SUB or no SUB.

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