Despite humble beginnings in the not-so distant past (founded in 2002), Sonos have catapulted themselves to the forefront of the AV market, becoming the byword in wireless audio technology. The latest innovation comes in the form of a soundbar, bringing Sonos into the world of home cinema. It has long been clear that the quality of the speakers in today’s TVs simply hasn’t kept pace with the significant enhancements made to picture quality and screen size. There are plenty of solutions out there for those of us who have decided that it’s about time the noise matches the picture, but, having helped to revolutionise home HiFi, Sonos have decided to apply their own considerable expertise to the Home Cinema experience.
Sonos seem to think they have hit the nail on the head with their latest offering and they aren’t shy about telling us exactly that, with Sonos Inc CEO, John MacFarlane, saying “Playbar will change everything about the sound experience in your living room, bringing together amazing HiFi sound for your TV and wireless access to the world’s music in a radically simple way”. But do the experts agree that the Sonos Playbar is about to revolutionise the AV experience in your home?
What HiFi: It’s great for sports, opting for a more immersive sound.
The big question, of course, is how the Sonos Playbar sounds, so we kick off (excuse the pun) with a spot of Premier League football. Within just a couple of seconds it’s clear that this is a massive improvement over even the most impressive-sounding flatscreen TV. The width of the soundstage that’s created is mighty impressive, and there’s detail, weight and tonal balance that a TV on its own simply can’t deliver.
SlashGear: A smart piece of tech with nifty features; there is no remote, but that need not be an issue.
Sonos has fitted the PLAYBAR with an accelerometer so that it knows which way up it’s placed: that means it can automatically figure out if it’s on the wall – with the “top” facing out – or sitting flat, and adjust the equaliser settings automatically. There’s also a pass-through IR system, which repeats your TV remote’s commands in case the TV’s own IR receiver is blocked in some way.
T3: It sounds good, but the addition of a Sub is almost essential.
Add the Sonos SUB to create a ‘3.1’ system and things change. Having that dedicated bass channel allows the PLAYBAR unit to concentrate on higher frequencies, thus creating a more balanced sound. Like us, you’ll have to play around with the SUB settings, as having it too loud can be overkill.
Wired: It beats the competition for looks
Stocked with an impressive nine drivers, the compact, low-profile Playbar employs rounded corners and silver accents to earn more style points than most sound bars, which tend to be black, boxy, and décor-damaging. At just 3.3 inches tall, it can sit in front of your TV without blocking the IR or the screen itself.
Gizmondo: It’s expensive, but for those with the money it will live up to expectations
The Playbar does a lovely job, but you could get something that sounds just as good with more features for less money. That said, Sonos is a luxurious, simple, and satisfying way to listen to music. If you can afford it in the first place, you won’t be disappointed.
All in all, the consensus is that the Playbar is an attractive and well featured piece of kit. All of the usual Sonos features are included and it makes a great addition to an existing Sonos system. However, the Playbar is not cheap and to really get the best from it the cost skyrockets further as you add the all-important Sub. If style and substance are your primary concerns the Playbar is well worth considering, but if your credit card bill is of more importance, perhaps it is worth seeking a cheaper alternative.
PLAYBAR will retail for £599 and will be available for purchase at Sonos.com, and other retail partners around the world. For more information on SONOS PLAYBAR, including technical specifications and more, please visit Sonos.com/playbar.