Playbar is another clever move by Sonos. What Sonos have been clever about is … pretty much everything they’ve done to date. For a while people surmised that they’d have to get into wireless video, because being “just audio” was an incomplete package. What they’ve done with Playbar is say to us “get the picture and soundtrack into your TV by whatever means you like, we’ll then make it sound good for the right price and in a compact form”.
Sonos Playbar has the edge over soundbar competitors in the ease of integration into your multi-room music distribution system, and it has the additional advantage of potentially offering full total 5.1 channel solution for a total of $2800, with SUB plus two PLAY:3 wireless speakers as rears. Not bad going for a company that was just audio. Measuring 85mm x 900mm x 140mm (hwd) and containing 9 individual speakers, each with a dedicated class D amplifier module to drive it, the Playbar is set up to be multi-role. While others can do some of the same things, none can do them all.
It has various EQ modes, including a Night mode for compressing audio so you don’t disturb the whole house, and Speech mode to enhance dialogue, one of the areas that TVs are particularly bad at!
As well as being a TV sound system it can of course play all the musical sources that the other Sonos zone players can. That’s a long list of streamed music, internet radio, any source attached to any other zone player in the home, or online subscription libraries.
You can install a Playbar as your first Sonos zone if you haven’t started with them yet. It needs to be either directly connected to your home network with Ethernet cable, or connected wirelessly via the Bridge ($79). If you already have some Sonos up and running, it can be added very quickly with no wired connection or additional Bridge.
Remote Control: the Volume up/down can be done by teaching the Playbar to respond to any two keys on any IR remote. Of course you can use the App which has become the default controller for most people, via phone (Apple or Android), iTouch or iPad. There is also direct Volume control and Mute, as is usual on Sonos products, via buttons – this time on the side of the Playbar.