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Sonos Playbar Soundbar Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Updated May 05, 2020 at 12:05 pm
Sonos Playbar Picture
6.8
Mixed Usage
7.6
Dialogue/TV Shows
7.3
Music
6.1
Movies
Channels
3.0

The Sonos Playbar is an older 3.0 soundbar alright for mixed use. Although its sound profile is slightly bright, it still sounds fairly neutral and is good for vocal-centric content like podcasts and TV shows. It also lacks sub-bass but you can easily upgrade this setup with the separate subwoofer or satellites if you're looking for a better listening experience. On the downside, this soundbar doesn't support Bluetooth and doesn't have an HDMI port. Instead, you can use your Wi-Fi connection to stream your favorite jams.

Our Verdict

6.8 Mixed Usage

The Sonos Playbar is alright for mixed use. Its sound is suitable for most audio content, like vocal-centric genres like podcasts or TV shows. However, it lacks sub-bass and won't be ideal for bass-heavy music or action movies. It also has poor surround performance and it doesn't support height channels or Atmos. Still, it has a wide soundstage which can help immerse you in your movies or music. The bar gets loud but at max volume, you can hear noticeable compression artifacts, especially in the bass range.

Pros
  • Solid well-built design.
  • Fairly balanced sound profile.
  • Great center channel performance for dialogue in movies.
  • Easily upgradable setup.
Cons
  • Lacks sub-bass.
  • No DTS support.
  • No Full HDMI In ports.
7.6 Dialogue/TV Shows

The Sonos Playbar is good for dialogue. It's got a fairly neutral sound but some may find it too bright. Voices sound accurate and clear which is great for vocal-centric content like audiobooks or podcasts. It can get fairly loud and you can easily stream content using Wi-Fi.

7.3 Music

The Sonos Playbar is decent for music. It has a fairly balanced but bright sound. Without its separate subwoofer, it lacks a lot of sub-bass which can disappoint fans of more thumpy genres like EDM. However, it's got a wide soundstage that can immerse you in your favorite tunes. The bar can also get loud, but at max volume, there's noticeable compression, especially in the bass range.

6.1 Movies

The Sonos Playbar is mediocre for movies. While it has a fairly neutral sound, it doesn't have height channels or Atmos content support. Its lack of bass and slight brightness may impact action movies that have a lot of rumbling explosions. On the upside, thanks to its side-firing speakers, it has a wide soundstage that can help create a more immersive sound experience. This soundbar can also get loud too, although at max volume, there are some compression artifacts, especially in the bass range.

  • 6.8 Mixed Usage
  • 7.6 Dialogue/TV Shows
  • 7.3 Music
  • 6.1 Movies

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Test Results

perceptual testing image
Market Context
Market Context
Market Context

The Sonos Playbar is Sonos' first soundbar ever. Although it first came out in 2013, it's still comparable to more recent soundbars. Similar to the Sonos Beam, it has a fairly neutral and balanced sound, although it slightly leans warm and lacks a bit of sub-bass. The Sonos Playbar's main competitors are the Sonos Beam, the Bose Soundbar 500, and the Bose Soundbar 700.

Design
Design
Style - Bar

The Sonos Playbar has a fabric wrap around the front face and top side of the bar that can be prone to tears or collecting dust. There's a metal grill on both sides of the bar while the back and underside are made from a good quality silver plastic. For a more sleek-looking design, check out the 2020 Sonos Arc soundbar.

Design
Style - Subwoofer

This setup doesn't have a subwoofer.

Design
Style - Satellites

The Sonos Playbar setup doesn't have satellites.

Design
Dimensions - Bar
Bar Width 35.5" (90.1 cm)
Bar Height 3.3" (8.5 cm)
Bar Depth 5.4" (13.8 cm)

The Sonos Playbar is fairly large. Its wide size may not fit between the legs of a 55" TV while its height could pose issues if your TV sits flush to the table or if it has a short stand.

Design
Dimensions - Subwoofer
Sub Width N/A
Sub Height N/A
Sub Depth N/A

There's no subwoofer in this setup.

Design
Dimensions - Satellites
Sat Width N/A
Sat Height N/A
Sat Depth N/A

There are no satellites with this bar.

Design
Back - Bar
Bar Mounting Type
Proprietary

The bar has an opening on the back for input connectivity as well as its power cable. Although it has wall-mounting holes on its underside, you have to buy the proprietary all-mounting bracket separately.

Design
Back - Subwoofer
Enclosure
N/A

This setup doesn't have a subwoofer.

Design
Back - Satellites
Sat Mounting Type
N/A

This setup doesn't have satellites.

8.0
Design
Build Quality

This soundbar's build quality is great. Its plastic body feels very solid and the grilled sides are a nice touch. On the downside, the fabric covering on the top and front face can rip or get dirty easily.

Design
In The Box
HDMI Cable Length
N/A
Digital Optical Cable Length
5.0 ft (1.5 m)

  • Sonos Playbar
  • Manuals
  • Flat ethernet cable
  • Power cable
  • Optical cable

Sound
6.7
Sound
Stereo Frequency Response
ST Slope
0.47
ST Std. Err.
2.10 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
55.0 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
15.6 kHz

The Sonos Playbar's stereo frequency response is fair. Similar to the Sonos Beam, this soundbar by itself struggles to produce deep thump and rumble. However, it still has a fairly neutral, but slightly bright sound.

Note: This soundbar was tested with the bar only, but we plan to test it with a full setup (sub and satellites) in the future.

Sound
Stereo Raw Frequency Response
8.0
Sound
Stereo Soundstage
Crosstalk Error
2.63 dB

The Sonos Playbar has a great soundstage. Its wide soundstage is thanks to its side-firing speakers that work together with its stereo speakers. Although you can't disable it, it produces a widening effect on the soundstage and it feels almost as wide as home theater tower speakers. On the downside, it slightly diffuses sound as if it's coming from a general area rather than an accurate pinpoint location.

7.7
Sound
Stereo Dynamics
ST SPL @ Max Volume
96.0 dB SPL
ST DRC @ Max Volume
2.41 dB

This soundbar has good stereo dynamics and can get pretty loud. You should be able to use it in large rooms without much of a problem. However, if you push it to its max volume, this soundbar produces thumping and compression artifacts, especially in the bass range.

7.6
Sound
Stereo Total Harmonic Distortion
ST Weighted THD @ 80
0.47
ST Weighted THD @ Max Volume
1.96

The Sonos Playbar has good total harmonic distortion performance. At a normal listening volume, this soundbar's distortion is within good limits, producing a clear and pure sound. Even at max volume, there isn't a big jump in distortion either, although there may be compression artifacts in the bass range.

8.9
Sound
Center
C Localization
Discrete
C Slope
0.44
C Std. Err.
1.91 dB
C SPL @ Max Volume
96.1 dB SPL
C Weighted THD @ 80
0.67
C Weighted THD @ Max Volume
1.83

The Sonos Playbar is a 3.0 setup with an excellently performing center channel. Its dedicated center channel is great for clearer and more accurate vocal content such as dialogue in movies or TV shows.

5.3
Sound
Surrounds
Sr Localization
Stereo (Downmix)
Rears
N/A
Sr Slope
0.12
Sr Std. Err.
2.47 dB
Sr SPL @ Max Volume
94.8 dB SPL
Sr Weighted THD @ 80
1.24
Sr Weighted THD @ Max Volume
2.53

As a 3.0 setup, the Playbar's surrounds performance is disappointing. The bar downmixes surround content to stereo which doesn't really produce an accurate or clear representation of surround objects. However, it has an accurate and well-balanced frequency response.

0
Sound
Height (Atmos)
H Localization
N/A
H Slope
N/A
H Std. Err.
N/A
H SPL @ Max Volume
N/A
H Weighted THD @ 80
N/A
H Weighted THD @ Max Volume
N/A

The Sonos Playbar doesnโ€™t support height channels or Atmos.

9.1
Sound
Sound Enhancement Features
Room Correction
Yes
Dialogue Enhancement
Yes
Auto-Volume/Night Mode
Yes
Subwoofer Level Adjustment
N/A
Bass Adjustment
Yes
Treble Adjustment
Yes
EQ
No
Surround Level Adjustment
N/A
Rear Level Adjustment
N/A
Height Level Adjustment
N/A
Virtual Surround
No

The Sonos Playbar has excellent sound enhancement features. It has a dialogue enhancement feature which is great for your favorite TV shows or podcasts, as well as a night-mode that can help adjust the volume level of the content you're playing. Unlike the Samsung HW-S60T, it lacks a proper EQ for you to tweak its sound. However, you can still adjust the amount of treble and bass on this soundbar. There's even a room correction feature that adapts the sound to your specific room, it's only currently available on the iOS app.

Connectivity
Connectivity
Physical Inputs - Bar
Optical Audio In
1
HDMI ARC
No
HDMI Out
No
Full HDMI In
No
Analog Audio In 3.5mm (Aux)
No
USB for Files
No
Ethernet
2

This bar has limited physical inputs and you can only connect devices that have an optical connection. On the bright side, it can connect to your network if you use its two ethernet ports. If you're looking for a soundbar with HDMI ports, check out the Samsung HW-Q70R.

0
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - ARC
eARC
No
Dolby Atmos
No
Dolby Digital
No
Dolby Digital Plus
No
DTS
No
DTS:X (eARC only)
No
Dolby TrueHD (eARC only)
No
DTS-HD MA (eARC only)
No
5.1 PCM (eARC only)
No

The Sonos Playbar doesn't have an HDMI port.

0
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - Full HDMI In
Dolby Atmos
No
DTS:X
No
Dolby Digital
No
Dolby Digital Plus
No
DTS
No
Dolby TrueHD
No
DTS-HD MA
No
5.1 PCM
No

This soundbar doesn't have an HDMI port.

6.0
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - Optical
Dolby Digital
Yes
DTS
No

The Sonos Playbar uses its optical port to playback surround sound in Dolby Digital content such as Blu-ray discs and streaming services, but it downmixes the signal. This soundbar doesn't support DTS and while it's not common on its own, it's the fallback of the DTS-HD MA which is a higher quality format widely available on Blu-rays.

2.0
Connectivity
Wireless Playback
Bluetooth
No
Wi-Fi
Yes
Chromecast built-in
No
Apple AirPlay
No

The Sonos Playbar has disappointing wireless playback capabilities and can't use a Bluetooth connection. However, you can connect to it using your Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, it doesn't support Apple AirPlay or Chromecast built-in which can make it difficult to stream from your mobile devices without using Wi-Fi.

Connectivity
Other Input Specifications
4k @ 60 Hz Passthrough
N/A
4k @ 60 Hz @ 10 bit Passthrough
N/A
4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4 Passthrough
N/A
HDR10 Passthrough
N/A

The Sonos Playbar doesn't have HDMI ports, so it can't passthrough any video signal.

Connectivity
Connectivity - Subwoofer
Sub Wireless
N/A

This soundbar doesn't have a subwoofer.

Connectivity
Connectivity - Satellites
Sat Wireless
N/A

This bar doesn't have any satellites.

Additional Features
Additional Features
Interface
Display
No

The interface is located on the right side of the bar. It has a status light that flashes or changes color depending on what you're doing.

Additional Features
Bar Controls

The bar's controls are located on its right side. There's only a button for play/pause and another for volume up and down.

Additional Features
Remote
Universal Remote
No

The Sonos Playbar doesn't have a remote. However, if you're using the Sonos Controller app, you can program your TV's IR remote to control for volume by using the 'Remote Control Setup' feature.

Additional Features
App
App Name Sonos Controller
iOS Yes
Android Yes
Acts as the Remote
Yes
Controls Soundbar's Settings
All
Casts Device Files
Audio Files Only

This soundbar has access to the Sonos Controller companion app. It can link all of your music services like Spotify together so you can search through all of them at once to find your favorite tune. You can also control your entire network of Sonos speakers, which is great if you choose to upgrade this setup and even set up room configurations. However, some may find this app hard to use to control the soundbar instead of a remote. Their room connection feature, Trueplay Tuning, is also only currently available on the iOS version of the app.

Additional Features
Other Features
Power Saving
No
HDMI CEC (TV Remote Control)
No

This bar doesn't have any power saving features such as an auto off-timer. While you can set a sleep timer that stops your audio after a set time, this doesn't turn the bar off. If you're using the Sonos Controller app, you can also configure your TV remote to control the soundbar's volume, but it doesn't support HDMI CEC.

Compared to other soundbars

The Sonos Playbar is an older 3.0 soundbar that still performs well for its age. It has a balanced sound but lacks sub-bass. However, just like the Sonos Beam, you can easily upgrade your setup with a subwoofer and satellites. On the downside, it lacks now common connectivity options like HDMI ports and Bluetooth. If you're still shopping around for soundbars, take a look at our recommendations for the best soundbars, the best small soundbars, and the best soundbars 5.1.

Sonos Beam
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sonos Beam is a slightly better soundbar than the Sonos Playbar, but they sound fairly similar. The main difference is that the Beam supports ARC via an adapter and is Apple AirPlay compatible. The Beam also has a sleeker and more compact design.

Sonos Arc
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sonos Playbar is a slightly better bar than the Sonos Arc since the Arc has some known issues in the bass range and poor performance at max volume. This should be fixed in a recent update, however. On the other hand, the Arc is more versatile thanks to its eARC and Atmos support.

Bose Soundbar 700
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Bose Soundbar 700 is better than the Sonos Playbar. It has a slightly more accurate stereo frequency response and compresses less than the Playbar at max volume. The Soundbar 700 also has more inputs, although neither soundbar has an HDMI In port. The Bose 700 also has a sleeker design with a glass panel on the top. Both soundbars perform fairly similarly sound-wise, and both can be upgraded easily with a sub and satellites.

Bose Soundbar 500
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sonos Playbar is slightly better than the Bose Soundbar 500. It can get a bit louder than the Bose and its stereo soundstage is noticeably wider. It has more sound enhancement features, which is great. On the other hand, the Bose Soundbar 500 can play content wirelessly via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, while the Playbar doesn't support Bluetooth. Also, the Playbar doesn't have any HDMI ports.

Bose Solo 5
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sonos Playbar is a better option than the Bose Solo 5. It has a dedicated center channel due to its 3.0 configuration, which results in better dialog performance. It can also get noticeably louder and is better built. The Playbar also has a room correction feature to optimize its audio reproduction. The soundstage of the Playbar is also wider. On the other hand, the Solo 5 supports Bluetooth, while the Sonos soundbar is only Wi-Fi compatible.

LG SK10Y
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The LG SK10Y is a better soundbar setup than the Sonos Playbar without a sub and satellites. It has a dedicated sub which helps its bass performance. Its 5.1.2 configuration is decent for surround and Atmos content, while the Playbar downmixes surround and can't do Atmos. The SK10Y also has more inputs and supports Bluetooth casting. However, some may feel like the SK10Y has a very hyped and exciting sound profile, and it's noticeably quieter than other soundbars.

Samsung HW-Q90R
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Samsung HW-Q90R performs better than the Sonos Playbar, although we didn't test the Playbar with a sub and satellites, which are sold separately. The Q90R has better overall performance, supports Atmos, and has plenty of inputs that are lacking on the Playbar. On the other hand, the Playbar has a room correction feature and can easily be upgraded.

Samsung HW-Q70R
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Samsung HW-Q70R is a better soundbar than the Sonos Playbar. It has a great subwoofer that gives you a great bass, which the Playbar lacks. Its sound profile is well-balanced too and its stereo performance is better. The Q70R has multiple inputs, including Full HDMI Ins, which the Playbar also lacks. 

Samsung HW-Q80R
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Samsung HW-Q80R is better than the Sonos Playbar since we tested the Playbar without the separate sub and satellites. The bass performance of the Q80R is greatly helped by the good wireless sub and has a very good stereo frequency response. It also supports Atmos, which the Playbar doesn't do. On the other hand, the Sonos soundbar has a better soundstage as it sounds wider and accurate, and it has a room correction feature which is great. However, the Playbar doesn't have more modern inputs like HDMI ports as it's a fairly older product. It also only supports Wi-Fi as Sonos believes in better quality audio over Wi-Fi than Bluetooth, but the Q80R supports both wireless playback types.

LG SK9Y
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The LG SK9Y is better than the Sonos Playbar, as we didn't test the Sonos with its sub and satellites. The 5.1.2 SK9Y is more versatile as it has decent performance with surround and Atmos content. However, the stereo soundstage of the Playbar is wider and more immersive. On the other hand, the Playbar doesn't any HDMI ports and the LG SK9Y also supports Wi-Fi wireless playback, on top of being Bluetooth compatible, and has Chromecast built-in.

LG SL10YG
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The LG SL10YG is a better soundbar setup than the Sonos Playbar by itself, but note you can easily upgrade the Sonos with a sub and satellites. The LG has two up-firing speakers for Atmos. On the other hand, the stereo soundstage of the Playbar is noticeably larger and more immersive. The Sonos also has room correction, which is great, but lacks HDMI ARC and Full HDMI In ports as it's an older product. Sonos also believes in better audio quality over Wi-Fi, so it doesn't support Bluetooth like the SL10YG does.

Samsung HW-Q60R
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Samsung HW-Q60R is a better soundbar setup than the Sonos Playbar, although we tested the Playbar by itself, without a sub and satellites. It supports the sound quality is a bit better on the Q60R and has a dedicated subwoofer for the bass. On the other hand, the stereo soundstage of the Playbar is noticeably larger thanks to the speakers' disposition on the bar. However, the Q60R doesn't downmix surround content thanks to Samsung's Acoustic Beam up-firing speakers on the bar.

Klipsch Bar 48
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sonos Playbar, which was tested without a sub and satellites, is a better performing soundbar than the 3.1 Klipsch Bar 48. Although it doesn't have a sub like the Bar 48, the Playbar has better stereo performance and a more neutral sound profile. It also has a wide soundstage due to its configuration, but doesn't get as loud at the Bar 48. On the other hand, the Bar 48 has an ARC port and supports DTS, which the Playbar doesn't have. However, the Playbar is noticeably better-built and feels more robust.

Yamaha YAS-207
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Yamaha YAS-207 performs better than the Sonos Playbar by itself. The lack of subwoofer on the Playbar makes its bass a bit lackluster, while the YAS-207 performs great with stereo content. However, the 3.0 Playbar has a dedicated center channel, which is great for voices and dialog, and the YAS-207 is simply a 2.1 setup. The Playbar also has many features, including room correction, but it lacks inputs and connectivity options. The Playbar can also easily be upgraded with a sub and satellites, which could make it better-performing than the Yamaha.

Yamaha YAS-108/ATS-1080
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sonos Playbar is better than the Yamaha YAS 108/ATS-1080. It has a dedicated center channel for accurate and clear voices and dialog. Even if the ATS-1080 has two integrated subwoofers, the bass performance of the Playbar is more accurate and doesn't sound as dark. Also, the Playbar has a great soundstage performance and has plenty of sound enhancement features, including room correction. On the other hand, the Playbar doesn't have as many inputs and lacks an HDMI ARC or Full HDMI In ports. It also doesn't support DTS and you're only able to cast content wirelessly via Wi-Fi, while the ATS-1080 supports Bluetooth instead.

Yamaha YAS-408
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Yamaha YAS-408 performs better than the Sonos Playbar by itself. Without its dedicated sub, the Playbar doesn't have a great bass performance. On the other hand, it has a 3.0 speaker configuration, meaning it has a center channel for better and clearer dialog, which the Yamaha soundbar doesn't have. The Playbar also has a noticeably larger soundstage which is immersive. It also has room correction, but lacks modern inputs like HDMI ports.

Samsung HW-R650
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Samsung HW-R650 is slightly better than the Sonos Playbar by itself, as we haven't tested the Sonos with a wireless sub or satellites. Both have a dedicated center channel for great dialog performance, but the sub of the R650 gives it a small edge when it comes to bass performance. However, the Playbar has a noticeably larger soundstage and has room correction. On the other hand, it lacks inputs like HDMI ports and doesn't support Bluetooth.

LG SL6Y
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sonos Playbar is a slightly better soundbar than the LG SL6Y. The Playbar feels slightly better-built, has better center channel performance, and has a similar bass response even without a subwoofer. On the other hand, the LG SL6Y has way more connectivity options, and a remote control.

Samsung HW-N450
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sonos Playbar and Samsung HW-N450 are both decent soundbars, but for different reasons. The N450 has a wireless sub, which helps a bit with the bass performance, while the Playbar has a 3.0 configuration with a dedicated center channel, which is great for dialog and voices. The N450 is more recent and has a bit more ports like Full HDMI In and an ARC port, which the Playbar lacks. If you plan on getting a high-end setup and plan on upgrading, the Sonos Playbar will be the better option since you can add a separate sub and satellites.

Sony HT-S100F
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sonos Playbar is a slightly better soundbar than the Sony HT-S100F. It has an extra dedicated center channel, which makes dialog and voices a lot clearer and easier to understand. The overall stereo performance is also better and more accurate. The Playbar has a very wide soundstage and plenty of sound enhancement features, including a room correction feature, which is great. However, it doesn't support Bluetooth, only Wi-Fi, and doesn't have an ARC port, unlike the Sony.

AmazonBasics 2.1 Channel Bluetooth
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The 3.0 channel Sonos Playbar is a better soundbar than the AmazonBasics 2.1 Channel Bluetooth bar. The Sonos is a high-end soundbar with a more premium design, better-balanced sound, and more sound enhancement features, like room correction. Both soundbars lack connectivity options, though, and neither supports DTS - only Dolby Digital. Since the Sonos is quite a bit more expensive, if you're on a budget and aren't super picky about sound quality, the AmazonBasics is likely a better option.

TCL Alto 7+
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

Even without a wireless subwoofer, the Sonos Playbar is a better option than the TCL Alto 7+. The bass performance isn't impacted that much by the lack of subwoofer and the general sound profile is well-balanced. It also doesn't compress as much as the TCL and has a great and wide soundstage. The Playbar also has a 3.0 configuration, which means it has a dedicated center channel for clearer voices and dialog. On the other hand, the TCL has an HDMI ARC port and supports Bluetooth, while the Playbar can only play content wirelessly via Wi-Fi.

Samsung HW-S60T
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Samsung HW-S60T and the Sonos Playbar are similarly performing soundbars. While both are very well-built, the Samsung has a slightly better-balanced sound profile, it has an HDMI ARC port so it can support Dolby Digital as well as DTS content, and you can even stream audio using your Wi-Fi. However, the Sonos can get louder, it has a better performing discrete center channel, and even though it has to downmix surround content into stereo, it still sounds more balanced than the Samsung. It also has a room correction and auto-volume feature; however, unlike the Samsung, it doesn't have an EQ.

TaoTronics TT-SK026
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sonos Playbar is a better soundbar than the TaoTronics TT-SK026. The Sonos feels better built, it can produce a wider stereo soundstage, and unlike the TaoTronics, it can downmix surround content instead of not supporting it at all. You can also easily upgrade the Sonos' setup down the line if you decide you want a more immersive experience. However, you can wirelessly connect to the TaoTronics using Bluetooth while the Sonos can only support Wi-Fi. 

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