Sonos Playbar SOUNDBAR REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.0
6.8
Mixed Usage
7.6
Dialog / TV Shows
7.3
Music
6.1
Movies
Channels
:
3.0

The Sonos Playbar is an older product, but this doesn’t stop it from having a decent performance overall. The audio quality of this soundbar is well-balanced and fairly neutral. The sound profile is slightly bright, but most won’t notice it. It lacks a bit of sub-bass if you don’t have the external and optional subwoofer. On the upside, it has great performance for dialog in movies and this setup is quite easy to upgrade with other Sonos’ products like a subwoofer and satellites. Unfortunately, this soundbar doesn't support Bluetooth but you'll still be able to send high fidelity audio over a WiFi connection.

Test Results
Design 8.0
Sound 7.0
Connectivity 2.0
Pros
  • Very well-built design.
  • Well-balanced sound profile.
  • Great center channel performance for dialog in movies.
  • Easily upgradable setup.
Cons
  • Lacks sub-bass.
  • No DTS support.
  • No Full HDMI In ports.
  • No Bluetooth compatibility.

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Market Context

The Sonos Playbar is an old product from 2013 that is still compared to more recent soundbars. It is older than the Sonos Beam and is actually Sonos’ first soundbar ever. It lacks voice control like the Beam but is still aimed to provide great audio quality. The main competitors of the Playbar are the Beam, the Bose Soundbar 500 and Bose Soundbar 700, and it is also compared to the Sonos Playbase.

8.0

Design

Style - Bar

The front face and the top side of the bar are covered by a fabric which can get easily dirty or damaged. The two sides have a metal grill and on the right side, you can see the controls. The back and the underside are made of good quality plastic that has a light gray/silver color.

Style - Subwoofer

There is no sub in this setup.

Style - Satellites

The Sonos Playbar setup has no satellites.

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 and unlikely to fit between the legs of a 55" TV. It is also slightly tall and this might be an issue if your TV has a short stand or sits flush on the table.

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

There is no subwoofer in this setup.

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

There are no satellites with this bar.

Back - Bar
Bar Mounting Type
:
Proprietary

The back of the bar has an opening in the middle where all the inputs connect along with the power cable. The wall-mounting holes are found on the underside and you must buy the proprietary wall mounting bracket to wall-mount it.

Back - Subwoofer
Enclosure
:
N/A

There is no sub in this setup.

Back - Satellites
Sat Mounting Type
:
N/A

This setup has no satellites.

8.0 Build Quality

The build quality of the soundbar is great. The plastic feels very solid and the only downside is the fabric that surrounds the top and front face that can rip or get dirty easily.

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

  • Manuals
  • UTP cable
  • Optical cable
  • Power cable

7.0

Sound

6.7 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 stereo frequency response of the Sonos Playbar is passable. Just like the Sonos Beam, the bar by itself has a fairly high Low-Frequency Extension, which means it has a bit of trouble reproducing the deep thump and rumble of movies and music. On the upside, the sound profile is fairly neutral, although slightly bright.

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.

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

When listening to the Sonos Playbar, the soundstage is great. The soundstage is pretty wide and almost as wide as home theater tower speakers. Like the Beam, this soundbar has side-firing speakers that work in conjunction with the stereo speakers, and this can’t be disabled. However, since the soundstage widening effect works well, the sound is slightly diffused, and sounds come from a general area rather than a really accurate pinpoint location. It performs quite like the Sonos Beam, but sounds slightly more diffused.

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

The Sonos Playbar can get pretty loud and can be used in large rooms without a problem. However, when pushed to the maximum volume level, this soundbar has thumping and compression artifacts, especially in the bass range.

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

The THD performance of this soundbar is good. The amount of THD at a normal listening volume is within good limits and the soundbar creates a clear and pure sound. There’s also not a big jump in THD at max volume, which is good.

8.9 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

This is a 3.0 setup that has excellent performance in the center channel. Due to its configuration, the Beam has a dedicated center speaker, which results in clearer and more and accurate audio reproduction of the dialog in movies.

5.3 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

Due to the 3.0 configuration, the performance of the Playbar is sub-par when sending surround content. This bar downmixes surround content to stereo, which won't provide the most accurate and clear representation of surround objects and won't feel as real as a discrete surround like with tower speakers. On the upside, the frequency response is pretty accurate and well-balanced.

0 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 doesn’t support height channels and Atmos.

9.1 Sound Enhancement Features
Room Correction
:
Yes
Dialog 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 is one of the bars that have the most sound enhancement features. It has a room correction feature to adapt the sound to your room, although this is only available on the iOS app for now. It also has a dialog enhancement for clearer voices, even at a lower volume and a night mode to uniformize the volume level of content being played. You can also slightly play around with the amount of bass and treble, but there’s no proper EQ to customize the sound to your liking.

2.0

Connectivity

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

The physical connectivity of this bar is very limited and you can only connect devices that have an optical connection. On the upside, this bar can connect to your network via the two ethernet ports which are more reliable than WiFi. If the lack of HDMI ports is an issue for you, take a look at the HW-Q70R.

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

There is no HDMI port in this bar.

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

There is no HDMI port in this bar.

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

Through the optical port, you can playback surround sound that is encoded in Dolby Digital, albeit downmixed to 3.0. This format is very common on platforms like Netflix or Blu-rays. The not supported DTS is not common on its own but it’s the fallback of the DTS-HD MA, a higher quality format, which is widely available on Blu-rays.

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

The Sonos Playbar does not have a Bluetooth connection but can connect to your Wi-Fi. It doesn't support Apple AirPlay or Chromecast built-in. In the absence of Wi-Fi, you won’t be able to cast.

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 - Subwoofer
Sub Wireless
:
N/A

There is no subwoofer with this bar.

Connectivity - Satellites
Sat Wireless
:
N/A

This bar has no satellites.

Additional Features

Interface
Display
:
No

The interface on the right-hand side of the bar consists of a status light that will flash to inform you that you are changing something. It also changes color depending on what you are doing.

Bar Controls

The buttons are on the grill on the right side. You can control the playback and the volume.

Remote
Universal Remote
:
No

The Sonos Playbar has no remote. However, you can control the bar's volume using your TVs IR remote if you program it using the 'Remote Control Setup' feature of the app.

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

The Sonos Controller app is the one that pairs with this bar. It allows you to link music services like Spotify and then you can search them all at once. You can control your entire network of Sonos speakers, set up room configurations, etc. Some people find this app hard to use but due to the lack of remote, it is what controls the soundbar.

Note: Currently the Trueplay tuning (room correction) is only available on iOS.

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

This bar never goes into standby mode. However, you can set a sleep timer for the content played. You can also use your TV remote to control the volume of the bar, as explained here.

Compared to other Soundbars

The Sonos Playbar, just like the Bose soundbars, can be easily upgraded with a sub and satellites, but we tested them with the bar only. It has a good neutral sound profile and performs quite well for an older 2013 product. However, it lacks a lot of the more modern inputs like HDMI ports, and Sonos believe that there's better audio quality over Wi-Fi. This means you can't connect to this soundbar via Bluetooth like you can do with most of the soundbars on the market. See our recommendations for the best soundbars, the best Dolby Atmos 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.

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 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 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-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.

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. It also has a better sound profile and stereo performance. The Q70R has multiple inputs, including Full HDMI Ins, which the Playbar lacks. On the other hand, the Playbar can play surround content and has a wider soundstage thanks to the side-firing speakers.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

+ Show more
6.8 Mixed Usage

Decent for mixed usage. The Sonos Playbar has a decent audio reproduction that is suitable for most music genres and dialog content like podcasts and audiobooks. It does lack a bit of sub-bass, which might not be ideal for action movies or bass-heavy music. Also, it has sub-par performance with surround channels and doesn’t support height channels and Atmos. On the upside, the side-firing speakers help to widen its soundstage, which helps to give a more immersive listening experience during movies. The soundbar can also get pretty loud, but pushing the bar to its max volume will result in compression, especially in the bass range.

7.6 Dialog / TV Shows

Good for dialog. This soundbar has a pretty neutral sound profile, but some may feel like it is too bright due to the lack of bass. On the upside, the reproduction of voices will be accurate, which makes it a good option for content like podcasts and audiobooks. It can also get pretty loud and you can also use the Dialog Enhancement feature to get an even better listening experience. You’ll also be able to stream content via Wi-Fi easily.

7.3 Music

Decent for music. The Sonos Playbar has a decent frequency response that slightly bright due to its lack of sub-bass. Without a separate subwoofer, the bar doesn't produce a good amount of thump and rumble, which can make bass-heavy music a bit more boring. On the upside, the stereo soundstage is great and the bar can get pretty loud, although there is some noticeable compression in the bass range at max volume.

6.1 Movies

Mediocre for movies. This soundbar has a decent overall sound but unfortunately doesn’t have height channels and support for Atmos content. Some may feel that the lacking bass makes the audio reproduction a bit too bright for action-packed movies. On the upside, due to its side-firing speakers, it helps to widen the soundstage and give you a more immersive listening experience than a normal stereo soundbar. It also has a good maximum volume, although pushing the bar to its maximum capacities isn’t recommended as there are some compression artifacts, especially in the bass range.

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