sonos-tv-soundbar-review-02With the prices of large-screen TVs plummeting, there has been a spike in flat TV purchases, and data show that televisions are getting ever bigger. However, many new HDTV owners realize that the sound quality of TV speakers is often not on par with the image quality, which prompt many to seek additional audio hardware. Some opt for a setup with many speakers, which brings the downside of having also a lot of wires… Others want a neat setup in the form of a soundbar, but have to compromise on surround audio.

Sonos, which originally built music streaming speakers, is now offering home audio/video (A/V) products in the form of the Sonos Play Bar ($699), which can be paired with other Sonos appliances to provide additional bass (SUB, $699), or surround sound (Play:1, $199 each). I always wanted to see audio (music) hardware become truly integrated with the TV experience, and Sonos is one of the companies that wants to address this need. How well does it work? Read on…

Industrial Design (excellent)

The industrial design of the Sonos Bar is excellent: it is relatively low-key and should blend in in most home decors. The bar has a soft black matte cloth and there are two aluminum trims, one of which has the Sonos logo on it.

The sonos soundbar can be used vertically...

The sonos soundbar can be used vertically…

The reason for having two trims is that the Sonos Bar can be used flat to achieve the shortest profile (in height), or front-facing in case your TV height allows, or if you want to hang it on a wall to achieve a slim profile (in depth). I tried both orientations, and there was no perceptible difference in sound quality. In you want the cable to go up, it is also possible to mount it upside-down. The Sonos sound bar has an accelerometer that will detect the orientation and change the audio settings to output the sound as it was intended to be heard.

Horizontally...

Horizontally…

Or upside-down (notice how the Sonos logo remains readable)

Or upside-down (notice how the Sonos logo remains readable)

This alone is great for anyone who has a TV with relatively short feet, which means a whole lot of Samsung or LG TVs out there. When I was shopping for a soundbar, their height (including feet) was a significant problem because many were high enough to obfuscate some portion of the image.

The Sonos connects directly to the wall outlet, so there is not a “power brick” that you need to connect. All the power conversion happens internally, which is the best way to do it in my opinion because it keeps things clean and tidy.

It is possible to control the volume via a couple of buttons on the side, but these are mainly there as a last resort and to stay consistent with the user interface of other Sonos products. The Sonos sound bar does not come with a remote, but you can “teach” it to recognize the volume controls of any other IR (infra-red) remote.

I really like the idea that the Sonos PLAYBAR is a TV sound bar, and a wireless music streaming device at the same time. Frankly, I always found it to be bizarre that TV audio and music audio had always been implemented as two different sets of speakers. This is just a poor utilization of resources and space. I’m glad that Sonos is one of the few manufacturers to show the way, and for sure, others are starting to follow now.

Filed in Audio >Home >Reviews. Read more about Sonos and Soundbar.

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