16th Nov2014

‘Sonos Playbar’ Review

by Paul Metcalf

sonos-playbar

Being a fan of not only movies, but television and video games flatscreen televisions become important to getting the best out of my entertainment choices. One thing that is noticeable though is the better the televisions get, the one thing that seems to be held back is the audio technology available within that unit. It’s almost expected now that as well as having your television you need an extra sound system to pick up on that shortfall. This is where a device like the Sonos Playbar comes in.

The Sonos Playbar, is a soundbar which is exactly what it sounds like: a bar that fits under your television with a number of speakers designed to provide a better audio experience. Connecting through an optical wire (the only connection choice available which is somewhat limiting) and connecting to your router the soundbar is easy to set up (after making that connection to your network and internet). If there are problems with the actual connection to your wireless network a bridge is available that can boost the signal. This is just box that connects to your router and gives the Sonos Playbar an extra chance to find a stronger connection, as well as giving the ability to have more than one Playbar within the house.

Once the bar has connected to the network there are just a few steps to go through before everything is set up. It’s easy to do and in no time the audio from whatever you were watching on television is blasting through the bar.

The Sonos Playbar is made up of nine speakers, six midrange and three tweeters. Using this with your television the change in audio quality is noticeable straight away and with a bit of tweaking you get it exactly how you want, to fit your own audio needs. internet radio is available as well as services such as Spotify, but often you do need the premium services to use them in this way. In terms of remote controls, with the wireless technology Android and iOS devices can be used as remote controls as well as the PC, but your old fashioned television remote can easily be used as the volume control too. This was surprisingly easy to set up without any need to search for a code to synchronise the two.

When it comes to actual audio quality I tested the Sonos Playbar using television, Blu-rays and also games. Shows and movies gain more of an effect through having good audio quality, but I also found that in video games this is where the device really shines. The experience becomes more immersive as you pick up more of the game worlds atmospheric sound effects and a better quality background music. When it comes to audio quality, the only way it could be improved really is to look at the expansions available to the device through its wireless speakers.

To add a sub-woofer and surround sound speakers to your Sonos Playbar set up is as easy as selecting a few options on the Sonos App (after you’ve bought them of course). If you want other rooms to have systems set up you can also connect to these through the app as well and be able to have full control over them all through your phone, tablet or computer. To do this though you will need a Sonos Bridge to boost the wireless connection, Ethernet connections are also available if this is your preferred choice.

The lack of other audio connection choices is an issue with the Sonos Playbar but when most modern televisions do have optical outputs for most people this will be little issue. For other people though who want to connect other devices, this is where a weakness with the Playbar is obviously seen. I did a simple search on Google and it didn’t take long to find people who were wanting to use the Playbar on their PC (as an example) and were frustrated that there was no easy way to do this. So there are limitations to what you can do.

A drawback for many when it comes to the Sonos Playbar is the cost but if you can afford it, this is an excellent sound system with an ease of use that is very welcoming, even to the less tech minded out there. It may feel strange that you need a phone and/or computer app to get full control of your home theatre, but once you can get your head around that (and it’s not really hard is it?) you start to really enjoy the quality audio your television produces. The Sonos Playbar is an excellent home theatre choice for those wanting to upgrade their televisions to get a quality of audio to match the high definition visuals that are now available. Yes, there should be more connection options, but this does not detract from the fact that the Sonos Playbar is an easy system to use in the home and with a high quality sound, really brings your home theatre experience to life.

****½  4.5/5

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