Sonos Playbar: Sonos enters the home cinema market
Sonos has entered the Home Cinema arena with a new sound bar speaker called the Playbar that connects to the Sonos multi-room system and your TV at the same time - just as we said it might, way back in 2009.
The new speaker will work in the same way as the company's existing Play:3 and Play:5 speakers and be controlled by the company's Android and iPhone apps and - in a new twist for the living room - also by your regular TV remote.
Trying to continue its "making listening to music simple" mantra, Sonos tells Pocket-lint that the new sound bar will replace the need for the bevy of speakers you might have in your living room, and the AV receiver under your TV. If you opt for the mega-combo of two further Play:3 speakers and the company's sub, you can remove all your current speaker kit, creating the ultimate home cinema set-up for around £1,700, according to Sonos.
READ: Sonos Sub review
To make connection to your TV simple, the Playbar comes with a single optical connection, the idea being that your TV acts as the source hub to manage your multitude of boxes like Sky, Apple TV or your games console.
It means that users will be able to stream music to the speaker and watch something on the television (without noise) at the same time. Sonos says that when there is no music streaming the system will automatically revert back to picking up the TV signal when it's turned on.
Under the hood, the Playbar gets its punch from nine individually amplified speakers: six mid-woofers to deliver deep, rich low-frequency sounds, and three tweeters for crystal-clear, high-frequency detail.
Measuring 900mm wide and ideally suited to sit under a 40-inch television, the new Playbar can be mounted above or below your TV and automatically works out how you've positioned it, saving you the effort. In fact, apart from adjusting bass and treble levels there are no other settings on the Playbar.
It is controlled by the Sonos Android and iOS app or via your remote control. Sonos tells Pocket-lint that the speaker has been pre-loaded with the most popular remotes on the market, and failing that it can easily learn any remote with just nine button presses. Any new remotes it learns are then shared with the system to help future users.
The Sonos Playbar supports Dolby Digital and Dolby Digital + sound systems with Sonos telling us that besides that it isn't interested in sound effects for sound effects' sake.
The new Playbar will be available on 5 March and cost £599. There's no word on whether Sonos will be offering a Home Cinema bundle with a discount if you buy the sub and two Play:3 speakers at the same time. Let's hope so.
A quick listen and the system sounds good, although we weren't in the best environment because of a snafu on Sonos' part in booking a recording studio that killed the sound dead rather than allowing it to bounce off walls. What is impressive, however, is when you hook it up to the full cinema combo option. It's here the system really shines and while £1,700 might sound expensive, when you compare it against solo sound bars or AV and speaker set-ups this becomes very affordable indeed - especially given the performance we experienced even in an environment that wasn't idea.
We are expecting a review unit in the next couple of days and will put it through its paces in more suitable surroundings to see how it performs.