Sonos Playbar review

Andrew Williams




  • Recommended by TR

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Sonos Playbar
  • Sonos Playbar
  • Sonos Playbar
  • Sonos Playbar
  • Sonos Playbar
  • Sonos Playbar
  • Sonos Playbar
  • Sonos Playbar
  • Sonos Playbar
  • Sonos Playbar
  • Sonos Playbar
  • Sonos Playbar
  • Sonos Playbar
  • Sonos Playbar
  • Sonos Playbar


Our Score:



  • Fantastic design and build quality
  • High-detail, wide and engaging sound
  • Easy streaming from Spotify and suchlike
  • No HDMI inputs


  • Creating a Sonos 5.1 system is expensive

Key Features

  • Six mid-range drivers and three tweeters
  • Optical input for TV connection
  • Android and iPhone app interfaces
  • Taps into Sonos' excellent networked music system
  • Manufacturer: Sonos
  • Review Price: £599.00

Note: At the time of the review, the Sonos Playbar was available for £599, but post-Brexit prices have nudged that up to around £699 in most stores.


Sonos has established itself as the king of multi-room audio, and has traditionally been focused on providing sound for music lovers rather than film fans. However, given that the humble soundbar is the fastest-growing piece of kit in the audio market, the company has decided that's its time to turn its talents towards home cinema.

The Sonos Playbar bucks a number of Sonos trends. It’s not entirely locked into the closed world of Sonos wireless, it can be used as part of a surround set-up and will even plug into your TV. At £699 the Sonos Playbar isn’t the cheapest way to upgrade your sound system, but it isn’t half clever and convenient.

Sonos PlayBar not for you? Check out our round up of the best soundbars to buy

Sonos Playbar 3

Sonos Playbar – Design

All of Sonos’s recent speakers, such as the Play:3, are designed to be used exclusively within the walled garden of the Sonos wireless system. This gives you access to music libraries on your computer, along with a fairly wide array of music streaming services that includes Spotify and Deezer. The Sonos Playbar offers all this, but is also designed to plug into your TV, to replace its weedy internal speakers.

This helps to explain the Sonos Playbar’s design; with a super-slim profile of under 9cm, the Playbar is designed to sit under your TV, either mounted to the wall or laid flat on a table. And at 90cm wide, it is designed to live happily under TVs of 42-inches and larger.

Although it wants to more-or-less melt into the background of your lounge, the Sonos Playbar is still a good-looking and fantastically well-made speaker. The parts of the bar that aren’t covered by the smooth, soft fabric grille are made of aluminium – whereas many lesser soundbars are constructed of plastic. At 5.4kg, the Sonos Playbar isn't particularly light, however build quality is fantastic.

Sonos Playbar 1

Like every Sonos product, the Playbar has very limited connections. There are two Ethernet ports, the power socket and the all-important optical input. Where every other TV-related audio gadget has moved to HDMI, the Sonos Playbar uses an optical audio input – make sure your TV has an optical output before buying.

Sonos Playbar – Setup

Plugging in the Sonos Playbar is delightfully simple, but setting the thing up is a little more involved. For starters, if you’re not going to plug the Playbar directly into the router, you’ll need a Sonos Bridge, which acts as the Playbar’s entry point into your home wireless network.

You’ll also need to install the Sonos app onto a smartphone or tablet to pass through the set-up wizard. Sonos tries to make the set-up process as beginner-friendly as possible, but there’s a lot more legwork involved than in your average soundbar.

This is in part because the Sonos Playbar also lets you replace your TV’s remote with the Sonos app. The Playbar features an IR blaster, letting it transmit the same signals as a remote control, and part of the set-up is telling the Playbar exactly what sort of remote it needs to emulate. You can skip this part if you prefer, though.

This functionality could arguably have been implemented more easily with an Arc-enabled HDMI port, which can pass on remote-style commands. But then not every TV has an Arc HDMI port. Every approach has its issues.

Sonos Playbar

Once fully set-up, your TV and the Sonos Playbar can be fully controlled using an iPhone, iPad or Android device. The Sonos app works well, and intuitively integrates wireless music services like Spotify and Napster, and TV audio. The Sonos interface does lack the presentation gloss of the proprietary apps for Spotify and Napster though. Where their interfaces have improved fairly rapidly over the last year or so, the Sonos app looks much like it always has. And thanks to the closed nature of the Sonos system, you can’t use apps other than Sonos’s.

Time for a new layer of paint perhaps, Sonos?

Sonos Playbar – Sound Quality

Sonos normally keeps fairly quiet about the exact driver arrays in its speaker units, but it’s happy to shout about the Sonos Playbar, which uses six mid-range drivers and three tweeters.

Sonos Playbar

This may sound like a large number, but it’s a fairly common, and common-sense setup for what is effectively a 3.0 soundbar. Each of the left, right and centre channels gets two mid-range drivers and a tweeter, while the left/right tweeters are mounted on the edge of the bar at roughly 45-degree angles to fire positional audio data as wide as possible.

Higher-frequency sound is far more positional than lower-frequency sound, which is why it’s important to put your home cinema satellites in the right place, but your subwoofer is far more flexible about where it sits.

This driver setup works extremely well, producing a wide, detailed and grand-sounding soundstage. The Sonos Playbar creates sounds genuinely larger than its size – however we did find that the best results came from positioning the soundbar “upright” rather than on its back, as Sonos suggests.

The Sonos Playbar’s sound is exceedingly crisp and detailed, a tonality that’s common in aluminium-bodied speakers. There’s real finesse in its delivery of music and dialogue alike.

Sonos Playbar 4

Given the speakers it has at its disposal, bass performance is pretty impressive too. For relatively small drivers, the Sonos Playbar can pump-out mid-bass tones with surprising authority. However, it fails to deliver low bass and sub-bass sound. The drop-off is pronounced, and means that the Playbar alone isn’t quite enough to do justice to an explosion-packed action movie. A sub-less system also lacks a little warmth compared with a more traditional set-up.

That’s where the Sonos Sub comes in. The Sonos Playbar can be used happily enough on its own, or you can add the £699 Sonos subwoofer as part of a 3.1 setup. Feeling especially flush? You can also add a pair of Play:3 speakers to upgrade to a full 5.1 surround sound rig. However, this pricey package will seem ever-so-slightly terrifying to some.

Other Sonos kit and other non-Sonos speakers cannot be used as part of the Playbar surround system. It’s also worth noting that only external sources will offer surround – all of the content within the Sonos library of streaming services is stereo.

Sonos Playbar

It’s hard to deny that the Sonos Playbar is anything but a success. It looks good, works a treat and has the sound delivery to act as the main sound source in your living room. It also has the punch of some soundbar systems that include a small subwoofer.

What it is not, though, is cheap. There’s a premium here to pay for the convenience, class and quality that you get with a Sonos product – and we can’t deny that you could get a better-sounding 5.1 system for the same price than what Sonos’s full setup would bring. However, what it does, it does exceedingly well.


The Sonos Playbar is a lounge-unifying device that will let you dump your remote controls and your old hi-fi in the bin. Once you've set it up, it’ll also let you control both your TV and your audio system with your phone. For everything but the most crashing of movie soundtracks the Sonos Playbar sounds great too, with excellent clarity and an expansive soundstage. Sadly, all this convenience and minimalist Sonos style doesn't come cheap at £699, a figure that quickly rises to around two grand should you want to build around the Playbar to reach its full 5.1 potential. Ouch.

Read more: Best soundbars to buy

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Design 9
  • Features 8
  • Performance 9
  • Sound Quality 9
  • Value 7

Mike Prendergast

February 12, 2013, 4:41 pm

don't forget the last few sonos software upgrades have allowed you to use your smart-phone (with sonos s/w on it) as music source. You don't need a physical connection to the sound bar.
And for drop in visitors sonos does have an iphone dock... not sure what the android equivalent connection would be though, i'd guess a network share.

Stuart Holliday

February 12, 2013, 5:17 pm

You can push sound to sonos devices using DLNA.


February 12, 2013, 5:25 pm

There is a dock but it's a separate accessory; you can't just plug in with a normal cable.

Prem Desai

February 12, 2013, 6:34 pm

Why on earth would you want to taint this classy device with an iphone as the source??!!

This is one helluva product. Have already pre-ordered mine.

Hamish Campbell

February 13, 2013, 5:45 am

Why was volume control never added to optical connections? Theres no such as hdmi out from a tv right?


February 13, 2013, 12:34 pm

Nice to see its a proper sound bar, and not just two speakers in a long box like so many are now-a-days. If you've already invested in Sonos, or got nothing and want multi-room this seems to be a good (if expensive) buy.


March 5, 2013, 6:34 pm

HDMI has CEC that allows control of connected devices and also ARC (Audio Return Channel) allowing the audio signal to pass back down a HDMI to your audio system. your TV remote using CEC would also control the volume. just a shame that Sonos did not include this feature to make life easy for everyone.


April 3, 2013, 1:16 pm

Am sure "No HDMI inputs" should be a negative.

Alex Longmate

April 3, 2013, 8:17 pm

Would love one of these, but I already use my 'Sonos Connect' system connected to the TV-out phono socket. Works a treat and sounds great for half the price. You do need your own speakers of course but Creative T40's or similar sound great and don't need a separate amp.

Prem Desai

April 24, 2013, 3:12 pm

Getting this is simply the beginning !!

It is awesome but you want more because Sonos offers an ugrade path - so you add the sub-woofer.

Even more awesome, but you still want more - Sonos offers yet another ugrade path - you one adds a pair of Play-3s.

Absolutely spectacular.

I have another setup with 'proper' speakers that sound better and costs less - however, nothing does it with so much style as the Sonos setup.

Just remember, simply buying the soundbar is not enough - you will not sleep until you have at least got the sub-woofer !!!! Budget for it .....


June 26, 2013, 2:50 pm

Does that mean you could get it to work with Plex?


September 14, 2013, 1:18 pm

I have been researching for a "better" sound bar for awhile. I was almost sold on the Sonos bar until I started seeing and hearing of a LOT of them being returned (or on eBay) with broken optical ports. If it had HDMI I might have been able to overlook this. I have a few friends in the audio/visual business and they say they are made great and sound fantastic, but agree the input issue is a real deal killer. Just my 2 cents worth....


October 12, 2013, 1:16 pm

SONOS Playbar connect to a Loewe-Tv remotecontroller
Does anyone inhere know how to connect the controller from a brand new Loewe Tv to the Playbar. The Playbar is connected to the tv via an optical connection.....
The manual by Sonos does not work for all tv´s........
When I contact Sonos they give me a "half-answer"..
Hoping for qaulified help:-)


October 29, 2013, 4:27 pm

Does the playbar work as a stand alone speaker as well (just as Play 3) or does it have to be plugged in to a TV? Basically I want to be able to listen to radio and Spotify without having to turn on TV


November 6, 2013, 9:33 am

Amazing!!! I installed a week ago and I am blown away. The app is great and easy to use, lots of extra functionality if you want to play with things too (balance turning leds on and off). It sounds amazing and the bass is actually great without the sub. I would totally recommend it to I have for my mates. You can tell the quality even by the prts that you get in the wall mount...quality!


November 28, 2013, 6:06 pm

I'm thinking of buying a soundbar sonos, but I wanted to know what your power and if needs the subwoofer to boost the bass! someone help me? Thank You. Jorge Portugal

rob g

January 5, 2014, 8:45 pm

yes you can bought 1 today and its fantastic


March 29, 2015, 4:29 pm

No HDMI is a deal breaker. It becomes even more of an issue if the full £1700 kit is acquired.

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