For more than a decade, Sonos has been a pioneer in wireless, whole-home audio technology. Their initial product launch in 2002 essentially created the category and the company has been dominating ever since. After seeing their brand new soundbar, PLAYBAR, I’m a firm believer their dominance will only continue to grow.
Before we get into the new product, here’s a little background info.
Sonos allows users to easily stream content from their iTunes library, SiriusXM, TuneIn Radio, Pandora, Rhapsody, MOG, Spotify and more to any room in the house. Systems can be wirelessly expanded to additional rooms as needed and easily controlled with free software for most smartphones, tablets or computers.
What sets Sonos apart is its wireless, room-by-room approach. Users can build and customize their system over time rather than buying all rooms at one time. System are made up of one or more ZonePlayers, which are Sonos devices that play streaming content. ZonePlayers are available as stand-alone Sonos speakers or components that connect to any speaker or audio system. ZonePlayers communicate wirelessly with each other to create a whole home system capable of streaming a different feed in each room or the same feed in all rooms. Best of all, Sonos uses its own unique wireless technology (rather than WiFi or Bluetooth), so users get consistently reliable results without taxing their home network.
If you want to learn more about Sonos and its ZonePlayers, click here for more information.
A soundbar is a low-profile, elongated speaker designed to match today’s ultra-flat TVs. They’ve become very popular because they’re simple systems that can provide much better sound than speakers in an ultra-thin TV and can be installed without hacking into walls or running extensive cabling.
Virtually all of the soundbars on the market today have three basic flaws:
- Subwoofer Required: Most subwoofers are wireless, but it’s still a speaker that needs to find a home in the room.
- Another Remote Control: Although some can learn the basic functions of your TV, cable or satellite remote, the system remote is still required to switch inputs or sound settings.
- TV-Centricity: The sole purpose is making your TV sound better. But what about everything else? Some have multiple inputs, but connecting an iPod or smartphone to rear mounted inputs is pretty difficult when your soundbar is on the wall – or worse yet on a wall over a fireplace. Bluetooth can solve that in some cases, but that technology can be finicky and is not the ideal format for streaming music.
Yesterday Sonos introduced PLAYBAR, the innovative soundbar that’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen. I could dive into how the low profile PLAYBAR speaker sounds great thanks to its nine premium built-in drivers, but its the built-in Sonos streaming audio technology that really pushes PLAYBAR ahead of the pack. Now, when you combine PLAYBAR and a smart TV, you’ve got a central hub for virtually any music or video source on earth. It’s truly a smart speaker for your smart TV.
In addition to great sound and streaming music capability, PLAYBAR offers additional features few competitors can match. Perhaps the most impressive is PLAYBAR’s automatic sound optimization. PLAYBAR has the built-in computing power of a laptop and performs millions of calculations per second in order to output outstanding sound in any environment. It even features a built-in accelerometer that automatically detects the installation configuration to deliver great sound for that specific application. Best of all, the entire process is automatic – no software to run or settings to adjust.
Another very cool feature is PLAYBAR’s multiple configuration options. PLAYBAR sounds great on its own, but add a Sonos subwoofer (model: SUB) and you have a 3.1 system with some serious punch. Add the sub and two Sonos PLAY3 speakers and you have a completely wireless 5.1 solution that rivals just about anything available today.
But wait, there’s more! Here are some more unique PLAYBAR features:
- Simple Connections: Plug it in and connect to your TV with the included fiber optic cable and you’re all set.
- TV Control: PLAYBAR pairs with your TV remote in a matter of seconds for simple control while watching TV
- Smart Device Ready: Like all Sonos components, PLAYBAR is easily controlled with most smartphones, tablets and computers.
- Future-Proof Upgrades: Like all Sonos components, PLAYBAR will continually be upgraded with software updates and new services to make it a future-proof home audio solution.
- Night Mode: Outputs clear, contained output for stealth listening while others are asleep.
- Speech Enhancement: Outputs clear dialog so you can actually understand what people are saying on-screen.
- Ethernet Connection: Allows you to hard-wire your TV to the home network if WiFi is spotty.
- Rear IR Output: Allows for control of your TV even if the bar is blocking the IR sensor.