Sound bars don't immediately benefit from Wi-Fi connectivity the way music systems do, because you usually use them with your TV, and your TV isn't something you need to put in your pocket and walk around with. But that doesn't mean that Sonos' wireless music features don't benefit from its first sound bar. Just the opposite, in fact.
What Is It?
A sound bar for your TV that works with your Sonos system. It costs a whopping $US700.
Who's it For?
Someone who already owns a Sonos system and needs (or wants) a fancy sound bar to put under their television.
A big, long, rectangular box enclosure, mostly covered by cloth. Like many more advanced sound bars, it's designed to either be mounted upright on the wall or flat on the table.
The Playbar connects to your television with a digital optical cable. Fire up the Sonos application on your computer/phone/tablet, which guides you through a simple setup process. All of this works exactly as it does with the Play:3, Play:5 and Sub, with a few extra steps for the TV.
On its own the system produces 3.0 sound (left, right, centre). When watching movies, the surround effect from the three channels big movies like The Avengers and Wreck-It Ralph is immersive. When you're listening to music that's carefully recorded, the stereo imaging is spacious. The latter is particularly nice because sound bars tend to be better home theatres than home stereos.
Now, the Playbar doesn't have a built-in sub — not even a passive one — and it really is designed to be used with the Sonos Sub. On its own, the Playbar is bright and almost tinny — even if everything sounds clear. Using the controller app, you can push up the bass equalisation, but if you push it too far, the lows sound muddy.
The Best Part
So, so, refreshingly easy to set up and use.
It sounds fine without the Sub — but you would never buy this thing without the Sub. And package deal pricing is non-existent.
This Is Weird...
Pairing the Playbar with the Sonos Sub maks sense to us, even though that runs your total bill up to $US1400. But instructions also suggest you might use the sound bar with a couple of Sonos' tabletop units. Another $US600 on top of that? At some point you've got to say when.
- The Playbar has limited on-board connectivity. In other words, Sonos expects you to handle all of your HDMI connections for DVD, console, STB and the like elsewhere.
- The Playbar lets you program your regular remote to control its volume. This is hardly new, but it often requires a confusing series of button pushing cryptography with other products. It's totally different here. While going through the set up steps, you simply push "volume up" on the remote when prompted, and you're done.
Should You Buy It?
The Playbar does a lovely job, but you could get something that sounds just as good with more features for less money. That said, Sonos is a luxurious, simple and satisfying way to listen to music. If you can afford it in the first place, you won't be disappointed.
• Price: $999 RRP in Australia • Speakers: 3x tweeters, 6x mid-range drivers • Dimensions: 8.5cm x 89cm x 14cm • Connectivity: Digital optical, Wi-Fi, ethernet • App availability: iOS, Android, Windows XP+, Max OS X 10.6