The Sonos Playbar offers solid performance, ease of use and premium features such as Sonos's signature digital music software. Movies and music sound great, and bass is fairly deep even though the Sonos Playbar lacks a discrete subwoofer. It's not for everyone, though -- audio purists will be turned off by its highly processed sound, others by its price tag. But if you're looking for a solid sound bar that doubles as a wireless media center, the Sonos Playbar has no equal.
Excellent virtual surround sound. Experts say the Sonos Playbar does an excellent job of creating a simulated surround-sound effect. CNET's Matthew Moskovciak says the Playbar's sound field not only filled the entire room but also created the illusion of sound coming from the sides. But because it uses a lot of digital processing to achieve this -- much more than other sound bars -- the resulting audio sounds artificial. Experts say purists who prefer their audio systems to sound natural will not be impressed. While the Playbar delivers bass that's fairly deep overall, it can't compete with sound bars that use a separate subwoofer. Experts say sound quality is very good for movies, and dialogue is crisp and clear.
A sleek sound bar. At 3.35 inches high, there's little chance that the Sonos Playbar will block your TV's sensor; and if it does, there's a signal repeater to relay remote inputs. The 35.43-inch-wide sound bar sports a sleek black-and-gray aesthetic, and can be placed flat on a tabletop or mounted flush against the wall via keyhole brackets. Connectivity is sparse, consisting of only one optical audio input, one power port and two Ethernet jacks. Experts say setup is fairly straightforward overall.
Includes Sonos's digital music software. The Sonos Playbar includes Sonos's staple digital-music software, which experts rave about. This lets you stream music from your personal library or media services such as Spotify, Pandora and Amazon Cloud Player. While the Playbar is considered to be wireless, experts note that one Sonos product on your system will require a hardwired Ethernet connection. CNET's Matthew Moskovciak recommends the Sonos Bridge (Est. $50) for this purpose. Dolby surround-sound decoders are built in, but usually won't come into play unless you attach components such as Blu-ray players directly to the sound bar. Many experts and owners are also disappointed that there's no DTS support.
Not for everyone. The Sonos Playbar isn't the best value out there, and most will have a hard time justifying the $700 price tag. Other sound bars offer better sound quality for much less money, but few can match the Playbar's simulated surround-sound field and digital music-streaming features. In addition, the Playbar is a logical choice for those already invested in a Sonos system.
ConsumerReports.org reviews the Sonos Playbar sound bar. Analysis here is in-depth and hands-on testing is done. A summary that covers sound quality, ease of use and design is useful; so is a detailed listing of specs.
Review: Sonos Playbar, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not Dated
The Sonos Playbar receives a score of 3.5 stars out of 5 at CNET. Here reviewer Matthew Moskovciak says the Playbar is "cleverly designed and does great fake surround," but adds "it's better suited to current Sonos customers than newcomers."
Review: Sonos Playbar: A Sound Bar for Sonos Disciples, Matthew Moskovciak, March 4, 2013
Reviewer Jamie Lendino gives the Sonos Playbar 3.5 stars out of 5 at PCMag.com. Here the sound bar earns praise for sound quality and its "flexible" wireless streaming. Lendino says the "highly processed sound isn't for purists."
Review: Sonos Playbar, Jamie Lendino, March 21, 2013
4. Home Theater Magazine
The Sonos Playbar receives a Top Picks designation from Home Theater magazine. Analysis is in-depth. Rob Sabin tests the sound bar alone, as well as with optional components such as the Sonos SUB subwoofer and Play:3 rear speakers.
Review: Sonos Playbar Soundbar, Rob Sabin, April 12, 2013
5. Sound & Vision
Brent Butterworth's review of the Sonos Playbar spans four pages and covers sound quality, features and design. Analysis here is hands-on. Butterworth compares the Playbar to other sound bars in its class. He describes it as the "IPod of sound bars," thanks to its ease of use.
Review: Review: Sonos Playbar, Brent Butterworth, March 3, 2013
6. What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision
Britain's What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision reviews the Sonos Playbar, where it receives 5 stars out of 5. It earns praise for its wide soundstage, ease of use and functionality with Sonos's digital music software. Analysis is briefer than at other sources, but hands-on testing is done.
Review: Sonos Playbar, Editors of What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision, Not Dated
TechRadar.com's Christopher Phin reviews the Sonos Playbar, giving it 4.5 stars out of 5. Phin describes sound quality as "beautiful" and says the Playbar can integrate well into a full Sonos system. The review emphasizes setup and ease of use, as well as Sonos's digital music app.
Review: Sonos Playbar Review, Christopher Phin, March 20, 2013
The Sonos Playbar earns 4 stars out of 5 as well as a Recommended Product award at DigitalTrends.com. "If you don't need the extra inputs, and streaming music quality, ease of use, and class-leading design are high priorities, the Sonos Playbar earns a solidly enthusiastic recommendation," writes reviewer Oliver Amnuayphol.
Review: Sonos Playbar Review, Oliver Amnuayphol, March 4, 2013
The Sonos Playbar receives more than 100 user reviews on Amazon.com, with an overall score of 4.5 stars out of 5. Most feedback from owners falls into either the 4-star or 5-star category, but some grouse that the Playbar doesn't offer enough for its price tag -- like DTS support, for one.
Review: Sonos Playbar TV Soundbar and Wireless Speaker for Streaming Music, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of August 2013