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Sonos invite hints at new Playbar 2 with Alexa voice control

Sonos is planning an event next month, and signs point to the debut of the company's second smart speaker.

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Ty Pendlebury Editor
Ty Pendlebury is a journalism graduate of RMIT Melbourne, and has worked at CNET since 2006. He lives in New York City where he writes about streaming and home audio.
Expertise Ty has worked for radio, print, and online publications, and has been writing about home entertainment since 2004. He majored in Cinema Studies when studying at RMIT. He is an avid record collector and streaming music enthusiast. Credentials
  • Ty was nominated for Best New Journalist at the Australian IT Journalism awards, but he has only ever won one thing. As a youth, he was awarded a free session for the photography studio at a local supermarket.
Ty Pendlebury
2 min read
Sonos Playbar

Could the venerable Sonos Playbar (above) finally be getting a refresh?

Sonos

Sonos could be ready to announce a new home-theater speaker with voice control next month.

In an invitation that went out to journalists Thursday morning, the audio company has scheduled an event for June 6 in San Francisco. The invite features a table-full of remotes with the tagline "You're better than this."

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The Sonos invite that was sent to journalists 

Sonos

The image looks like a reference to the annoyance of using multiple remote controls. While the literal interpretation says Sonos is getting into the universal remote control business, that would be a big departure from the company's traditional wheelhouse: multiroom audio. 

More likely, in my opinion, it's a reference to using Alexa voice commands for home entertainment. Sonos already has an Alexa-powered speaker, the excellent Sonos One, and could be readying a new voice-controlled speaker. 

A big piece of evidence: Sonos' recent filing to the FCC, which mentioned a "home-theater speaker" with an HDMI input -- a first for the company -- and the model number S14. The filing also included a picture of the microphone array the company first used on the Sonos One.

Sonos was the first company to announce support for both Alexa and Google Assistant voice control in addition to Apple's forthcoming AirPlay 2 system. 

At the launch of the Sonos One in 2017, the company said that voice control was one of the most important considerations for its products going forward.

What's my educated guess on the new product? The Playbar 2. The original Playbar is one of the oldest devices in the Sonos lineup, having debuted in 2013, so it's overdue for a refresh. It was followed in 2017 by the excellent Playbase, but a traditional sound bar form factor is a better fit for today's televisions. Sonos is also likely to announce the date for when Google Assistant will become available on its "agnostic" smart speaker(s).

Sonos did not respond immediately to my request for comment.