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Wireless & Bluetooth Speakers

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.

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."

image001

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.