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CNET First Look
A sound bar for Sonos disciplesThe Sonos Playbar is cleverly designed and does great fake surround, but it's better suited to current Sonos customers than newcomers.
-Hey, I'm Matthew Maskowviac from CNET, and we're gonna take a look at the Sonos Playbar. There had been rumors of the Sonos sound bar for a long time now, but it's finally here, although it's gonna set you back $700. Now, on it's own, the play bar is actually kind of plain looking, which is a good thing if you wanted to blend them with your home theater rather than stand out. What is unique is how short it is. It's just 3.35 inches tall, which means it won't block your TV's remote sensor like a lot of other sound bars do. The play bar is also unique and that can be positioned either flat on a table top or flat up against a wall if you have wall mounted setup. Sonos even include 2 different remote sensors on the Playbar, so works well in both positions. You'll also notice that Sonos doesn't include a remote in the box, so you're gonna need to teach to respond to commence from your TVs remote or your cable boxes remote, although the setup is pretty is easy. Around back is the Sonos' minimalist connectivity. There is just an optical audio input, 2 Ethernet jacks, and a power port. Sonos knows that you have more than one home theater device, which is why they are expecting you to connect all your devices directly to your TV first, then use your TVs optical output to connect to the Playbar. In a lot of ways, it's a cleaner solution assuming that your TV has enough inputs. Now, unlike a lot of sound bars at this price range, the playbar does not come with wireless subwoofer, although it will work with the Sonos sub, which you can add wireless to the system, even better, you wan add 2 play 3 speakers to the system as rear channels creating a true wireless 5.1 home theater system, although altogether that ends up being a pretty expensive system, but it is nice if you've already bought into the Sonos ecosystem, and of course, with the Playbar, you get access to Sonos' best in class digital music software, and that means you can access all of your digital music including your personal collection and nearly every important streaming music service through Sonos controller app and the big question with the Playbar is how does it sound and it was complicated. It's outstanding when it comes to virtual surround sound. So, from just the single speaker, you really do get the impression that their sound is coming from the sides of the room even though you don't have speakers there, but on the other hand without the subwoofer there's not a lot of base here and that really shows up if you're watching action movies or especially if you're listening the base heavy music. The other thing is that the playbar does a lot of sound processing to get that really big sound and if you're an audio purist, you really gonna notice that movies and music don't sound like you expect them too. And ultimately, that's why it's hard for me to love the Playbar. It's not a speaker that I'd wanna listen to everyday. Now, that's not gonna be the experience for everyone, and the Playbar is a really solution if you've already got Sonos components and you want an easy way to get better sound in your living room. But there are other sound bars around for the same price that sounds significantly better like the SpeakerCraft CS3 and the Harman/Kardon SB 16. So, you don't already have a lot of Sonos components, you wanna check those first. I'm Matthew Maskowviac and this is the Sonos playbar.