Soundbars / Surround Sound / Home Audio
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Thread: Soundbars / Surround Sound / Home Audio

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    Soundbars / Surround Sound / Home Audio

    We currently have a 3 year old Samsung 65" LED TV (UN65H7150) and use the TV speakers. I have always wanted better sound but wouldn't spend the money. Fast forward to today, I win a Sonos Playbar. Hooked it up and wow what a difference. The thing sounds awesome but immediately has me thinking MORE.

    Does anyone here have a Sonos system beyond just the bar? I'd like to add the sub and rear speakers but that alone is lots of money. Is it worth it?

    We have two Amazon Echos and are in need of a third but are thinking about going with three Sonos Ones instead based on being able to group the units together and play the same music throughout the house, a feature not available with Echo.

    Any thoughts? Any other options we should look at? We can always sell the Sonos and go a different brand.

    Thanks for any input
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    Get the Echo app, establish a group called "everywhere ", and assign each Echo to that group. Then you can command it to play 60's rock on group everywhere. Music all through the house.

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    Quote Originally Posted by psrumors View Post
    We currently have a 3 year old Samsung 65" LED TV (UN65H7150) and use the TV speakers. I have always wanted better sound but wouldn't spend the money. Fast forward to today, I win a Sonos Playbar. Hooked it up and wow what a difference. The thing sounds awesome but immediately has me thinking MORE.

    Does anyone here have a Sonos system beyond just the bar? I'd like to add the sub and rear speakers but that alone is lots of money. Is it worth it?

    We have two Amazon Echos and are in need of a third but are thinking about going with three Sonos Ones instead based on being able to group the units together and play the same music throughout the house, a feature not available with Echo.

    Any thoughts? Any other options we should look at? We can always sell the Sonos and go a different brand.

    Thanks for any input
    The audio that goes with movies can end up costing you a TON of money to do it completely. A full-on Dolby Atmos system is the ultimate, but costs thousands and thousands by the time you're done. I have a Dolby capable receiver from about ten years ago along with a subwoofer, fronts, and rears. The sound is really good, but it isn't optimal at all. And that setup is probably $3k plus to buy today.

    As far as playing the same music on various Echo devices, that is available today. As stated, you need the app to set up various groups and then you can direct Alexa which group to use. For example, one in the den and one in the kitchen could be set up as a group called "Entertainment Area". "Alexa, play Pandora in Entertainment Area". Now you have Pandora playing while you're having a party, but the one in the bedroom isn't piping out music.
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    Quote Originally Posted by psrumors View Post
    We currently have a 3 year old Samsung 65" LED TV (UN65H7150) and use the TV speakers. I have always wanted better sound but wouldn't spend the money. Fast forward to today, I win a Sonos Playbar. Hooked it up and wow what a difference. The thing sounds awesome but immediately has me thinking MORE.

    Does anyone here have a Sonos system beyond just the bar? I'd like to add the sub and rear speakers but that alone is lots of money. Is it worth it?

    We have two Amazon Echos and are in need of a third but are thinking about going with three Sonos Ones instead based on being able to group the units together and play the same music throughout the house, a feature not available with Echo.

    Any thoughts? Any other options we should look at? We can always sell the Sonos and go a different brand.

    Thanks for any input
    We have a Samsung 3.1ch Soundbar w/ Wireless Subwoofer we also bought the rear wireless (from the sound bar, wires to the speakers) speakers. Not as good as our 5.1ch but PLENTY good.
    I would say definitely worth the money.
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    I picked up 2 Sonos One's with Alexa when they released them this past fall. Very happy with the sound quality in the 2 rooms I have them set. Alexa takes some training but hey.....

    As for soundbars, I have a buddy who has his whole house synced up to Sonos including the sound bars and he love it all, zero complaints.

    I have a long range plan to add a bridge to my receiver to use those speakers with Sonos but it isn't top on the list for the money.
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    Pardon my LONG response but I've become a rabid Sonos evangelist. It's an apples and oranges comparison to Echo if you want great sound quality and other features. I've been an audiophile for decades and think Sonos is the greatest advance in home audio we've ever experienced. Over the years I've spent a great deal of time and money on various whole-home and media room audio designs. All of that gear is long gone and replaced entirely by Sonos. It's important to realize that Sonos is MUCH more than just a speaker company. Yes, their speakers are expensive and the sound quality is excellent but itís really about the Sonos software application. The free app is incredibly powerful and allows you to leverage your own music content as well as the Internet. This intuitive application consolidates everything into a powerful format on your smart phone, tablet, laptop, and desktop computer. Throw away all of those complicated home theater manuals, quirky adjustments and remote controls because the Sonos app turns technology neophytes into experts.

    I started researching Sonos when we built our home in Ohio two years ago. We have two major Sonos implementations. First, for home theater purposes, we have the Sonos PlayBar, Sonos Sub and Play 1 speakers in each of these rooms:
    - family room
    - basement bar
    - basement home theater room
    - master bedroom (use PlayBase and Sub only)
    - my hobby room (use single Play5 speaker)
    Each Sonos speaker device has itís own built-in amplifier and all are connected to our LAN (either WiFi or wired Ethernet).

    Secondly, for whole-home audio, we had our builder prewire several rooms with 2 or more in-wall or in-ceiling speakers:
    - family room
    - kitchen
    - living room
    - home office
    - master bath; master bedroom
    - Mrs. Rod's craft room
    - outdoor deck and pool
    We power these built-in speakers with four Sonos Connect Amps, which are also wired to our home LAN via Ethernet.

    Now, each room and home theater area is treated as a separate listening "zone". Every zone is connected to the LAN to access Internet music content (Spotify, Amazon Prime music, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Radio by Tunein, and others). The number of free and subscription online music sources available is mind-boggling. Also, the Sonos app recognizes Plex on our Synology NAS. Iíve digitized over 600 of our personal CDs and at least 200 of our DVD and Blu-Ray movies using Plex.

    In addition to accessing an unlimited amount of content, here are three areas where Sonos really shines. First, the Sonos app allows us to combine any grouping of zones to access any music or home theater content. For example, for a football party we might merge all of the in-wall and in-ceiling speakers along with the Home Theater zones to play the same ESPN TV broadcast throughout the house. Thatís accomplished by pressing one button on the Sonos app. Or, Mrs. Rod can listen to jazz music when working in her craft room while I watch a Netflix or Plex movie on the family room Sonos home theater. Secondly, the Sonos app allows you to easily build custom playlists of music you can access at any time. Lastly, the Sonos app allows you to easily set up, customize and listen to your Sonos home theater system Ė all without any home theater remote controls. All you need is your smart phone if you want to tweak any sound settings. Your TV remote or the Sonos app manages the home theater sound volume.

    Sonos just introduced their smallest speaker with Amazon Alexa capabilities but Iím not the least bit interested in Echo / Alexa or similar products due to cloud security and sound quality issues. No, I donít work for Sonos or own Sonos stock. Sonos is expensive gear with outstanding sound quality and capabilities but like everything else in life, you get what you pay for. Isnít that why we own green tractors?
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    Quote Originally Posted by rod330 View Post
    Pardon my LONG response but I've become a rabid Sonos evangelist. It's an apples and oranges comparison to Echo if you want great sound quality and other features. I've been an audiophile for decades and think Sonos is the greatest advance in home audio we've ever experienced. Over the years I've spent a great deal of time and money on various whole-home and media room audio designs. All of that gear is long gone and replaced entirely by Sonos. It's important to realize that Sonos is MUCH more than just a speaker company. Yes, their speakers are expensive and the sound quality is excellent but itís really about the Sonos software application. The free app is incredibly powerful and allows you to leverage your own music content as well as the Internet. This intuitive application consolidates everything into a powerful format on your smart phone, tablet, laptop, and desktop computer. Throw away all of those complicated home theater manuals, quirky adjustments and remote controls because the Sonos app turns technology neophytes into experts.

    I started researching Sonos when we built our home in Ohio two years ago. We have two major Sonos implementations. First, for home theater purposes, we have the Sonos PlayBar, Sonos Sub and Play 1 speakers in each of these rooms:
    - family room
    - basement bar
    - basement home theater room
    - master bedroom (use PlayBase and Sub only)
    - my hobby room (use single Play5 speaker)
    Each Sonos speaker device has itís own built-in amplifier and all are connected to our LAN (either WiFi or wired Ethernet).

    Secondly, for whole-home audio, we had our builder prewire several rooms with 2 or more in-wall or in-ceiling speakers:
    - family room
    - kitchen
    - living room
    - home office
    - master bath; master bedroom
    - Mrs. Rod's craft room
    - outdoor deck and pool
    We power these built-in speakers with four Sonos Connect Amps, which are also wired to our home LAN via Ethernet.

    Now, each room and home theater area is treated as a separate listening "zone". Every zone is connected to the LAN to access Internet music content (Spotify, Amazon Prime music, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Radio by Tunein, and others). The number of free and subscription online music sources available is mind-boggling. Also, the Sonos app recognizes Plex on our Synology NAS. Iíve digitized over 600 of our personal CDs and at least 200 of our DVD and Blu-Ray movies using Plex.

    In addition to accessing an unlimited amount of content, here are three areas where Sonos really shines. First, the Sonos app allows us to combine any grouping of zones to access any music or home theater content. For example, for a football party we might merge all of the in-wall and in-ceiling speakers along with the Home Theater zones to play the same ESPN TV broadcast throughout the house. Thatís accomplished by pressing one button on the Sonos app. Or, Mrs. Rod can listen to jazz music when working in her craft room while I watch a Netflix or Plex movie on the family room Sonos home theater. Secondly, the Sonos app allows you to easily build custom playlists of music you can access at any time. Lastly, the Sonos app allows you to easily set up, customize and listen to your Sonos home theater system Ė all without any home theater remote controls. All you need is your smart phone if you want to tweak any sound settings. Your TV remote or the Sonos app manages the home theater sound volume.

    Sonos just introduced their smallest speaker with Amazon Alexa capabilities but Iím not the least bit interested in Echo / Alexa or similar products due to cloud security and sound quality issues. No, I donít work for Sonos or own Sonos stock. Sonos is expensive gear with outstanding sound quality and capabilities but like everything else in life, you get what you pay for. Isnít that why we own green tractors?
    I should have known you would have plenty to say and so glad you have experience with Sonos

    I have read good and bad on the soundbar, in particular, when it comes to playing DVDs/Blu-ray and what signals the optical audio connection can carry or TV can output. Am I really giving anything up here or is it just preference or being nit picky?

    The more I read on the Sonos system it seems easy and right up our ally but expensive, luckily it can be pieced together. Right now I have one Echo connected via bluetooth to the sound bar so really only need two Sonos Ones to fill our immediate "needs".
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    rod330's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by psrumors View Post
    I should have known you would have plenty to say and so glad you have experience with Sonos

    I have read good and bad on the soundbar, in particular, when it comes to playing DVDs/Blu-ray and what signals the optical audio connection can carry or TV can output. Am I really giving anything up here or is it just preference or being nit picky?

    The more I read on the Sonos system it seems easy and right up our ally but expensive, luckily it can be pieced together. Right now I have one Echo connected via bluetooth to the sound bar so really only need two Sonos Ones to fill our immediate "needs".
    I'm not sure I understand your question. You do connect an optical audio cable between the TV and SoundBar. This is used, for example, if you're watching over-the-air (antenna) broadcasts and want to pipe the audio track to the Sonos system. Likewise, if you're connecting a Blu-ray player to the TV, I'd think the same principle would apply (video to TV, sound piped from TV optical audio cable to Sonos). Since I've digitized all of our personal movies to the NAS/Plex and don't rent physical Blu-Ray discs, our Blu-Ray players went to Goodwill. Unless a really cheap optical audio cable is used, I don't see any reason why the sound would be compromised.

    I just looked at the Sonos PlayBar web site and it shows 2,082 reviews, 4.5 out of 5 rating with 93% of the respondents recommending it to a friend.

    You're exactly right- Sonos is a tradeoff between simplicity, cost and sound quality. Candidly, my Sonos home theater systems don't sound as good as what I had in our last dedicated 7.1 media room but they're 1/5 of the cost I had invested in that gear. I can promise you my old system didn't sound 5 times better than Sonos, it was complex to set up and there was no access to Internet content. Now, $700 is expensive for just a sound bar but you can spend even more for really high-end sound bars. Lastly, you make a great point about building a system over time. You can start our with the PlayBar (or PlayBase), add the Sub later on and eventually the rear surrounds such as Play Ones.
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    Quote Originally Posted by rod330 View Post
    I'm not sure I understand your question. You do connect an optical audio cable between the TV and SoundBar. This is used, for example, if you're watching over-the-air (antenna) broadcasts and want to pipe the audio track to the Sonos system. Likewise, if you're connecting a Blu-ray player to the TV, I'd think the same principle would apply (video to TV, sound piped from TV optical audio cable to Sonos). Since I've digitized all of our personal movies to the NAS/Plex and don't rent physical Blu-Ray discs, our Blu-Ray players went to Goodwill. Unless a really cheap optical audio cable is used, I don't see any reason why the sound would be compromised.

    I just looked at the Sonos PlayBar web site and it shows 2,082 reviews, 4.5 out of 5 rating with 93% of the respondents recommending it to a friend.

    You're exactly right- Sonos is a tradeoff between simplicity, cost and sound quality. Candidly, my Sonos home theater systems don't sound as good as what I had in our last dedicated 7.1 media room but they're 1/5 of the cost I had invested in that gear. I can promise you my old system didn't sound 5 times better than Sonos, it was complex to set up and there was no access to Internet content. Now, $700 is expensive for just a sound bar but you can spend even more for really high-end sound bars. Lastly, you make a great point about building a system over time. You can start our with the PlayBar (or PlayBase), add the Sub later on and eventually the rear surrounds such as Play Ones.
    I found a good article that seems to explain better what I had heard

    How to Get 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound from a SONOS PlayBar or PlayBase: BigPictureBigSound

    Many TVs are unable to pass through DD 5.1 to the optical output when the source is HDMI and Sonos does not support DTS decoding. Sonos executive statements on this is kind of like Apple's, this is how we think it should be done so that's what we support.

    I assume the best work around for this would be to digitize all our DVDs with the second best option being an HDMI switch that handles TosLink or just a TosLink switch?
    Last edited by psrumors; 01-09-2018 at 08:45 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by psrumors View Post
    I found a good article that seems to explain better what I had heard

    How to Get 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound from a SONOS PlayBar or PlayBase: BigPictureBigSound

    Many TVs are unable to pass through DD 5.1 to the optical output when the source is HDMI and Sonos does not support DTS decoding. Sonos executive statements on this is kind of like Apple's, this is how we think it should be done so that's what we support.

    I assume the best work around for this would be to digitize all our DVDs with the second best option being an HDMI switch that handles Optical Audio as well....or would that be vice versa?

    Fascinating article, thanks for passing it along. I had no idea. I've admitted to being a Sonos fanboy but it sounds like a classic case of manufacturers unable to agree on supporting a common set of standards. I imagine Sonos' position is, "if the TV manufacturers don't pass DD5.1 from their optical audio output, there's no value in supporting that feature on the built-in SoundBar amp." Quite frankly, if most TV makers don't pass DD5.1 except for their internal tuner, you'll have this problem regardless of which sound bar you buy.

    In your specific case, here's what I'd do. If your Blu-Ray player supports it (most likely will), I'd set it to transcode DTS to output DD5.1. Next, determine if your TV supports DD5.1 output when using the Blu-Ray player. You'd do that by checking the Sonos settings as described in the article. Since it's unlikely your TV supports that feature, you would would need to buy the $30 optical switch. This would allow you to route the trancoded DD5.1 from the Blu-Ray player directly to Sonos and bypass the TV's audio output.

    Now, if you decide to digitize your DVDs and Blu-Ray discs in the future, you'll want to consider how you get the audio signal to Sonos. In my case, I run Plex Media Server on my NAS. My Roku box has a Plex channel which allows me to select movies. However, Roku does not have a digital audio out port (HDMI only). Fortunately, Roku supports DD and DTS pass through via HDMI. I just need to validate my TV is able to output DD5.1 via the optical audio output. If not, I'll need to add the HDMI splitter to separate the audio channel and pipe that into the $30 optical switch...not ideal! Before I go down that path, I'll just run Plex directly on my Samsung Smart TV instead of Roku since it uses the ATSC tuner. By the way, when you digitize your DVDs and Blu-Ray discs, I recommend Handbrake software. Among other things, you can select the audio output tracks you want to use.
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