My family room is the most used room in my house. From family movie night and some Netflix binges to the occasional slumber party for the kids and watching the latest championships for my favorite sports – we spend hours each week sitting in front of the television. That being said – the sound my television puts out leaves a lot to be desired. It just cannot compare to that of a movie theater. That is – it couldn’t until now and Sonos has a lot to do with that.
Is Sonos good for use in a home theater system? Sonos has become one of the electronic industry’s leading innovators and manufacturers of sleek, modern speakers. A company that strives to remain at the top, Sonos has created a proprietary network of devices that come together to provide top of the line home theater sound.
Sonos products can be quite costly. Knowing which pieces to invest in, how they work together, and what (if any) additional equipment is needed can help ensure you spend only what you need to.
What Is Sonos?
Sonos is a consumer electronics company. Founded in 2002, Sonos has quickly become one of the leading innovators for surround sound systems.
Competing with big name brands, like Bose, Sonos has made a big impact in a short period of time. Their high quality products, streaming surround sound capabilities, and smart speaker designs have become wildly popular choices amongst home theater novices and professionals alike.
Why is Sonos Different from Other Brands?
Sonos offers new-age technology that sets it apart from many of the company’s top competitors. Their music service agnostics feature allows you to stream digital media from over 30 sources, including Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music and Tidal.
Additionally, Sonos smart speakers work in conjunction with digital assistants. In fact, as of January 2019, Sonos now offers several products that work with Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant.
Sonos has also become the industry standard for whole-home audio. With only your smartphone, you can control sound in any room in your house. From having each Sonos speaker synced to the same song, or playing separate tracks throughout each room of your house, the company has exceeded consumer expectations in relatively little time.
Components of a Sonos Home Theater System
But how does this translate to your home theater system? Sonos offers several products that integrate flawlessly with your home theater system, or even replace it entirely!
If a Sonos home theater sounds like something you might want, figuring out which components you need may seem overwhelming. Below, we talk about the pieces you need to build a custom Sonos home theater in your living room.
Sonos Connect and A/V Receiver
A home theater receiver interprets input signals and amplifies them as they send them out to your speakers. Because each Sonos component includes at least one built-in amplifier, having a receiver is actually redundant.
However, a receiver is a convenient way to connect multiple devices to your surround sound system. If this is a feature you would like to incorporate, the Sonos Connect may be for you. Sonos Connect allows you to integrate your wired receiver with your wireless Sonos speakers to give you premium sound no matter what your input signal.
The Sonos Connect includes multiply input and output features, including analog, optical and coaxial digital audio. It also allows you to control your receiver via voice command through Amazon’s Alexa. Measuring slightly over 5 inches high, 3 inches deep and almost 6 inches long, the Sonos Connect should be set on a flat surface and cannot be wall mounted.
Front Channel Audio Device
A home theater system typically includes some type of front channel audio device, whether it’s a surround sound speaker system or a soundbar. For Sonos, the three options are the Playbase, Playbar and Beam. Check out our very in-depth article on these 3 options. It covers a ton of information about each of these “soundbars”.
- Sonos Playbase: The Sonos Playbase is a sleek, modern design that hides a series of 10 amplified speakers, including 6 mid-range, 3 tweeters and 1 woofer. Unlike the Playbar and Beam below – Sonos Playbase cannot be wall mounted. Large enough to sit many televisions directly on, the Playbase measures slightly over 28 inches wide, 15 inches deep and less than 3 inches tall. Your television can be connected directly to your Playbase, although it can wireless stream any of the compatible services as well.
- Sonos Playbar: The Sonos Playbar is the crème de la crème when it comes to front channel sound delivery. Measuring slightly under 36 inches long, by just over 5 inches tall and 3 inches wide, this is the largest soundbar available from Sonos. It can be wall mounted, or set on a shelf or entertainment center. It includes optical input jacks, as well as wireless connectivity. The Sonos Playbar includes 9 custom-built amplifiers that help ensure rich, cinematic sound as well as crisp, clear dialogue no matter what you decide to watch.
- Sonos Beam: The Sonos Beam is smaller than the Playbar (and costs a bit less too). Under 26 inches in length, 4 inches high, and 3 inches wide, this soundbar is ideal for apartments and similarly-sized areas. (However, it does work for bigger spaces too!) It comes with only 5 amplified speakers, but they do pack a punch! Newer than the Playbar, the Sonos Beam can connect to your television through HDMI cabling. Alexia is also built into the Beam, allowing for full voice control if you decide to go hands-free.
Sonos soundbars are renowned for their high quality sound. In fact, even if you cannot afford a full Sonos surround sound set up right now, the Playbar or Beam make for a great interim solution!
Have you ever noticed that deeper tones tend to sound muddy when listening through your television’s speakers? By adding a subwoofer to your home theater, you can help those low-frequency tones clear.
The Sonos Sub, the only subwoofer currently available from the company, offers clear rich tones. Inside each “O”-shaped Sub, two force-cancelling woofers deliver highly-detailed and dynamic bass, no matter what position you place it in.
Designed to cancel out its own vibrations, Sonos Sub has virtually eliminated excess shaking that may take away from the sound quality.
The Sub can be paired to the Sonos Playbar and Beam. It can also wirelessly connect to any Sonos speakers, Amp or Connect:Amp.
Sonos speakers are some of the best on the market today. When it comes to your Sonos home theater, the Play:1 and Play:5 are the most popular models. (You may find Play:3 versions secondhand. The production of these, however, have been discontinued so you likely will no longer find them in stores.)
- Play:1: The Sonos Play:1 is a mini speaker that delivers unbelievably huge sound. (The Play:1 is also the least expensive Sonos speaker.) It measures just over 6 inches tall, 5 inches wide, and 5 inches deep. Each speaker includes a pair of Class-D amplifiers, custom drivers, a small tweeter and a mid-range woofer that help keep the sound even, undiluted and clear. Wireless, Sonos uses Trueplay to ensure the sound is optimally tuned regardless of where you have it positioned. (It’s humidity-resistant too! While we are talking about using this for your home theater, you can also use it to listen to some music while you shower or work outside.) The Sonos App makes it extremely easy to control each speaker, as well as stream different services to them. The Sonos Play:1 weighs under 5 pounds and can be wall mounted if desired. They are perfect for apartments or smaller rooms that want big sound although, if you’re on a budget, we have another article on cheaper soundbars for small rooms.
- Play:5: The Sonos Play:5 builds on what the Play:1 provides. The Play:5 is the largest speaker available from Sonos, but there are some alternatives, which you’d know if you’ve read our guide. (It measures 14 inches wide, 8 inches tall and 6 inches wide – but it can be oriented in almost any direction.) It is also considered to be one of the best sounding speakers available on the market today. Each is built with 6 Class-D amplifiers, 6 dedicated, custom drivers and 3 woofers to ensure every note it plays comes out beautifully. The Play:5 includes wired and wireless connectivity and can easily be controlled from Amazon’s Alexa or the Sonos App. Weighing 14 pounds, the Sonos Play:5 can be wall mounted and, while it works in virtually any room, is ideal for larger rooms or areas.
How Does a Sonos 5:1 Surround Sound Setup Work?
Setting up 5:1 surround sound with Sonos is extremely easy. If you have invested in a full Sonos home theater, each piece easily integrates through the Sonos App to give you total control almost as soon as you take them out of their boxes.
Start with connecting a Sonos speaker to the Wi-Fi network used by your phone through the free Sonos App, which is available in both Google Play and Apple App Store. To make connection easy, choose “Set Up New System” from the app and select “Standard Option.” This feature will walk you through the entire set up process. From here, you can also use the
If you are planning to just play music, your speaker is ready to go at this point and you can stream music directly through the Sonos App.
However, if a home theater is your goal – you will need to establish your SonosNet. SonosNet will use your Wi-Fi to send signals to each of the connected devices. Simply network each device to your Sonos App to build your personal Sonos surround sound portfolio.
The Benefits of Investing in a Sonos Product
The Sonos surround sound system is proprietary. That means, the SonosNet created by Sonos is almost completely unparalleled. No other company today can deliver surround sound to an entire house, let alone have it entirely controlled from your smartphone exactly like Sonos can.
Sonos provides devices that can work alone or together. However, unless you also purchase a Sonos Connect, your system will likely not work with other home theater components (aside from your television that is). That being said, the Sonos surround sound experience means you do not have to scramble to figure out which devices will work with which components. Almost every Sonos product will work with the others – ensuring your entire system is 100% compatible with each other.
Is Sonos Worth Their Premium Price?
There is no denying that Sonos products come at a hefty cost. In fact, a full system may cost you well over $2,000 depending on which pieces you decide to buy. But is a Sonos home theater worth it?
For many, the quality, sophistication and capabilities inherent in a Sonos product make each item worth the premium price tag. Whether you are looking for a home theater that offers pristine surround sound or want to experience whole-home audio as you never have before – Sonos can make those dreams a reality.
For many, the advantages of a Sonos set up make it worth their premium price. With more and more people enjoying the convenience of a digital assistant or smartphone control, integrating these features into your home theater experience gives you even more control and adaptability.
Does Sonos support Dolby Digital? Yes and no. Sonos supports Dolby Digital 2.0, Dolby Digital 5.1 and PCM. However, it does not support Dolby Digital Plus (DD+), Dolby Digital 7.1, DTS or Dolby Atmos. That being said, many platforms including your television and Sonos Beam, will downgrade your Dolby signal to Dolby Digital 5.1 to work with speakers that cannot support DD+. Sonos has also been conducting surveys to determine customer demand for a DD+ capability.
Can Sonos One be used for surround sound? Sometimes. The Sonos One is one of the smallest speakers available from the company. However, it does not lack