Sonos is a wireless audio company that makes solid – albeit comparatively expensive – audio hardware. Setup is drop dead simple – to add a component you simply press one or two buttons on the new device and everything “just works” and the remote control UI, refined over most of the past decade, has a cult-like following. You can create different audio zones around your room and play different music in each one or enter party mode and turn your house into a massive disco. In short, Sonos makes whole-home audio easy.
So what of this new Playbar, a long sound bar that sits above or below your television and connects to your system via a single optical cable? This new device has nine speakers built-in, six midrange and three tweeters, and works with Sonos’ SUB subwoofer and Play:3 mini speakers that can act as satellite surround sound speakers.
To use the Playbar you need at least a Sonos Bridge – the central device that talks to all Sonos devices – and an iOS or Android device. Setup requires you to connect the Playbar to your TV (or receiver) via a single optical cable. You then plug in the power and you’re set. It also has an Ethernet port, but Sonos has excellent QOS control via wireless and I’ve never had a problem with streaming.
The $ 699 Playbar can be mounted above or below your TV – a built-in accelerometer senses the direction – or you can put it on a TV stand.
Unfortunately, this reliance on a single optical cable is both good and bad. If you don’t have a receiver and connect all of your devices directly to your TV, you’re golden. If you have a receiver, however, setup is a bit more difficult. I set my receiver to output HDMI audio as well as video and turned it down all the way. The TV, then, does all of the audio output via optical and your receiver becomes little more than a switch. You can control the Playbar’s volume with your TV remote or the Sonos app.
The app also bears some discussion. The Sonos app breaks your sound system into different rooms and nearly everything is managed through the app, including the addition of more speakers to the system. You can add music services and grab multiple songs from multiple services – an album from your own collection, a few songs from a shared drive on your network, and maybe a playlist from Rdio – and play it as a queue. You can save queues (playlists, really) and all of the audio manipulation, including control of bass and treble, are done in the app. With the addition of the the Playbar, the app adds a “TV” input that allows you to control the volume of the Playbar remotely.
How is the audio quality? A single Playbar will make your TV sound better (although that’s usually not hard). I was able to turn up the sound on action movies and get a few solid whomps out of the soundtrack as well as hear clear and distinct dialog, which was actually an improvement over my current 5.1 setup. Your results may vary, but I didn’t get much out of the “simulated” surround sound these speakers advertised but I was pleased with the sound overall.
Music playback over this speaker – because, using the Sonos app, you can beam services like Pandora and Rdio as well as your own collection through the Playbar – was clean and nuanced and these were an excellent replacement for the pair of stereo speakers I usually used to listen to music.
Current Sonos users will be pleased to note that this system does replace the Play:5 or Play:3 speakers, whether you have paired them in stereo or are simply using a single unit. You could, for example, remove a pair of Play speakers and simply use this to play TV audio as well as your music. The Playbar is that good. I saw no discernible difference in using this vs. the two Sonos speakers I already had in the room I was testing this gear in.
The Playbar also answers another home audio prayer – the promise of true wireless 5.1 sound. While the Playbar technically isn’t a center-front right-front left setup, by pairing this with two Play:3 satellites (Play:5 units don’t work) and a sub-woofer, you’ve got a very nice wireless 5.1 system.
The Playbar really shines in this setup, which, in the end, will cost you $ 1,996 to set up, including the Playbar. The Playbar paired with the sub-woofer, for example, really opens up the audio considerably while the satellite speakers – which require all of five minutes to setup – are almost magical in their simplicity. For folks who have pulled wire under or across walls and floors, this setup is a godsend. At the bare minimum I’d recommend the Playbar and the Sub. If you want to spring for the Play:3s in the back, you won’t be disappointed.
Better (or at least more bass-heavy) soundbars can be had for about as much as the Sonos system. However, if you’re already familiar with the Sonos system, this is probably your best bet. It completely replaces any Play speakers you already have (allowing you to stick them in another room) and paired with other Sonos gear it really sounds great.
If you’re new to Sonos, you may not want to start here. Sonos truly shines in music playback and there’s nothing like setting all of your speakers on party mode and creating a soundscape that would normally take you hours of setup and wire management to pull off. The Playbar, then, seems like a device for folks who want to Sonosify their whole home and it’s understandable why they created it. However, it’s not a good introductory device unless you’re in the market for a solid sound bar with a few very cool features. If you’re only looking for music playback, a few Play:5 speakers and maybe a SUB are a good place to start.
Can you get better sound out of equally or more expensive speakers? Potentially. However, the added value of complete control of your music and TV audio is a huge plus. The Sonos system shines when there are a few speakers going at once and if you’re looking for a true wireless surround sound system, look no further. If you’re simply trying to replace the wonky speakers built into your TV, however, the Playbar faces tougher competition but stands firm against similarly-priced soundbars. It is well worth a look when considering living room/TV audio systems.
Lately, it seems like few weeks go by without Tritton announcing a new gaming headset. Now that its full range of Xbox-licensed cans has reached shelves, the company seems focused on updating its former corded stars. Following the recently announced Ax Pro+ “true 5.1″ headset ($ 200), Tritton has unveiled the 720+ 7.1 surround sound headset ($ 150) — the successor to the venerable AX 720. Aside from sporting the Pro+’s edgier aesthetics, the 720+ has been gifted with beefier 50mm drivers (up from 40 on the 720) for improved fidelity and the same selective microphone monitoring found on the Warhead. As expected, an included Dolby decoder box handles the audio processing and connections, while an inline remote lets you set your levels. Rather than having multiple drivers dedicated for each audio channel crammed in both earcups like the Pro+, the 720+ takes a virtual route with Dolby Headphone — a method that’s generally produced better results to our ears for owning, and clearly hearing the virtual battlefield. The 720+ is set to arrive this September, and it’s currently up pre-order direct from Tritton.
Dolby and AMC are both marketing the latest in surround sound technology heavily this past weekend with the release of “Brave,” the first movie mixed and presented in Dolby Atmos. There are only 14 theaters in the world with the setup right now and one of them, and with one just an hour away yours truly decided to make the trek and report back for those who can’t. Read on to see if our impressions of this new tech live up to the hype.
While still a far cry from 64 speakers, Onkyo and DTS teamed up to bring the first 11.4 channel surround sound to your home theater. At the top of the trio of new receivers is the TX-NR5010. It is the only one that’s THX certified, but like the TX-NR3010, it can drive 9 speakers and has pre-outs for four subs as well as two more channels. $ 2999 is the price you’ll pay for the best, with a $ 700 price break when you move one model down the line to the TX-NR3010. Last up, but still shipping in July with 11.4 support, is the TX-NR1010 with its seven channel amp at $ 1799. DTS Neo:X is the name of the up-mix technology that uses a single algorithm to take anything from a 2.0 signal to 11.1 and converts it to 11.4. The other first here is Cisco Linksys SimpleTap — also coming to the entire 2012 Onkyo lineup of network receivers via a firmware update — which promises to deliver a simpler network setup. For more of the juicy details, have a quick look over the press release below.
New LG Optimus 7 E900 Black Unlocked Windows 16GB GSM 3.8" Screen Phone $109.99End Date: Saturday Jun-1-2013 8:47:33 PDTBuy It Now for only: $109.99Buy It Now | Add to watch list Samsung Focus SGH-i917 Windows Smartphone | Black | AT&T *AS-IS Condition* $10.49 (2 Bids)End Date: Monday May-20-2013 19:38:59 PDTBid now | Add to watch list SAMSUNG OMNIA I910 VERIZON WINDOWS MOBILE WIFI TOUCH SMART PHONE NEW $37.99End Date: Sunday Jun-16-2013 12:29:44 PDTBuy It Now for only: $37.99Buy It Now | Add to watch listRelated Posts:
New Samsung Focus SGH i917 Black Unlocked AT&T T-Mobie GSM Windows 7 Smartphone $101.85End Date: Saturday Jun-1-2013 16:37:36 PDTBuy It Now for only: $101.85Buy It Now | Add to watch list HTC HD7 - 16GB - (T-Mobile) Smartphone $86.00 (3 Bids)End Date: Sunday May-19-2013 22:51:12 PDTBuy It Now for only: $200.00Buy It Now | Bid now | Add to watch list HTC Trophy Black Windows Cell Phone Unlocked Used Good Condition $38.00 (9 Bids)End Date: Monday May-20-2013 5:02:55 PDTBid now | Add to watch listRelated Posts:
HTC Surround Review (Windows Phone 7) Giving a full review of the new HTC Surround running Windows Phone 7 for AT&T Wireless. For more info on the HTC Surround and Windows Phone 7, see: TechnoBuffalo: technobuffalo.com Follow me on twitter: cuthut.com HTC Surround Review Windows Phone 7 HTC Surround Review Windows Phone 7 HTC Surround Review Windows Phone 7 HTC Surround Review Windows Phone 7 Video Rating: 4 / 5Related Posts:
MobileBurn.com – The HTC 7 Surround is the first Windows Phone 7 smartphone from HTC for US carrier AT&T. The phone features a large touchscreen display as well as surround sound capability that is backed up by a slide-out speaker. More info: www.mobileburn.com Video Rating: 4 / 5Related Posts: