The Playbar is Sonos' first effort to get into home cinema. It's a big and expensive soundbar, but has a lot to offer. See all digital home reviews.
Despite its size – the same width as a 40in TV – it's lovely to look at with the two-tone mix of aluminium and speaker fabric. The Playbar is reassuringly heavy and very well built.
Setting the Playbar up is simple but takes a little longer than other soundbars. Once the power and optical cables are connected you need to download the Sonos software to your PC or Mac, or alternatively an app for smartphones and tablets.
You're taken through a simple step-by-step process that even a child could complete. The Playbar must connect to your home network via an Ethernet cable or wirelessly via the £40 Sonos Bridge.
If you already have some Sonos components then adding the Playbar is easier and gives you the advantage of a multi-room hi-fi system. Different audio can be played in separate rooms or components can play the content in unison.
With only a couple of physical ports, the Playbar sounds as though it's very limited but it can play content from a number of different sources.
Music can be streamed over your network from PCs, iPhones and iPads. Furthermore, there's access to internet radio stations and Spotify if you have a premium subscription.
Sonos doesn't supply a physical remote with the Playbar. Instead, everything is controlled by the Sonos app and PC software meaning multiple devices around the house can be remotes. During setup you can also teach your TV remote to control the volume of the Playbar.
With nine drivers (six mid-range and three tweeters), each powered its own amplifier, the Playbar produces exceptionally high-quality sound no matter what you're watching or listening to. We were thoroughly impressed when watching Freeview broadcasts, streaming music and Blu-ray movies.
Helped by angled tweeters, the soundstage is enormous with an excellent stereo field. You really feel immersed in the sound.
Movie lovers can also add a Sonos Sub to make a 3.1 system or even two Play:3 speakers to create a 5.1 theatre system, albeit an expensive one. That kind of setup is very nice but the Playbar packs a surprisingly large punch in the bass department, so a separate subwoofer isn't necessarily required.
The array of drivers means that the entire frequency range is adequately covered. Overall the sound is crisp and rich in detail.
With the Sonos software, you can fine-tune the audio to your liking with equalization and other settings such as vocal enhancement. Furthermore, a night mode ensures that at lower volume levels quiet content is boosted and louder content is reduced in volume.