The New Sonos Smart Soundbar with HDMI

Dave Zatz —  June 6, 2018 — 11 Comments

As revealed back in April, Sonos is poised to announce a new entry in their home theater lineup. As described in the FCC filings:

The model S14 is a high-performance all-in-one home theater smart speaker and part of Sonos’ home sound system.

Given the newer hardware like the Sonos Playbase and Sonos One, we might reasonably expect on-device touch controls, unlike the somewhat long-in-the-tooth (stylistically) Playbar. But what exactly does the “smart” refer to? Is it onboard Alexa control as seen with the Sonos One? Or might it have something to do with the integrated Bluetooth Low Energy communication, which I don’t think we’ve seen from Sonos before.

In terms of connectivity, Sonos has shied away from HDMI. But that will no longer be an issue as also revealed by the regulatory documentation. Further, a supposed report by a former employee indicates the video market didn’t move exactly as the company had expected and so they have embraced the new HDMI 2.1 eARC specification enabling increased throughput for higher-fidelity:

HDMI 2.1 introduces so-called eARC (enhanced Audio Return Channel), which increases bandwidth for audio to 38 Mb/s. This allows TVs to output lossless audio, including Dolby Atmos and the full range of DTS audio formats. […] The first product from Sonos to take advantage of this will be a mini soundbar due this year.

Beyond a new, smaller soundbar (perhaps similar in size to the Bose Solo 5 and supposedly pictured in the leaked render above), might Sonos also announce updates to the existing Playbase and Playbar? We’re gonna find out real, real soon…

11 responses to The New Sonos Smart Soundbar with HDMI

  1. It’s a longer flatter Beats Pill+. I”ll take 2.

  2. If this somehow means support for Atmos upward firing speakers from Sonos, I might be tempted to drop some serious cash and build my surround sound system around this new sound bar. I like my other Sonos speakers, and I like their app very much… even if their Alexa integration is somewhat crippled compared to the native Amazon Echo hardward. If the Sonos doesn’t support Atmos upward firing speakers, I’ll be looking at the new Vizio Atmos soundbar system that’s due later this year.

  3. And here it is! Sonos Beam – smaller $399 soundbar with HDMI, Alexa, Google, and AirPlay 2:

    https://www.sonos.com/en-us/shop/beam.html

    Neither HDMI 2.1 or lossless audio is confirmed yet, although HDMI is definitely there and utilizes the ARC connection for bidirectional communication with television.

  4. According to some of the people in the know on the AVS Forums, not sure this will have HDMI 2.1. HDMI 2.1 boards supposedly just now are starting to be finalized and most TVs, etc. won’t have it until next year. They can support eARC though already using 2.0b. Samsung’s latest TVs are already supporting eARC.

  5. Thanks for the additional info. I’m pretty much sold, as-is, in at least one room.

  6. Dave, where do you see the Google integration?

  7. Was communicated during presentation. Not available at launch. But also didn’t seem like it’d be a year out. But you never know how these things go, so take with a grain of salt.

  8. I honestly hate it. I’m not a huge fan of its shape. I don’t need a smaller, less room filling surround sound speaker. I wanted to like this but I stand by my decision of riding my house of sonos.

    Also, when I was inquiring about airplay 2 integration with the people at sonos, they kept insisting that siri was built into the speaker and which isn’t remotely true. Looks like there are just too many better performing alternatives than sonos.

  9. It only supports Dolby digital and dts so the hdmi is just for output from the TV in the most basic formats from the 1990’s. Yeah, real smart…

  10. Isn’t a big part of the point of ARC that you can use it has a pass through? So just having one HDMI port on the bar basically throws a port away on your TV. If it had two (I think most ARC soundbars do) you could pass something else through it, while the audio still pass back down.

  11. So it doesn’t support a 21st century codec? That seems like a big fail. Even my Sony sound bar from six or seven years ago supports the HD audio codecs.

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