Categories: AlexaAudioHDTVSonos

The New Sonos Smart Soundbar with HDMI

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…

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  • 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.

  • 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.

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Dave Zatz