Nearly one hundred years after launch, the Sonos Playbar is finally getting a refresh. Beyond drastically different styling of Sonos’ first home theater offering, Apple AirPlay 2 seems like a lock and Dolby Atmos rumors are swirling. However, these company renders aren’t entirely complete given the obscured power outlet and nary an HDMI port to be found — which is a requirement for the higher fidelity audio format. So either the back plate isn’t fully illustrated or additional ports are recessed within the ledge or placed elsewhere along the soundbar… with no guarantees of HDMI (or a return of Ethernet).
As you can see, the new Sonos Playbar comes in both black and white and swaps side-mounted transport control buttons with the modernized approach of touch sensitive surfaces along the top (and visual indicators, too). Related, whereas the rectangular v1 could be placed in two orientations, it appears the more cylindrical Playbar 2 will retain the same position irrespective of flat surface placement or wall mount. One possible beta tester suggests the new Playbar is about 10″ longer than the prior – beyond potentially looking nicer when paired with larger televisions, it’d likely improve forward channel separation. But, sadly, I have no detail on speaker quality or count, including the possibility of upward firing audio. On the technical front, recent FCC filings suggest the addition of 802.11ac.
Unfortunately, the Beam didn’t work out for my household due to audio delay lip sync issues that couldn’t be resolved. Whether the technical failure is on the set-top, the television, or Sonos itself is irrelevant. As such, I’ve been hoping either a Beam successor or modernized Playbar might feature multiple HDMI inputs for 4K video switching to overcome issues such as these. While I fully expect the 2020 Sonos Playbar will incorporate HDMI ARC, it doesn’t seem likely my particular wishlist item will make the cut.
The updated Playbar is expected to be joined by a revised Play:5 and Sub, with the announcements scheduled for 5/6.