You want a home theater system, but is a wireless, connected Sonos home theater system for you?
There are several home theaters in a box these days. What makes the Sonos home theater different is that it's wireless, so you don't have to run cable around the room, and it's connected, so you can control it from your phone, tablet, or computer from anywhere in your home. Sonos is also expandable, so you can start with the Playbar and then add a Sub and two Play:1 or Play:3 surround speakers whenever your budget and interest allows. Or you can just go all-in on the complete package, all at once.
So, what's the right answer for you?
What is home theater?
A home theater is just what it claims to be — better, more cinematic sound right in your home. How much better and more cinematic depends on your budget. You can start with a soundbar and get decent stereo + center channel (3.1) and even simulated surround sound from an all-in one. You can add a sub to get better bass (2.1), and surround speakers to get real surround sound (5.1). That way what's happening behind you sounds like it's happening behind you.
These days you can even get four surround speakers (7.1) and 360º surround (9.1) with something like Dolby Atmos.
What home theater configurations does Sonos have?
Sonos home theater is built around the Playbar, a 3.0 system—left, right, and center full-frequency channels built in. The Playbar alone can give you an OK home theater experience, but you'll want to enhance it by expanding the number of channels in the system, i.e, adding additional speakers to it. For instance, if you add a SUB, then you have a 3.1 system. If you add any two Play speakers, you have a complete 5.1 setup.
What are the components of a Sonos home theater?
You'll get a basic Sonos home theater with just the Playbar, but if you're an audiophile, or you just want to add depth and richness to your setup, you'll definitely want to add a SUB and two Play speakers of your choice to round out the experience. Let's review each of the components to see what they offer:
The Playbar consists of nine speaker drivers: three tweeters and six midrange woofers. It also has nine separate amplifiers to boost its sound output. Using Dolby Digital Audio as the encoding for its virtual surround sound, it offers a superb home theater experience. It connects directly to your television via an optical cable, which is included. (How refreshing!)
Are you a night-owl while your significant other is an early bird? Do you have children? If so, you can benefit from the NightSound feature of the Playbar. NightSound reduces the volume of crashes and bangs while ensuring that softer sounds remain audible, so that you can watch the latest superhero movie late into the night without disturbing the rest of the house. Neat, huh?
It also functions as a music player, which like the other players, connects to any device with WiFi capability and the internet to stream music through it and any additional players you have in your house.
Want to really feel like you're a part of the action on the screen? Then add a Sub to your Sonos home theater system. With its two force-canceling speaker drivers set up so that they face each other, the Sub is capable of frequencies as low as 25 Hz without any cabinet noise.
Any two Play speakers set up as a stereo pair will add separate left and right rear channels to upgrade your home theater system to a 5.1 configuration.
Surround yourself in sound
Whether or not you should get a Sonos home theater system depends on your budget and what kind of home theater you're satisfied with.
If money is tight, you can start with a Sonos Playbar and add a Sub an two Play speakers to round it out later.
If you have the funds, and the idea of a connected home theater is appealing, then go for it.
If money is no object and you're tempted by a 7.1 or 9.1 system, check those out before deciding. You'll likely loose connectivity, but might gain your audiophile bliss.