You can now even get the Playbar for around £549.
HDMI eARC adds a number of additional benefits. Better yet, if your Arc is connected to your TV via HDMI-ARC, you can give commands like “Alexa, turn on the TV,” and “Okay Google, change the input to HDMI 2.”.
This allows HDMI CEC to work between devices, meaning you only need the one remote control to use on both. It’s a lossy codec, but it sounds better than Dolby Digital. (Pocket-lint) - Sonos has introduced a new soundbar to its line-up to replace the seven year-old Playbar and that will leave many wondering whether they need to upgrade.
But with the Beam hitting shelves in 2018, and now the arrival of the Arc, there has been some movement in Playbar pricing. Where the Beam is sleek and compact, the Arc is big and brash, offering booming audio from nearly a dozen individual drivers, including upward-firing speakers for Dolby Atmos content. While the Playbar doesn’t have Alexa or Google Assistant built in, you can still control it with another Sonos smart speaker, or by adding the bar to your Alexa/Google Assistant’s list of controllable devices. And, considering it is now being replaced, you might be able to get hold of a Playbar … The Sonos Arc is available in two colours, however: black and white. The Sonos Arc is considerably more expensive at launch than the Sonos Playbar was.
With the right TV, Dolby Digital Plus can also be used for Dolby Atmos, using the Arc’s up-firing speakers for overhead channels.
When the Playbar first debuted, it retailed for $699. In comparison, the Playbar has a single optical digital audio input (TOSlink). After all, a lot can happen in the world of tech in seven years, and the Sonos Arc introduces some features that just weren't possible or popular back then. But there’s a new rival in Sonos land: the Sonos Arc. While the Playbar is an inch shorter than the Arc when un-mounted, the 3.35 inches jumps to 5.51 inches when up on your wall, which can look a bit strange in certain rooms, particularly above fireplaces. We’ll always tell you what we find. The short answer to that question, in our opinion, is yes. To be honest, we often compare new products with the older version they are replacing and rarely do we recommend a generational upgrade. For Dolby Digital soundtracks, the Arc’s sound is more immersive and wraps around you, particularly after you’ve used TruePlay to tune it. And, even without a dedicated subwoofer, the Arc produces deeper lows than the Playbar. The Sonos Playbar only has an optical input, whereas the Arc uses HDMI eARC, which is backwards compatible with HDMI ARC, although you can use an optical input via an adaptor, too. Be warned, as the soundbar’s size (87 x 1140 x 116mm) it looks better when paired with TVs 55-inches and above. Sound quality is slightly harder to quantify, as much depends on the type of input that you have into the Sonos Arc. Dolby Digital Plus uses more bandwidth than the older Dolby Digital standard, supporting up to eight channels of audio. The Playbar does not feature Airplay 2 compatibility, but can still receive and play tunes from the Sonos app. Like the Beam, the Arc is also capable of Airplay 2, a great feature for iOS users that allows you to wirelessly cast music and film/TV audio to your Sonos bar. It is effectively a 3.0 system that can be matched with a couple of separate Sonos One speakers and the company's Sub to make more of a home cinema setup. Using an optical input on the Sonos Playbar (or the Arc), limits you to Dolby Digital, and you can’t get Dolby Atmos, either. And, considering it is now being replaced, you might be able to get hold of a Playbar at a healthy discount. That's why we look at the differences between the old and new in Sonos' range in order to help you make your mind up on any upgrade decision. Yes, that’s an extra $100 compared to the Playbar launch price, but the Arc is a tad pricier for a few very good reasons. If you fit into that category, the Sonos Arc is an impressive, detailed and rich sounding soundbar and a worthy upgrade. Unlike other sites, we thoroughly review everything we recommend, using industry standard tests to evaluate products. But if you choose the Arc, you’re choosing the best. Over the nearly eight years the speaker was available in new condition, sales were near-impossible to come by, with package deals for other Sonos speakers being the most common perk offered.
While the old Playbar sounded good, the Arc is a step up in all cases. Using HDMI has a couple of other advantages. The verdict here is that while both are quality multi-room music players, the Arc does slightly more. Minimalist styling is once more the name of the game, but the little speaker’s e… When it launched in 2013, the Sonos Playbar was a state-of-the-art soundbar that could be expanded into a full 5.1 system by adding additional Sonos speakers.
It sounds warmer and more detailed, and it has better bass than its predecessor. They differ when it comes to the connections on the rear. The Sonos Arc is considerably more expensive at launch than the Sonos Playbar was. One reason for the longer design is to accommodate the Arc’s 11 Class-D powered woofers, versus the Playbar’s nine. We’ve discussed in great detail how to use the Sonos Arc without HDMI eARC and the various limitations (such as dealing with Dolby Atmos content), but we’ll give a short summary here. The far left and right drivers are more angled still, to deliver wider side channels, while the front facing drivers work for centre, left and right channels. There are eight elliptical woofers in total this time, plus three tweeters - each served by one of the 11 Class D amplifiers in total.
Both the Arc and Playbar share an Ethernet connection, which at this point is standard for any Sonos gear. However, in the case of the Sonos Arc, there is a much clearer argument. It’s larger and much better-looking thanks to its smooth curves and elliptical ends.
The Playbar volume could only be controlled via IR or the Sonos app, while the Arc (also with an IR sensor) provides more options. For many years, the Playbar was one of the most highly rated cinema soundbars you could buy, and for good reason. There are two extra drivers angled upwards this time, creating the height channels needed for Dolby Atmos. These bounce supported soundtracks off the ceiling to the listening position to provide further immersion in a movie, sporting event or Atmos-mixed music. There's no doubt that the Sonos Arc comes with many more bells and whistles than its older sibling, but you might be swayed by the price.
Atmos is a game-changer, with the Arc able to fill a room. Positionally, the Arc’s sound fills a room, but the overall effect isn’t as detailed as Yamaha’s Digital Sound Projector technology used on the YSP-2700, which does a good job of faking rear speakers. The Sonos Arc will set you back £799 ($799), while the Playbar was £699 ($699) at launch.
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