Sonos Playbar vs Sonos Arc

Stéphane Lenclud

Founder
Staff member

Introduction

I just swapped a Sonos Playbar with that newly released Sonos Arc and thought I would share my experience.

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Optical vs HDMI

For now I will stick to S/PDIF using that optical to HDMI adapter provided with Sonos Arc.
I have three reasons to keep using optical:
  • TV panel from 2015 does not support eARC. I would not be able to enjoy Atmos unless I was using some sort of HDMI switch instead of the TV.
  • Oppo UDP 203 BD player can't transcode DTS to Dolby Digital over HDMI. It does that only over optical output.
  • I'm all setup around optical with multiple inputs and a wireless headset pass through. Therefore switching to HDMI could involve time, money and loss of functionality.

Pros

  • Sonos Arc looks better.
  • Sonos Arc sounds better:
    • Better stereo separation.
    • Clearer speech.
    • Better clarity in details.
    • Fills the room better.
    • Much richer sound.
    • Much more enjoyable at high volumes.
    • Drives Play:3s and Sub better.

Cons

  • Sonos Arc has a single RJ45 port so I had to free one up on my router since I was actually using both of them on my Playbar.
  • Power cables not compatible so I had to swap them.
  • Sonos Arc power cable profile is needlessly wider than the one from Playbar and did not fit in my cable canal.
  • Price.

Impressions

I barely just started using Sonos Arc but the step up in sound quality compared to Playbar is striking. With the Playbar I often found myself having to adjust volume up and down while watching movies and series. It's like on some scene it would just be too loud and on others you could not make out the dialogues.
With the Arc as you push the volume higher it does not feel like it gets loud, it just gets clearer it seems. You pick up details in sounds effects and musics that would be hard to notice on the Playbar. It's like through the mix of sounds you can still distinguish every single track or instrument. I'm most impressed.
Though you got to wonder if some of those sound quality improvements could be applied to Playbar through firmware update too or is it really just that Arc hardware is superior.
 
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