Sonos 5.4

by Volker Weber


Sonos has a blog post and a software update:

Summertime, and the Listenin’ is Easy

The software brings new features for Google Play Music, but it's only starting with availability in US, UK, CA and IE. That's not Sonos fault. Ask Google when this becomes available in your country. There are three more changes:

  1. PLAY:1 is going to sound even more amazing.
  2. Ethernet wire becomes optional, even for home theater setups.
  3. CR200 no longer able to setup new players, music services or adjust sound settings.

#2 means you can now build Sonos environments completely over Wifi. Even the more complicated ones. If you have a bridge, fine. Don't change anything. A mesh network is better than a hub-and-spoke Wifi network.

#3 should not piss you off, if you have CR200s. I have three, and I don't care. There is a reason the CR200 is deprecated. But you will only find out with a future software update, that's going to bring new features the CR200 hardware cannot perform. And day in, day out, you are not losing anything. You can still play songs from all music services you set up from your PC, Mac, Android or iOS controllers.

More >

[Cue Ben Rose complaining about DTS, which isn't the topic of this post, never was, and never will be]


Still no fix for BBC Radio streams though, this one has dragged on for too long now. I know a LOT of very unhappy UK customers.

Ben Rose, 2015-07-13

That's a bummer. But if I am not mistaken, this has to be fixed now. Apple Music seems to be using the same HLS streaming protocol that BBC adopted. Or is there an additional DRM layer that "protects" BBC streams?

Volker Weber, 2015-07-13

Given that Sonos refused to fix it for around half a year, one can only assume that the ONLY reason it is being fixed is because it is needed for Apple Music.

The 5.4 update email to UK customers says "BBC Radio - Updates to come" and "we are working hard on a solution".

Previously Sonos only acknowledged the problem but didn't say they had plans to fix. In fact, they appeared to be waiting for the BBC to fix it by improving their mp3 feeds - which had no timescale.

But now it's needed for Apple Music, Sonos appears keen to appear that they are working hard on a fix for the BBC Radio problem. In reality, if they were, it would have been fixed many months ago.

One can only hope that a future Apple product requires DTS.

Ben Rose, 2015-07-13

Grumpy much? It will be fixed. For whatever reason.

And DTS? Non-issue here. Never came across a situation were I needed DTS? It was never promised, it was never delivered, and it's kind of difficult to demand features just because.

Volker Weber, 2015-07-13

I'm happy for you that you have never needed DTS.

For the many that do, it continues to be a stumbling block on a regular basis. Just a couple of weeks ago asked me for advice on buying a PLAYBAR - he's now buying a product from another brand.

Ben Rose, 2015-07-13

That's to be expected. If you need high definition audio, you also have to buy a different brand. My theory is that if you add all features customers demand, you will end up with Lotus Notes.

Volker Weber, 2015-07-13

Nobody NEEDS high definition audio. It's an option, but it's not needed. Alongside every high definition audio stream is a low definition audio stream that can be used to get audio. It's a nice to have, but not needed.

Unfortunately, the majority of blu-ray discs don't have any 5.1 Dolby Digital stream. Around 90% of my collection is DTS encoded. To get any 5.1 sound at all, I need the DTS support that Playbar doesn't offer.

Maybe it's because you watch movies in German, which is often a secondary dubbed audio. I can watch my Superman blu-ray disc box sets in French and German dubbed audio over a lovely 5.1 audio soundtrack but, if I swap to English, it's DTS...I get silence.

Ben Rose, 2015-07-13

Much simpler. Blu-Ray is yesterday. Streaming is today.

Volker Weber, 2015-07-13

Seit dem Update auf 5.4 heute, gibt der neue SUB ein minimales "Netzteilbrummen" von sich!
Hat jemand ähnliche Erfahrungen mal gemacht?
Vielleicht Hardwarefehler?

Tim Schwarz, 2015-07-14

Ben, I solved the DTS-problem by buying a new BD-player that can convert DTS to Dolby 5.1 (Samsung BD-H6500).

Volker Berding, 2015-07-14

Volker W,

Streaming is the "cassette tape" of the new generation. Convenient but compromising on quality. Streaming is good, I have Netflix, but it's got nothing on true Blu-ray quality. In many cases, Netflix audio is only 2.0, no discrete surround at all. For similar reasons I still buy CDs - Napster etc. are nice for evaluating new albums, but don't offer the full quality the producer intended.

Volker B,

I've had a Samsung blu-ray for a long time, for similar reasons, but it doesn't resolve the issue.

Firstly, Samsung insist on using a co-ax digital connection, so I'm forced to use an adapter which requires more cabling and another power bricks.

Secondly, all it does is degrade the audio. The DTS stream is uncompressed and then re-compressed into Dolby Digital. This down-mix loses quality. Sure, you get 5.1 audio, but you don't hear the original source.

Thirdly, the Samsung is only a workaround for blu-ray sources. I have other audio sources not supported by PLAYBAR.

Ben Rose, 2015-07-14

Now I am even happier that I never experienced this pain. Thank you.

Volker Weber, 2015-07-14

Tim, nein, keiner meiner Subs macht das.

Volker Weber, 2015-07-14

@vowe: Danke, ich werde die Jungs von Sonos mal kontaktieren!

Tim Schwarz, 2015-07-14

Volker, I do object to how you repeatedly dismiss and comment in a special way about Sonos, and the issues that remain. DTS is one and it would be one thing in my view to say you genuinely have not or not ever seen this yourself, however I perceive and see comments of yours for years that are sometimes leaving the neutral area. Fine with that, but a bit disappointing and surprising, but totally in your right of course.
Saying (in other words) that it was never designed for that and saying it was never promised, and we use or attempt to use a Playbar for something else etc, is sounding so argumentative, even as if you were Sonos yourselves in a way sometimes. And your comments are dismissive on this topic by now, or come close to that.

I have two very strong gripes with Sonos, still:
- I would want to have my game (audio) on my Mac to play on Sonos in the living room. They sorted out the timing over Wifi for even the subs so it could be fixable. I remember the timing argument being brought up in previous discussions in previous comments, potentially be you even.
- DTS, others have it and it just works. I cannot help but think it is just a software and license issues, and/ or some principle- minded mindset that Playbar is TV- only and if you use it in any other way it is your problem, not theirs. And generally so what if someone is using Bluray...?!

And, lastly, the main gripe is how they handle the forums. Yes, you said forums are sometimes not the reality and things are overdone and hyped there (Heise comments on the news ticker anyone?), but they do not do themselves a favour with how poorly they handle it. They make people more unhappy/ more upset.

All of the above is fine and will not cause me sleepless nights, mind you. Also Sonos is great for the Google Play Music and Pandora integration and I am glad you brought me to Sonos. The TV experience just plain totally sucks for *way too much money* I spent on a Playbar, for that money this is a problem I would not have expected. Think about Apple and the quality of a Macbook, you just do not have certain problems to begin with and you know you pay more for it. That at least is where I come from.

Alexander Koch, 2015-07-14

I hear you. But I don't have those issues. It's probably because I do not play games and do not use Blu-Ray.

Sonos plays music throughout my house and the TV sound is fantastic, no matter whether it's broadcast or streaming. That's all I want. I am happy, so are my friends. One of them recently bought a Playbar and I warned him about DTS. He said, and I quote: "Does not bother me a bit."

I understand that some people may take offense by Sonos not supporting DTS. I also know others who take offense by Sonos not supporting high definition audio.

Volker Weber, 2015-07-14


Thanks for the feedback.

I think a major part of the issue was the original shop page for Playbar on the Sonos website.

Along with headings like "HIDEF, MEET HIFI" it proclaimed "full-theater sound for TV, Web, Movies and Video Games".

It also claimed "Plays all sources plugged in to your HD TV: satellite boxes, Blu-Ray players, and video games consoles. If it's connected to your HD TV, PLAYBAR will play it".

Of course, all this was hastily removed from the website when it became clear this simply wasn't the case. No "HIDEF" audio, no "full-theater sound" and certainly no ability to play everything connected to your TV.

It's not a case of people being offended, it's just sheer disbelief that a proclaimed home theater product doesn't support a codec from the 1990s. People are switching from existing home theater system to PLAYBAR and finding it doesn't do what their 15 year old one did.

You can buy a budget 5.1 system including speakers, amplifier, cabling, hmdi inputs and DTS support for under ¢200. It's not unrealistic for people paying ¢1500+ for an equivalent Sonos set-up to expect this to work.

Ben Rose, 2015-07-14

I see you are still commenting until everybody else has left the building. ;-)

Volker Weber, 2015-07-14

I am surprised that the iOS app update does not include an Apple Watch interface. It is not that difficult...

Felix Binsack, 2015-07-14

A little birdie told me that they built an app that did not meet their own expectations. Watch Kit is too limited. With watchOS 2.0 and Watch SDK things will look different. You want to be able to talk to the players directly and not through an iOS app.

Volker Weber, 2015-07-14

@vowe: "keiner meiner Subs macht das"? Plural? Deine Nachbarn haben aber schon etwas Angst vor Dir, oder?

Thomas Baschetti, 2015-07-15

Alle Außenwände gehören mir. ;-)

Volker Weber, 2015-07-15

Old archive pages

I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.


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