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How to Build A Sonos Surround Sound System

May 24, 2017

 

Your TV sounds rubbish. No honestly, it is. It’s just the nature of the thing. Even thinner TVs have meant ever-smaller speakers, and no amount of jiggery-pokery can fully compensate for those physical deficiencies.

 

You may already own some Sonos kit or are thinking about getting some - either way did you know that you can build a 5.1 cinema surround sound system from purely sonos components and it sounds... awesome!

 

This quick guide will give you an insight into planning and installing the sonos surround sound system.

 

First off you need to decide where and how you’re going to install your television. If you’re going to wall mount it then you’d be looking at using the Sonos Playbar as your main speaker. If, like me you have it on an AV rack you’ll probably want to get yourself the Sonos Playbase. Now there are pros and cons for both and Sonos have gone to great lengths tuning both units so they broadly sound the same. From a side by side listening test I think the Sonos Playbar slightly edges it over the Playbase but we’re aiming for aesthetic practicality here.

 

The Playbar has an optional wall mount I would strongly suggest purchasing this if you are going to wall mount because it makes the whole experience a lot easier. The play bar does have holes on the back of the unit and I have in the past just hung it on screws, but believe me when I say this is no easy task! The wall mount comes with a paper hanging template so drilling the holes is easy – just make sure you level them before you drill!

 

Now a major thing to consider when hanging your television and Playbar is that the Playbar only has an optical cable input for sound, therefore your TV will need an optical audio output (most modern screens have this) and obviously your Playbar will require power. If you’re aiming for the neatest possible solution you’ll want to manage these cables so they’re not hanging from the screen. You have two options, the first is to hang the Playbar very close to the bottom of the screen or the second, which is my preference, run the cable into the wall so after decorating it cannot be seen.

 

Once you’ve decided on a main speaker you’ll need to decide on the surround rears. It is possible for you to configure any of the Play range to act as rears but I have found the Play 1’s to be a good solution and a neat solution. A company called Flexon make a wall mounting speaker bracket for these and if you get your electrician to run a fused spur next to where the speaker is to hang you’ll have a great and neat finish. When positioning the rears you need to take into account the optimal position angle, as in the below picture.  

 

 

Remember Sonos products are wireless from audio distribution cables not from power!     

 

Lastly you would require the Sonos sub and personally I would not do a setup like this without the Subwoofer. This can be positioned anywhere in your room but I would recommend as far towards the front of the room as possible.

 

Once you have completed the physical setup of the components you’ll need to configure the system through the app. This is relatively easy and I would strongly suggest you use an Apple device to do the TRUPLAY tuning as this makes a huge difference to the overall sound performance.

 

Follow these steps to configure the rear speakers as surrounds;

  1. From the Sonos music menu, tap Settings > Room Settings.

  2. Select the room the PLAYBAR or PLAYBASE is located in.

  3. Select "Add Surround Speakers".

  4. Follow the in-app instructions to add first a left and then a right surround speaker.

The Playbar is going to be the unit that distributes the audio signal from the TV to the other speakers; however the TV is acting as the source video switch so if you’re going to add a bluray player or a satellite receiver like Sky you will need to have planned this up front. Like the Playbar you will have to run the necessary cables to the TV beforehand.

 

 

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