Sonos is hard at work on a new soundbar that’ll bring one of the biggest missing features from the connected speaker range – Dolby Atmos. That’s according to the latest whispers, which come courtesy of an anonymous tipster speaking to Apple-centric blog 9To5Mac.
The revamped Playbar could launch as soon as June, the tipster claims. Although Sonos offers surround sound with its current line-up, the system isn’t Dolby Atmos compatible.
For those who don’t know, Atmos is a surround sound format created by Dolby. It was originally designed to be used only in your local multiplex, but the system has been adapted for movie nights at home. The goal is to recreate the immerse surround sound experience you get in the cinema on your sofa at home.
To do that, Dolby Atmos systems often use multiple components, including speakers behind your preferred seat and a soundbar beneath the screen. A number of Dolby Atmos-compatible soundbars achieve the cinema effect using upward-firing speakers to bounce sound off the ceiling in your house to direct sound behind you.
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Sonos can create a surround sound system with both its Playbar and Sonos Beam soundbars – the latter is designed to double-up as a smart speaker, offering quick access to either Alexa or Google Assistant to fill your bedroom or living room with music or radio as well as boost the audio from your Smart TV. However, neither the Playbar nor the Beam offers Dolby Atmos.
Based on the source speaking to 9To5Mac, that seems to be the goal of the latest addition to the line-up, which could launch as soon as June. A leaked image from reliable tipster zatznotfunny.com purportedly reveals the design of the new soundbar, which looks very similar to the previous generation.
Unfortunately, there’s no word on whether a revamped Atmos-supporting Playbar would also support voice controls – like the Beam. It’s also unclear whether Sonos will have to launch a new version of the Sonos Sub to meet the Dolby Atmos requirements, or whether the existing hardware from 2013 would be able to support the standard.
But one question we can answer is this – Sonos’ Dolby Atmos kit is unlikely to be an impulse-buy price. While Atmos soundbars have steadily been dropping in price, they’re still much pricier than non-Atmos alternatives – often north of £600.
According to the 9To5Mac tipster, a next-generation Sonos Play:5 smart speaker will be announced alongside the new sound system. The latter will replace the 2015 model currently available. However, as always, these are just rumours, so take everything with a pinch of salt. 9To5Mac has a pretty strong track record, but mainly around – as the name suggests – Mac and other Apple products. The blog is less renown for its Sonos tips, so we’ll have to wait and see whether these latest whispers turn out to be accurate.