Versatility is one of the most integral selling points of the Sonos product line. With just a handful of Sonos speakers, you can create essentially any soundscape you could want. Surround sound is one of the most in demand stereo setups around for its ability to create an immersive and all-encompassing aural experience. This makes it a useful choice for both home theaters and dedicated music devices. Fortunately, Sonos offers a lot of ways you can mix and match their products to create a true surround sound experience. If you’re looking to upgrade your system, here’s everything you need to know.
What Devices Are Supported in Surround Sound?
Any of the traditional wireless speakers in the Sonos catalog can be used as components in your surround sound system. That include the Play:1, Play:3, Play:5, and One. Any members of the Play line can work reasonably well for a surround system setup, but keep in mind that the power in each of the speakers can step up significantly with each model. Even a pair of Play:1 speakers can generally fill a room with meaningful sound. If you’re really looking to make your home theater rumble, a pair of Play:5 speakers are the option, but even a single Play:5 is generally enough to give you clear and crisp sound in large spaces. The Play:3 and Play:5 are designed to sit both horizontally and vertically. Either is a reasonable option, but just make sure that they’re both arranged in the same position. A pair of One speakers are almost identical to a pair of Play:1 speakers in terms of performance and output, but they come with Alexa functionality built in. If you’re working with a receiver, such as the Sonos Beam, that already has voice-activated support or you’re pairing up your system with an Amazon Echo or Dot, you should be just fine getting by with a Play:1 in place of a One.
If you already have wired speakers that are appropriate for the job, you don’t necessarily need to go out and invest in a whole array of Sonos speakers. The Sonos Connect and Sonos Connect:Amp are both designed to fold your non-powered speakers into your smart home speaker system, and they come with surround sound capabilities as well. If your speakers come with their own amplifier, you can invest in the Sonos Connect which is cheaper and simply serves as a portal connect your speakers to your wireless network. The Sonos Connect:Amp comes with its own amplifiers built in, and it’s the right choice if you’re working with passive speakers. Regardless of the speakers you decide to use, both the left and right speakers need to be the same model to work in a Sonos surround sound system.
If your surround sound system is intended to be incorporated as a part of a home theater, you’ll want a receiver as well. Sonos offers three great soundbars that can provide as a baseline for your surround sound setup and connect directly to your TV. The Playbar is the meatiest of the three both in terms of size and output. The Playbar is designed to sit underneath your TV and provides some heft as well, particularly in terms of bass performance. As the newest of the bunch, the Beam offers Alexa speakers built in, providing a more versatile range of features that make up for the relative lack of full performance. They’re all strong receivers that can step up to bat for a home stereo system. If your surround sound is intended for music only, the central channel can be handled through a traditional Sonos speaker. The Play:3 and Play:5 are both great choices for that. And if you partner them with Play:1 or One speakers, you can ensure that you get clarity from the three front channels without being overpowered by the rear speakers.
Users starting from scratch with their surround sound system will want to check out the package deals that Sonos offers. These bundle all the components you need in one easy to arrange package and even provide a noticeable discount in terms of cost. If you’re integrating speakers or receivers that support Amazon Alexa, you may want to consider checking out the Amazon Firestick as well so that you can control your video streaming services directly with your voice. If you’re looking for an added burst of bass and overall performance, your system can further be upgraded with the inclusion of a Sonos Sub.
Setting Up Your Surround Sound
Once you’ve settled on the speakers and receiver that are right for you, actually setting up your surround sound stereo system is the easy part. You’ll want to frame your speakers on either side of your receiver to make sure that your sound comes in clearly from every angle. Go into the Sonos app on your mobile device, then navigate to Settings and then Room Settings underneath the More tab. Then select the Room to which your prospective surround system is placed, and tap “Add Surround Speakers”. The app will then guide you directly through the process of adding both the left and the right rear speakers.
Making the Most of Your Surround Sound
Any speakers designated as your left and right surround speakers will automatically be configured to handle their roles, but you can adjust their functions to suit your particular needs. You’ll want to again navigate to Room Settings in the app and click on Advanced Audio and then Surround Settings. There are a number of handy options you have here to customize your experience. Your surround speakers can be turned on or off with the click of a button, but you can also create different volume profiles for music playback and TV settings. A number of template music playback settings are also available directly through this menu, but they only work with music and not when you’re coordinating though your TV.