Sonos Playbar review: wireless audio invades your living room

The simple home stereo is struggling in the digital world. Little black boxes and audio sources are proliferating under the TV, remotes litter the coffee table, and docks clutter the bedroom and kitchen. Countless inputs and apps, disparate interfaces, and way too many wires have mashed up into a home theater headache that’s barely keeping up with music after the CD. It’s not a pretty situation.

Sonos is finally making a serious move to the living room with its new Playbar soundbar, a category generally known more for compromise than for great sound. If you go the serious A/V receiver route, you’re still stuck spending a lot of time switching cables, adjusting inputs, and dealing with multiple software and hardware interfaces that were never designed to be seamlessly integrated. And even if you’ve gone that far, you haven’t even started to deal with the reality of music on your local network or streaming services like Rdio, Spotify, Pandora, or even internet radio. Do you stream over your Xbox? Apple TV? Roku? Which apps do you have to get to control it? How do you even get music to other rooms?

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