Building a 5.1 home theater system isn’t cheap, but you can spend thousands of dollars on setting one up and it still sounds terrible. Here, we’re putting Sonos on the hot seat – does their 5.1 system live up to its promises? Or is it just another rip-off?
In this Sonos 5.1 review, we did a full audio test to find out.
Sonos 5.1 Design
A Sonos 5.1 system has different components: the soundbar, the Sonos Sub, and two rear speakers. As you can imagine, this system will take up more space than Yamaha SR-B20A soundbar with built-in sub. However, it’s still more compact than others.
The Sonos system isn’t very bulky despite the number of speakers you have. Their units appear sleek and modern, too, making it clear that they didn’t skimp on design.
The connections are minimal, and if you want additional concealment, you can put the sub under the couch. As for the two rear speakers, you can hang it up on the wall with the mount. We’ll talk more about the setup later.
Like Bose Soundtouch 120 with compact design, the entire Sonos 5.1 system has a minimalist look that fits nicely into any interior.
Sonos 5.1 Features Review
The sound quality partially depends on the soundbar you choose to build the Sonos 5.1 system. You have a few options in this aspect: the Playbar, Playbase or the Beam.
In our audio tests, we used the Beam because of its HDMI connection. Both the Playbar and the Playbase lack HDMI support, making the Beam the more popular and practical choice for the 5.1.
The soundbar alone produces great sound. The tones are reasonably well-balanced, and the audio fills the room just enough. It’s impressive, but not for the serious home theater enthusiast. So when you add the Sub and the two rear speakers, the sound improves tenfold.
Interested in home theaters that provide superb surround sound quality, check our Bose Lifestyle 650 Review here.
When you get the whole system working, the sound is resonant, immersive, and punchy. It provides deep bass without overpowering the details, so you still hear the more delicate parts in music and movies.
Whether it’s booming explosions, mellow instruments, or nature sounds, Sonos delivers everything nicely in this 5.1 system.
If you want more of a basic soundbar that can still deliver awesome sound, the Samsung HW-M360 is worth checking out.
5.1 Channel System
As mentioned, this Sonos system is composed of the soundbar, Sub, and two rear speakers. We used the Beam for our setup, mostly because it has HDMI connectivity. But aside from that, the Beam comes in the right size for most TVs.
Then again, the 5.1 channel system works well with the Playbase and the Playbar. The only difference is that you won’t be able to set it up with an HDMI cable. Yet, there are high quality sound systems like Bose SoundTouch 130 and 300 with 2.1 channel upgradeable to 5.1 that can be set up using HDMI ARC.
You can also be flexible with the rear speakers, although they have to be the same model. You can choose between two Sonos Ones, two Sonos Play:1s, or two Sonos Play:5s. We find that the Play:1s fit in nicely, while the Play:5s tend to be overkill if you live in a small apartment 
If you’re a bit tight on budget, the soundbar and speakers will do just fine. However, if you can spend a little bit more, adding the Sonos Sub is worth it – but we’ll get to that later in this Sonos 5.1 review.
You can also check our recommendations for the best budget home theater systems.
Sonos 5.1 Surround Sound
With all the speakers set up, the capability of the system to produce surround sound is impressive. Whether you’re watching movies or TV shows, you’ll have a heightened sense of direction of where the sound is coming from.
Watching Jurassic Park and Marvel movies with this soundbar was an enjoyable experience in our listening room. The explosions and the thunderous roars were on point, and our audio experts agree that this 5.1 system is one of the best in the market.
Playing video games and watching sports events (if they support 5.1 surround sound) are immersive as well. You’ll hear voices and other sounds coming from behind you, making the experience more realistic.
Adding in a Sonos: SUB is a good move if you’re a bass lover. The low frequencies will be enough to shake the room, giving you a rich yet powerful performance.
Still, the Sub doesn’t overwhelm the details to the point of overkill. True, it’s an expensive unit. But if you truly want the full experience, our audio experts agree that it’s worth it.
Sonos 5.1 Connections
Connectivity options differ depending on the soundbar model you choose. If it’s either the Playbar or the Playbase, you connect them to your TV via the digital optical input. If it’s the Beam, you have the HDMI-ARC.
You can wirelessly connect the Sub and the two rear speakers, which means you don’t have to fuss with many cables. You just have to download the Sonos Controller App and go from there.
Sonos TruePlay Feature
TruePlay is one of the unique things Sonos has to offer. Since our living rooms and placements vary, TruePlay takes care of that by tuning the speakers to tailor to the room.
Essentially, TruePlay determines how sound reflects on the walls and other surfaces. That way, your system will perform excellently regardless of placement. However, you can only use this feature with an iOS device.
Sonos 5.1 Setup
Before buying the soundbar, check the connections of your TV first. Digital optical outputs are typical, but your TV may not support HDMI in the Sonos Beam.
Once that’s settled, place the soundbar under your TV or on your wall, and connect the two devices. After that, place the two rear speakers in the left and right areas of wherever you’ll be sitting. Remember to set them equally apart for balance.
As for the subwoofer placement, we recommend positioning it along the front wall and not too far from your soundbar.
Pairing all the speakers are done through the Sonos app. You don’t have to run wires to connect them, making everything cleaner and more convenient. The app walks you through everything so that you can complete the setup in no time.
You can also add a home theater power conditioner to protect your system.
There aren’t many Sonos 5.1 reviews out there, so we tested the speakers ourselves to see if it lives up to the hype – and we find that it does.
The entire Sonos 5.1 system has a pretty steep price, but it’s one of the best you can get at this price point. The price tag seems ridiculous at first glance, especially since the Sonos Sub doubles the cost. However, it’s still money well-spent.
There are more soundbars worth the hype and the price that may be more friendly to the pocket, though.
Is Sonos 5.1 True?
Yes, Sonos 5.1 provides True Surround Sound. It supports Dolby Digital 5.0 and 5.1 surround sound, giving you an immersive audio quality similar to theaters.
How do I get 5.1 surround sound with Sonos?
You get 5.1 surround sound with Sonos by adding rear speakers and a sub. Once you have that set up, open the Sonos App and select System in the Settings tab. Select the Sonos home theater room under Products. Tap Add Surround Speakers and follow the app instructions from there.
Sonos 5.1 Review Conclusion
The Sonos 5.1 sound system is an excellent setup for those who want a serious upgrade to their TV speakers. It provides true surround sound, a rich and intense bass, clear dialogue, convenient setup, Trueplay tuning, and many customization options.