Skip to content

Sony vs Sonos Soundbars: A Detailed Soundbar Comparison Guide

As an A/V industry insider and soundbar reviewer, I get asked constantly: should I buy a Sony or Sonos soundbar for my home theater? From cheap models under $200 to premium Dolby Atmos-enabled soundbars over $1000, both Sony and Sonos produce quality soundbars packed with the latest audio technologies.

But there are some definite differences in terms of sound quality, design, features and expandability when comparing Sony vs Sonos soundbars. In this guide, we‘ll break down how leading models from both brands stack up.

A Brief History of Sony and Sonos

To understand the Sony and Sonos soundbars available today, some background context around both companies is helpful.

Sony began production of home audio equipment in 1968 with one of the world‘s first two-channel stereo systems. Since then, Sony has been an industry leader across home and portable audio categories, from the iconic Walkman line of personal cassette players to modern wireless headphones and surround sound systems. They aim to provide premium audio technologies to enhance entertainment experiences for consumers around the globe.

Sonos took a different path, founded in 2002 with a focus squarely on innovating multi-room wireless smart speaker technology. Through a system of networked speaker components controlled by the Sonos app, home listeners can stream music simultaneously to any and every room in their house. While not limiting themselves to residential spaces, that whole-home wireless audio vision has remained Sonos’ core focus across nearly 20 years in business.

Fast forward to today, and both companies are now applying their audio expertise to manufacture some of the world’s most popular soundbars. These modern one-piece solutions easily mount below flat screen TVs to provide major sonic upgrades over inferior built-in television speakers.

I evaluate soundbars across multiple publications as an A/V industry insider. In the sections below, we’ll see how flagship offerings from Sony and Sonos compare regarding sound quality, design, features and value.

Soundbar Audio Technologies Explained

Before diving into specific models, let’s briefly define key soundbar specifications and terms you’ll see:

  • Channel: Audio channels refer to the number of individual built-in speakers inside a soundbar producing sound. More channels allows for better immersive surround effects.

  • Frequency response: The range of bass, mid and high frequencies a soundbar can reproduce, measured in Hz. Wider is better.

  • Amplifier power: How much wattage a soundbar has to amplify audio signals correctly. 50+ watts per channel is typical.

  • Processing effects: Refers to proprietary sound enhancement technologies from Sony (S-Force) and Sonos (Trueplay).

  • Dolby Atmos/DTS:X: Advanced surround sound formats using height/ceiling channels, object-oriented sound and other techniques for super-immersive 360-degree audio.

Now let’s see how Sony and Sonos soundbars stack up regarding these key factors.

Sound Quality Comparison

The most important criteria for any soundbar is how good it sounds. Sony and Sonos take distinct approaches to audio tuning:

Sony leverages decades of A/V equipment expertise to create a powerful, cinematic soundscape. Their soundbars showcase big, dynamic bass, dialog enhancement for clarity, and immersive surround processing for an exciting sound tailored towards movies and games.

Comparatively, Sonos takes a more accurate, Hi-Fi oriented approach. Rather than boosted bass or added effects, Sonos aims for neutral, faithful reproduction of a soundtrack as the mixing engineer intended. Their expertise is in tuning speakers for clarity and balance across the frequency range.

In my testing, Sony soundbars clearly sound more lively and impactful, bringing action movies to life with gut-punching authority. But for those wanting a pure, clean sound where audio recordings sound as their creators envisioned, Sonos accuracy is tough to beat.

But both companies also leverage leading sound technologies:

Sony S-Master and S-Force Pro: Sony’s proprietary S-Master amplifier minimizes noise and distortion for pure amplification. S-Force Pro then creates immersive virtual surround effects from even basic 2-channel soundbar setups when combined with Dolby Atmos height channel processing.

Sonos Trueplay: Tuning a speaker perfectly for a room’s specific acoustic properties has always been challenging. Sonos Trueplay uses smartphone microphones to precisely analyze room layout, materials, speaker placement and even furniture layout. Advanced digital signal processing then tailors audio output to sound its best for your individual space. For those not wanting to run manual tuning, Sonos Arc models automatically adjust EQ based on continual room readings.

So in terms of fundamental technologies, both Sony and Sonos provide enhancements that complement high-performance hardware.

Soundbar Format Support

Beyond proprietary enhancements, supporting object-oriented Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio is arguably the most important factor for the most immersive cinematic soundbar experience.

Dolby Atmos DTS:X
Sony HT-A9 Yes Yes
Sonos Arc Yes No

With both Dolby and DTS compatible sound decoding, the Sony HT-A9 supports literally every major 3D surround format available today. Sonos Arc has Dolby Atmos support but lacks DTS:X. So while you can expect great Atmos performance from both, Sony pulls ahead for the most complete immersive audio hardware support.

Soundbar Comparison Tables

Evaluating specifications in detail, here are how two of the latest soundbar models from Sony and Sonos compare:

Sony HT-A7000 vs Sonos Arc

Features Sony HT-A7000 Sonos Arc
Channels 7.1.2 5.0
Wireless surround speakers Yes Yes
Voice assistant support Alexa + Google Assistant Alexa
HDMI ports 4 1 eARC
Amplifier power 760W total NA
Price $998 $899

With added channels, surround speaker support and more HDMI, the Sony A7000 pulls ahead on specs. But Sonos provides integrated voice control and featuring Trueplay tuning in a compact soundbar body.

Sony HT-S40R vs Sonos Beam (Gen 2)

Let‘s also compare two lower-priced options:

Features Sony HT-S40R Sonos Beam Gen 2
Channels 5.1.2 5.0
Voice assistant support Google Assistant Alexa + Google Assistant
HDMI ports 1 1 eARC
Amplifier power NA NA
Price $598 $449

The Beam Gen 2 equals the Sony in key areas while adding integrated multi-assistant voice control. But the S40R adds two height speakers for a more immersive Dolby Atmos effect.

Verdict: Sony edges out Sonos soundbars when comparing the raw audio hardware specifications. More surround channels, Dolby and DTS format support, wireless rears – Sony simply provides more advanced next-generation audio capabilities overall. But Sonos offers slicker integration of voice assistants and whole-home features.

Design & Build Quality

While sound quality is paramount, aesthetic design still plays a role. As mentioned earlier, Sony and Sonos take very different approaches:

Sony makes soundbars matching modern slim TV designs, with metal mesh grilles and angular extrusions fitting with contemporary decor. Models range from compact 2-channel options just over 2 feet long up to full surround systems reaching 4 feet. The company offers plenty of flexibility to match room sizing needs and style preferences.

Sonos sticks to simple round lines and matte finishes, available in either all black or white. Even their surround-enabled options use a minimized form factor – for instance, the Sonos Arc soundbar measures just 3.4 inches deep with wall mount. These products don’t necessarily stand out from a looks perspective but rather just cleanly blend into living spaces.

In terms of controls, Sony includes traditional plastic button arrays on the soundbar body itself while Sonos relies more heavily on capacitive touch areas or controlling everything directly from within the mobile app.

And build quality is excellent across the board – both Sony and Sonos leverage premium cabinet materials with metal undersides and intricate internal bracing for rigidity. You can expect many years of usage from models produced by either brand.


A key benefit of Sonos’ focus on an integrated wireless audio platform is that their soundbars work seamlessly with other products within the broader Sonos speaker ecosystem. Add a Sonos Sub and surrounds, and suddenly your TV audio system expands to fill an entire house with sound.

Sony also offers wireless surround speaker add-ons and subwoofers compatible with select premium soundbar models like the HT-A7000. But most Sony soundbars are designed as standalone all-in-one products rather than as building blocks for whole home audio. If you later want rear speakers for true 5.1 surround sound, you’ll have to swap out receivers rather than just expand.

So Sonos definite strength here lies in the modular nature enabling expanding a system over time. Sony soundbars provide formidable audio firepower directly out of the box but don‘t provide the same long-term flexibility.


Both companies aim to make connecting soundbars to your other gear simple:

Sony focuses on physical inputs like HDMI and includes an HDMI cable along with any necessary optical audio adapter in the box. Most models also include Bluetooth for direct streaming from mobile devices or laptops.

Sonos instead embraces WiFi streaming over a home network, supporting AirPlay 2 from iOS devices in addition to Spotify Connect and direct integration with hundreds of streaming music services. Voice control is available from both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant depending on region.

If your priority is sending video signals from a cable box, game console or Blu-ray player to a soundbar, Sony HDMI support provides more options. But Sonos definitely leads regarding ease of wireless music integration.

Cost Breakdown

Soundbars range from affordable speaker upgrades starting under $200 up to home theater powerhouses at $1000+ for top-end Dolby Atmos models. Where do Sony and Sonos compare regarding price?

As you’d expect based on reputation, Sonos soundbars command a premium over Sony models with similar core specs. Let‘s break down popular options at low, medium and high price points:

Soundbar Model Price
Sony S100F $98
Sonos Ray $279

| Sony HT-S350 | $278 |
| Sonos Beam Gen 2 | $499 |
| | |
| Sony HT-A7000 | $998 |
| Sonos Arc + Sub Gen 3 | $1,696+ |

Add in that Sonos provides easier expansion over time, and the total cost difference between the brands grows further when building out more complete surround systems.

However, Sony frequently offers discount deals directly or through retailers. So for those willing to wait for sales during holidays or store clearance events, the effective price gap narrows.

Verdict: Sony vs Sonos Soundbars

So all factors considered, is Sony or Sonos better regarding home theater soundbars?

The answer depends mainly on your priorities:

Choose Sony soundbars if:

  • You want bold, powerful audio for movies and games
  • Advanced Dolby Atmos/DTS:X support is important
  • You prioritize high specs at lower price points
  • Your usage is mainly TV entertainment rather than whole home streaming

Choose Sonos soundbars if:

  • You want accurate Hi-Fi audio staying faithful to creators’ intent
  • Multi-room expandability is appealing
  • You already use Alexa/Google Assistant voice assistants
  • You stream a lot of internet music services
  • Design aesthetics are really important to you

Both companies make excellent products. Sony caters more to home theater enthusiasts wanting an all-in-one audio powerhouse out of the box, while Sonos provides a solid foundation for building out a whole-house wireless audio ecosystem over time.

For most living room TV setups, I actually recommend considering both brands – choose a higher-end Sony soundbar for immersive film and TV audio, paired with smaller satellite Sonos speakers in rear surround positions. You get superb Dolby Atmos surround from Sony up front augmented with great background ambient effects thanks to Sonos. This hybrid best-of-both approach may just be the ultimate soundbar audio dream team!

I’m happy to address any other questions about Sony, Sonos or soundbars in general. Just drop me a note in the comments section below!