SONOS Surround Sound Settings

Since we specialize in SONOS for many of the systems we have a few tips to share when it comes to “hearing” what is possible from your system.

Surround sound from SONOS is made possible with a few different options including our amazing Fx rear in-ceiling speakers from Monitor Audio paired with the SONOS Connect:AMP or the all new SONOS Amp coming out shortly. We have installed hundreds of Playbars with this setup and several paired with the smaller Beam. In either setup, you have the amazing room filling sound when watching TV or listening to music.

Note: The settings are also applicable to the wireless surrounds (Play1, Play3 or Play5) but most of our clientele use the in-ceiling speakers for concealment and a much more discrete setup.

Here is a sample of the systems we often installed and the parts that make up the “Surround Sound” system.

Sonos 5.1 sound system

The subwoofer is amazing but I’m going to focus less on it for this exercise because I’m trying to illustrate the use of the rear or the Fx speakers and how to tweak them to your listening preference.

When watching TV

  • It should be noted that when you are watching TV, the voices are intended to be coming from the playbar or the beam. That’s where voices or the centre channel is located. You shouldn’t be hearing them in the Fx speakers unless they are intended to be behind you.
  • Also important is the format of the source content. Since we get content from many sources, it must be available in surround sound for the rear speakers to be leveraged. Some content just isn’t streaming in 5.1, DTS or Dolby Digital so you won’t hear the effects available unless they are broadcast in those formats (or other surround formats supported by SONOS)

When listening to Music

  • The surround speakers automatically switch to what we typically refer to as “virtual stereo” or all-channel” stereo format for music. What this means is that you get all speakers playing in stereo mode when music is playing. This will definitely fill the room.
  • I prefer the “Full” setting for music and watching TV. Others will prefer ambient so just play with the setting and tune it to what you prefer.

Here is how to access these settings. I’m using my iPhone but works similarly on the Android app.

NOTE: you can no longer use the Desktop app to make these settings. (as of early October 2018 SONOS changed the options and limits you to using the iOS or Android app)

Use the “…” button the far right of your screen to get at Settings

Then select the room settings you want to edit. In my case here I’ve named this room “Playbar 5.1” but if could be your “Family Room”.

From the room settings, choose the “Advanced Audio


Here is where you can edit your surround sound settings. For this exercise, choose the “Surround Settings

Now you can tweak your Surround settings. If you want the back speakers to be “louder” relative to the playbar or beam when watching TV, just crank up the level.

As mentioned, for music playbar…I love the FULL setting. You can test which one you prefer.

That’s pretty much it. Enjoy your sound system.


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