A few months ago I purchased a Sonos Playbar soundbar to compliment our plasma TV that we have hanging on the wall. When I needed TV mounting, I wanted to make sure I got it done right. It was the easiest way to get great quality sound without putting non-removable speakers in the ceiling. Little did I know we would have issues with our Harmony One remote control and the Sonos Playbar.
The Sonos itself is amazing, the design, the quality and most importantly, the sound, are all genuinely great. I couldn’t be happier with the purchase. As soon as it was installed and setup with the TV I noticed some issues. I had reprogrammed the Harmony One remote to recognize that we had the Sonos Playbar and disabled the annoying dialogue message on the TV whenever you pressed the volume button, but that wasn’t the problem. It was almost as if the IR sensor on the Playbar wasn’t picking up everything the remote was spitting out. I tried everything I could think of, I charged up the batteries on the remote, I changed the angle at which I was pointing the remote, I would even stand directly in front of the Playbar with the remote inches away from the sensor. No matter what I tried it always seemed to only work some of the time…
I decided to tweet to @Sonos and see if they would be able to help me out, since I clearly couldn’t figure out the problem. It took a bit of back and forth, but a help ticket was finally opened and I talked to an actual service representative. He informed me that plasma TV’s can interfere with IR sensors and that this was probably the cause of my issues. Ok, seems logical, so how was Sonos going to resolve the situation? Well, they told me to put a couple layers of masking tape over the IR sensor on the Playbar to block out the interference, but still allow the IR signal to penetrate through… This is a terrible solution for a soundbar I spent $700 on.
Without much choice I did what they asked, and sure enough it helps. It’s still not perfect, and now I have blue painters tape (all I had available) on the front of my Playbar, which is pretty ugly. Sure, I can always color over the tape with a black marker, but for the quality this soundbar is supposed to be, I shouldn’t have to resort to this type of fix. I’ve also found that if the screen on the plasma TV is bright, it seems to put out more interference than if it’s dark. So even with the tape on the IR sensor, it still doesn’t work all the time.
I’m pretty disappointed in this issue and the solution, especially since I have an IR repeater on the front of the TV itself, sending signals to all of my devices in the closet, that has no problem picking up the signal. There’s no reason an expensive piece of equipment like the Sonos Playbar should have any trouble dealing with the interference from a plasma TV. But obviously there’s not much I can do if I want to keep the Sonos Playbar.
So if anyone else out there is having trouble with their Sonos Playbar and their remote not controlling it properly, try the masking tape trick first before you throw your remote through the TV in frustration like my wife has almost done. Start with one piece of tape, cover the IR sensor, try the remote. Make sure to try it when the screen is bright and dark. If it doesn’t work, add another layer of tape and try again. It took me 4 layer of tape before it started working a better. I still have issues when the screen is really bright, but at least I know that if I just wait until it’s a bit darker I’ll have no problems changing the volume.