How to Use Apple TV With Your Sonos Playbar

Everything you need to know to use an Apple TV with a Sonos Playbar

Sonos was one of the first firms to create a high-quality solution for streaming audio around the home, so why wouldn’t you want to integrate your Apple TV into this ecosystem? Here's how, and what you'll need to do it.

How to use Sonos with Apple TV
You can stream your Apple Music anywhere with this guide. Sones PR Image

You need to use your television to hook the two systems up. This is because the fourth-generation Apple TV only has a high-definition HDMI output and no optical audio out connection.

This is acceptable because HDMI carries very high-quality audio and visual signals, but it does introduce a little complexity in connecting the two systems. In order to connect them, you must connect the Apple TV to your television set over HDMI, and output to your Sonos Playbar using its optical cable and the optical out on the television. (You can find out more about optical audio here). Let’s get your system setup:

What You Need

Play Nice With Playbar

The best way to connect an Apple TV to your domestic Sonos setup is to use a Sonos Playbar to connect the two. Sonos has designed the product as a home cinema soundbar, it can be wall-mounted and is engineered to complement your HDTV home theater system. It only takes a few steps to play audio from your Apple TV through every Sonos speaker in your home. 

Set up is simple:

Set up Your Sonos and Apple TV:

  • Plug the Apple TV into your HDTV using and HDMI cable
  • You may need to tap Settings > Audio and Video and check your Apple TV is using the correct audio output.
  • Download and launch the Sonos Controller app on your iPhone and open Settings. Now you are in Settings choose Add a Player or SUB and follow the instructions you will be provided with in order to set up your Sonos Playbar.

Set up Your TV:

  • You may need to manually adjust the audio settings on your TV to reroute audio through the optical cable. Most recent televisions will handle this task for you automatically, but it is possible you will need to refer to your manufacturer’s manual for configuration instructions to send audio from the TV through the cable. This will usually be nested in your television’s audio settings.

You’ll Need a Remote Control

Set Up a Universal Remote Control

You can follow these instructions to set up a universal remote control with your Apple TV. To set up your Sonos for this, use the Sonos App to select TV Setup and Control > Remote Control Setup.

Alternatively, you can use the Sonos app on iOS, Mac or PC to control your system.

  • Navigate to Room Settings.
  • Sonos app for iOS or Android: Menu > Settings > Room Settings
  • Sonos for Mac: Sonos > Preferences > Room Settings
  • Sonos for PC: Select Manage > Settings > Room Settings

Now, What Can You Do?

Once you’ve got your Sonos and Apple TV systems working together you will be able to use any iOS device to stream audio through your Sonos system. You can play music, movies, or other video audio from your Apple TV directly through your Sonos system; or beam audio from an iPhone, iPad, Mac, or iPod touch using AirPlay.

  • From the Apple TV: The Sonos system will also play any audio generated by your Apple TV, so if you use the Music app on Apple TV you can hear the music on your Sonos system.
  • From any Apple device: You can use AirPlay to stream audio content from your Mac, iPhone, or iPad. Just launch the app that contains the audio you want to access and then follow these instructions to stream the audio to your Apple TV, where it will be picked up by your Sonos system.

Now you have Apple TV audio set to play through a Sonos system that is connected to your television you will also be able to stream audio from your TV to any other room in your home that is equipped with Sonos speakers.

Don't Have a Playbar?

You will need a Sonos speaker of some kind to act as a gate to get Apple TV audio into your system.

You can use a Sonos Play:5 for this, though the results may not be as good because the audio is carried from your television to your Sonos system over a standard 3.5mm jack (assuming your television has this output).

Among other pitfalls, you may find audio falls out of sequence with video when watching through Apple TV, but you will be able to listen to music from Apple TV using Sonos speakers around your home.

Set up is easy – just open Settings > Audio and Video > Audio Output on your Apple TV and set to use the connected system.

What Happens Next for Smart Speakers?

Sonos is feeling some pressure from connected smart speaker systems, including Amazon’s Alexa-powered Echo devices, and similar systems from other manufacturers.

These systems aren’t confined to audio, but also let people control their homes and get help from voice-activated smart assistants, such as Alexa, Cortana, or Siri.

In order to meet this threat, Sonos is reaching deals that enable its systems to begin to support smart assistants from other manufacturers. The company knows it must rise to the challenge: The Verge quotes Sonos CEO, Patrick Spence, who said:

“The next few years will define our future as we step into the big leagues – partnering and competing with global leaders like Amazon, Google and (likely) Apple.”

Systems like Sonos and Apple TV will become increasingly important components within smart homes. Not only will you control these devices with your voice, but smart speakers will also become the primary interface through which we control our homes.