Review about Sonos Playbase
Sonos Playbase is a massive speaker, wide and flat like a pizza box, it is designed to sit underneath user’s TV, and includes three distinct audio channels as well as a built-in subwoofer. Like all other Sonos products, it uses WiFi to connect to other speakers and lets them stream music from just about any service they can think of, but it also outputs all of their TV audio. Sure, it’s not a full 5.1 setup, but a one-box, one-cord solution to upgrade their home theater seems like just what they need. Still, as with almost everything Sonos does, it doesn’t come cheap: $700 in this case. For those who want better sound in their living room, the Playbase is a compelling option — particularly if they are a music fan.
The Playbase is a lot larger than user’s are expected it to be. That stinks if their TV is mounted on a wall or sitting on a fireplace mantle as it was in my house. If they don’t have a table underneath the TV, the Playbase won’t work with their setup.
Just like the Playbar, it’s an easy-but-expensive recommendation for people who want better sound than what their TV can do on its own. Just like the Playbar, the Playbase can instantly become part of your existing Sonos multi-room music setup. It works with dozens of streaming services, and music sounds just as good coming out of it as any blockbuster action sequence.
To get started, plug the Playbase into an out and connect an audio cable to user’s TV. User may need to move to get behind their TV in order to access that port, though, so ask a family member to help hold their TV while they squeeze behind it.
Design and Features
The Playbase strikes useru as an impossibly flat speaker — at just 2.28 inches high, it’s hard to imagine it could sound big, considering the largest driver in its forward-firing array could ever be is 2 inches in diameter. Sonos works its magic with six mid-range drivers and three tweeters, plus one invisible subwoofer placed deeper inside the cabinet. Each of those drivers gets its own Class-D amplifier, for 10 digital amplifiers in total.
The Playbase stretches 28.35 inches wide and just shy of 15 inches deep, making it large enough to accommodate many popular TV base designs, yet narrow enough to slip in between those with legs positioned at the far sides of the screen. The Playbase can handle up to 70 pounds, while it weighs just 18.85 pounds itself.
The Playbase has an unusual shape compared with most speakers, but there’s a clear reason for this odd design: It’s meant to sit on a media stand with a TV on top. Sonos says the device can support most televisions up to 60 inches or up to 77 pounds. Bigger sets that have stands with legs on either side can usually be placed over the Playbase as well.
It’s an exceedingly simple device. There are those touch-sensitive controls on the front of the speaker. Tapping above the Sonos logo will play or pause music, while tapping to the left or right will decrease or increase volume. And user can swipe left to right to go forward in their playlist; swiping in the other direction goes back a track. The only other button is on the left side of the Playbase; users press it during setup to get the speaker connected to their optical audio.
The Playbase’s simplicity extends to the setup too. The Sonos app scans and finds nearby speakers and connects them to the WiFi network user’s mobile device is on. All they had to do was follow the app’s directions and press the button on the side of the speaker to connect it and it was basically good to go. They will also likely need to switch their TV’s setting to output audio to an external device rather than its built-in speaker.
The Playbase uses the same “Trueplay” room-tuning technology that Sonos introduced alongside the Play:5 in late 2015. If user’s haven’t used it before, Trueplay basically adjusts the audio characteristics of Sonos’ speakers to make them sound as good as possible, regardless of where they’re placed in a room. The process is slightly different when tuning the Playbase, because the speaker is meant for both music and movies.
Simply put: In terms of sound quality and ease of use, the Sonos Playbase trounces every other soundbase we’ve tested thus far, and sounds better than many of the soundbars user’s have tested, though admittedly few of them run anywhere near the Playbase’s price range.
The Playbase is meant as a TV audio companion first and a source of music second. That engineering intention played out in our testing, though the Playbase is certainly no slouch when it comes to playing music.
What strikes user first is the wealth of bass the Playbase can produce? The images below help explain why. The “subwoofer” is a relatively small driver within a restrictive space, but it is quite robust, and connected to a long, snaking port tube which tunes the bass to be powerful, deep, and surprisingly tuneful. It is surprisingly capable of delivering a high-impact movie and TV watching experience without any help. The prodigious bass aids more than just explosions and sound effects, too, rounding out the deeper end of voices and adding richness to movie scores and TV soundtracks.
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