SONOS PLAYBASE review: A serious sound solution for your entertainment needs

Audio / Audio Hardware Reviews / Reviews / Tech
SONOS PLAYBASE

For those who do have the means and are willing to part with that cash, it’s going to be a very worthwhile investment.

TA-ratings-98The SONOS PLAYBASE is a product I admittedly really wanted to get my hands on to review. So I was surprised when SONOS reached out to me asking if I’d like to take the new SONOS PLAYBASE for a spin, I didn’t hesitate one bit to say yes. The company went ahead and shipped out a SONOS PLAYBASE for a two week review period and I was impressed. Impressed enough to give this entertainment speaker a Techaeris Top Pick Award for 2017. Read on for the full review of the SONOS PLAYBASE, it’s not for everyone’s pocketbook but for those who want to spend the money, it’s a serious solution for your entertainment needs.

Specifications

The SONOS PLAYBASE has the following features and specifications:

  • Six mid-range speakers
  • Three tweeters
  • One subwoofer
  • Ten Class-D digital amplifiers
  • Optical input
  • Adjustable EQ bass/treble/loudness
  • Autoplay setting
  • Capacitive touch controls
  • Wi-Fi connected
  • Ethernet for wired connection
  • Supports TVs up to 77 lbs (35 kg)
  • Add SUB and two PLAY:1 rears for wireless 5.1 surround sound
  • Weighs 18.85 lbs.
  • Dimensions – H x W x D: 2.28 x 28.65 14.96in. (58 x 720 x 380 mm)

What’s In The Box

  • SONOS PLAYBASE
  • AC power cord
  • Ethernet cable
  • Optical audio cable
  • Warranty card
  • Quickstart guide

Design

First off, and this is something I haven’t touched on in a review in some time, the unboxing experience is stellar with the PLAYBASE. The packing materials are high-quality which speaks to SONOS wanting to protect your device from damage. Once you get through the unboxing and pull the PLAYBASE out and take off the soft wrapping material. You’re greeted with a solid piece of sleek beauty that weighs in at just over 18 lbs.

The SONOS PLAYBASE is available in white and black, our review unit was black and the downside here is the amount of dust that collects is noticeable. This isn’t a problem with the device, it’s just a normal thing for black devices to show the dust. If I were to purchase one of these for myself, I would probably get the white version.

There isn’t much to the PLAYBASE on the exterior. The design is very minimalistic and clean which is very appealing to me. The SONOS branding is neatly placed in the front but not at all gaudy and in your face, it’s subtle.

SONOS PLAYBASE

Sleek simple design

The capacitive touch controls are located on the top of the PLAYBASE. I didn’t use these much since I set up my TV remote to control the volume. There is only one other button on the left side, the reset/setup button. The backside is also very clean with only three ports: AC, Ethernet, and Optical in.

Overall the look and feel of the SONOS PLAYBASE reminds me of the AppleTV. Of course, it’s much larger but it has the same sort of material and super high build quality. This is a very well designed piece of equipment both aesthetically and functionally.

Installation/Assembly

There is nearly nothing to do as far as installation and assembly are concerned. There are literally two cables (three if you choose to hard-wire into your network) you will need to install and assemble the PLAYBASE. Simply plug in the optical cable into the PLAYBASE and source and plug the AC cord into the PLAYBASE then the wall. That is literally it. If you have a TV whose base can sit on top of the PLAYBASE then you’re all set there, it can hold up to 77 lbs (35 kg).

SONOS PLAYBASE

Connections

If your TV doesn’t come with a stand that will fit on the PLAYBASE you might look at the SANUS Swiveling Stand we reviewed recently, it’s basically made for the SONOS PLAYBASE and it works perfectly. The SANUS stand fits most TV’s up to 60″. This is very easy to install and assemble.

Software

So the SONOS app is where all the magic and most of the setup happens. I went through the entire setup process which took about 10-15 minutes and I took screenshots of each step. While the setup isn’t complicated, I did find it involved and a little longer than I liked. I ended up with over 50 screenshots which I thought would become convoluted to explain here in text. So take a look at the SONOS walk-thru of the SONOS app in the video below. Please note, I used the standard setup when I set up the SONOS PLAYBASE.

As you can see, the SONOS app setup process is involved, especially if you set up Trueplay which I did do. Trueplay setup involves you taking your iPhone or iPad and walking around the room with the mic facing out. The PLAYBASE will emit a sound and this process is supposed to tune your PLAYBASE for the most optimal sound in the room you’re in. My first attempt at setting up Trueplay failed and I had to repeat the process. I do like that you can add a variety of streaming music services and use them through your SONOS, though you have to use the SONOS app for that. The video below explains how to set up streaming services through the SONOS app.

Overall the SONOS app is really great. There is a lot to explore and use here and with my limited time with the system, I didn’t get into all of it. I took a few points off the software score simply because I felt the setup process was a bit longer than it should be. In the end, I think SONOS is trying to give you the best sound they can, I just wish they could have done it a bit quicker with less steps. Still, the software experience, once set up, is great. For more detailed info on the app and its capabilities, check out SONOS’ full page on it.

Ease of Use

Once you have the PLAYBASE all set up through the app it’s very easy to use the device with your entertainment device. I opted to set up my TV remote to control the volume and for me, that was the simplest thing to do. No need to putz with the app if I am watching TV and not streaming from my iPhone or Android device. This is just very simple to deal with and no issues at all in operating it.

Sound Quality

This is what matters, sound quality. You have to remember that this is basically a very beefed up sound bar. With that in mind, this thing sounds better than any soundbar I’ve ever used. The highs and mids are well balanced and the bass is most certainly there. The bass isn’t nearly as prevalent as if you had a system with its own dedicated subwoofer but it’s the best bass I’ve heard from a product such as this.

I’ve used other soundbar type products and the bass is usually decent but the PLAYBASE gives you just a bit more oompf than the competition. If you really need that extra oompf, SONOS does sell a separate subwoofer (SONOS SUB) you can add to the PLAYBASE to get that shake-the-walls rumble.

SONOS PLAYBASE

10 speakers

The PLAYBASE sound filled my living room just fine and it reproduced all the fine sounds you get in movies. There are much higher priced 7.1 and 5.1 surround systems that probably sound better, but then you’re talking much more money and multiple speakers and wires. The PLAYBASE manages to produce a well-balanced and premium sound in a very slim and nearly wireless package.

If you are looking for an even more immersive sound, which really, the PLAYBASE alone does well in my book, then you could add a SONOS Play:1 to the mix. Combining the SONOS PLAYBASE, SONOS SUB and SONOS PLAY:1 will produce that 5.1 surround sound experience. This does mean you’d be spending nearly $1600USD for all three pieces, but then these are all wireless. It will really come down to what you are willing to spend, just what kind of sound you want, and if you’re okay with or without wires.

I really think the PLAYBASE produces a sound that is going to be more than acceptable to most users. Adding the SUB and PLAY:1 would just be extra icing on an already iced cake. I loved the sound on the PLAYBASE both for movies and music.

Price/Value

Here’s the hangup for many: $699.99USD for what many would consider a soundbar can be hard to swallow. This price tag isn’t for everyone. There are certainly other soundbars on the market you could buy for less, but I do believe if you choose to buy the PLAYBASE it will give you much value for that $699.99USD.

SONOS PLAYBASE

Simple branding

Wrap Up

No, the PLAYBASE isn’t for everyone. The price tag is going to scare many away and I agree that it’s hard to justify spending this much money. For those who do have the means and are willing to part with that cash, it’s going to be a very worthwhile investment. I only wish I could have tested the PLAYBASE for a longer period of time and even added the SUB and PLAY:1 for the full experience.

*We were sent a SONOS PLAYBASE review unit for the purposes of this review.

SONOS PLAYBASE

$699.99 USD
SONOS PLAYBASE
9.8

Design

10/10

    Installation/Assembly

    10/10

      Software

      10/10

        Ease of Use

        10/10

          Sound Quality

          10/10

            Price/Value

            10/10

              Nailed it

              • Really amazing natural sound
              • Premium sleek design
              • Works nicely with mobile devices
              • Integrates with your TV remote

              Needs work

              • Pricey
              • App setup takes some time to get through
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