Sonos takes its expertise in WiFi music streaming and multi-room audio to the TV
Sonos is a pretty popular audio company, who has been the market leader for multi-room audio for quite a few years. But Sonos is also a company that doesn't release new products all that often. Sonos released two products in 2017, after going many years without anything new. It introduced the Sonos PLAYBASE in the Spring and then the Sonos One in the fall. The Sonos PLAYBASE is essentially a soundbar for your TV, but it's actually a base that your TV can sit on top of. Sonos already had the PLAYBAR, but now the company has an option for those looking to improve the audio in their entertainment setup, and that's the PLAYBASE. Both offer the same specs and the same price tag. So the question we'll be answering here is whether the PLAYBASE is worth the $700 price tag.
In the Box
The box is pretty large, and it is actually rather interesting. There are locks on the sides, which you need to slide to unlock the box. Once you lift the top off of the box, you'll find the PLAYBASE standing on its side, along with cables included inside. Sonos includes an Optical cable and an Ethernet cable, for connecting to a TV and to your router, respectively. You'll also find some paperwork inside, with instructions on how to get it setup and everything. Otherwise, that's all that is included in the box.
Sonos has kept the hardware nice and clean on the PLAYBASE. It's a metal base, which is available in white or black (or model here is black). On the front, you'll find the Sonos logo, as well as three buttons. Which includes a play/pause button in the center and then two buttons on either side for volume. There is also a pairing button on the side, which you will only use when you initially set it up, or if you change your WiFi and need to set it up again. On the back of the PLAYBASE, there are three ports. A power port, the Optical port for connecting to your TV and then an Ethernet port for connecting to your router. Now you don't need to use the Ethernet port, but if you are using this far from your router, or your WiFi isn't that fast, you'll want to use the Ethernet cable.
The PLAYBASE was made for your TV to sit on top of it and it can handle TVs up to 75lbs. It's pretty thin, but won't slide underneath all TVs, so this is actually better for those that have a smaller TV, or one that just has a base, and not two feet. My TV has two feet, one on either side. It's just a tad bit too long for the PLAYBASE, but not quite tall enough for it to slide under the TV. This is the exception for the most part. When I put a smaller TV on the PLAYBASE, it worked just fine. So you'll want to keep that in mind if you are looking to pick one up.
In black, the PLAYBASE looks really good in any entertainment setup, and because it's a pretty wide soundbar, it puts out a ton of sound, and no matter where you are sitting, you'll be able to hear it. With it being in black, it blends in quite nicely, and may even look like it was part of the setup in your living room or your den.
Sonos does a good job at walking you through setting up the PLAYBASE and its other speakers. To get started, you'll need to download the Sonos app from the Google Play Store. From there you'll need to create an account if you don't already have one. Then you can simply add a speaker, which the app will ask you which one. After that, you'll be setting up your PLAYBASE. This consists of detecting the PLAYBASE, connecting it to your WiFi and also connecting it to your TV. Sonos actually walks you through setting it up with your TV remote, so you can control the volume using your TV remote, and not need another remote - which is good since Sonos doesn't include a remote.
After setup, you'll be able to control it using your smartphone, with the app. You can not only use it for audio from your TV, but also for playing music and such from your favorite music apps like Spotify, Google Play Music and much more. And since this is Sonos, you can have music playing simultaneously on the PLAYBASE as well as on another speaker like the Sonos One.
The software is really the same as it is with any other Sonos product. So this section will likely sound the same as our Sonos One review's software section. But basically, with the app, you'll be able to adjust the volume as well as what is playing on the PLAYBASE. Now if you are watching TV, all you can really do is adjust the volume, since the content is controlled by the TV. If you are looking to play some music on the PLAYBASE, you can choose that through the app. Sonos has made it so that you can control all of your music, audiobook and podcast services in one app. Sonos has support for just about every streaming service out there, and having it available all in one app is definitely nice to have.
Sonos does allow you to adjust the EQ on the PLAYBASE, and it is independent from other Sonos speakers. Just head into Settings, then tap on Room Settings and select the room that the PLAYBASE is in. From there you'll see settings for the PLAYBASE, including the EQ. Which you can adjust the bass and treble for the PLAYBASE. You can also toggle the Loudness setting. The audio sounds better when loudness is toggled off, and if you're in a fairly medium sized room, you won't need the Loudness setting on anyways.
There is multi-room audio support here with the PLAYBASE, and the Sonos app makes it easy to use. Just head to the "Rooms" tab in the app, which is in the center. From there, you can see what each speaker is doing, and you can also group them together. To group them together, just tap on the "group" button, and you can choose with speakers you want to group together. From there you can adjust the volume. With this feature, the audio stays in sync as well, which is really nice, seeing as other multi-room setups do not stay completely in sync. As there can sometimes be a slight delay with other multi-room setups out there. The difference is likely due to the fact that Sonos only plays over WiFi and not Bluetooth. So it's not technically connected to your device, which is where the lag can come into play.
The Sonos app is jampacked with features and the company has done a good job to keep it pretty lightweight and usable. Even for those that have never used Sonos products before, the app is pretty straightforward and easy to use. Which is definitely important, as Sonos (like any company) is always looking to bring in new customers.
The most important part of this review, the sound quality. For most people, the PLAYBASE needs to have incredible sound quality, given its price tag. And the good thing is, that it does. The PLAYBASE has some great bass, even if you don't bump up the bass in the EQ settings. But the mids and highs are also nice and crisp. The PLAYBASE has a really full sound here. If you watch an action movie with a lot of explosions, you can really appreciate the sound of this speaker from Sonos. It sounds incredible. Now before the PLAYBASE, I was using the built-in speakers on my TV, which I thought sounded okay, not the best, but not terrible. Now the PLAYBASE has me never wanting to go back to those built-in speakers. Arguably any soundbar can do that, but the PLAYBASE is different.
The PLAYBASE gets very loud. In my apartment, I was able to turn it up and hear it outside and down the hall, so it's definitely loud enough to get my neighbors attention. Which means it should have no problem filling a room of any size with sound. Not to mention it has that "Loudness" setting that we talked about in the Software portion of this review. The PLAYBASE does do virtual surround sound, and it sounds good. But if you want real surround sound, you can pair it with two Sonos One's, PLAY:1's, PLAY:3's or PLAY:5's and get real surround sound in your living room. We didn't get a chance to try that out, but it should be pretty impressive.
Overall, the sound quality on the Sonos PLAYBASE makes the price tag worth it. Never mind the other features that come with the PLAYBASE like streaming music over WiFi, and multi-room audio. Makes this the best option, especially if you have other speakers throughout your home.
When it comes to the PLAYBASE, it's hard to find anything bad to say about this soundbar. It checks just about every box there is, except for the price. When you have other soundbars on the market that are under $500, heck even some are under $250 or $100, it's hard to justify the price. But if you have picked up a Sonos One, then the PLAYBASE is definitely worth picking up, considering you can control both with Alexa. You can pick up the Sonos PLAYBASE using the link below, it's available on Amazon and Sonos' own website right now. You'll get faster (and free) shipping out of Amazon, but there are far more Sonos first-party accessories available for the PLAYBASE and other Sonos speakers on its website.