The Sonos Playbase continues the company’s philosophy of making easy-to-use and good-sounding speakers in an attractive package. But, due to the lack of support for many surround sound formats, artificial sounding processing and ecosystem lock-in, cinephiles will want to look elsewhere. Keep reading of for the Sonos Playbase speaker review here.
Sonos Playbase Speaker Review
Sonos Playbase Speaker Review: Design
The PlayBase is one of the nicer looking pieces of equipment that Sonos has produced. From the clean matte finish to the subtle touch controls on its front, the whole speaker has an understated design that helps it blend into a home theater. This created a conundrum for Sonos as they had to create a soundbase that was pretty yet didn’t grab too much attention.
In order to keep the looks as subtle as possible, Sonos worked to design just the right amount of speaker holes (over 43,000) that optimized performance but also obscured its 10 internal drivers from being a visual distraction.
The Playbase comes in a flat white or black and while both blend into most home theater setups we prefer the black finish because of how it matches most televisions, and the white PlayBase we had for review also started to gather dust and dirt surprisingly quickly. The Playbase measures in at 2.28 x 28.35 x 14.96 in. (58 x 720 x 380 mm), making it quite thin for a playbase, helping the speaker blend in perfectly on our Ikea bookshelf-turned-TV-stand.
The top of the speaker houses three buttons for play and pause, music playback control and volume. The play/pause button features a small light that flashes different colors to indicate speaker status. Buttons to the left and right of the play/pause button control volume and users can swipe left and right across the buttons to skip or rewind tracks. The only other button is the sync button used during the setup process.
Around back, the port options are extremely simple: one Ethernet, one optical and one power. That’s it. Sonos’ philosophy is to create products that are easy to use and it’s hard to argue with simplifying port selection … that is until you realize the Sonos Playbase has a horrifyingly large Achilles Heel (more on that in the Performance section).
Curious if your TV will fit on top of the Sonos Playbase? Sonos claims the speaker can withstand 75 lbs (about 34 kg) so you’ll want to check the specs on your TV to see if it falls under that weight. Also, if you want to slide the Playbase underneath your TV instead of placing a TV on top, you’ll also want to measure your TV’s feet to see if the Playbase can comfortably fit underneath it, too.
Sonos’ Playbar has been the soundbar/base to beat in terms of movie and music performance for the past few years, and the Playbase exceeds it in all areas.
Bass performance was phenomenal for movies. When Doctor Strange’s car crashed, the booms and thuds shook the floor — without a subwoofer. The bass also adds resonance to dialogue when you’re watching movies or TV shows, making David’s debates about his mental health in Legion easy to understand.
The orchestral arrangements in Doctor Strange swelled with bright horns and strings, while the crowd noise in the background of the UNC-Kentucky basketball game helped make the experience more engaging.
The Playbase’s strengths in home theater also translate to music. The bass breaks on Jidenna’s “Long Live the Chief” rattled the room, while Rihanna’s vocals on Future’s “Selfish” sounded full and clear. The acoustic guitar on Big Star’s “Thirteen” was sharp and realistic.
The unit filled my living room with sound, and it can get plenty loud for most viewing situations.
Whether you’re listening to music, watching movies, or playing games (which I did a lot of with this), the PLAYBASE does it all and does it well.
Lows were strong enough to make explosions rumble and music bump. The rolling bass in the song “No Church In The Wild” by Jay-Z and Kanye West sounded great with plenty of controlled power. When I switched over to play some “Horizon Zero Dawn” on my PS4, lows were just as impressive. I’ve been playing this game for a month and I feel like I’m just now able to appreciate the complexity in its score. Granted, anything is better than the stock speakers built into the TV, but what I’m trying to say is that the PlayBase handles lows extremely well.
Mids were fine when it came to music, but where they really made their mark on me was while watching TV shows and movies. Soft dialogue was just as audible as loud yells and I didn’t have to keep adjusting the volume depending on what was happening in the film. It stayed very consistent throughout the movie.
Highs on the PLAYBASE were also great. Cymbals and hi-hats had plenty of shimmer and never became harsh even on max volume. My one complaint is that the PLAYBASE doesn’t get all that loud and also doesn’t have an amazing soundstage. It’s good, but not great which makes sense since Sonos conveniently sells all the pieces to turn your living room into a home theater.