The Sonos Playbase is a new product from the home entertainment company and is part of the new soundbar craze, which aims to simplify users’ audiovisual systems. As an owner of some other Sonos systems, as well as a number of different solutions, I decided to try the Playbase to see if it could improve my existing setup.
Setting up the Playbase
I don’t currently have a problem with sound quality, as my Bose system is more than adequate, but I would like to cut down the amount of different devices being used. A delicate balance of Sky TV box, amp, PS4 and surround sound meant that, without a degree in advanced cable management, it was near impossible to make any changes or adjustments. So, with some trepidation due to past experiences, I set aside an afternoon to setup the Playbase and hopefully get things back under control.
In actual fact, I needn’t have worried. The entire setup, from starting to remove the existing system to being up and running with the Playbase took under 30 minutes. The system I had before meant wiring the Sky TV box, the PS4 and the surround sound into the amp, with the amp then outputting the visual and sound to the TV and surround sound. This is what lead to the labyrinth of cables. However, the Playbase lets your TV do the work and functions just like an auxiliary television output. Instead of hijacking the input cable and redirecting it to the sound system, it simply takes the sound from the TV and plays what is on screen. This sounds simple and obvious but, trust me, in the search for a top sound system, the so-called solutions do not always make such sense. With the Playbase you have just two connections to worry about; power and optical sound (output from the TV), with the option of adding an Ethernet cable. Everything else is connected to your TV like normal.
If you live in the US, Amazon offers a $143 expert setup option for the Sonos Playbase. With other systems this might be the best bargain you’ll ever come across, but you are extremely unlikely to need it for this piece of kit.
The Playbase is sleek and minimalist and looks like it has been carved straight from a fighter jet. To allow the design to flow as smoothly as possible, there is just one button on the side of the base and the rest is controlled by the Sonos app. The app initially suffered some flaws when used with previous systems, but this is now under control, and it is easy to use and intuitive.
The added bonus with a Sonos system is that it can be controlled through the most popular music apps, such as Spotify, Amazon Music and Apple Music. For this you just need to connect the base to the internet, which can be done over Wi-Fi, or by connecting directly to the router, if you prefer. Controlling volume on the Playbase is similarly easy, as you can use the app, or it can learn to take commands from your existing remotes.
One great feature of the Playbase is the fact that it can be used as a stand for your TV. This is a huge benefit for the device and definitely something that separates it from other soundbars. With a more typical soundbar you need to find a horizontal area wide enough to hold it, which doesn’t block your view of the screen. This is often not easily done without an entire reimagining of your setup, so the ability to have it literally underneath your TV increases its versatility and makes it more accessible to users.
I am by no means an audiophile, so I can’t talk about the upper limitations or abilities of the Playbase in miniscule detail. However, as an average user, I can tell you that the sound coverage is excellent and the clarity through volumes is similarly impressive. Voices don’t get lost and the background music is clear and defined. Obviously the main disadvantage is the lack of surround sound, but the Playbase can be wirelessly linked to other Sonos speakers in order to achieve this.
With all of these features and its sleek look, the Playbase doesn’t come cheap. At $699 (£699) you are looking at a serious investment, especially considering the lower price of a lot of its competitors. However, compared to its predecessor or its rivals that retail at the same price, it is vastly superior. So, if you are in the market for the Playbase, then I would say proceed without caution. It was everything I had hoped it would be and more, so it’s a resounding endorsement from Geeknaut.