SONOS recently released their latest speaker, the SONOS Playbase and its a product with a difference. The company already offers a soundbar that sits in front of your TV, the Playbar, but after looking at the data around how people configure their living rooms and home theaters, SONOS realised there’s a gap in the market. Many people don’t wall-mount their TVs, whether its because they’re renting and they can’t or they simply don’t want the hassle and cost of wall mounting, so many people leave their TVs on a low-line unit. So what about the sound?
We all know even the best TV speakers are still junk, so what do you do if you don’t want a sound bar that sits in front of your TV? SONOS believes the Playbase, where your TV sits on top of the speaker, is the perfect solution.
The Playbase is like any other SONOS product, incredibly well made, attention to detail and looks the part. Given we don’t have other products on the market that are speakers that go under the TV, its hard to give any sense of comparison here, but in the right colour, it’ll blend right in. The Plabase, like the Sub and Play speakers, come in both black and white which should match with most entertainment setups.
The SONOS Playbase is 5.8cm high, 72cm wide and 38cm deep. It weighs 8.6 kg which isn’t light, but once its in place, you won’t need to move it. The Playbase can support up to 35kg in weight, so if your TV, including the stand is less than that, you’re good to go.
There is somewhat of a tension created with a new device like this. The tension between who’s responsibility it is to accommodate the variety of stands that support our large TVs. There’s actually a crazy variety as each manufacturer tries to differentiate the appearance of their displays. Previously the only consideration that needed to be made was the height, allowing enough room for a sound bar to be placed in front of the display while not blocking the lower part of the picture, or obscuring the infrared port for the control.
With Playbase now on the market, manufactuers will need to consider the profile of the Playbase. When reviewing the Playbase, I also had the 55″ Hisense Series 7 ULED TV in for review. Its exactly TVs like this that don’t actually work with the Playbase. The stands are 2, small plastic L shapes that look great, but only provide a single mounting position, so the feet won’t actually reach to the lowline unit when the TV is placed on the Playbase. They need to be almost double the current height. Like I said, this is part the responsibility of SONOS for making a product this tall, but now its in the market, also the responsibility of TV manufactuers to accommodate such a product that very well may be placed below their product, ultimately because they cheaped out on sound.
The Playbase supports Trueplay, SONOS’s smart software that automatically optimises the audio output by understanding the environment its configured in. If you have the challenge of watching movies at night, while others in the house are trying to sleep, the Night Sound mode will lower the loudest sounds and boost soft noises to flatten out the noise spectrum. This means when you set a volume level you’re happy with, there’s no surprises.
Setup and control
Power & Networking
Price and availability
SONOS Playbase is actually on back order right until the 30th July, but once its back in stock, you can pick it up from SONOS direct through their new online store, or through one of their many retail partners like JB Hi-Fi. The Playbase costs A$999.00 or the same as the regular price for the Playbar.
At the end of the day, despite the complexity around which TVs will work with with the Playbase and which won’t, SONOS have absolutely done it again with another stellar product. The sound quality is amazing and after switching my home theatre setup (including Sub and 2x Play:1 rear speakers) between the Playbar and Playbase, there really isn’t a lot of difference between the two.
Basically this product gives more people more options for mounting, which means more potential SONOS customers. That said, if you are even contemplating a wall-mount in the future, the Playbar would be the better option. Ultimately there’ll be potential customers who’s situation will clearly dictate which one to buy, while a small percentage will have a hard decision to make. As hard as that is, you can’t really go wrong.