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Sonos Playbase review: The large soundbase is now cheaper

Our Rating :
£399.99 from
Price when reviewed : £700
inc VAT

The big soundbase that delivers earth-shattering bass


  • Overall sound quality
  • Multi-room functionality


  • Price
  • Limited connectivity and no physical remote
  • Physical size

I originally reviewed the Playbase in 2017 at £700 – it has since dropped in price and can be found for £600. That makes it a lot more attractive, for those looking to get a large-sized soundbase to place under a TV. However, there are plenty of new alternatives to consider. For example, there’s the magnificent Samsung HW-MS750, which is now just £440 – an incredible deal on a soundbar that used to be over £689.

So, despite its price drop – my verdict hasn’t swayed. The Sonos Playbase is still a good soundbase, but I’d consider other alternatives instead.

Intrigued to know why? Read my original review, below. 

The Sonos Playbase shows just how far Sonos has come since the company first started out in the noughties. Back then, the firm focused only on multiroom music systems. But as others have begun to crowd in on its main market, Sonos has branched out. Nowadays, the firm is just as comfortable with AV equipment as it is hi-fi, and the Playbase is the latest example of this in action.

The Playbase is an example of that oddest of AV products – the soundbase. In effect, it’s a soundbar upon which you place your television that acts as a speaker.

Sonos Playbase review: What you need to know

The Sonos Playbase isn’t like most AV speakers, however. Yes, it’s designed to enhance the audio from your TV, just like any soundbar or soundbase product, but Sonos has also designed the unit to replace your living room hi-fi and integrate seamlessly with the rest of its family of multiroom speakers.

It’s pricey, at £700, but sound quality is excellent and you can stream from pretty much any music service under the sun using the excellent app. Those wanting to connect external sources might want to look elsewhere, however, since this is one of the Playbase’s few weaknesses.

Sonos Playbase review: Price and competition

Another weakness is the price. In general, Sonos’ larger speakers aren’t cheap, and the Playbase is no exception. At £700, the Playbase will leave a big hole in your wallet, making it hard to justify to your significant other.

At that price it sits between the Bose SoundTouch 300, which costs £600, and the Samsung HW-K850 at £900. But if you want a decent soundbase, you don’t have to spend this much. The more basic, but sonically excellent, Cambridge Audio TV2 is a brilliant buy at £200, as is the Sony HT-XT3 at £300 and the Philips Fidelio XS1 Soundstage at around £400.

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Sonos Playbase review: Design, features and connectivity

The Playbase is designed to sit directly beneath your television stand, and for that reason it’s large – both in its physical size and weight. Measuring 720mm across, 380mm deep, 58mm high and weighing 8.6kg, the Playbase is pretty sizeable, although it should fit neatly on most AV cabinets.

You’ll want to check two things before considering the Sonos for your living room. First, if you can even fit this beast on a surface. To benefit from the best sound possible, you’ll want to ensure that the soundbase isn’t housed inside a shelving unit, since this negatively affects its sound profile.

Second, you’ll want to check that your TV’s stand can fit on or over the Playbase itself. Weight shouldn’t be an issue: Sonos claims it can handle up to 35kg, which should cover most TV sets. If your TV has feet on either side, though, it will end up straddling the Playbase; not sitting on top of it. In this case, the critical measurement will be the gap between the bottom of the TV and your AV cabinet. Too low and the Playbase simply won’t fit.

Still, this is a great-looking speaker. Its low profile, roundededges and wraparound front grille exude minimalist luxury. I tested the speaker in white, but it’s also available in black.

Minimalism also brings with it a degree of impracticality, however. The only physical button on the unit itself is the recessed pairing button on the left-hand side, with a set of of touch-sensitive panels on top-centre used to pause, play and tweak the volume up and down.

The lack of an on/off button is a typical Sonos feature, as the company wants its speakers to be always at your disposal. Nevertheless, I’d have liked the option to completely switch off the Playbase without having to yank out the power cord each time.

If that isn’t a deal-breaker for you, the lack of a dedicated remote control might well be. Sonos wants you to operate the speaker entirely through the smartphone app, but having to unlock my phone each time I want to tweak the volume from the sofa isn’t ideal. Fortunately, however, it is possible to pair your TV remote’s volume controls with the Playbase.

Around the back of the Playbase you’ll find three sockets: optical S/PDIF, Ethernet and power. There’s no HDMI or 3.5mm input or output, no USB input, and no Bluetooth connection. This is where Sonos’ search for simplicity, for me, is a step too far.

I’m all for using my home network, but what happens when your Wi-Fi drops out, or when your guests want to play music through the Playbase? In this day and age, Bluetooth is a must-have – and the lack of it here damages the Playbase’s.

Perhaps more importantly, the sort of setup Sonos envisages the Playbase being used in – that of connecting your audio sources to your TV and having that pass audio to the soundbase itself – isn’t as straightforward as you might think. You not only need to ensure that all your sources are passing the correct signal to the TV, but also that the TV is passing that correctly through to the Playbase itself.

Still, at least most devices should be able to cope as the only surround sound standard the speaker supports is Dolby Digital 5.1.

Of course Sonos is all about multiroom functionality, and here it excels. Using the app, you can quickly pair other Sonos speakers with the Playbase for synchronised group play across your home, and it’s also possible to extend the Playbase over time, transforming it into a fully fledged surround-sound system, by adding a pair of £190 Play:1 speakers as rear channels and the £700 Sonos SUB for explosions and the stomp of dinosaur feet.

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Sonos Playbase review: App

Sonos takes great pride in its app, and rightfully so. The Sonos Controller app is designed to work with a large pool of music services – a full list can be found on Sonos’ website – but suffice to say, it includes all the usual big names from Spotify and Tidal to Google Play Music and Apple Music.

Searching for songs is simple and works across multiple streaming services, and with this deep integration you can find the right song ultra-quick, be that on local storage or online.

The Sonos app also gives you EQ controls, the option to adjust the audio delay in case you experience lip-sync issues when watching TV and movies and, for iPhone owners, the ability to tune the speaker to your room using Sonos’ Trueplay feature. To my ears, the Playbase sounded great out of the box, but if you’re experiencing boomy or ringing bass then this might be just the thing to keep unwanted resonances in check.

However, I did find the app a little counterintuitive at times, with audio settings such as EQ hidden behind three-layers of menu.

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Sonos Playbase review: Sound quality

The Playbase houses ten amplified drivers: six mid-range, three tweeters, and one woofer to rock your socks off. The combination of these drivers delivers an earth-shattering sound that is both loud and accurate throughout the frequencies.

There’s no support for high-res audio playback through the Playbase, which is disappointing. The Playbase also lacks DTS support and can’t decode the signal natively. A slight annoyance, as on many Blu-ray discs, the only English surround track is DTS-based and not all Blu-ray players will convert between the two for you.

Despite these shortcomings, however, the Playbase sounds fantastic. Watching Transformers: Age of Extinction, explosions are in-your-face yet remain accurate, and I was also surprised at the level of sub-bass extension. In some scenes during the film, it almost sounded as if a subwoofer was connected to the Playbase. Of course, there wasn’t, but if you really want to annoy your neighbours, you can reinforce the Playbase’s excellent low-end by purchasing the Sonos Sub for an additional £700.

Its mid-bass has a heavy slam, but it doesn’t leak into the mid-range. But although the bass is relatively tight, I did find it to be a touch uncontrolled. There are a few reasons that might explain this, one of them being the Playbase’s plastic body. I found the top surface of the Playbase vibrated a touch when I cranked up the volume.

The vibrations consequently impact the sound. This does also raise the question: will the Playbase cause picture disturbances on your TV? Presuming you use the Playbase as intended, by placing your television on top of it, your TV’s stand will absorb all the vibrations and result in making your display shake.

The Playbase’s mid-range frequencies are forward-sounding and listening to music on it is a pleasure. On the joyous 24K Magic: Bruno Mars album, songs burst with life and Bruno’s voice really shines through the six dedicated mid-range drivers.

Finally, the high tones are a tad sibilant, and those with sensitive ears might find the Playbase tiresome for long listening sessions. You can always EQ the treble down a notch through the Sonos Controller app. Despite this, the highs extend well and don’t have a roll-off at the top end, resulting in crystal-clear cymbals.

Unfortunately, its soundstage isn’t as impressive. I found the Playbase sounded a little narrow, and certainly not as broad as projected by the £900 Samsung HW-K850 – which is also Dolby Atmos compatible, so will also throw sound up and bounce it off the ceiling. On the plus side, I did find the Playbase’s instrument separation impressive and its imaging to be accurate.

READ NEXT: Samsung HW-K850 review: Half a surround system, but not half-hearted

Sonos Playbase review: Verdict

The Playbase’s sound quality is what I’d expect from a £700 speaker, and despite not being as immersive as the more expensive Dolby Atmos-enabled Samsung HW-K850, it has a remarkably accurate sound that will make the audiophile in you smile.

However, the Playbase is anything but perfect. The vibrations resonating from the top of the speaker are disconcerting for your TV’s lifespan, and its lack of Bluetooth, HDMI, 3.5mm, DTS, physical remote and high-res audio support are all questionable.

If none of the above bother you, though, this is an excellent speaker that can stream pretty much anything – and is expandable to boot. If you have £700 to spare, it’s well worth considering.

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