In Depth

Sonos Playbase: The 'tonally expressive' speaker that's changing TV audio

Buyers will be 'immediately impressed' with the network speaker's 'natural' sound, say critics

sonas

Sonos's line-up of compact wireless speakers have already reinvented the way people listen to music in their homes, with its exclusive range of network music players putting an end to tangled audio cables and button-laden amplifiers.

Now the Californian electronics company is focussing on bringing the same experience to television users.

Playbase, its latest addition to the range, is an ultra-thin, flat speaker that sits below your TV that should deliver a crisp and powerful sound, thanks to ten audio drivers comprising of six mid-range speakers, three tweeters and one woofer. Each driver has its own amplifier, so there's no need for any extra hardware.

Unlike the majority of Sonos's line-up, Playbase needs to be connected using an optical cable as not all sets have the capability of connecting to wireless devices.

But owners can wirelessly stream music to it like a conventional Sonos speaker, with a companion app available free for most smartphones, allowing you to play music from your library or Spotify without plugging in an audio jack. 

Furthermore, the Playbase can be partnered with other Sonos speakers on the network to bolster the overall sound. 

Sonos will incorporate Amazon's voice-activated Alexa system into the system later this year, meaning you'll be able to control your Playbase by voice command. 

The Playbase offers an "attractive array of features" that will allow buyers to easier stream their music from a range of sources, says The Verge, which adds that while other sound systems "can accomplish the same thing", Sonos's strong line-up of devices make the new speaker an appealing option. 

Reviews

Buyers will be "immediately impressed by the width and three-dimensionality of the sonic presentation", says What hi-fi? Users will notice a substantial improvement on their television speakers as the Playbase is able to spread audio across the room in a way that's similar to a surround sound system.

There's also a punchy bass driver that's "far more natural and tonally expressive" than the company's Playbar speaker, the website says. While the trebles can be "sharp and sibilant", the Playbase is a "fairly detailed" performer overall. 

Much like its Playbar sibling, the Playbase doesn't feature any HDMI ports and only has a single digital optical jack, says Wired, which is a "deliberate attempt to simplify connectivity matters". 

But the website argues that audiophiles "would prefer to see a slew of optical jacks on their sound bars and sound bases rather than just one".  

Nevertheless, the Playbase is a visual treat as "there are no visible seams" and the buttons for controlling the device are very subtle, adds the site. It's "an urbane piece of consumer electronics that makes a lot of sense", even though some users may struggle with its limited connectivity options. 

The Sonos Playbase is available for £699 and can be specced in either black or white. 

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