The Sonos Playbase is Sonos’ sound base speaker for your television. I am late to the Playbase party, but I am still excited to check out the speaker. The Playbase is meant to fit nicely under your television or in your entertainment center. I set the Playbase up about a month ago, in my entertainment center. Most TVs (if not all) have tiny speakers, that don’t project sound well to begin with. This is when you would get a soundbar, or a home theater system.
Design and Setup
The TV in my living room is a Sony Bravia 930E (XBR X930E). The TV is an Android TV, so I use it for a variety of things, such as Amazon Prime The base of the TV is located in the middle of it. The TV also weighs 73 pounds. My New York City apartment doesn’t have the best walls, so I am not mounting such a heavy TV to it. The TV sits on the top shelf of a four-shelf “entertainment center. The Playbase feels solid. It’s quality all-around. But even with the quality build, I didn’t feel comfortable placing all of that weight on top of the Sonos Playbase, even though Sonos says it can hold a TV up to 77 pounds (35 kg). Nah, I am good on that. It’s just cutting it too close. The Playbase is on its own part of one of the shelves. At nearly 2.5 inches tall, it’s not too tall. But at 2 feet wide it won’t fit between the legs of all of the TV’s. You can get a mount for the Playbase from a company called Sanus.
The Playbase has a pretty clean design. I was sent the white model. It’s white all around with the exception of the Sonos logo which is in silver, and volume lower and higher arrows (pointing left and right) around the logo. They are touch-controls, not buttons. On the back of the Playbase, you have 3 ports; power, ethernet and optical port. You can’t get simpler than that. The power cord goes to the outlet, the optical cord goes from the Playbase to the TV, and the ethernet cord goes from the Playbase to your router, or switch port. You can decide to go with wired or wireless internet connection. Sonos does provide optical and ethernet cables. Sonos kept it simple. No HDMI output either.
Once you’re all plugged in, it’s time to fire up the Sonos app. I have 3 Sonos speakers, so I am used to the Sonos app UI. It has gotten a lot better since late 2017. I am basically adding another speaker to my multi-room setup. The app is pretty straight-forward, making setup pretty simple. You have to turn off your TV speakers, and Sonos helps out with that, which is pretty cool. You then program your regular remote to control the Playbase. I am all for the minimizing. Those with an iPhone can tune the Playbase with Sonos’ Trueplay feature. I don’t think it makes a huge difference, but it’s there for iPhone users who want to give it a shot.
As expected, you have great sound with the Sonos Playbase. My expectations were met. It’s great that you can control it with your cable remote. From flipping channels and controlling the Playbase, you forget you’re controlling the volume on an external speaker. Navigating the Sonos menu is pretty easy, since the UI is clean and easy to follow. My favorite feature is the dialog enhancement, which helps all the old sitcoms I enjoy watching. The volume on those isn’t so loud. No muffled voices is a win in my book. Especially since you can hear all the street noise in my apartment. The speech needs that extra definition. No muffled sounds here. I also use it to blast music, which I do often.
What would make the Playbase perfect would be the addition of microphones. Not, that I would be having conversations over the speaker, but it would be nice to make it a smart speaker, like their Sonos:One. The good thing is that you can connect an Amazon Echo, and use it that way.
The Playbase does a great job of producing good overall sound. Even blasting the TV, the sound wont be get flat. It sounds like you have a 2.1 setup at least. It doesn’t sound like its coming from the center of the TV. The bass is noticeable but not heavy. If you enjoy heavy bass sound, I would recommend getting the sub also. The Playbase doesn’t support hi-res music, so if you’re heavy into sound detail that may be something to consider (whether or not to purchase) .
Since I live in a small apartment in New York, the Playbase fits my cramped setup. I recommend the Playbase for someone who wants great, loud sound without all of the wires and setup. The simple multi-room setup is the best feature of getting any Sonos speaker, including the Playbase. If you’re an audiophile who wants in-depth surround sound, you might want to stay away since $699 is a lot for a sound system that isn’t future-proof.