It’s the year of the soundbar! First we saw this sleek new bar from Samsung that managed to squeeze in proper bass performance, and now we’re getting this monster from Sonos. Admittedly, the Sonos Playbase isn’t exactly a soundbar — it’s much bigger — but it’s been designed sit under a TV and boom out sound, so the comparison is apt enough.
The Playbase is short enough to fit under a television without raising it up too much, but it’s much deeper than your average soundbar. All that space has allowed Sonos to pack in 10 drivers — six midrange drivers, three tweeters, and one subwoofer. On the back, it’s clear that Sonos is still sticking with the simplicity they’re known for — there’s only an optical port, an ethernet port, and A/C power. That’s in addition to 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi (2.4 GHz), so it’s no different than other speakers Sonos has put out.
If you’ve got a mounted television, chances are the Playbase won’t be as desirable — it’s designed to be hidden under a television base. Under a mounted television, it’s probably going to look more like a video game console sitting on top of a TV stand, which isn’t the best look.
For the Sonos faithful, there will probably be a mixed reaction. The Playbase is the first Sonos speaker designed specifically to be placed under a television, so those who have been pining for something like that will like what they see. But, others who have built existing multi-channel Sonos speaker systems might not feel the need to get another large, (very) expensive do-it-all speaker.
It also lacks microphones, which means Sonos still won’t have voice control for the foreseeable future. For now, everything will rely on the Sonos control app, which does have controls for most major streaming music services. But, Sonos is opening up slowly. Last year, controls for Sonos within the Spotify app went into beta, with Sonos announcing that a beta version of a Sonos Alexa skill would come early this year. Unfortunately, the latter hasn’t materialized yet, and we haven’t heard anything about it since last year’s announcement.
The Sonos Playbase will be available on April 4 directly from Sonos for $700, and will come in black or white. They also have a new Sanus TV base for Playbase (in use in the image below), which will hold televisions without bases above the speaker — that will cost $150.