The Playbase is not Sonos’ first home theater product, but it definitely shows that the company’s design and engineering prowess has jumped up to a whole new level. The Playbase is exactly what we (or at least many of us) want in a home audio system — and that is plenty of audio power without the clutter that comes from including lots of components, a subwoofer, and cables.
Measuring, 2.28″ x 28.35″ x 14.96″ and weighing around 18 pounds, the Playbase has a low profile when paired with a TV (it can serve as a base for TVs up to 77 pounds). The Playbase packs in six mid-range drivers, three tweeters, and one woofer. Yet while its design is minimal and relatively compact considering all of the tech that is packed inside of it, it’s actually pretty wide. As a matter of fact, it was too wide to fit under the legs of our TCL Roku 4K TV. This left us with the option to mount the TV to the wall, or to use the Sanus Swiveling TV Base ($149). We opted to use the Sanus Swiveling TV Base, which helps bring your TV and the Playbase together without having to mount the TV to your wall. The base was easy to set up and makes it easy to turn your TV to different angles, but it’s worth noting that from the side, it looks quite bulky.
At the core of the Playbase’s design is simplicity. A single optical cable connection is required to connect the Playbase to your TV. You can then use the Sonos app to control the system’s volume and settings, or to connect it to other Sonos speakers you may have. You should also be able to connect the Playbase to your TV’s remote control for controlling its audio, but we were not able to successfully accomplish this with our TV’s remote.
So how does it sound? It’s incredible. The Playbase excels at both music playback as well as dialogue in TV and movies. Both music and entertainment media playback is balanced and rich, with lots of body, detail, and oomph. Everything from Katy Perry to the latest Netflix titles shine while playing back on the Playbase.
From the Sonos app, you can access two important Playbase features. First, the speech enhancement setting keeps dialog volume consistent while reducing the intensity of loud sound effects. This is a similar feature to what we saw on Polk Audio’s Magnifi Mini, and it’s a really important feature that helps boost dialogue when people are speaking. The other welcome feature is the night sound setting, which gives quiet sounds a slight boost while loud ones are automatically reduced. This is feature is very much appreciated when you live in an apartment with thin walls. We generally found the best combination for watching TV and movies was to have both of these modes enabled in tandem. This is because jumping from app to app or from commercial to commercial often produces volumes that are on very different levels.