Will the Sonos Playbase reignite the slowing soundbase market?

posted on Tuesday, 7th March 2017 by Steve May

home cinema  Multi-room  Soundbar  Sonos 


Sonos has announced the Playbase, a soundbase alternative to the best-selling Playbar soundbar. Fully compatible with all other wireless multiroom speakers in the Sonos ecosystem, it will retail for £699 when it becomes available April 4. Current Sonos owners can pre-order the system.  

The Sonos Playbase stands 58 mm high and incorporates 10 drivers: six mid-range, three tweeters, and one woofer. Build quality is high. The unit has custom-designed glass-filled polycarbonate exterior, which keep vibration to a minimum. It's available in either black or white.

 The Playbase connects to a display using the digital audio optical output for a TV. There is no HDMI input.

Inside CI was invited to preview the new speaker and confirm its delivers a rich, expansive listening experience. While it can be partnered with the Sonos subwoofer, it’s not short of deep bass slam, thanks to a uniquely designed woofer. It can also be expanded into a full 5.1 multiroom system, with the addition of Play 1 speakers at the rear. The Playbase support Dolby Digital sources, but not DTS.

Sonos _Lifestyle _PLAYBASE

The company says that with 70 per cent of all TVs being placed on furniture, there was a need for a speaker that sits discreetly under the TV.  “When we think about what product we’ll invent next, we think first about the home, and the role each of our products play in the home. What we realized is that Playbar only met the need of the small percentage of homes where people mount their televisions on the wall,” said Sonos CEO, Patrick Spence. “We saw a tremendous opportunity to deliver great sound in great style for the majority of homes where the TV sits on a piece of furniture. It was a huge challenge where we pushed the boundaries of design, acoustics, materials, wireless and software, and we can’t wait for people to bring it home.”

 According to the latest Gfk market figures the soundbase market has been in steady decline.

According to Sonos Sound Experience Engineer Greg McAllister, the Playbase has been in development for over three years. “It’s a difficult product to get right,” he told Inside CI. “We see the reason why soundbases haven’t taken off is because it’s a difficult form factor to get right, to look elegant. It’s not just a matter of hardware, it’s about getting the software right, the DSP tuning. We think hopefully this will redefine that market.”

Later this year, Sonos will enable Amazon Alexa voice control for its speakers.

                     Also read
                     First Sonos showroom ain't no ordinary hi-fi shop
                     Sonos integration widespread at ISE

Installers can use Trueplay to tune the performance of the Playbase, from the Sonos app. Dialogue Enhancement and Night Mode allow for enhanced vocal clarity or low bass during late night listening.

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology journalist, who also writes for T3, TechRadar, Home Cinema Choice and ERT (amongst others).

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