Talking About Sonos Speakers

I’ve been a fan of Sonos since I purchased my first product four years ago.

Sonos speakers have become a staple at my house.

All of my friends have the Sonos app, and someone’s always loading the queue with new songs. It’s one thing everyone looks forward to doing when they come over.

In my living room, I have the Sonos Playbar, the Sonos SUB, and two Sonos One speakers for a complete 5.1 home theater setup.

I was impressed with the arrangement but I wanted to take my music with me from room to room, so I bought the first generation Sonos Play:5 speaker. I loved it!

When the second generation Play:5 came out, I bought that too.

I’ve now tried all of the Sonos collection speakers.

I’ve also tried several Bluetooth speakers (Jawbone JamBox, Beats Pill, UE Boom 2, UE Megaboom, JBL Charge 3, JBL Xtreme, Amazon Echo, Google Home), so I’m the perfect guy to guide you through picking a wireless speaker (hopefully a Sonos).

Are Sonos speakers worth the high price? Will a cheaper Bluetooth speaker get the job done? Which Sonos speaker is best for you?

We’ll get to that. But first, let’s talk about the things I love and hate about all Sonos speakers as a collection.

PlayBar

Notes

  • The Playbar is a replacement for your TV speaker. You can also use it for music. It sounds similar to Play:5.
  • It produces full theater sound.
  • It can lay flat or be mounted on the wall.
  • The Playbar is optimized for TV with it’s “Dialog Enhancement.” Have you ever struggled to hear people in a movie? Typically, you’d turn up the volume, but that makes everything else too loud. This is the solution.
  • There’s a “Night Mode” for when other people in your house are sleeping. It makes the quiet sounds louder and the loud sounds less intense.
  • The Playbar sounds brilliant as a standalone speaker (for movies and music), but if you add Sonos SUB, it’ll decrease the bass sound on the Playbar (because the subwoofer takes over the deep sounds). The same thing happens when you incorporate surround speakers. Sonos calls it “5.1 with zero drama.” It’s the perfect way to describe it. Your system will automatically optimize depending on the setup.
  • It’s the only Sonos speaker with an IR receiver on it, which means you can set up your TV’s remote to control the Sonos’ volume.
  • There’s only one optical port, and it connects to the TV. I would’ve liked to see two of these. They made one port to keep things simple, but it can degrade your audio (on older TVs) because the audio must be passed from the source through HDMI to the TV and then to the Playbar, rather than straight to the Playbar.

Playbase

Notes

  • The Playbase is a replacement for your TV speaker. It’s designed to fit under a flat screen TV (under 70lbs), provided the TV has a stand and isn’t mounted on the wall.
  • The Playbase was released in April of 2017. It sounds amazing and exactly like Playbar. It’s shaped differently than the Playbar, giving you more options depending on your home theater setup.
  • A lot of companies have failed to create a speaker that fits well under the TV. Playbase is a success in this respect, but it’s late to the party because most new TVs have elegant split stands now. Only cheap TVs come with the old school design with the stand in the middle. Who’s going to buy a $700 speaker to go with a cheap TV? It’s a great speaker, but I don’t see much of a market for it because it’d look goofy and stick out too far under a split stand TV.
  • Like Playbar, it’s optimized for TV sound, but it can be used as a music speaker too.
  • It has Dialog Enhancement and Night Mode settings.

SUB

Notes

  • Sonos SUB is the final touch for your home theater setup and is typically only used with the Playbar.
  • Setup was ridiculously easy. You press one button, and if you already have the Playbar, you’re all done. Everything’s optimized and fully wireless.
  • It’s not designed like any subwoofer I’ve ever seen. It has a hole in the middle and is beautiful.
  • I don’t know much about subwoofers, but most I’ve seen rattle and vibrate. Sonos SUB is specially designed with drivers on opposite sides of the enclosure, so it doesn’t have that problem.
  • You can lay it vertical or flat. You can even put it under the couch if you want without risking sound quality.
  • Sonos SUB improves the movie-watching experience, but the level of improvement isn’t enough to justify the $700. You can get by without it, but if your money isn’t a concern, go for it!

Sonos FAQs:

1. How does the first generation Play:5 compare to the second generation Play:5? If you’re an owner of the first Play:5 speaker, the sleek design and (slightly) better sound quality does not warrant the upgrade. Overall, the new Play:5 is an incredible speaker and my favorite.

2. Do I need a Sonos Boost? Sonos used to sell the “Sonos Bridge,” which required to sync your Sonos speakers. That changed with a firmware update a few years ago, and now you don’t need the bridge. Sonos still offers the Boost, which is useful for homes with unreliable WiFi, or if you plan to use your speaker out of the WiFi range.

3. What does the Sonos Connect do? The Sonos Amp brings music streaming to your current equipment, by using a “line-in” port and connecting it to your receiver or stereo.

Which one is for you?

If you want to use Sonos for an equally powerful TV and music-listening experience, go with the Playbar or Playbase (depending on your TV setup).

Is the Sonos SUB worth $700? It’s definitely not if you’re thinking rationally because It’s only going to add incremental value to your home theater. Your setup won’t sound $700 better, but it’s the perfect finishing touch to your setup, and man, does it sound incredible!

At the very least, I hope you’ll consider buying a Sonos Play:1. It’ll be the best $150 you’ve ever spent.

Sonos speakers are expensive, but well worth the price. You can always add more to your collection incrementally. You don’t need to buy everything at once.