The Sonos Playbase is a home theater in a slab


Sonos makes some of the best whole-home wireless audio gear I’ve used, bar none. I’ve tried Bluetooth and Zigbee models, wired and unwired gear, and nothing comes close to Sonos’ ease-of-use and reliability. It is, in short, the Jobs-era Apple of consumer audio – everything just works and if it doesn’t Sonos will have a fix eventually.

So it comes as no surprise that their latest product, the slab-like Playbase (or PLAYBASE, for the shouty) works as well as anything else they offer and can turn your living room into a surround-sound wonderland.

The Playbase is basically a stand for your standalone TV. The whole thing is 2.28 x 28.35 x 14.96 in. and can hold TVs up to 77 pounds. You still need to put both the Playbase and the TV on a table unless you dump it on the floor. However, it tries to meld into your AV cabinet seamlessly. This means you can drop a fairly large TV on top of this thing it will still work. The 10 internal speakers – six mid-range, three tweeters, and one woofer – ensure that you’re pumping a full range of audio out of the front grill and long, winding woofer channel.

Like most soundbars the Playbase works best with movies and media. Connected to a Sonos SUB sub-woofer and a pair of satellites it makes for a superlative surround-sound system and, on its own, it can play almost any audio without flaw. This is not an audiophile’s system, to be clear. A Devialet Phantom will afford far more clarity at high volumes and reams of blog posts can be written about “better” home audio gear from more expensive dealers. However, for a fan of good audio it’s great. The setup is simple. The mobile app connects to almost every major streaming service, and TV and movies played through this slab are well-balanced. Plus, if you set things up in party mode you can rock the whole house with the Playbase as the main attraction.

Further, Sonos offers a service called Trueplay that tunes the speakers to your room using your phone. This usually adds a modicum of clarity to movie audio and improves music immensely, especially with surround-sound setups.

The Playbase costs $699 and with that you get precious little in the way of accessories. The kit includes an optical audio cable, a power cord, and an Ethernet cable. Setup is as simple as connecting your TV’s optical out to the Playbase. This obviously means you need a TV with optical out. In my setup I have a surround-sound receiver with no speakers attached that switches the various devices in my AV nook – PS4, Xbox, and cable box. This sends the HDMI to the TV and then out from the TV to the Playbase. This convoluted system works well enough although having a receiver and a Playbase is actually unnecessary as long as you have multiple inputs on your TV.

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