Big TV sound for big price: Sonos Playbase packs power of 10 speakers

Tech Review: The Playbase is a combination soundbar and subwoofer all in a small enclosure designed to sit under and support your TV.

Sonos is the gold standard for multiroom audio. It brings you the ability to play music throughout your house with the sound synced perfectly from room to room.

In my earlier years, I was always a fan of Sonos but, because its speakers were expensive ($400 each in 2009), I had to admire them from afar. As time went on, Sonos introduced smaller and cheaper speakers, including the $199 entry-level Play: 1. I jumped into Sonos a few years ago with a few Play: 1 speakers and accomplished my goal of getting music to most of the rooms of my house.

Sonos has kept innovating and, a few years ago, introduced a TV sound system consisting of a sound bar called the Playbar and a subwoofer that sell for $699 each. I love my TV but not enough to spend nearly $1,400 on upgrading its sound.

It seems Sonos heard my whining and now they’ve introduced a one-piece TV speaker unit called the Playbase ($699, sonos.com).

The Playbase is a combination soundbar and subwoofer all in a small enclosure designed to sit under and support your TV (up to 77 pounds). Of course, this means people with their TV mounted on the wall will find it difficult to use the Playbase, which has to sit on a flat surface.

Setup

The Playbase is designed to play simply the sound from your TV. It requires your TV to have an optical audio output. A power cable and the audio cable (included) are all you need to get the Playbase up and running.

The setup is done with a smartphone app and is painless.

You don’t need any other Sonos speakers in your home to use the Playbase, but if you do have an existing Sonos system, you’ll be joining it.

The beauty of the Playbase is that it works as a TV sound system when you’re watching TV and works like another Sonos room speaker when you’re not. In addition, you can pair the Playbase with a pair of Play: 1 speakers and a Sonos subwoofer to create a wireless 5.1 surround sound system.

You will be connecting the Playbase to your internet, either wirelessly or through an Ethernet cable. The Playbase does not use HDMI and is not designed to be used with a home-theater receiver.

The setup will also walk you through getting your TV’s remote to control the volume on the Playbase.

One minor annoyance: When I changed my TV’s configuration to disable the internal speakers, every time I…

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