Sonos is a big player in the audio industry, and the Playbar and Playbase are two of their most expensive rigs. It can be tricky to choose one, mainly because you can end up with a lesser-quality device.
So, we’ve done a full audio test on both systems to find out their similarities and differences, and if they’re worth the hefty price tag.
Sonos Playbase or Sonos Playbar
Features Comparison: Sonos Playbase and Playbar
While both are slim and modern-looking devices, they have different shapes. The Playbase has a wide, flat top where a TV can sit on. The Playbar, on the other hand, is long and rectangular like most soundbars. You can either place it in front of the TV or mount it on the wall.
Acoustically transparent grilles furbish the front of the Playbase. The capacitive buttons are on top, including the Volume, Play, and Pause. On the left side, you’ll find the pairing button. And finally, connectivity ports are located on the rear.
As for the Playbar, it has a little more outdated look compared to other soundbars on the market. Sonos hasn’t updated its design, and the years reflect on the look of the speaker. Compared to the Beam, this looks like an older model.
Instead of the capacitive buttons, the Playbar has physical controls on its side. You’ll find the optical audio input, power supply port, and two Ethernet ports at the rear.
As you can see, both devices are limited in terms of connections. They lack HDMI, which the newer Sonos Beam does have. But more on that later.
Going back to the design, the Playbase wins this round because of its sleeker look that blends in well with any interior. Plus, the fact that it’s available in black and white colors is another advantage compared to the Playbar, which only has a black and dark silver combo.
In the Sonos Playbase VS Playbar battle, they’re almost equal when it comes to connections. That is, they lack the same thing — HDMI.
Both devices connect to your TV via digital optical cable. This can be disappointing considering the steep price and since most modern soundbars nowadays, even cheaper ones, have HDMI.
Then again, HDMI is not the end-all-be-all of connections. Digital optical is just fine, but it doesn’t support advanced audio formats or relay video signals. That said, make sure that your TV has a digital optical connection before buying either speaker.
You can also connect both speakers to other components other than the TV. This includes gaming consoles, cable boxes, and Blu-ray players. The setup will be different though, as you’ll be connecting the components to the TV instead.
And aside from the wired connection, you can also use Wi-Fi to set it up with your smartphone — but we’ll discuss this later.
Overall, both devices have pretty much the same connections, except for their Ethernet port. The Playbase has only one Ethernet port, while the Sonos Play Bar has two — allowing you to connect your TV to the internet as well.
Dimensions and Specifications
With the difference in shape, there’s also a distinct difference in dimensions between the Sonos Playbase VS Playbar.
On the one hand, we have the flat Playbase, which measures 720mm wide, 58mm tall, and 380mm deep. It’s a little heavy at 8.6kg, but that’s fair considering it can carry a TV that’s up to 34kg.
Meanwhile, the Sonos Playbar measures 900mm wide, 140mm tall, and 85mm deep. The height is much higher than the Playbase, but it still barely covers the bottom of your TV. It also weighs lighter at 5.4kg.
When you look at the specs sheet of both devices, they’re pretty similar to each other. They both have Wi-Fi support, Alexa integration, a digital optical connection, access to wireless streaming services, mobile application support, and the ability to connect with other Sonos speakers.
Plus, they also have night mode and speech enhancement features for better audio quality. If you like watching movies, these sound modes will make a big difference.
Where the speakers differ is in the number of drivers. The Sonos Playbase is equipped with ten drivers, each with its own Class-D digital amplifier . It has six mid-range, three tweeters, and one woofer.
On the other hand, the Sonos Playbar has nine drivers — six mid-woofers and three tweeters. Each driver also has its own Class-D digital amplifier, similar to the Playbase.
TruePlay is another common function between the two speakers. This feature allows you to tune the device depending on the room by analyzing the surfaces and acoustics of the space. It then optimizes the soundbar so you can get the best sound.
If you want more bass, you can also add a Sonos sub to both speakers. You can also create a full system for your TV because both speakers are compatible with the Play:1, Play:3, Play:5, or Sonos One for the rear modules.
With all that said, we tip our hats to the Playbar in this aspect simply because it’s lighter than the Playbase. Its shape allows it to occupy less space and it can be wall-mounted above the TV if you want.
Sound Quality: Playbar VS Playbase
Of course, this Sonos Playbase VS Playbar review wouldn’t be complete without discussing the quality of sound. After all, it’s the heart of any comparison of soundbars, Sonos included.
The difference in the number of drivers is the main factor that sets these two devices apart. As mentioned, the Playbase is a ten-speaker system, whereas the Playbar is a nine-speaker system.
With the S-shaped woofer of the Playbase, you get a deeper and richer bass. This makes the low frequencies pop even more, which is great if you want toe-tapping music or room-shaking explosions in movies or TV shows.
This extra woofer is absent in the Playbar, which results in a duller bass sound. While this is true, our audio tests in our listening room reflect that this soundbar sounds slightly better than the Playbase.
When in actual use, there is very little difference between these two speakers. It’s hard to notice for the average user but dedicated audiophiles may spot the difference. In our tests, the overall sound quality is better in the Playbar.
This speaker provides a more well-balanced soundstage compared to the Playbase. The latter’s S-woofer makes the bass overpowering at times, and it’s even too loud if you watch heavily-sounded movies like Transformers or Inception.
When it comes to the Playbar’s audio, the bass isn’t overkilled even in scenes with loud explosions. We find this an advantage instead of a flaw since this Sonos soundbar evens the playing field with the lows and highs.
Both speakers have the same price. However, if you wish to add more Sonos speakers to the setup, they have to be bought separately.
But since the Playbar can be wall-mounted, you must buy a wall-mounting kit. It’s quite an inconvenience that the kit is not included in the package itself, especially since most soundbars that can be wall-mounted already have everything you need in the box.
But in the end, it’s only a matter of preference which device you choose. In this aspect of the Sonos Playbase VS Playbar comparison, there’s no winner since they’re both at the same price point.
Setup Process for Sonos Playbar and Playbase
For any speaker, it should only take a few minutes to get everything up and running without you having to read wordy instructions and watch lengthy Youtube tutorials.
In this case, both devices have essentially the same setup. You connect the speaker to your TV using the digital optical cable, download the Sonos mobile application, and let the app walk you through the entire setup process.
Since you don’t have to read the manual for the step-by-step procedure, you’ll be able to use your speaker in no time. Then again, should you encounter any problems, you can always consult the manual or contact the support team.
To control either speaker, you can use an IR remote, Amazon Alexa voice control, or the mobile app — which we’ll get to in a bit. We find Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant to be incredibly useful, as voice control usually is a convenient feature.
Mobile apps have become a thing of today’s speakers, and when it comes to the soundbar, Sonos has kept up.
We find the Sonos app to be well-designed and easy to use. It doesn’t leave you confused and stuck figuring out the functions, which is really how it should be for any app. It’s also compatible with Android and iOS, so there’s no issue there.
Besides setting up and tweaking the speaker settings, you can use the app to stream music from Groove, Spotify, and Tidal. If you already have personal playlists stored in your drive, you can play those too.
Airplay 2 support is a luxury more than a necessity, and if it’s one that you want, the Playbase is compatible with it. Unfortunately, the Playbar doesn’t support it, much like most of the Sonos speakers.
Still, if you prefer the Playbar and you want Airplay, you can buy the Airplay-enabled Sonos One.
Another area where these two Sonos speakers differ is the Ethernet port. The Playbase only has one Ethernet port, but the Playbar has two.
Two Ethernet ports give you more convenience when streaming. Typically, you’d use one port to connect the soundbar to your home network and the other port to connect other devices to the internet.
If you have a Smart TV, for example, you can enjoy fast and lag-free streaming of movies with that extra Ethernet port.
There are four ways you can control either speaker: the standard IR remote, Sonos app, Amazon Alexa, or the on-device controls.
For the Playbar, you get physical buttons on the side panel for play, pause, and volume. It’s a little outdated, but it’s not that big of a deal.
For the Playbase, you get three touch-interface buttons in front of the speaker. The controls include Play, Pause, Track Change, and Volume.
Playbase VS Playbar Mounting Options
Only one of these speakers can be wall-mounted, and that’s the Playbar. It’s a standard soundbar shape that offers you two mounting options — either you mount it on the wall or you simply place it on top of your TV rack.
On the other hand, Playbase is made to support your TV. It can handle up to 34 kg of weight and is perfect if you want your device to blend in with the TV and interior.
Since the Playbar offers more mounting options, it wins this round.
Sonos Soundbars Support
Whichever you purchase, both can offer stellar support from Sonos. Though we think you would hardly use it, it’s good that Sonos has a good customer service team in case you encounter any problems with your device.
We tried contacting them a few times, and the experience was not frustrating at all. We didn’t have to wait long to get in touch with an actual person and they’re friendly as well.
Is Sonos Playbase better than Playbar?
No, the Sonos Playbase isn’t better than Playbar. While the extra woofer on the Playbase provides more bass, the Playbar offers a more room-filling sound that nicely balances the bass and the treble without drowning out the details.
What is the difference between the Sonos Playbar and Playbase?
The difference between the Sonos Playbar and Playbase is the number of drivers, with the Playbar having nine and the Playbase having ten. The Playbar also has an added Ethernet port and can be wall-mounted. The Playbase, on the other hand, has Airplay 2 support and touch controls.
Overall Winner: Sonos Playbar
In the Sonos Playbase VS Playbar battle, the Playbar gets our winning verdict. Although they have similar functions, this soundbar offers an extra Ethernet port, a wall mounting option, a wider soundstage, and an overall better audio quality.