The launch of the Sonos PLAYBASE in Singapore happened in a swanky apartment nestled deep in River Valley. This is the latest release from Sonos, and the first in years! So my expectations were set pretty high.
The PLAYBASE is an innovative new design that push the limits of what a pedestal speaker can do. Other pedestals started out with much promise but soon petered out. How will the PlayBase be any different? Here are my first impressions.
The PLAYBASE looks real sleek and sexy, looking more like a solid piece of granite than a speaker. It’s designed to sit your TV on top (up to 35kgs), since according to Sonos, around 70% of TVs at home are sitting on table stands.
It’s got a total of nine drivers behind an acoustically transparent grill, and a proprietary down-firing woofer. Unlike other woofer cones, this one boasts new technology developed by Sonos to minimise its thickness, yet move the same amount of air as a standard cone. That air gets funnelled into an S-Port that’s tuned for deeper bass amplification. It also doubles up a a cooling system, much like the Waveguide technology from Bose.
There aren’t any visible buttons, but a sensor on top that does the job. To control both your TV and the PLAYBASE, you can program your TV remote to work with it. It has the same connectivity options as the PLAYBAR. Using the Sonos App, it connects to your WiFi network to stream music from your favourite music services or from your NAS server.
There are some shortcomings as with other Sonos products. You’ll only get an Ethernet Port and an Optical Input for your TV, which (to be honest) is not much. Like the PLAYBAR, it only supports surround sound codecs up to Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, since it does not have HDMI inputs.
At first glance, the PLAYBASE really looks unassuming and discrete. And I was quite skeptical about its sound output. There was also a Sonos:SUB placed beside it, which I believed the PLAYBASE needed due to its lack of bass.
We were played a series of demo materials that best displayed its capabilities. But not to sound too draggy, I will just touch on a few. In a scene from Jungle Book (the new movie) I could clearly hear an open jungle atmosphere and the rustling of dry grass as Mowgli walked through a field with his black panther friend. That serenity was quickly pierced by an intense moment when a sadistic tiger chased Mowgli into a ravine. No exaggeration anywhere, only clean precision. Even without full surround, the PLAYBASE managed to immerse us into the movie with confidence and verve.
It sounded great for music as well! We were treated to ‘Everything In The Right Place’ by Radiohead. The PLAYBASE handled stereo separation pretty well for a one-piece unit, and delivered well imaged vocals. Bass extended pretty low and was impressive too. But do we actually need the Sonos:SUB for that?
The whole time we believed that the Sonos:SUB was activated. So when they told us that all that deep, powerful bass we heard came only from the PLAYBASE, our minds were totally blown! Wow!
If the PLAYBASE isn’t enough, you can add the Sonos:SUB and a couple of PLAY:1s for full Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. With the full set up, the same movie clips sound much more immersive and detailed!
Or join it with Sonos speakers in other rooms to flow music throughout your home.
For best results, the PLAYBASE also has TruePlay tuning to customise its sound according to your room’s acoustics. Something that I loved in the Play:1.
The PLAYBASE retails for S$1299, which is the same price as the PLAYBAR. This is by far the most expensive pedestal speaker I have seen, but also the most compelling. Since everything I’ve experienced so far is in a controlled environment, I can’t wait to have one on loan so that I can review it better for everyone!
The Sonos PLAYBASE (White or Black) is available in April 2017 at TC Acoustics, 1 Coleman Street, the Adelphi.