Sonos Playbase review

The Sonos Playbase was something of a surprise addition to the range, considering the excellent Playbar. However, it provides an option for those wanting to put a TV on top of a speaker. Here’s our Sonos Playbase review.

Price

Sonos speakers aren’t always the cheapest around, and the Playbase is one of the firm’s most expensive products.

It’s priced at GBP699 which matches the Playbar, as this is a sort of base version of its bar-shaped brother. So it’s a top-end soundbar and if you’re not looking to spend that much then you’ll want to look at the likes of the Orbitsound One P70[1] and Q Acoustics M3[2] – Both of which are less than half the price.

Design and build

As we just mentioned, the Playbase – as the name suggests, is a base version of the Playbar[3]. So they key design difference is that you can place your TV on top of it rather than the speaker sitting in front.

You might want to do this due to lack of space, or even so the TV is lifted up a little higher for a better viewing experience – it’s 720x380x58mm so you can check if it fits on your furniture. The Playbase can support TVs up to 35kg in weight so will comfortably piggy back the vast majority of modern displays you can buy. It’s no surprise that the Playbase uses a quintessential Sonos design consisting of curves and clean lines to create a sleek and modern look that will look great with modern TV designs.

It looks like it’s been machined from a single piece of material. As usual, you can get the device in either black or white colours.

As we’ve come to expect, build quality is exceptional and you’d hope so at this price.

Every detail has been thought about and carefully planned. We slightly prefer the addition of some metal on the Playbar but it’s a minor point. You need only plug two cables into the Playbase to get it working – power and optical – so things are nice and neat.

As with all Sonos products it works wirelessly but you can plug an Ethernet cable in if you like (and even use it as a connection for one of your set-top boxes which is neat). The key thing is to check your TV has optical out, otherwise it defeats the point. The last thing to say about design is that the Playbase touch sensitive controls much like the Play:5[4] and Sonos One[5].

You’ve got play/pause as well as volume, but you can also swipe to do things like skip track. It’s neat and much better than the physical buttons on the side of the Playbar.

Sound quality and features

One (many really) of the reasons to buy the Playbase over rivals is that the Sonos system can do a lot of things a regular soundbar[6] or soundbase can do. It’s far more than just a speaker to play whatever’s happening on your TV.

We won’t explain in great detail here but the Sonos system means you can have speakers all around the house for a multi-room experience. You can group rooms together and stream a huge amount of content from different places – like Spotify, Tunein Radio and Google Play Music – to those speakers. Read our guide to Sonos to find out more[7]. Sonos Playbase review

It’s all controllable by the free app and these days you can even hook Sonos up to an Amazon Alexa speaker so you can do things with voice commands.

So the Playbase might be a lot more than rivals but there’s a lot of value here thanks to additional features. There’s no remote control to adjust volume from the sofa so you’ll need to use the app. However, there’s a fairly good chance you can configure your TV or set-top box remote to do the job.

As with the Playbar, you can add other Sonos speakers to expand the set up in your living room. So, if you’ve got the cash, you can connect a Sub for extra bass or a pair of Play:1[8] speakers for surround sound. We’d recommend doing the latter.

So onto the sound quality and we’re very impressed with the Playbase overall. Inside there are six mid-range woofers, three tweeters and one sub-woofer – all powered by a class-D amp each. That’s the same as the Playbar but with the addition of the sub-woofer.

Although Sonos says they effectively sound they same, that’s not quite the case. Although they are similar, the main difference in in the bass department – namely due to that extra woofer and the acoustic space in the Playbase. Sonos Playbase review

As a result, the low-end is strangely not as solid or as powerful compared to the Playbar, but it’s more controlled and has a deeper feel.

Neither is outright better than the other, it’s more down to personal preference. Like with the Playbar, most users won’t feel the need to add the Sub in. When it comes to the rest of the sound, it’s pretty much the usual Sonos formula.

A nicely even and balanced sound that doesn’t favour a particular area of the frequency response. It’s clever as it generally means the speaker sounds great no matter what you’re watching or streaming. Like the Playbar, the Playbase does an impressive job of filling your living room with sound – even if you don’t add Play:1s at the back.

The soundstage is vast and immersive and you’re likely to notice a huge difference compared to the speakers built into your TV. You don’t really get much of a stereo field but that’s somewhat understandable. If, for whatever reason, you don’t like the sound of the Playbar you can make adjustments to the EQ using the app.

You can also make use of Trueplay which uses the microphones in your smartphone to tune the speaker to your room.

References

  1. ^ Orbitsound One P70 review (www.techadvisor.co.uk)
  2. ^ Q Acoustics M3 review (www.techadvisor.co.uk)
  3. ^ Sonos Playbar review (www.techadvisor.co.uk)
  4. ^ Sonos Play:5 review (www.techadvisor.co.uk)
  5. ^ Sonos One review (www.techadvisor.co.uk)
  6. ^ Best soundbars (www.techadvisor.co.uk)
  7. ^ Best Sonos speakers (www.techadvisor.co.uk)
  8. ^ Sonos Play:1 review (www.techadvisor.co.uk)

A million UK homes still get crappy broadband speeds, groans Ofcom

Some 4% of properties trundle below 10Mpbs

Just over a million premises in Blighty, or 4 per cent of properties, cannot get speeds of 10Mpbs, according to a comprehensive report by regulator Ofcom. That figure has fallen from 1.6 million premises last year, according to the Connected Nations 2017[1] research (PDF). Not surprisingly, 17 per cent of rural premises are not getting decent broadband services, compared to just 2 per cent in urban areas.

However, superfast broadband – defined by Ofcom as a download speed of 30Mbps or more – continues to improve. The option of taking superfast broadband was available to 91 per cent of UK homes and small businesses (27 million) by May 2017, up from 89 per cent (25.5 million) a year earlier. Four in ten premises have bought connections that deliver superfast broadband, up from less than a third a year earlier.

Meanwhile, full-fibre broadband continues at a snail’s pace, with 3 per cent of homes and offices having access to it, up from 2 per cent a year earlier. Steve Unger, Ofcom’s chief technology officer, said: “Everyone should have good access to the internet, wherever they live and work. So we are supporting plans for universal broadband, and promoting investment in full-fibre technology that can provide ultrafast, reliable connections.”

The government is considering whether to accept BT’s voluntary offer[2] to connect 98.5 per cent of premises to speeds of 10Mbps by 2020, rising to 99 per cent by 2022, as opposed to a mandatory 100 per cent. BT has said it will cost around GBP600m, which it will recoup by further hiking everyone’s broadband bill. Further action is needed on mobile coverage, although the situation is improving, said the regulator.

As many as six in ten premises received an indoor 4G mobile signal from all four networks, up from 40 per cent last year. “Total” geographic 4G coverage, where reception is available from all four mobile operators, is available across just 43 per cent of the UK’s landmass. Unger added: “People have never relied so much on their phones in daily life. As a nation, we are using 13 times more mobile data than just five years ago.

“While the industry works to improve mobile coverage, it’s vital people can get a trustworthy picture of reception across the UK.

Using our tools, mobile users can see which network offers the best service in areas where they live, work and travel, before they take out a new phone contract.” (R)

Sponsored: Ensuring end to end performance of a cloud phone system[3]

References

  1. ^ Connected Nations 2017 (www.ofcom.org.uk)
  2. ^ BT’s voluntary offer (www.theregister.co.uk)
  3. ^ Ensuring end to end performance of a cloud phone system (go.theregister.com)

A million UK homes still get crappy broadband speeds, groans Ofcom

Some 4% of properties trundle below 10Mpbs

Just over a million premises in Blighty, or 4 per cent of properties, cannot get speeds of 10Mpbs, according to a comprehensive report by regulator Ofcom. That figure has fallen from 1.6 million premises last year, according to the Connected Nations 2017[1] research (PDF). Not surprisingly, 17 per cent of rural premises are not getting decent broadband services, compared to just 2 per cent in urban areas.

However, superfast broadband – defined by Ofcom as a download speed of 30Mbps or more – continues to improve. The option of taking superfast broadband was available to 91 per cent of UK homes and small businesses (27 million) by May 2017, up from 89 per cent (25.5 million) a year earlier. Four in ten premises have bought connections that deliver superfast broadband, up from less than a third a year earlier.

Meanwhile, full-fibre broadband continues at a snail’s pace, with 3 per cent of homes and offices having access to it, up from 2 per cent a year earlier. Steve Unger, Ofcom’s chief technology officer, said: “Everyone should have good access to the internet, wherever they live and work. So we are supporting plans for universal broadband, and promoting investment in full-fibre technology that can provide ultrafast, reliable connections.”

The government is considering whether to accept BT’s voluntary offer[2] to connect 98.5 per cent of premises to speeds of 10Mbps by 2020, rising to 99 per cent by 2022, as opposed to a mandatory 100 per cent. BT has said it will cost around GBP600m, which it will recoup by further hiking everyone’s broadband bill. Further action is needed on mobile coverage, although the situation is improving, said the regulator.

As many as six in ten premises received an indoor 4G mobile signal from all four networks, up from 40 per cent last year. “Total” geographic 4G coverage, where reception is available from all four mobile operators, is available across just 43 per cent of the UK’s landmass. Unger added: “People have never relied so much on their phones in daily life. As a nation, we are using 13 times more mobile data than just five years ago.

“While the industry works to improve mobile coverage, it’s vital people can get a trustworthy picture of reception across the UK.

Using our tools, mobile users can see which network offers the best service in areas where they live, work and travel, before they take out a new phone contract.” (R)

Sponsored: Contact centre buyer’s guide 2017[3]

References

  1. ^ Connected Nations 2017 (www.ofcom.org.uk)
  2. ^ BT’s voluntary offer (www.theregister.co.uk)
  3. ^ Contact centre buyer’s guide 2017 (go.theregister.com)