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Sonos Playbar vs Beam vs Playbase

by Vince Tuscano

Sonos has been around for almost two decades now and it continues to be one of the easiest and high-quality speakers you can ever have in your home. While most people think that it’s just another pricey set of speakers, Sonos proves that it is more than that. At the heart of their design and technology, Sonos aims to be a leader in wireless connectivity, audio quality, and user experience.

There are three popular home speakers often compared to each other. Yes, you guessed them - these are the Playbar, Beam, and Playbase. Although the same at their core, they do have slight differences. For audio enthusiasts, these differences in tech, features, capabilities, and connections make or break their home listening experience. And even if you aren’t picky with sound, it is equally important to know their differences for usability and convenience purposes.

If you’re curious to know which among the three speakers is the best fit for you, read on to know more about them, their pros and cons, and which works best with what.

Quick Comparison Table & Our Pick!

This as you would expect from us is an EPIC post so grab a coffee before you start  and see how we cut through every product and review it with precision. IF YOU ARE SHORT ON TIME and just need to know the results of our reviews , CHECK THE RESULTS TABLE BELOW!


Price

$$$

$$$

$$$

Drivers

3 tweeters, 6 mid-woofers

1 tweeter, 4 woofers

10 speakers

Amplifiers

9 Class-D amplifiers

5 Class-D digital amplifiers

10 Class-D amplifiers

Dimensions (HWD)

161.45 x 119.7 x 119.7 mm

68.5 x 651 x 100 mm

58 x 720 x 380 mm

Weight

11.9 lbs

6.2 lbs

18.85 lbs

Connectivity

WiFi, wired ethernet, optical cable

Ethernet, WiFi, Apple Airplay, HDMI, optical cable

Ethernet, WiFi, Apple Airplay, optical cable

Interface

Volume & play/pause buttons, LED indicator

Voice command (with Alexa), touch controls for volume, play/pause, previous/next track, & mute mic, LED indicator

Touch controls for volume, play/pause, previous/next track, LED indicator

Cell

Similarities: Playbar, Beam, Playbase 

Aside from them being Sonos speakers, these three are the same in terms of the core qualities of Sonos speakers - sound quality, Speech Enhancement, connectivity, and ease of set up.

First, sound quality. All three speakers can produce powerful and rich bass. It is designed with internal subwoofers making it a standalone speaker. While a subwoofer definitely helps in enriching the quality even more, this is completely unnecessary if you are content with the sound.

Second is Speech Enhancement. These speakers are not just equipped to play a wide range of sound effects, but it is also capable of playing clear dialogues. The Speech Enhancement can be used to increase the clarity in the dialogues while maintaining the sound effects in the background.

Another feature present in the three is connectivity, well, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi at least. All Sonos speakers are all operated through wireless means with other models offering Voice Control and AirPlay 2.

Lastly, these three Sonos speakers are all easy to set up. User-friendliness is a trait present in all Sonos making them the best set of speakers for people who love inconvenience. The design, wireless connection, and software all contribute to producing an easy to install speaker. In short, all you have to do is plug them and you’re ready to play.

Sonos Playbar

Sonos Playbar

The Sonos Playbar is the soundbar that you can mount for your TV. Among the three, this is the oldest, which is why some of the features available on the other Sonos speakers can be unavailable here. Nonetheless, it’s still a speaker worth looking into.

The Playbar has nine Class-D amplifiers and six mid-woofers making it the ideal speaker for large rooms and spaces. The number of speakers it has helped fill a room with a full range of sound effects from low to high frequencies. Thanks to the amplifiers, these sounds can be carried away even if you’re several feet apart from the speaker. It comes with a Speech Enhancement feature that allows you to tweak the sounds in order to get a clear audio for dialogues.

When it comes to connectivity, it’s already Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connection enabled. In spite of being an older soundbar among the other Sonos speakers, it already has the connectivity capabilities of more modern speakers today. In fact, it can still be comparable to a lot of soundbars.

There’s another interesting feature not present on other Sonos speakers - an IR repeater. An IR repeater is a built-in infrared repeater which reduces the blocking of infrared signals coming from your remote control. With an IR repeater, you can directly control your TV without any command problems on the Playbar.

Price

The Sonos Playbar retails at $594. Take note, however, that this doesn’t include the wall mounts yet. You will notice that the Playbar is at the pricier end of the soundbars even if it was released from a few years back. 

Design

In spite of being a rectangular box, the Sonos Playbar is a little bulky in size and heavy in weight. It’s 11 lbs heavy and is 33 inches in length. It has soft corners and side panel buttons and lights which add to the overall ‘user-friendly’ appearance.

To add to that, the Sonos Playbar easily complements any mounted TV. The best way to see this pairing is placing it right below the TV. Sure, you can place it on top, but make sure to place the speakers facing upward for better sound.

Pros

  • Powerful sound that fills a large room
  • Plays a full range of low and high frequencies
  • IR repeater
  • Speech Enhancement features for clearer dialogues
  • Easy mountable design that works best under the TV
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enabled connections
  • User-friendly with five buttons on the side

Cons

  • Does not include wall mounts
  • Bulky and heavy
  • Difficult to place on walls
  • Costs a lot for an older soundbar
  • Problematic system updates

Check Sonos Playbar Price On Amazon

Sonos Beam

Sonos Beam

Considered to be one of the most sophisticated soundbars by Sonos (and even in the market), the Beam is a small yet terrible audio device that has unrivalled sound quality and capability.

The Beam contains four full-range woofers that produce even the deepest of basses. It has its own tweeter that helps you tweak dialogues and sound effects to fit your preferences. In spite of its size, the Sonos Beam has three passive radiators that add warmth to the sound contributing to a richness in audio that you only get to hear in sound booths and movie theaters. And if those aren’t enough, it has five Class-D digital amplifiers and five far-field microphones in its small box.

Aside from the common Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, the Sonos Beam also has Voice Control features that allow you to connect with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. It even has Apple AirPlay 2 that allows you to control your music straight from your phone.

Price

The Sonos Beam costs $399. Just like the Playbar, the wall mounts should be sold separately. Nonetheless, it is the cheapest speaker making it an attractive choice for price-sensitive consumers. 

Design

The Beam is definitely the most compact soundbar of Sonos. It’s only 26 inches in length and it fits most TV displays. It’s also just 6 lbs light. The story behind beam’s size is to be able to cater to clients that have small TV cabinets. Nonetheless, it is compatible in a cabinet, attached to the wall, or just on top of a table.

Because it’s a newer model designed by Sonos, you can expect it to have sleeker design. Yes, it still has soft corners, but it is minimalist in such a way that there are no physical buttons to be seen. Instead, it has touch buttons for a smoother design.

Pros

  • Small, compact design
  • Light and easy to mount
  • Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa enabled
  • AirPlay 2 connectivity
  • Touch control panel for basic audio controls

Cons

  • Has HDMI-ARC connectivity which is not compatible with other TVs
  • HDMI-ARC converter is sold separately
  • Lower volume
  • Not ideal for large rooms

Check Sonos Beam Price On Amazon

Sonos Playbase

Sonos Playbase

If there is one thing that separates the Sonos Playbase from the two other speakers, it’s the design. Just by its name, you’ll know that the Playbase is more of an actual speaker base than a soundbar. It’s not even close to a soundbar because it doesn’t have the size for it. Rather, it acts as a TV stand.

However, the Playbase should not be underestimated just because it is not a soundbar. The Playbase still has all the features you will look for in a speaker. It has 6 mid-range drivers, a Speech Enhancement feature, 3 tweeters, and an S-shaped subwoofer. Having these speakers was made possible by the design. Since the Playbase is bigger, there is more room to place tweeters and mid-range drivers. Among the three speakers, this is the speaker that has more than one tweeter, allowing users the freedom to customize their audio.

When it comes to connectivity, the Playbase has retained its Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections. It is also AirPlay 2 enabled making it easier to use from your iPhone or iPad. The only network connection disabled for the Playbase is Voice Control.

Price

The Sonos Playbase retails for $585. It comes with 3.1 or 5.1 surround sound sets where the subwoofer is included. 

Design

Since this is not a soundbar, you can expect the Sonos Playbase to be wider and heavier. It is 30 inches in length and 3 inches in height. It weighs around 75 pounds which makes it difficult to move to different TV tables.

In spite of the weight and size, the Sonos Playbase has maintained the minimalist design found in the Sonos Beam. It no longer has physical buttons. Instead, it has a touch control panel right at the middle. The Playbase comes in black and white color schemes to fit different TV sets. Take note, though, that the Playbase is only compatible with TV sets having no center stand. If it does, then you would have to place the Playbase in front of the TV instead of underneath it.

Pros

  • Sleek design for a TV stand
  • Touch control panel
  • Plays a full range of low and high frequencies
  • Speech Enhancement feature
  • AirPlay 2 connectivity

Cons

  • Not wall-mountable
  • Has overpowering bass sounds when paired with a subwoofer
  • No Voice Control capabilities
  • Costs a lot for a bulky speaker

Check Sonos Playbase Price On Amazon

Differences: Playbar, Beam, Playbase 

Of course, these speakers have their own set of unique capabilities and features. They’re also meant for different TV mounts and uses. This short comparison will help you identify which set of features and designs are meant for your home.

Listening to music

The first difference is the most obvious one - the size. If you are looking for a compact speaker, then your only choices are the Playbar and the Beam. The Playbase is off the hook simply because it’s huge and heavy. The Playbase is better for those who have television sets sitting directly on the table.

Next is the controls. Controls here refer to the other means of controlling your speakers other than the remote. Based on the pros and cons list of each, there’s only one speaker here that offers the most wireless control. That’s the Sonos Beam. It has both Voice Control and AirPlay 2 features. The Playbar, on the other hand, doesn't have any, while the Playbase only has AirPlay 2.

Another main difference is where they are best used. Sure, you can use any of them if you’re only looking at the sound quality. However, they have their own optimal uses. For the Playbar and the Playbase, they are both used for home theaters. They can produce a louder and more consistent audio for larger rooms. Unfortunately, the Beam does not compare in terms of loudness because it has fewer amplifiers that would increase the volume of the sounds.

Lastly is the price. In spite of being the most advanced and complete speaker, the Sonos Beam comes out as the most affordable among the three. If price is your priority, then you’ll find that the Beam is just half the price of the Playbar or the Playbase. It’s by far the most cost-efficient buy among the three without the need to buy a complementary subwoofer.

Verdict

These three Sonos speakers are all high-performing. They’re all wirelessly connected. However, they do have their own unique features that make each stand out for people with specific needs and preferences.

When deciding which to get among the three, it’s always better to make a list of factors affecting your decision. Are you price-sensitive? Do you have limited space? Will you be using it for a home theater? Answering these questions will help you zero in on the speaker that best fits your preferences and needs.

At the end of the day, whatever speaker you choose, you will take home the Sonos brand and technology which guarantees exceptional listening experience and hassle-free controls and setup. 

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