Sonos Beam vs Playbase

Sonos Beam vs Playbase

Sonos has released some of the best speakers in the industry under the beam and Playbar line. The Sonos Playbase and beam both come under the soundbar family.

Sonos, however, has released Sonos Arc recently which is said to be carrying on the Sonos Playbar legacy. This means fans of the brand can expect that Sonos Arc and Sonos beam will be carrying on the legacy of the new generation Sonos speakers.

If you are thinking of buying a Sonos speaker, you need to make the best choice considering only one of the speakers will move on to the next generation. Thus, the choices should be between the beam and the Playbase.

See more: How Does Sonos Work?

Sonos Beam vs Playbase 01
Image source: GrubiSa Rukavina

But Which Is Better: Beam Or Playbase?

In this post, we have dissected all the features of the two devices. Read on, and you will find the clear winner of the game.

Size

The Sonos Beam is the smallest Sonos TV speaker when compared to other products in the same list. It measures 65 cm in width, 10cm in-depth, and 7 cm in height. This means you can fit this pretty much in any tight spot.

If you have a small-ish living space, dedicating a big chunk of space to your new speaker will be difficult. The beam is also super light. It weighs only 2.8 kgs and if you decide to use a wall mount, it will not take down your entire house.

Besides, the beam also looks pretty good. The beam looks very minimalistic and has long pill-shaped, with a smooth mesh finishing, giving it a very polished and stylish look.

In comparison to the beam, the Playbase is a behemoth. The dimensions are 5.8 x 72 x 38 cm. And if that wasn’t enough, it weighs a whopping 8.6 kgs. You will need a solid base to keep it.

Never mount it on drywall unless you want to lose the security deposit on the house. It is flat and wide, and you will need a wide platform to keep it posted. Look wise, it is not that different from the beam, except much wider.

Sonos Beam vs Playbase 02
Image source: Connor Renwick

Price

The Sonos Playbase costs around $699.99 and the beam costs about $399. The beam is considerably much cheaper, at almost half the price of its predecessor.

If you are looking for a budget speaker, then the beam is definitely a better option for you. It won’t pack as much punch as the play base, but it works pretty great with any of your music services and is a great speaker overall.

Build

If you are not going to use a wall mount, then the Playbase is a solid option. The Playbase is a sound base, and just as the name suggests, it can support a TV. You can put it under the TV between the two feet, and it will fit quite nicely. This is because of the height of the Playbase, which is perfect for that space. This is also a device that has a lot of packed performance over form. The build is pretty solid, and there are tactically placed holes to keep air circulating. This is great for long periods of use.

Core Features And Support

The good thing about Sonos products is that no matter which soundbar you buy, you will get a set of core features that is the same in all. This means beam and Playbar both have the support for any music service you wish to set up.

This includes the extra bass, surround sound, Dolby and everything. These products mostly vary in how old they are, and how the Sonos brand is envisioning these products for the future. Whereas Playbase is a great device, Sonos has decided that beam and the latest Playbar named Arc will be carrying down the torch. They will include more and more features, be smarter than the previous speakers, bring in exceptional voice control.

Device Compatibility

If you have any experience with the Playbar and Playbase, you know there is a small limitation in their connection. They both need an optical connection which allows them to channel the sound from your TV.

The Beam, however, uses an HDMI ARC. It also has an optical adapter for anyone interested. But the HDMI ARC is simply superior. It has much better compatibility between the television and your speaker. As far as voice control is concerned, you will always experience better performance with the HDMI ARC connection over an optical connection.

If you struggle to connect with Alexa, and she doesn’t get your commands, then this adapter could be a lifesaver. Using voice control to control your TV is super convenient. You can use much better integration and play various channels through voice command. You can even use it in combination with a Fire TV Stick, and notice no difference in the performance.

That does not mean that you cannot add your Playbase to Alexa. You most certainly can. You can even add this to an echo dot. But the performance, connection, and operation just do not feel as smooth.

Beam wins this round, hands down.

Image source: Oliver Monnet

Airplay Support

You need airplay 2 support for being able to create a multi-room system. If you have speakers from different brands, and different TV setups in different rooms, it helps to have the airplay 2 support. You can keep your beam in your drawing room, an apple device in the kitchen, and some other speakers in your bedroom, and connect them all together to play the same music.

The Playbase also has the airplay support for now. However, if they will keep getting the airplay support in the future remains to be seen. Sonos still lacks support for the high-resolution audio on their devices and considering that Playbase is falling behind the beam, we are not sure if Playbase will get that software update in the next year.

Number Of Drivers

Why does this matter? The drivers are what give music the depth, bass and overall make it sound like a symphony. The beam is the smallest device in this case, which naturally means it has a much smaller number of drivers as compared to the Playbase. It has a single tweeter, four complete range elliptical woofers. This is joined by three bass radiators.

Playbase outperforms the beam device by a long shot when it comes to the number of drivers. The Playbase has a total of 9 drivers. Amongst them, 3 are tweeters and 6 are mid-range drivers.

The Playbase also has another special feature. The highly unique S-shaped woofer gives the bass a much-needed definition. So, the music coming from your Playbase will be packed full of punch, nice mid-range, excellent rhythm. It will be clear and balanced.

The fact that Sonos has optimized its speakers to this level, makes it so harder to replace with other speakers. But when it comes to sound quality, Playbase should naturally be the winner. Except, there is a slight issue with the sound where you will never expect.

The Playbase has a sibilant treble, which makes the high notes extremely powerful, which is not a good thing. It can sound extremely sharp and irritating, instead of ecstatically pleasing. This should be a big concern for anyone worried that the beam is simply not set to match the authority of the Playbase at the same volume.

To help you make an educated decision, here is a video review that you must check out.

Conclusion

If you are buying a speaker, you should be naturally concerned with the sound. While Playbase is an otherwise perfect device when it comes to the tonality and range, it has that one tough spot of weakness that will leave you annoyed at times. The treble spoils the otherwise perfect aura of the device, and that is a shame. When you are paying nearly twice the price of the other speakers, you deserve to listen to the high notes without turning down the volume.

We love the Sonos beam for one very obvious reason. The sound is not something that will match up to the performance of the bigger speakers. But for the price you are paying, it delivers truly exceptional quality of performance.

Besides, for most people, space is also a big concern, and even if the Playbase fits under your tv, it just doesn’t look as good. The Playbase also falls short when it comes to voice control and advanced features. The beam has these two qualities, and this is why we can forgive it for what it lacks in performance.

If you have a big room, the right set up, and no plan to create intricate music systems around the house, the Playbase is a good choice for you. But after all, when you are paying for a top-class speaker, why go for one Sonos will no longer continue to update? The affordability, small size, excellent voice control, lightness, the smaller spec makes beam a clear winner for us in this race.

References:

Levi Alston
I write dozens of helpful informational articles based on topics that I have identified again and again throughout my research and work experience. I am here to help you find the right smart speaker.

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