Sonos Beam vs Playbase: Which One to Choose for Home Theater

We all know that Sonos is one of the most esteemed brands in the world of audio music equipment. They produce many different kinds of premium speakers, that can help you to have an enhanced experience of listening to music. When you are setting up a sound system or home theatre system in your home, you will need a different kind of speakers throughout the room to fill it with beautiful and perfect sound. And you will also need special speakers that can be perfectly paired with your television so that your home theatre system can provide a beautiful experience of entertainment.

Two of the most premium speakers that are designed to be paired with televisions produced by Sonos are the Sonos Beam and the Sonos Playbase. They are both suitably named as the Beam is basically an oil shaped soundbar and the playbase is a soundbase which can support televisions that weigh up to 75 lbs very well. While they both can be very good options for pairing up with your television, they have some basic differences.

And while choosing one from them, you should look into those so you can choose the one that goes well with your preferences. That’s why in this article we have compared between the Sonos Beam and the Sonos Playbase, which can be very helpful for you.

Basic Advantages and Disadvantages of the Sonos Beam and the Sonos Playbase

At first let’s look at some of the basic pros and cons of the Sonos Beam and the Sonos Playbase, which are necessary to know before you decide to buy any of them.

Sonos Beam

Pros

  • A nice and compact design
  • Compatibility with HDMI ARC
  • Provides incredible sound quality
  • Reasonable price
  • Possesses many smart features
  • Inbuilt voice assistant system
  • Has BLE feature
  • Wall mounting ability

Cons

  • Apps are not too friendly for the home theatre system
  • Doesn’t support Dolby Atmos
  • Setting up with non-HDMI ARC TVs can be tricky
  • Bass sound is a bit weaker than other aspects

Sonos Playbase

Pros

  • Sound quality is phenomenal
  • Gets an advantage in terms of soundstage for a bigger size
  • The incredible and powerful bass sound
  • Gets easily paired up with other Sonos products
  • Setting up and usage is really easy
  • Built-in subwoofer
  • Has a convenient design

Cons

  • Doesn’t have inbuilt voice control assistants
  • Virtual surround sounds don’t feel natural
  • The connection system is optical only
  • TruePlay calibration is for iOS users only
  • Price is a bit expensive

Descriptive Comparison between the Sonos Beam and Sonos Playbase

Design

Even though the Sonos Beam and the Sonos Playbase have significant differences between their sizes, but their designs have certain similarities. Both of them have a minimalist and sleek design, and they also come in the same colors, black and white.

Being a soundbar, The Sonos Beam is shorter and slimmer than the Playbase. The playbase needs a bigger space; at least 14 inches of space will be taken by it, while the beam has a width of 4 inches only.

Though both of these can fit well with TVs, the playbase is designed to support TVs weighing up to 75 lbs. You can set the Beam near the TV, or you can mount it on a wall, which is not possible for the Playbase.

However, the Playbase blends in perfectly with the TV as it is best to set it up underneath the TV. They have differences in their grille material. A cloth grille comes with the base which extends around its frame but the playbase comes with a more durable and premium looking metal grille that has 43 thousand holes.

At their top panels, they both have touch-capacitive controls.

Setup and Control

Both the Sonos Beam and the Sonos Playbase have app controls and touch controls for their control system. None of them come with physical remote control, but the responsive touch-capacitive controls they have on top of their panels work really great as the basic control system.

And the rest of the controls can be easily handled with the Sonos app. Apple users can control the Beam and the Playbase with AirPlay 2. Both of them have Wi-Fi connectivity feature, so you can easily stream online music directly from the device.

And with the help of the Sonos app, you can easily set up the Beam and the Playbase with other Sonos wireless speakers for a better surround sound.

But the area where Beam beats the Playbase is having inbuilt voice assistants. The Sonos Beam smart soundbar has got five far-field microphones and with their help Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa can detect the user’s voice easily and act on the command.

The room doesn’t even need to be quiet to work the voice assistants perfectly. You can keep the mic muted so that the voice assistant won’t keep picking up whatever you say.

The Sonos Playbase on the other hand doesn’t have built-in voice assistant controls. However, you can still use voice-controlled assistants with the Playbase by setting it up with a smart home assistant separately.

Sonos as a brand has one of the most intuitive and user-friendly interfaces among all the wireless speaker brands in the market. As a result, setting both the Sonos Beam and Playbase up is easy and effortless.

You can just download the Sonos app, connect the soundbar or soundbase with your TV through the provided cable, plug them, and follow the instructions provided on the app to go forward. The Beam is compatible with HDMI ARC, while the Playbase only supports optical input.

Bluetooth LE

While setting up the device, in order to save power the Sonos Beam uses a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connection. Even though this feature doesn’t matter much for your day to day use, but it has an impact while you are installing the device. And the Playbase doesn’t have this BLE feature.

Features

Both the Sonos Beam and the Sonos Playbase are equipped with some essential features and technology of Sonos. And these features help both these devices to function in a proper manner. Adjustable EQ, Speech Enhancement Feature, TruePlay tuning, etc are among these features.

After you have completed setting up whatever wireless speaker you chose from these two, you should lighten things up by doing the Sonos’ TruePlay tuning so that you can ensure optimal audio output for the room.

But to avail the TruePlay feature you will need an iOS device, and this feature detects the sound bouncing off of the walls and furniture in the room and accordingly adjusts the audio. And it allows you to have the perfect high-quality sound for your room.

If you want to fine-tune the audio of these devices according to your preference, you can keep adjusting the EQ until you get the desired output on the Sonos app. You can also secure vocal clarity during softer decoded sounds by using the Speech Enhancement Feature on the Sonos app.

So while you are watching a show on your TV which features low voice sound, you can easily ensure more clarity of those sound. So both these devices are very well equipped with some exciting features that other brands don’t usually provide.

Sound Quality  

In terms of audio quality, both the Sonos Beam and the Sonos Playbar deliver an immersive, crisp and clear sound. But we think the Sonos Playbase has an upper hand over the Beam as it delivers better audio overall.

And the reason for the Playbase having an edge over the Beam is its bigger size. And as Beam is more compact in size, it can’t carry as many drivers as the Playbase, whereas the Playbase possesses 10 speaker drivers.

However, the Beam shines in some other aspects of sound quality such as vocal clarity and bass sound. For having better bass sound the Beam has three passive radiators. It also has a tweeter, four full-range woofers, and five class D amplifiers.

Even though the Beam falls short in places where explosive sounds such as deeper bass needed, but it still offers a really incredible sound which can give you a great audio experience.

On the other hand, apart from having 10 speaker drivers, the Sonos Playbase consists of a total of three tweeters, six mid-range drivers, 10 class D amplifiers, and one woofer.

And all these elements work together to provide a crisp, clear, and wide soundstage. And for all these advantages, the Playbase can offer a more detailed and fuller sound than the Sonos Beam.

Even though the Playbase provides better sound, doesn’t mean the Beam is bad in sound quality. As stated earlier, the Beam is also incredible in providing a great quality of sound. And the Playbase also costs more than the beam for being bigger and better in sound.

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Comparison Table between Sonos Beam and Sonos Playbase

We have already given a basic and descriptive comparison between different specs, features, and sound quality of the Sonos Beam and the Sonos Playbase, which can help you to select the one that goes well with your preference.

And for your further convenience, we have added a comparison table that summarizes the whole thing for you and will show the comparison between these two devices about everything you need to know before buying. The table is mentioned below.

Grounds of Comparison Sonos Beam Sonos Playbase
Design Bar Platform
Amplification Self Powered Self Powered
Class D Digital Amplifiers 5 10
Number of Channels 3.0 3.1
Separate Subwoofer Optional Optional
Wireless Sounds Optional Optional
Dolby Digital Yes Yes
DTS No No
Dolby Atmos No No
Virtual Surround Yes Yes
Dialogue Enhancement Yes Yes
Auto Volume No No
Subwoofer Output Wireless Wireless
RCA Stereo Analog Inputs None None
USB Type-A Input No No
Connection to TV Using HDMI ARC or Digital Optical Cable Only Digital Optical Cable
HDMI ARC Input Yes No
HDMI eARC Input No No
Coaxial Digital Inputs None None
Optical Digital Inputs None 1
3.5 mm Stereo Analog Inputs None None
Woofer Passive Radiators Subwoofer
Midrange Full range Woofers Midrange Drivers
Adjustable Bass and Treble Controls Yes Yes
Tweeter Dome Tweeter 3 Dome Tweeters
Enclosure Passive Radiator Acoustic Suspension
Subwoofer RMS Power N/ A N/ A
Soundbar RMS Power N/ A N/ A
System Frequency Response Not Given Not Given
Subwoofer Driver None None
Audio Line-in No No
Remote Inclusion Yes Yes
Built In Voice Assistant Amazon Alexa + Google Assistant No
App Controls Android + Apple iOS Android + Apple iOS
TV Remote Learning Yes Yes
Voice Control Options Inbuilt Google Assistant and Alexa Not inbuilt but supports Google Assistant and Alexa
HDMI CEC Yes No
Remote IR Pass-through No No
HDR Video Compatibility No No
HDMI Video Pass-through Resolution N/ A N/ A
Bluetooth Connectivity No Yes
Apple AirPlay AirPlay 2 AirPlay 2
Trueplay Yes Yes
Files on the Network No No
Built In Chromecast No No
HDMI Inputs None None
HDMI Outputs 1 None
Built In Wi-Fi Yes Yes
Wi-Fi Version 802.11 b/ g 802.11 b/ g
Bands 2.4 GHz 2.4 GHz
Wall Mount ability Yes No
Mounting Bracket Inclusion Optional No
Sound Bar Size (inches) 2-11/16 H x 25-5/8 W x 3-15/ 16 D 2-1/4 H x 28-3/8 W x 14-15/16 D
Subwoofer Size (inches) N/ A N/ A
Sound Bar Weight 6.2 lbs 18.85 lbs
Subwoofer Weight N/ A N/ A
Speakers 5 10
Microphones 5 No
PCM Stereo Yes Yes
Audio Return Channel Yes No
Product Color Black or White Black or White
IR Control Yes Yes
Night Mode Yes Yes
Touch Control Yes Yes
One App Control Yes Yes
Ethernet Port 1 1
Humidity Resistance No No
Year of Release 2018 2017
Amplifier Parts Warranty 1 Year 1 Year
Amplifier Labor Warranty 1 Year 1 Year
Speaker Parts Warranty 1 Year 1 Year
Speaker Labor Warranty 1 Year 1 Year

Read more: Which Brand have best audio features Sonos or Bose

Verdict

Both the Sonos Beam and the Sonos Playbase are really great in their own way. While one is better in some aspects, the other one gets the upper hand in other different aspects.

As Sonos is known for its exceptional audio qualities, both these speakers deliver stunning performance in terms of audio. The Sonos Beam gets the upper hand when you take different features into account.

The Beam has more updated features, more reasonable pricing, and a compact size that allows you to set it up wherever you like. If your room is not large enough, you can easily go for the Sonos Beam, and if you need more immersive sound you can easily pair it up with other Sonos speakers.

But if the high cost and updated smart features don’t mean much to you and the only thing you highly care about is the better audio performance, then you should go for the Sonos Playbase.

And if you have a large room, the Playbase will surely serve you better than the Beam. Also even though it doesn’t have an inbuilt voice assistant system, you can easily pair it up with a smart home assistant of your choosing.

So we can say, in the end, it comes down to you whether you want to choose the Sonos Beam or the Sonos Playbase for your sound system. You should look into both and see which one suits better with your preferences and then select that for your home as both will serve you really well.

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