Question

Play Bar - How much difference does the Sub make for music?

  • 31 October 2017
  • 19 replies
  • 7472 views

Userlevel 2
Badge +2
HI, new Sonos owner here, just bought a PlayBar (for a 40:30:30 split use between streaming music, watching music and playing games respectively) and although I really like it, it does sound a little "hollow" (almost a bit muddy in the overall sound) particularly with some music (use Google Play Music). There is bass there but it just doesn't cut it for me. I have used Trueplay to tune the room, which did make an audible positive difference!

Question is, how much difference will adding a Sub really make, particularly with music? I can see from posts that people love them for adding the depth to explosions and action in movies, but how about adding subtlety to music? As that's where I feel the playbar is slightly disappointing to me.

Can't justify buying one right now, especially until I'm sure it's the right system for me, but for the coming months it'd be good to know what difference it really makes in this instance? Unless anyone has any 20% discount codes that work? 😉 Haha.

Would be good to know, as with the playbar on its own right now, I'm just not 100% sure it's good enough to keep 😞

Thanks.

This topic has been closed for further comments. You can use the search bar to find a similar topic, or create a new one by clicking Create Topic at the top of the page.

19 replies

Userlevel 4
Badge +3
The sub fills in the bottom end very nicely. You'll have control of the level of the sub from the app. TruPlay tends to set it a bit on the louder side which is what most people do when setting up by ear. Subs really shouldn't stand out in the speaker mix.
Userlevel 2
Badge +2
Thanks. I've read somewhere that the system will compensate for a sub being there by adapting the sound from the playbar, ie using the same playbar speakers for mid and high ranges and just pumping bass frequencies through the sub. Is that correct? Would it improve the mid-level muddiness I'm hearing?
Userlevel 2
Badge +2
Oops, typo that I can't now edit...

The use of my Playbar would be :

40:30:30 split use between streaming music, watching TV and playing games respectively.

Any more opinions?

Also, if I were to consider buying a Sub, where's the best price? Seems that Amazon UK is listing them at £50 cheaper than Sonos store? Other retailers too. Anywhere else I should consider?
Userlevel 4
Badge +3
If by mid-level muddies you mean male a nd female vocal range then I don't think the sub will help. You're looking at a frequency range of roughly 100-200Hz. The sub has rolled off by that point.

Without knowing the details of your install I'd start with looking at what the Playback is resting on and where it is positioned in the room. If it's on some kind of cabinet then could that be 'singing' along with the speaker. If the speaker is mounted in an alcove or room corner could that be affecting the sound? There are lots of other possibilities including that the sound isn't what you're looking for, but I'd be surprised if the sub improved the midrange to any great extent.
Userlevel 2
Badge +2
Thanks. I guess I meant that if the sub effectively takes away 'some' of the 'lower' frequencies from the playbar having to put them out (admittedly nowhere near as low as the sub can go, of course ~ 25Hz), then I'd read that it's free then to just concentrate on the mids & highs, thereby improving the overall sound output. Can't remember where I read it, but perhaps it's completely wrong or I interpreted it incorrectly.

My room is a simple square room - around 5m square - and it's resting on a solid oak AV unit so don't think there's any resonance issues.

It's good, don't get me wrong, but I think I was just expecting better (or perhaps, just too much). I'm coming from a fairly simple Pioneer VSX1020 AV amp and 602s B&W speakers, so not exactly a HiFi nut, but the Playbar is lacking "something". Maybe it's just the Sonos sound....
Userlevel 3
Badge +9
The Playbar can only do so much given the size of it and all the speakers being bundled together. It is only a soundbar, after all. The Sub is absolutely worth it and helps create an overall better listening experience.
Userlevel 4
Badge +3
You're correct about the system reconfiguring. The sub has been measure and it goes nowhere near 25Hz. 36Hz is the lowest frequency before it starts to roll off. By around 32Hz it's game over.

Sonos doesn't publish the frequency range specification for Playbar or any of its active speaker products. So until someone measures it accurately then it's not possible to say what the bass extension of the Playbar is like with and without the sub. For most people it's "plenty enough", and that's probably all that matters.

I agree with nifoxke, it is limited by its design. Having said that, there are active and passive soundbars that better it sonically, but they have their own limitations.

The B&W speakers would be a hard act to follow. A big rich sound with good integration at the crossover point and plenty of bass too. Last time I played with a pair it was the original 601s I think. I had to move them in to free space and bung the bass port to tame some of the inroom bass response.

Playbar can't shift air in the same way and the cabinet volume is far more restricted to its going to sound very different.
Userlevel 2
Badge +2
You're correct about the system reconfiguring. The sub has been measure and it goes nowhere near 25Hz. 36Hz is the lowest frequency before it starts to roll off. By around 32Hz it's game over.

Sonos doesn't publish the frequency range specification for Playbar or any of its active speaker products. So until someone measures it accurately then it's not possible to say what the bass extension of the Playbar is like with and without the sub. For most people it's "plenty enough", and that's probably all that matters.

I agree with nifoxke, it is limited by its design. Having said that, there are active and passive soundbars that better it sonically, but they have their own limitations.

The B&W speakers would be a hard act to follow. A big rich sound with good integration at the crossover point and plenty of bass too. Last time I played with a pair it was the original 601s I think. I had to move them in to free space and bung the bass port to tame some of the in-room bass response.

Playbar can't shift air in the same way and the cabinet volume is far more restricted to its going to sound very different.


Thanks for this.

Beginning to worry now if I'll achieve the same kind of sound as my existing, albeit cumbersome AV receiver & Speakers. Guess it's apples vs oranges. I really like the convenience of the playbar, plus the simplicity of being able to stream, plus my wife can't stand the big speakers any more.

Guess I'm going to have to try and get a demo of a Sub and see if that ticks all the boxes before I decide to return the Playbar. Maybe my expectations were maybe a little high? You read all the tech and audio site reviews and the feedback from purchasers and it all sounds like perfection. Just can't help wondering how much of an improvement the sub really is.... Hmmm.

Thanks again.
Badge
Like night and day.
Badge
I felt like the system was lacking something serious until I bought the sub-woofer and finally found the right settings for it. Now I wouldn't recommend buying Sonos unless you include the sub.
Userlevel 2
Badge +2
I felt like the system was lacking something serious until I bought the sub-woofer and finally found the right settings for it. Now I wouldn't recommend buying Sonos unless you include the sub.

Interesting to hear, and guess that's how I feel, that something is just lacking :(

Well, I suppose the only thing is to give it a try. Think i'll try and get a demo in a local shop, or at least hope that Sonos do some kind of Black Friday thing or another 20% sale, as would love to buy direct and use the 100day trial thing rather than buy from a retailer (even though it's cheaper). Do want to try and get it trialed before my return window closes for the Playbar, as right now I'm bot 100% sold on it .

Thanks again.
Badge
I buy stuff at Best Buy all the time so I used all my reward points to help choke down the cost. I bought my speakers during a pre-Christmas sale last year, hopefully Best Buy and Target will do that again this year I'd like to get a Play 5. I bought my system one piece at a time. Check Best Buy occasionally for open box special pricing. They don't have Sonos pieces all the time but pretty frequently.
Userlevel 2
Badge +2
I buy stuff at Best Buy all the time so I used all my reward points to help choke down the cost. I bought my speakers during a pre-Christmas sale last year, hopefully Best Buy and Target will do that again this year I'd like to get a Play 5. I bought my system one piece at a time. Check Best Buy occasionally for open box special pricing. They don't have Sonos pieces all the time but pretty frequently.

Thanks. I'm in the UK though, so no BestBuy here. Come on Sonos, start your Black Friday sales early... I need to test this badboy out 😉
Userlevel 7
Badge +20
I find if you call Richersounds in the UK, they are the best on price.
Userlevel 3
Badge +9
You're correct about the system reconfiguring. The sub has been measure and it goes nowhere near 25Hz. 36Hz is the lowest frequency before it starts to roll off. By around 32Hz it's game over.

Sonos doesn't publish the frequency range specification for Playbar or any of its active speaker products. So until someone measures it accurately then it's not possible to say what the bass extension of the Playbar is like with and without the sub. For most people it's "plenty enough", and that's probably all that matters.

I agree with nifoxke, it is limited by its design. Having said that, there are active and passive soundbars that better it sonically, but they have their own limitations.

The B&W speakers would be a hard act to follow. A big rich sound with good integration at the crossover point and plenty of bass too. Last time I played with a pair it was the original 601s I think. I had to move them in to free space and bung the bass port to tame some of the in-room bass response.

Playbar can't shift air in the same way and the cabinet volume is far more restricted to its going to sound very different.


Thanks for this.

Beginning to worry now if I'll achieve the same kind of sound as my existing, albeit cumbersome AV receiver & Speakers. Guess it's apples vs oranges. I really like the convenience of the playbar, plus the simplicity of being able to stream, plus my wife can't stand the big speakers any more.

Guess I'm going to have to try and get a demo of a Sub and see if that ticks all the boxes before I decide to return the Playbar. Maybe my expectations were maybe a little high? You read all the tech and audio site reviews and the feedback from purchasers and it all sounds like perfection. Just can't help wondering how much of an improvement the sub really is.... Hmmm.

Thanks again.


When I set up my Sonos 5.1 system, I noticed a small difference in sound. It didn't sound quite as rich as my 3.1 setup with a conventional A/V receiver. However, with the smaller footprint of the Sonos (no center channel in front of the screen, no left and right speakers on stands that the critters try to knock over), the added ability for whole home audio, and not needing to run speaker wire to the rear for surrounds (combined with finding small enough surrounds that the wife approved of) I was able to live with the minor difference. I haven't looked back.
Userlevel 2
Badge +2
When I set up my Sonos 5.1 system, I noticed a small difference in sound. It didn't sound quite as rich as my 3.1 setup with a conventional A/V receiver. However, with the smaller footprint of the Sonos (no center channel in front of the screen, no left and right speakers on stands that the critters try to knock over), the added ability for whole home audio, and not needing to run speaker wire to the rear for surrounds (combined with finding small enough surrounds that the wife approved of) I was able to live with the minor difference. I haven't looked back.

Yes my wife certainly appreciates the no wires bit, and I may consider doing the whole 5.1 thing eventually, but good to know, thanks. Going to see what Black Friday brings in terms of Sub discounts here in the UK... fingers crossed.
Userlevel 2
Badge +2
I know I'm replying to my own thread, but....

Well, very.co.uk sent me a 20% voucher code so I splurged it on a Sub.

It arrived a couple of days ago and the very simple answer to my original question is... Wow!

Chalk and cheese.
Black and white.
Night and day.
Sub, no sub.

Amazing difference truly brings the sound alive. So glad I tried it.

Next step, a couple of Play One's to go full 5.1 next, God damn this system is addictive.

So, for anyone on the fence, just get a sub.

For Sonos, well done. Great piece of kit.

Now, can you do a BOGOF Play One deal for Black Friday please ??
Userlevel 3
Badge +9
The full 5.1 setup is nice. Our dog kept waking up out of a sleep thinking someone was in our house last night, due to the surrounds playing off to the side.