PLAYBASE Bass Response Underwhelming


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I've had my PLAYBASE for a couple days now and I like it, but I really expected more on the low end with this new S-curved sub design in the unit. Everything is crisp and clear and the stereo separation is impressive but the bass is totally lacking. I would compare it to my PLAY:1s (I don't own a 5) and the 1s might even outshine it in the bass category.

I was really hoping for more after hearing all the work they did in making sure it was good for both movies and for listening to music, which left me expecting a bigger sound.

I'm not in the financial position to add a SUB, so I'm curious to hear what others think. Is there an off-chance I got a faulty unit?

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28 replies

I think you need to pair it with the sub to get the bass... I had the same response when I bought the bar before pairing it with the sub.
Have you tried turning the bass setting up higher in the controller app? This may help.
Or try running a Trueplay session on it.

Don't have a Playbase, nor have I seen on in person yet, so I don't know how much "bass" you would hear in comparison to a Playbar.
That is disappointing; so it would appear that the base isn't the all in one solution some have claimed for it. If it doesn't do music any better than the play bar, with/without Sub on an apples to apples comparison, the only reason to buy it in preference to the bar is for installation convenience.

Trueplay does little to enhance bass, it usually goes the other way where bass is excessive or bloated to start with, but since it doesn't cost anything, it is something to certainly attempt.

For the OP, playing around with the Bass slider will at least allow you to be sure you don't have a defective unit if nothing else.
Interestingly, Engadget's review likened it to a Play:5 2nd Gen, which I find fascinating. I'm not sure that I trust the knowledge of the reviewer, though....he obviously doesn't have the same experience base as you, Kumar. :)

Guess if I'm serious about it, I need to find a store near me, and do some comparison listening. Or just buy one.
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Interestingly, Engadget's review likened it to a Play:5 2nd Gen, which I find fascinating. I'm not sure that I trust the knowledge of the reviewer, though....he obviously doesn't have the same experience base as you, Kumar. :)

Guess if I'm serious about it, I need to find a store near me, and do some comparison listening. Or just buy one.


That review is pretty subjective. I would say it's comparable to a Play:1 in bass response but fills the room more than a Play:1. Obviously you'll need to decide for yourself if it's comparable or not.

Someone needs to do a YouTube A/B test.
Interestingly, Engadget's review likened it to a Play:5 2nd Gen, which I find fascinating. I'm not sure that I trust the knowledge of the reviewer, though....he obviously doesn't have the same experience base as you, Kumar. :)

Never enough, and in this case, I have zero experience of bar or base. Engadget says this though " I'll say it sounds nearly as good as a single Play:5 speaker, and it absolutely smokes the smaller Play:1 I have in my living room when it comes to clarity and volume." But there isn't any mention in the review of how the base compares to the bar, although the comment raises expectations.

Reviews are subjective of course, and it would be nice to have a set up, even with the Sub added, that works well for music and movies, that is also discreet. I don't know if the base pulls off that trick better than the bar.
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Nearly as good as a single play 5 for music, is not good enough for me.

I dont want two sets of speakers cluttering up my living room; one for tv and one for music. I value music over tv sound. The speakers in the thin TV's, means you really need something for the TV.

Can't we just have a second version of the play 5 available with optical in. I would be crazy enough the pay a sound bar/base price for it! 🙂
Received my Playbase today and it's already back in the box. I live in a small Philadelphia row home and was really hoping to be able to have 1 solution for my music/tv needs in our living room area. I will say, for film/tv, it sounded better than any other soundbar/base I've ever experienced, but for music, it was far and way from what the play 5 offers—not just in bass, but everything feels a little muddled and weak. It's louder than a single play:1, but to my ears never feels as crisp or punchy as one. Can't hold a candle to a pair of Play:1s (sans sub).

I will say, stereo separation is better than a single Play 5 because of the wider body.

My Plan is to reorder the Play:5 I returned...sigh...to get the Playbase and eventually purchase a cheap Vizio soundbar/sub combo for tv. If you want something that is great for movies and good for music I wouldn't hesitate, but if you want something close to audiophile quality with convenience just get a 5 or a pair of 1s with a sub.
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But the Playbase is primarily a TV surround sound solution just as two play 1s and a Subwoofer sound great, it's what i have, but it is not a solution for watching movies. Given the physical constraints of the Playbase (s port included) I'd be very surprised if it were to produce base anywhere near the Subwoofer. It should be the equal of the Playbar with a tad more bass.
Perhaps a better approach may have been to use a very small dedicated hub that could plug into the TV like a Chromecast, that broadcast audio to a pair of play I/3 style speakers to be placed to the left and right of the TV, on stands or wall mounted, with the Sub as an optional extra. With some DSP to allow the dialogue to seem to emanate from the TV. In this, it would not then matter if the TV was wall mounted or not.

This would also lend itself to be a great sound system for music as well.
re:bockersjv If it was just the bass, I would agree, but I felt the midrange and highs sounded flat when compared to the 5. Maybe adding a sub would sharpen up the highs and mids too, but a complete 180 seems doubtful.

re:Kumar I have 3 Play:1s around my house so I want anything I play music out of to be a Sonos. If I start using a Connect to hook up other speakers, that adds wires and complexity which goes against why I like the sonos system so much.
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After all of 2 days... I find the bass from the PLAYBASE to be respectable for low to mid volume TV listening levels especially after exploring the LOUDNESS and BASS adjustments. All of this is specific to my room size, acoustic materials, placement, and content of course. For more discriminative music listening or to be sufficienlty engulfed during louder TV viewing I found the SUB necessary. Trueplay helped with balance but tends to tame the BASS and also leaves spoken TV audio sounding flat and somewhat overly processed for my taste. The integration with SONOS and small foot print are what I was after most and the PLAYBASE delivers splendidly on both fronts. I just have to get rid of the rattle in my plastic two part TV stand.
After all of 2 days... I find the bass from the PLAYBASE to be respectable for low to mid volume TV listening levels especially after exploring the LOUDNESS and BASS adjustments. All of this is specific to my room size, acoustic materials, placement, and content of course. For more discriminative music listening or to be sufficienlty engulfed during louder TV viewing I found the SUB necessary. Trueplay helped with balance but tends to tame the BASS and also leaves spoken TV audio sounding flat and somewhat overly processed for my taste. The integration with SONOS and small foot print are what I was after most and the PLAYBASE delivers splendidly on both fronts. I just have to get rid of the rattle in my plastic two part TV stand.

Sounds like you have the sub. How did it help the overall soundscape (I'm thinking midrange: vocals, jazz trumpet, etc.) for music tracks? What other Sonos speakers do you have? I'd be curious to see if it gets it to Play5 territory.
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When listening to music discriminatively I sit with a pair of Infinity Compositions driven by a Yamaha 3090A and a ZP80 - that’s my frame of reference. Everything else in my world is SONOS amplified for casual listening and now TV viewing. I have a paired set of PLAY:5’s in my bedroom and they don’t come close to the depth and richness that SUB brings to the PLAYBASE as a combination - (physics of size I suppose). To answer your question the SUB dramatically fills out much more than the lowest frequencies making for a more satisfying “fuller” range experience. Comparisons are complicated because I suspect that SONOS reprograms the freq outputs of all the speakers in a multi-player zone when SUB is switched in/out. Further, you’d generally want to recalibrate with TRUEPLAY each time you switch the SUB in/out thus making listening comparisons tough. My comment is based on instant SUB in/out comparisons with the TRUEPLAY setting disabled. I hope that answers you question.
When listening to music discriminatively I sit with a pair of Infinity Compositions driven by a Yamaha 3090A and a ZP80 - that’s my frame of reference. Everything else in my world is SONOS amplified for casual listening and now TV viewing. I have a paired set of PLAY:5’s in my bedroom and they don’t come close to the depth and richness that SUB brings to the PLAYBASE as a combination - (physics of size I suppose). To answer your question the SUB dramatically fills out much more than the lowest frequencies making for a more satisfying “fuller” range experience. Comparisons are complicated because I suspect that SONOS reprograms the freq outputs of all the speakers in a multi-player zone when SUB is switched in/out. Further, you’d generally want to recalibrate with TRUEPLAY each time you switch the SUB in/out thus making listening comparisons tough. My comment is based on instant SUB in/out comparisons with the TRUEPLAY setting disabled. I hope that answers you question.

Thanks for the long reply. I'm assuming this is a pair of Gen 2 Play:5s. If the sub upgrade is that dramatic, maybe I just need to save my pennies and pick one up in the future—and keep the Playbase. Thanks, again!
When listening to music discriminatively I sit with a pair of Infinity Compositions driven by a Yamaha 3090A and a ZP80 - that’s my frame of reference. Everything else in my world is SONOS amplified for casual listening and now TV viewing. I have a paired set of PLAY:5’s in my bedroom and they don’t come close to the depth and richness that SUB brings to the PLAYBASE as a combination - (physics of size I suppose). To answer your question the SUB dramatically fills out much more than the lowest frequencies making for a more satisfying “fuller” range experience. Comparisons are complicated because I suspect that SONOS reprograms the freq outputs of all the speakers in a multi-player zone when SUB is switched in/out. Further, you’d generally want to recalibrate with TRUEPLAY each time you switch the SUB in/out thus making listening comparisons tough. My comment is based on instant SUB in/out comparisons with the TRUEPLAY setting disabled. I hope that answers you question.

Thanks for the long reply. I'm assuming this is a pair of Gen 2 Play:5s. If the sub upgrade is that dramatic, maybe I just need to save my pennies and pick one up in the future—and keep the Playbase. Thanks, again!


yes, I would like to know this as well...debating between adding 2 play1s or a sub to my playbase
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yes, I would like to know this as well...debating between adding 2 play1s or a sub to my playbase


I assume you mean you are debating between spending coin on a SUB for your new PLAYBASE or spending on a pair of PLAY:1's for another zone. Not to sound cocky but PLAY1's IMO are worthy of surround satellites - end of story. I prefer a single PLAY:5 to a pair of PLAY:1's any day. If your decision is between adding SUB or PLAY:1's to your PLAYBASE then there is no question - get the SUB. Does the PB+SUB zone outshine a zoned pair of PLAY:1's - most certainly as I feel it even outshines a pair of gen-1 PLAY:5's.

I have the new PLAYBASE, SUB, and a pair of PLAY:1's for surround all joined in a single zone. If I were to throw out a speaker(s) from this TV zone it would be the PLAY:1's without question. And I would never be very happy with a standalone pair of 1's or 3's. Would I keep the PB+SUB over the paired GEN 5's - YES especially if a TV is involved!
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Have you tried trueplay tuning?

I felt the same until I ran trueplay and for what it is I'd say the bass is actually fairly good.

Better, IMO, than the the Playbar's bass response.

To say it's similar to a Play:1 is terms of bass response is questionable. It could be that you have some severe phase cancellations in your room that are causing it to lose all perceived bass.

Try repositioning it, for the sake of experimentation, to see if getting different reflections in the room helps at all. Trueplay will help but won't solve every room problem.

I was actually really impressed by the stereo image from a base that is just over two feet wide.

For my uses I'm very pleased with what I got.
Interestingly, Engadget's review likened it to a Play:5 2nd Gen, which I find fascinating. I'm not sure that I trust the knowledge of the reviewer, though....he obviously doesn't have the same experience base as you, Kumar. :)

Guess if I'm serious about it, I need to find a store near me, and do some comparison listening. Or just buy one.


Plus they are looking for ad money from Sonos so there are very few reviews you can trust.
Unbelievably The Verge reviewed it without even doing Trueplay tuning. Shoddy.
I stopped by a Best Buy at lunch, with the hope of comparing the Playbar and Playbase side by side. While they were both displayed, I could only "hear" the Playbase. Seemed like it had pretty good bass, all things considered, but nothing like having a true Sub connected....but given the size of the speaker, I was fairly impressed. It will never have the same punch as a full sized sub, but I'd think for a large portion of Sonos' market (think non-audiophiles), it would be more than sufficient.
Have just tried the Playbase an installed it with Trueplay, but unfortunatly im not satisfied. The tweeter is to electric and sounds just to tweeety, . The bass is maybe Ok for its size but something in the soundspectrum doesn't come out with the feeling of wholeness. I will send it back and keep my Audiovectors..
I totally agree that there's something overly shrill about the tweeters—I hope this can be fixed in a future software update. Based on the form factor you'd think the mid drivers would be compromised, but it's the most competent range in the pbase.

After some experimenting, I actually like the sound (for music) I am getting out of a 5.0 "full" setup with my p1s in the back. Living in a rowhouse, it's nice to be immersed in music without having to really crank it. I'm going to get a dedicated pair of p1 rears and will exchange the pbase for a playbar.
Curious. Anyone else having loudness issues? Does it have to do with my tv? The play bass sounds good. Just added some 1s. Will get the sub soon too. Just wondering if it gets louder. Seems like up to 50% can barely hear anything. I'm new to this surround sound stuff! Thank you!
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Could someone paste here a frequency response test from the playbase? How does the playbase compares with the playbar in general sound quality? Not just bass.