For Music Only - Play:5 or Playbase?

  • 20 May 2018
  • 8 replies

Userlevel 1
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I would very much appreciate some advice from the community regarding choosing a Sonos unit for a very specific room layout ?.

Please consider the enclosed floor plan, and bear in mind that no changes can be made to layout of the room or seating arrangement (so I will always be sititng ’off-axis’, and never usually in a sweet spot for stereo).

* I will choose between a Play:5 or a Playbase only. No sub.

* The unit will be used for music only. No TV.

* The position marked on the floor plan is the only possible location for the unit.

My question:

Which choice is likely to give the best performance for music playback - a Play:5 or a Playbase?

I understand that the Playbase for music-only might be an unorthodox choice, but aesthetically it would work great in my room.

Has anyone here any direct experience with the Playbase who can compare it directly to the Play:5?

Thanks in advance,


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8 replies

Listening to both and seeing what sounds best will trump any advice you may get, so if you can get the kit on a returnable basis, that would be best.
Userlevel 5
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I only have a Playbar os can't compare the Playbase to the 5 directly. But I do have pretty much all other Sonos kit except the Playbase and if I had to make a choice of one or the other with this specific breif, I'd go with the Play 5. For the following reasons.

1) it will give you better overall sound than the Playbase (assuming as I have read, that the Playbase is only marginally better for Bass than Play bar, at the expense of a harsher music mid an top end).
2) Playbase is old tech. It will be superseded with newer equipment this year or next seems to be the consensus and it seems that investing an additional £200 in something that you are not going to make use of the added functionality (5.1 etc) in the short to id term, makes a Playbase for you use case a bad investment regardless of comparative Sound Quality.

Are you 100% certain you only need or want 1 unit? I would have thought that 2x Play 1s would be enough to play a reasonable volume of music and whilst the Bass will not be as good, you'd also save £150 which could help expand the system at a later date. e.g. Could you plece a Sub underneath the Sideboard?

But in short, if I was spending £500 to £700 with the limitations of your "Scope" today and only faced with the two options you present. I would go for the Play 5. No brainer.

Good luck and enjoy whatever you get.
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Hi Kumar, thanks for the super-fast response! I’ll need to make my decision ’blind’ without testing in the room first I’m afraid. I need to order the furniture in advance, and the depth of the sideboard I will have made will depend on the unit I choose.
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Sonosjunkie - thanks for your thoughts. No sub possible because of neighbours below (apartment building). Two Play:1s wouldn’t work as well aesthetically in that space (I actually already have two Play:1s set up in stereo elsewhere - really great, and a Play:5 - also really great). Price is not a limiting factor regarding this decision. The choice is simply A or B with Play:5 contra Playbase 😉
Userlevel 5
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Well all down to personal choice of eyes and ears then. I'd order both from Sonos on 100 day returns and keep the one you like 🙂
I actually already have ... a Play:5 - also really great
Put in on the sideboard then and see how it sounds/looks. For music a P:5 will be superior to a PLAYBASE. Only if aesthetics are the primary concern should you consider a PLAYBASE.
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Thanks for the reply Ratty.

So to confirm/clarify my question - which would sound better for off-axis music listening, a Play:5 or Playbase, given the room layout? You say a Play:5 should sound better - this is the crux off what I’m trying to understand.

But do you make your comment from a standpoint of having listened to both (not just one or the other), or is your comment based on what you’ve read??

Thanks so much for all of the helpful replies. Very much appreciated - I want to get this room right 😉
Sound is always a matter of individual preference, room conditions, etc. However PLAY:5 was built to be the best music speaker that Sonos could manage, whereas PLAYBASE is primarily designed to reproduce TV audio from a slim form factor.

PLAY:5 when horizontal will endeavour to throw the stereo sound sideways, so as to maximise the soundstage from a single enclosure. It actually manages this illusion quite well. But you should know this as you already have one.

PLAYBASE projects sound out a bit too, but I don't think it sounds as good as P:5. P:5 is a sealed enclosure whose bass goes down deeper than PLAYBASE, despite the latter's cunning folded reflex port arrangement. Because PLAYBASE's port vents on one side, you might find that the listening experience varies depending on whether you're to the left or right of the unit. So on that basis I'd favour P:5 for off-axis listening.