Beam vs Playbar/Playbase - My Opinion

  • 24 October 2018
  • 16 replies

Userlevel 7

There are a lot of threads asking the question_”Beam vs Playbar/Playbase which should I get?” We all know that the Beam offers more features (i.e. HDMI_ARC, Alexa and AirPlay2). The biggy is sound; IMO primarily vocals/speech, as to how will it fairs in a room of X-Size. The obvious answer is given by Sonos:

I’m going to offer my opinion and feel free to agree or disagree because as I said it’s my opinion. Having both a Playbar and Beam I’ll say this...

Out of the Box they win hands down versus the Beam; as room size is a non-issue (to a point). More speakers (given Sonos engineers drive for perfection) equate to better music reproduction. Vocals and speech are handled well without augmentation.

The Beam
Music wise it’s better than a Sonos One or Play 1 as stand-alone’s and I dare say the discontinued Play 3. I wonder if there's a replacement in the works for the Play 3. :? Using those same speakers in stereo pairs the Beam falls short. Vocals and speech IMO the Beam sounds better with a sub (augmentation) to handle the low-end in an open space like a Family Room/Kitchen combo. In a bedroom; or slightly larger space with 4 walls, the Beam will do just fine without the sub.

FYI, I have a Beam is an area that is 580 square feet with 18 to 20 ft., ceilings (Family Room/Kitchen combo). Before adding the sub vocals/speech were all over the place; even after using TruePlay. Once I added the sub vocals/speech became lazer focused to the seating area (after TruePlay). It goes without saying that music sounds better also. Just in case you're wondering I have a media room where I mainly watch TV and listen to music. It requires a password to enter:)

So there you have it…my opinion as a Sonos fan! I can’t wait to get my hands on the Sonos AMP. :8


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16 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +20
Hi, AjTrek1. This is an oft asked question. Opinions are subjective (naturally) but I agree with your assessments here. I will definitely be linking users to this thread when I see this question raised henceforth, seems a popular one of late. Thanks for the great content.
Userlevel 4
Badge +8
Sonos should be embarrassed to still be selling the Playbar. It's ridiculously outdated in so many ways. They need a large and small size Beam. I assume they are working on the but what is taking so long?
I'm liking my beam, sub, sonos one combo but will be getting the AMP so I have real stereo separation upfront and more flexibility in general.
Userlevel 7
Ordered the Sonos Amp also!. Should get it December 7th. Can’t wait ?
Userlevel 4
Badge +8
What are your plans for it?
I got some of the Elacs that were on black friday sale for $150 to use initially but will decided on some tower speakers after that.
Plus the Sonos sub and sonos one rears.
Userlevel 7
I'll be using it for pure stereo with a set of "old school" Definitive Technology Bi-Polar BP 20's with black lacquer finish and matching "end table size" Powerfield 1500 sub; also with lacquer finish, adjustable crossover, phase control and level adjustment. Cables used will be Sewell Silverback 12 AWG 259 Strand Speaker Wire with Banana Plugs x 2 and Sewell Direct SW-30455-10 Silverback Subwoofer Cable - Gold Plated, Double Shielded x 1. Will probably replace my B&O turntable for one with a built-in pre-amp.
Userlevel 4
Badge +8
Whoa very nice.
I was going to buy a different sub but got the Sonos because it was on sale and I had a lot of credits on Amazon through a work rewards program so got the Sonos Sub for $127 🙂
Userlevel 7
Hey... I can always use another sub. Got any credits left :8 LOL
Userlevel 4
Badge +8
Nope :-)
It's from a work rewards program where you get points when you get recognized for doing a good job or whatever. There is a big catalog of things to choose from. I had 30,000 points and I knew the sub sale was coming out so traded in the points for amazon credits and waited a couple weeks for the sale
The sub makes a huge difference in home theater and much more in music than I would have expected. You see all the rave reviews for it and now I see why.
Even so they should have a smaller cheaper sub for Beam owners or people who don't have a very big room.
Speaking of that I got the Beam for $319 no tax and free shipping from AAFES over veterans day and two sonos ones for $149 each from the same place.
So got the whole thing for $744.
These are the Kefs I'm thinking of.
Userlevel 7
You should change your on-line name to: TheDealMan 🆒 Those Kef's should get you thrown out of the neighborhood. Very nice! 🙂
Userlevel 4
Badge +8
Thanks, they are probably overkill for the size of the room and they are the smallest Kef makes but I just like tower speakers.
Plus they are matte black like the Amp 😉
I currently have the Playbase + Sub in my 12'x16' living room and am very happy with the sound. My only issue is that the legs on my 42" TV are wider than the Playbase so it looks a bit dumb. I'm considering replacing my Playbase with a Beam because of its smaller package. Despite losing a few drivers in the Beam, I'm thinking audio quality loss would be minimal since my Sub handles the low end so well and the room is not that large. Is this a dumb idea?
Userlevel 7

You will loose some of the wideness of soundstage afforded by the Playbase vs the Beam. However the Beam will be a bit more focused toward the seating area. So with that said it comes down to a personal listening experience and what you are accustomed to. My advice is two fold:

Buy from a seller with a liberal return policy and try the Beam for a few days especially with movies you have already viewed with the Playbase.

Use TruePlay to tune the Beam to your environment using a iOS device. If you don’t own an iOS device...borrow one.

I hope this helps. Cheers!
Yeah, I think I'll grab a Beam today while it's $50 off and compare. has a 45 day guarantee. Thanks!
Userlevel 4
Badge +8
My .02 cents is it also depends on the size of the room.
Plus the Playbar is so antiquated.
Sonos needs to get a larger size Beam on the market.
Plus a smaller size sub :-)
While I'm at it eliminate the Playbase and add mics to the Play 5.
2 sizes of soundbars and subs and update the Play 5.
Not sure they need to replace the Play 3.
I received my Beam today. The verdict: The Playbase is hands-down a much better speaker.

I'm not totally surprised since the hardware specs between the two are clear. Both have a very clear and strong presence, but the Playbase has a much fuller and wider sound when watching something with a surround soundtrack. Adding a Sub to either speaker will give you tremendous bass. However, I didn't test the Beam + Sub because by the time I had heard the Beam by itself, my choice was already made.

One feature that the Beam wins over the Playbase is the HDMI ARC connection. It works much better with my TV than the simple optical connection of the Playbase. My Samsung TV feels 100% integrated with the Beam's volume. With the Playbase + optical, there is zero visual feedback except for the Playbase's status light pulsing.

I had no intention of ever enabling Alexa on the Beam and letting Amazon eavesdrop on my daily life, so I can't give any feedback there.

So, in my opinion the Playbase is the best TV speaker in the lineup. The Beam is good for a small or secondary TV set where a more immersive sound isn't wanted. It's also $300 cheaper of course. I'll be hoping for Sonos to release a larger Beam sometime soon that will give the same wide surround sound of the Playbase.
Badge +6
I agree with the assessment of Beam being a less-wide/full sound stage, as compared to the Playbase. But the Playbase itself is aesthetically inferior unless you have the right TV. Looks aren't everything but our Samsung 42 looked ridiculous with the Playbase, so we opted for the Beam & 2 P:1's configuration (with recently added Sub). Definitely adequate for the smallish space where it resides.