Over the last decade or so, our lounge rooms have transformed. TVs, which were once seen as a piece of furniture relegated to a corner, are now front and centre. No longer do we watch a show – we now engage in home entertainment whether that’s a game, movie streamed, on demand, or the latest high-definition Blu-ray blockbuster.
However, while TVs have become larger, the accompanying sound system has become larger and more unwieldy.
For a while, we were installing speakers into ceilings, onto stands and on our walls. But hiding all those cables is a challenge. Sound bars looked like the answer but, in my experience, they aren’t perfect.
Most are designed to be wall mounted so we end up resting them in front of the TV. In my case, the sound bar is on the floor as it otherwise blocks my remote control’s access to the IR sensor on the TV.
Sonos has looked at those problems and devised an ingenious solution. Before I get into the details of the all-new PLAYBASE (the official name is capitalised so I’m not getting shouty, I’m just calling the PLAYBASE by its proper name) I must be upfront. I’m a Sonos fan. I’ve been running a pair of the first generation PLAY:5 for several years and they are my favourite speakers.
The PLAYBASE is designed to sit under your TV. At just 58 millimetres high, the PLAYBASE houses ten separate speakers to push a powerful wave of sound through your lounge room from a single optical connection to your TV.
One of the challenges Sonos faced in developing the PLAYBASE was creating a speaker system that delivered excellent sound and looked good within the form factor specifications.
This meant fitting ten speakers into a compact body, necessitating a redesign of components so they could fit into the 58mm tall chassis. And, as such a powerful speaker array can produce vibrations – I could feel the couch I was sitting on during a demonstration of the PLAYBASE shake during some heavy bass tracks – so they had to develop an all new glass-filled polycarbonate that could withstand the weight of a TV, fit the design parameters to accommodate the speakers without becoming enormous, and not shake the screen.
During a demonstration of the PLAYBASE last week, I watched clips from Wall-E, The Force Awakens and The Jungle Book, and listened to a variety of different music including heavier tunes as well as subtle vocals.
The PLAYBASE handled all those with perfect aplomb, filling the room I was in with crisp, clear sound.
Each of the speakers in the PLAYBASE is under software control with Sonos’ intelligence coming through. Even though all the speaker units are in a compact 58 x 720 x 380 millimetre body, the sound was projected so it felt like the instruments were being played in different parts of the room.
For those considering a PLAYBASE, it’s worth noting that you can connect it with a pair of Sonos speakers and the SUB to create a true 5:1 system.
Current Sonos owners can pre-order the PLAYBASE today with general availability commencing on 4 April 2017. The price is $999.