The new Sonos Playbase is an amazingly thin speaker for flat-screen TVs

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Recognizing that most TVs rest on furniture versus being
mounted on the wall, Sonos is adding a second TV speaker to its
whole-home audio lineup. The incredibly thin Playbase is
designed to sit underneath a flat-screen TV, connecting to it
via an optical cable. As with Sonos’ earlier
Playbar
, the $699 Playbase can connect wirelessly to the
company’s subwoofer and any pair of wireless speakers to form a
5.1-channel home theater audio system.

The rectangular speaker measures 28.35 inches wide and 14.17
inches deep, but is just 2.28 inches high and can support a TV
weighing up to 75 pounds. The glass-filled polycarbonate
enclosure houses six midrange drivers, three tweeters, and one
woofer, with each speaker paired to its own Class D amplifier.
As is typical of Sonos, the company did not disclose the
amplifier output, but none of its previous speakers have left
us wanting more volume.

We haven’t seen a sample yet, but Sonos’ marketing materials
make much of the number of holes in the speaker’s grill: more
than 43,000, with larger holes on the rounded corners to allow
the woofer to move more air and render the grill “acoustically
transparent.”

Sonos Playbase Sonos

The Sonos Playbase can support flat-screen TVs weighing up to
75 pounds. The new speaker will be available in both black and
white finishes.

“We have built a product that can not only handle the
complexities of home theater—delivering open and natural sound,
clear dialogue, and immersive bass that fills the room—but also
fits perfectly in any home environment,” Sonos Sound Experience
Leader Giles Martin said in a press release.

The Playbase looks very much like a
Sonos Play:5
that’s been squashed flat by a rolling pin. It
has the same logo treatment and top-panel touch controls for
volume, play/pause, and track forward/back. But the Playbase
will have the same Dialogue Enhancement and Night Mode settings
that were introduced with the company’s
Playbar soundbar
. The Playbase will also support Sonos’
Trueplay room-correction technology that can automatically
fine-tune a Sonos speaker to get the best performance possible
from whatever room the speaker is operating in.

The Playbase will support Dolby Digital surround sound, but not
DTS. Both codecs are found in DVD discs, but Dolby dominates in
the video-streaming market. Sonos is also not supporting the
higher-resolution Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio encoding
present on Blu-ray and Blu-ray HD discs–it can’t, because
those soundtracks require the bandwidth that an HDMI connection
provides.

Sonos Playbase home theater black Sonos

The Playbase can be combined with the Sonos Sub and satellite
speakers to form a wireless 5.1-channel home theater system.

Why this matters: Sonos is the 800 pound
gorilla in the whole-home audio market, so any new product it
launches is of great interest. But it’s not the first company
to pack a sound bar into a box that can support the weight of a
TV. Tom Hannaher’s Zevox has been offering systems
like this for years. Other competitors are coming on strong,
too, with powerhouse brands ranging from
Yamaha (MusicCast)
to
DTS (Play-Fi)
, and
Denon (Heos)
muscling in on Sonos’ networked-audio turf, in
some cases with products that offer features Sonos doesn’t,
such as support for high-resolution audio.

Sonos tells us its new Playbase will be available worldwide on
April 4, and that we should get a review unit shortly before
then. We’ll have a full hands-on review as soon as we can get
our hands on one. Current Sonos customers who don’t want to
wait for the reviews can preorder the Playbase at Sonos.com now.

This story, “The new Sonos Playbase is an amazingly thin
speaker for flat-screen TVs” was originally published by
TechHive.

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