September 19, 2018

Can you Play Music From the Playbase

The Playbase is primarily designed to be used with TVs. That being said, it still handles music quite well.  So the quick answer is yes, you absolutely can play high quality music with only a Playbase.  Considering that it works with your television to create a home theater sound, it can be a nice dual usage speaker, similar to the Playbar.

For the Playbase, the unique designs mean that TVs can sit comfortably atop them, allowing them to hide in plain sight while also delivering high-quality sound performance. This puts them in the rare and hard to find category of soundbases, and while many soundbases aren’t designed for use with music, the Playbase brings with it a significant amount of versatility that’s difficult to find in the existing market. In fact, the ability to perform as both a TV speaker and a component of your sound system is one of the major selling points of the Sonos Playbase. It comes equipped with a wealth of features designed to accommodate these dual purposes.

Why the Playbase is a Good Music Hub

The thing is, the Playbase isn’t just a makeshift speaker you can use to replace a traditional alternative in a pinch. It can actually hold its own in terms of performance, and you could even argue that it works better with music than with films and TV shows. That could be because its bass isn’t quite where it needs to be to accommodate the big booming noise of action movies and because it works exceptionally well in low frequencies, more prominently represented in music than in film.  You can always augment the Playbase with the Sonos Sub.

In terms of overall quality, it beats out the other soundbars in the Sonos catalog and can generally give the majority of low- to mid-range soundbars on the market a run for their money. While its size is what allows it to fit in a more powerful subwoofer than the Playbar, With six mid-range drivers, one woofer, and three tweeters, it actually manages to pack a lot of power into a compact and smoothly designed package. Any reasonably sized room can get a rich and voluminous sound through the Playbase alone. The footprint on it is tiny, and while it’s a pretty pricey solo speaker at about $700, it’s a whole lot less expensive than putting together a complete and traditional surround system. There’s no need to worry about attaching amps or sub-amps either, because it’s powered entirely by its internal mechanics.

The Playbase’s Internal Features are Built For Music

There’s no doubt that the Playbase is a device built for use with your TV. Its whole aesthetic design is built to sit underneath your TV without drawing attention to itself, and sound quality when plugged to a television is far superior to most speaker systems that come built in. But it’s not just the Playbase’s hardware that make it such an exceptional and high performance sound machine.

Just like all of the products made by Sonos, it offers native compatibility with a wide range of different streaming services. These range in the dozens and are always growing. You can easily link it up with major services like Google Play Music and Napster, more specialized and boutique music services like Stingray Music and CBC Music, and radio streaming services like Pandora and Radio Disney. Since Playbase hooks up naturally to your WiFi network, practically any music you want to listen to can be streamed directly from your computer or mobile device directly to the speaker, and you don’t even have to worry about complex configurations to get it set up. In short, while the Playbase may be marketed as an accompaniment to your TV, you get a living stereo system directly tuned with it.

If you’re looking to play music you have stored locally, you can also pull music from servers and hard drives and stream them through the soundbase itself. It serves as a hub, so there’s no demand for any additional devices. Unlike the more modern Sonos Beam, Alexa speakers aren’t built in, but you can still make voice functionality work with just a little effort. That’s because the Playbase is built ready to coordinate with an existing Amazon Echo or Echo Dot.

Don’t Choose Playbase for Music Only

If you only want to play music, the Sonos Playbase isn’t the speaker for you.  The Playbase is meant to hook up to your television, to provide a home theater experience.  If you are only interested in music, and you want a high quality speaker, you should choose the Play:5.  The reason that you shouldn’t consider it for music alone is that you will get a bulkier speaker, and you will pay a premium price for it.

As a soundbase, a lot of money and technology goes into making a speaker with a small rectangular design sound good.  If you are playing music, unless you love the design, you don’t need to pay for this feature.  Get a traditional box shaped speaker.  It will have a higher quality sound for a lower price when it comes to pure musical acoustic quality.

How to Improve the Music Quality of Your Playbase

The Sonos Playbase is probably enough to get the sound quality you deserve out of any modestly sized room. But that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. It doesn’t come with surround sound built in; and while it’s a pretty powerful speaker, particularly for its size, it’s not really equipped to serve as the main component of a home theater setup. Fortunately, there are some very easy workarounds you can take advantage of to get the sound you deserve regardless of the size or nature of your room.

One advantage comes from the fact that the Playbase is a part of the Sonos ecosystem. All of the speakers available through Sonos are able to link together wirelessly over WiFi and communicate seamlessly with one another. That means that you can set up any number of different speakers to create a more expansive and full bodied sound. Particularly of import are the Sonos amps. Hooking the Playbase up to an amp directly can cover up one of the main flaws of the Playbase: the less than ideal bass quality. And while an amp can give a little more richness when applied directly to the Playbase, you can also make it a component of a large system. Combined with a couple of Sonos One speakers, you can create an authentic 5.1 surround sound experience.

And while the Playbase naturally works well within the larger product ecosystem, you can also incorporate existing traditional speakers into the lineup. A Sonos Connect and Sonos Connect:Amp allow you to sync wired speakers into the wireless system. That’s what’s great about the Playbase. It’s a strong base for playing music, but it’s also wholly modular and can be expanded significantly to turn it into the cornerstone of a high-end and modular system.

The Verdict

You certainly can play music from the Playbase.  While if music is all you wish to play, you probably shouldn’t choose the Playbase because it is meant to hook up to a television set, it handles the job of playing crisp, high quality notes very admirably.