Sonos SUB ships today

by Volker Weber


I told you a bit about the Sonos SUB when it was announced. But Sonos asked me not to write a full review and keep my experience under wraps until today. What is my experience? I have been using the sub for about half a year while it was still in development. I have seen the software progress, I have even seen a small hardware revision I am not going to disclose.

Let's go back to 2011 when the SUB arrived here at vowe's magic flying circus. It was a huge box, and I had no idea what was inside. I opened it and out comes this shiny device. Well, it did not exactly come out. I had to wrestle it from the box. It's quite heavy, but you just put your hand into the opening and lift it up. It's almost featureless. Just a small button on the left side you need to add the device to your household and that's it. Underneath there are an Ethernet and a power port.

What a stunner. Subs are usually boxy things to hide behind the sofa. Not this one. It wants to be seen. It knows it's pretty. And shiny. You don't immediately know what it is. If you do have to hide it, you can lay it on its back and push it under the sofa. But I dare you to do that.

Here is what I did. Plug in the power cord, tell the Sonos controller to add a new component. The controller asks me to push the button on the speaker and then asks to which room (a.k.a. zone) I want to associate it. It then plays a very deep bass line in two configurations and asks me which was louder. And that was it. I added the speaker to a room with a PLAY:5 stereo pair, and the software did all the rest.

It's very difficult to describe what happened next. A pair of PLAY:5 is a quite a setup; it can blow the paint off the wall. But when I played this track, I could feel (!) the bass line.

You know this feeling when you go into a club, where the music is blasting at 110 db. They don't have great speakers. They have loud speakers. And speakers which can produce a very deep bass. Since I have been spinning records for 10 years, I know this feeling very well. I also have a pair of floor standing Braun speakers as well as a bad ass Yamaha sub. But nothing was producing this punch. It was quite a revelation.

Over the next couple of month, the beast was tamed. You can now adjust not only to your speaker size when connected to CONNECT:AMP (ZP100 or ZP120), but you can also set the sub level to your liking.

When you tell Sonos the size of your speakers, it is adjusting the crossover frequency. Everything above that frequency goes to the speakers, everything below goes to the sub. It all happens in software, there is no physical crossover.

Today the black SUB is associated to the ZP120 in my living room which drives the Braun speakers. And when I switch on the TV, it sends audio over analog to the player, which sees the line-in signal coming in and starts to play that. I don't own a surround system, and now I have a 2+1 with earth shaking sound. I honestly don't know what Sonos is coming up with next, but it seems quite obvious to me, that they now have most of the components you need for a cinema experience. The only missing piece is a digital in for surround and quite a bit of software to make this an experience way beyond what you would typically buy today. Remember, there are no wires beyond power. The sub talks to the associated players via SonosNet.

I find the SUB quite pricey at 699. There will be a somewhat cheaper matte version in October, if you are strapped for cash. But try to take this thing away from me. Over. My. Dead. Body.

As always, when Sonos ramps up a new product, supplies are limited. I hear it starts shipping today. But for the next 30 to 45 days, I would expect availability to be scarse. Don't be too hard on Thomas if he cannot deliver as fast as he wants.


Revelation needed, what is an relevation?

Martin Funk, 2012-06-19 18:27

I urgently NEED a demonstration in your house!

Ingo Seifert, 2012-06-19 18:27

That should not be a problem.

Volker Weber, 2012-06-19 18:29

Volker, you are so lucky you can demonstrate the device. I have to give my demo system back tomorrow and then I've got to wait until the device will be shipped. But for sure I'll send my customers over to your site and to this great review.

Thank's for showing up yesterday. It was a pleasure!

Thomas Lang, 2012-06-20 09:07

Hmm, let's see.

For a 5.1 setup, that'd be five Play:3s plus one Sub plus one mystery-hdmi-connector-box. You end up with a minimum price tag of 2200€ for the speakers plus mystery box. Or 100€ more per channel if you replace a Play:3 with a Play:5. And you need to buy wall brackets for the speakers.

The setup isn't exactly wireless, you still need a power cable to each speaker. But that's easy.

Based on other people's reports about the ZPs standby power consumption, the 5.1 setup most likely consumes a minimum of 30-50 Watts, 24/7. That's a lot.

A comparable traditional 5.1 setup is far cheaper, a lot more painful to wire, consumes less power and most likely looks less elegant.

Hanno Zulla, 2012-06-20 10:40

Well, we will see to that when it happens.

Volker Weber, 2012-06-20 10:41

My Sonos Sub arrived today precisely as Sonos promised for people who ordered early. This company does understand and masters customer satisfaction.

My set up is the 120 with 2 bookshelf speakers, now "complemented" with the sub ...

As you described the setup is quite easy through which you balance the sound between the different speakers .. next you pull the trigger :-). I love it and its worth every euro

Peter de Haas, 2012-06-20 22:40

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Ceci n'est pas un blog is a personal website published by Volker Weber a.k.a. vowe. I am an author, consultant and systems architect based in Darmstadt, Germany.

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