SOL becomes Playbase

by Volker Weber


When I visited Sonos in 2015, there was a challenge. Sonos wanted to show me everything, including the labs, but they could not possibly shut down the labs just for one visitor. So I made a simple promise: whatever I see in the labs stays in the labs. I wasn't going to talk about it, until the product was released. And if it wasn't released, I would keep my secrets indefinitely. Sonos develops many prototypes that never see the light of day.


Sonos also develops their own custom drivers, components and of course the body of the speaker itself. For the second generation Play:5 they developed new ways to manufacture some of the components. The grille for instance has tens of thousand of holes that are drilled.


After I agreed to keeping everything secret, my tour guides began teasing me with parts, designs, products. And the first thing that showed up everywhere was SOL. It had a weird form, and they asked me what this could possibly be.


Well, Sonos makes connected speakers, and this looked like a very big and thin slab. Put it on the wall? Nah. Make big stacks of it? Too expensive. Put something on top? Yes. That was it. This was going to be a speaker that you can put underneath something. And that thing turned out to be the TV.


Playbar poses a challenge to my setup. It sits in front of the TV because I don't wall mount it. I like to have it on a shelf. And then Playbar obstructs some of the screen so that I had to raise the TV with a board. This is what Playbase changes. You just place the TV on top.

But there is something else. Playbase is very flat, but it's also much bigger than a Playbar and it has enough space for a substantial woofer. And that means it can provide deeper sound than Playbar. And with that, it becomes your sole living room speaker. Same wide soundstage in stereo, 3.0 TV sound with left, center and right.


I haven't heard Playbase yet, but I know lots of people that have. Play:5 has six drivers. Playbase has ten. This thing will rock. With or without a SUB and back channels.

Playbase will be available in black or white from April 4th for the same price as Playbar. The choice is simple: Playbar on the wall, Playbase on the shelf. If you don't want to get SUB, start thinking about Playbase. There is no other big difference. No microphones, same ports. Sonos is going into voice via Alexa devices and that is a software update for all speakers. I still have no idea what they will do with the microphones in Play:5.


Well, since you can apparently build your own alexa endpoint e.g. With the raspberry pi, the Sonos mic could in time become an Alexa endpoint.

Frank Quednau , 2017-03-07

Does that thing come in different sizes? The TV in your picture has a middle stand, but unfortunately lots of current models don't. They have little feet on either side, so the Playbase needs to be nearly as wide as the TV itself. And my guess would be that the typical Sonos customer might be able to afford 65 inch, if not 75 inch.
Hmm. Or is it just another form factor to choose from and the Playbar is going to stay?

Thomas Gamradt, 2017-03-07

Yes, both Playbar and Playbase will be available.

Volker Weber, 2017-03-07

OK, answering my own question: 720mm wide and 58mm high. That should easily fit between the two stands of larger TVs and might be flat enough. But good to know that both options will stay.

Thomas Gamradt, 2017-03-07

That's so so mean! What do I do with the Playbar and the Sub...wait, wasn't there this idea of building a movie theater in the cellar....Boom, there you go! I LOVE SONOS!

Matthias Lorz, 2017-03-07

You Sonos installation is complete, when you have no spare power outlets.

Volker Weber, 2017-03-07

This might be the right solution to get two Play:5 from the living room set up somewhere else. Thanks for the heads up.

BTW, the same (addiction) seems to be the case with ubiquiti UniFi components 😇 I tend to think of them as the "Sonos of networking components". But then that is only me, maybe 😊

Hubert Stettner, 2017-03-07

@vowe: I have 32 wall power outlets in my lounge alone. I really can't afford that much Sonos! 😮

John Keys, 2017-03-07

Uh oh. We’ve been talking about getting a soundbar for the TV for ages (it really needs one), but the separate woofer + spindly wee bar always put me off. Now this…

Uh oh.

Ben Poole, 2017-03-07

John, that was great foresight. I believe 32 Sonos components is the max. I try to keep it under 20. ;-)

Volker Weber, 2017-03-07

Best I start saving then. :-)

John Lindsay, 2017-03-07

I doubt I'll ever get one (the TV currently has a set of decent 5.1 speakers, powered by a decent amp, and also fed music by a Sonos Connect). But its release of makes me quite confident about the longevity of my Sonos setup. Sonos keeps on being innovative and that means the company's quality will always triumph over the crappy nature of most other music solutions!

Chris Lindley, 2017-03-07

Very cool.

But what the heck is SOL? Sorry if this is a dumb question.

Here are 7 power outlets occupied by SONOS so far. Incl. 1 Bridge. My 2 cents. No: missing a few hundred cents ... :)

Stephan Perthes, 2017-03-07

Third and fourth picture. It was the project name.

Volker Weber, 2017-03-07

There it is. That's the replacement for my Man Cave audio setup. Before all the audiophiles bash me, it has always been a very basic setup and that's all I need. This will work out very well. Love Sonos.

Rob McDonagh, 2017-03-07

@Hubert Oh another Unifi user. I feel with you. Started with an AP Pro and after moving into our new home another AP Pro, a Gateway and a 24 Port Switch were added. I'm also an avid Sonos user so maybe there is a connection (pun intended).

Playbase looks really promising. Not quite ready to get one but next Christmas is only 300ish days away :)

Dominik Mähl, 2017-03-07

Stupid question Volker, if the Playbase doesn't have a mic, how does Trueplay tuning work?

Ursula Schneider, 2017-03-07

@Ursula: Trueplay uses the mic that is build in your iThing (iPad, iPhone) to listen to measurement sounds played on the Sonos speakers.

Dirk Bartkowiak, 2017-03-07

Ursula, you have an app on your phone and it uses the phone's mic to judge the output of the play base from different positions in the room (using your legs and arms to move the phone there).

Mariano Kamp, 2017-03-07

I think Ursus got hit by autocorrect. :-)

Here is a little video to explain what Trueplay is and how it works:

Volker Weber, 2017-03-07

@Dominik, indeed. APs, CloudKey and the Gateway are the most important parts, IMO.

BTT, what I like about it a lot is the fact that, like Sonos, they are continuously improving their already sold products by software updates and improvements. Add in a beta program and you got me 😇

Hubert Stettner, 2017-03-08

Is there going to be a trade in program for unloved Playbars?
The WAF would Le a lot higher with a Playbase.

Thomas Holzapfel , 2017-03-08

Ich freue mich schon auf die aktualisierte Entscheidungstabelle mit Playbase.

Was ist besser? Playbar oder Playbase? (Wandhängender TV, flacher Formfaktor also nicht nötig.)

Carsten Schwarz, 2017-05-29

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