If there is one line of products with which I have been totally enamored it is the Sonos system I purchased a bit over a year ago. To recall my experience with Sonos: I had long been interested in the company and their wireless audio system, but I had never actually seen or heard one in action. I reached out to the company, and they were kind enough to send a loaner system for review. I got it, opened the boxes, set up the system (it took me just a few minutes), and turned it on. I listened, then listened a bit more. I then went to my computer, opened Safari and ordered four rooms of audio from Sonos. It was, by far, the most costly review I have ever done.
Since then I have happily been a Sonos evangelist; I tell everyone who will listen how much I love the simplicity, the flexibility and the overall audio quality Sonos offers. And I have purchased more equipment from them. At the present time I have the Sonos Play:5 speakers, three Sonos Play:3 speakers, a Sonos Connect and aSonos Bridge. And it looks like I may be buying yet another Sonos component.
The just-released Sonos Sub is Sonos’ latest product. The 36 pound units is big, bold and adds an amazing amount of booming bass to your Sonos system. One arrived for review last week, and I’ve been putting it through its paces. According to the company, the Sonos SUB is, “a stunningly designed wireless subwoofer that takes the whole Sonos Wireless HiFi System one seismic step closer to the spine-curling, jaw-dropping, full body experience music was meant to be.” But at $699 it is pricey, and it doesn’t even add a room of sound to your existing Sonos system. No, it simply JOINS an existing room that is Sonos-enabled and adds bass to it. So let’s be serious. Is it worth $699 to add ” spine-curling, jaw-dropping” bass to a room’s audio system? I thought not.
Then I unboxed, the Sonos SUB, no small feat considering the thing is huge and weighs a ton, plugged it in and connected it to my existing system in the kitchen-dining room-living room loft space. (More on setup in a moment.) The existing system consisted of two Sonos Play:5 speakers each at the end of the rather large space. Each unit has five different speakers. That meant I added the Sonos SUB to a system that already contained ten different speakers and was already nothing short of impressive. I turned it on and listened for a bit. I wasn’t all that impressed. I listened some more and then walked over to it, unplugged it and continued to listen. I repeated the process three times and then sent the following email to my contact at Sonos:
So the Sub came for review. Thanks.
It is HUGE! And HEAVY! Impressive. I set it up this morning and just got back from work and started testing it.
In my head I’m writing the review and it starts something like this…
“The Sonos Sub is artfully done. It looks great and has a real presence. (That may or may not be a positive for you.) It is an interesting idea but at $699, while it certainly adds a nice layer of bass, unless you have money to burn it may not be for you. I know that, at least right now, it is too rich for my blood. As it is, the sound from my various Sonos components keeps me quite satisfied.”
THEN I unplugged the thing while the two Play:5s I’m using it kept going and… Suddenly the sound felt anemic compared to when the Sub is going. The Sub made THAT big a difference and now I’m going to have to figure out how to get one.
Damn you Sonos!!
Yes, one minute I really didn’t “get” the whole idea of adding a $700 bass to my existing system, and the next I wanted to buy one … BADLY!
The reason for this is quite simple. The Sonos SUB adds a level of depth to your existing Sonos system, and that extra bass helps create a sound that is more full, more substantial and more impactful than what can be created by the smaller speakers, even if you have a number of the small ones paired together. So let’s dig a little deeper into the Sonos SUB.
Whether you’re listening to Beethoven’s thunderous 5th or the pounding bass line of the latest four-on-the-floor obsession, the new SUB will fill any room with thick layers of bottomless sound that let you hear and feel the weight of every chord, kick, splash and roll.
Place it anywhere in a room, plug it into a power source, press a button and follow some simple prompts on your controller. The SUB wirelessly connects with your other Sonos components for an optimized, whole-room listening experience. Within minutes of taking it out of the box, you won’t just hear the difference SUB makes—you’ll feel it with every bone in your body.
Two force-canceling speakers positioned face-to-face: All the sound and energy from the music comes through loud and clear, and none of it is lost in cabinet buzz or rattle.
All digital sound: All filter settings, active equalization and time alignment are done digitally through state-of-the-art DSP (Digital Signal Processing) circuitry for zero-loss audio quality and energy.
Dual acoustic ports: Tuned to maximize the acoustic volume of the SUB and enhance bass resonance.
Powering the SUB are two state of the art Class-D digital amplifiers that have been perfectly tuned to match the speakers and acoustic architecture. The cabinet is made from proprietary resin to create acoustically dead walls with maximum internal air volume
Dimensions: 15.8 x 6.2 x 15in. (402 x 158 x 380mm)
Weight: 36.3 lbs (16kgs).
Like every component in a Sonos system, adding the Sonos SUB to your existing system is simple, taking just a few minutes. You unpack the SUB, plug it in and then launch any Sonos Controller. And when I write “any controller” I mean ANY controller. Having realized it was yet another casualty of the expanding number and power of smartphones and tablets, Sonos dropped their pricey remote a short time ago. After all, who needs to spend hundreds of dollars on a remote when your iPhone, iPad, Android handset or computer can do the job for free? Launching the controller and then making your way to the “add component” button under settings is half the setup process. The second half involves the “complex” process of pressing the button on one side of the SUB. That’s all there is to it.
The ease-of-setup is one of the biggest selling points of the Sonos system in my opinion. In fact, I brought two of my Sonos components up to the lake house last month so they would be there for the month. It took just three minutes for me to take a house that had always had little more than an iPhone dock for music and turn it into a Sonos-enabled home that will be ready for GearFest 2012 in a few weeks.
As previously noted, the value of the Sonos SUB is not immediately apparent. Sure, the glossy piano black is impressive and makes a bold statement that you will either love or hate but the actual impact on the sound isn’t immediately impactful. For me the added depth and richness of the sound only became clear when I unplugged the SUB. When I did, the rooms suddenly felt empty of sound. It felt like I had gone from being in a swimming pool and surrounded by water to being in the shower with streams of water hitting me. In other words, I went from total submersion in sound with the SUB, to listening to music without it.
All of that goes to say that the SUB is an impressive addition to any existing Sonos system. That noted, the question remains, is the added depth and bass worth $699? The answer, of course, is, “that depends”. If you love deep, bass-filled music, already have a Sonos system you are happy with, and have discretionary money then the SUB may be a good purchase. If, on the other hand, you have just one units in fairly large rooms you might be better off purchasing a few extra speakers and creating “stereo pairs” in key room. Sure, if you become a Sonos Evangelist the way I have, you are going to want to find a way to get your hands on a SUB; but before you do, it is worth maxing out your space with Sonos PLAY:5 and PLAY:5 units.
One major downside? The high gloss finish is a dust magnet like I have rarely seen. That is why I will likely wait for the matt black version that arrives this fall at a slightly lower price of $599.
And finally a word of caution: unless you are in a position to purchase the SUB, do not try it out. Like drinking fine scotch, driving a luxury car or flying first class, once you try out “the good stuff”, experiences and products that were previously more than satisfactory won’t feel that way any longer. In other words… the Sonos SUB is pretty damn awesome, and I want one!
You can learn more and order yours here in our Amazon Affiliate Store.
MSRP: $699 for high gloss; $599 for matt black (available this fall)
What I Like: Simple setup; Visually impressive; Flexible and can be laid on its side, placed vertically or even placed under a couch; Adds a HUGE amount of bass and overall depth to an existing Sonos system;
What Needs Improvement: Pricey; Requires you to already have a Sonos system in place; Large size means it will not be ideal for small spaces; A few minutes with it and your “old” Sonos system will seem “less than”