Sonos Sub review
When it comes to multiroom music streaming, few systems are as elegant or as easy to use as Sonos. Now, the company has added a dedicated subwoofer to its range, designed to complement its Play:3 and Play:5 powered speakers, or partner with its digital amplifier, the Connect:AMP.
Unlike most subwoofers, the Sonos Sub isn’t a giant featureless cube. Instead, Sonos has worked its design magic to make for a subwoofer that’s highly compact. Indeed, where most subwoofers employ huge bass drivers to produce the subsonic frequencies you’d expect, Sonos has partnered two smaller, oval drivers in a push-pull configuration. This allows the two drivers to shift as much air as a considerably larger driver, while taking up less room.
Covered in an elegant gloss black, the 16kg Sub feels reassuringly weighty and solid. The good looks and solid build are matched with pleasing versatility too. It can be positioned standing on its side and pushed up against a wall, or laid flat and shoved under a table or sofa. As the unit measures only 16cm deep, the Sonos Sub is unusually easy to stash away out of sight.
The installation process is a picture of elegance. Cue up the Sonos client software, which runs on PCs, Macs, Sonos’ Control handset or any iOS and Android device, and all that’s required is to press a button on the subwoofer’s flank to add a new device to the room in question. That done, a setup routine instructs you to sit in your usual listening position and listen to a looped bassline to optimise the subwoofer’s volume level and phase settings.
Working alongside a single Play:3, the Sonos Sub makes a huge difference to the sound quality. Basslines suddenly stretch right down to chest-shaking frequencies, with the Sub transforming the crisp, punchy performance of the Play:3 into a far more visceral experience. Crank up the volume with riotous dance music and the Sub is in its element, the internal digital amplifiers pushing up to anti-social party volumes with no sign of strain whatsoever.
Shift to more delicate musical strains, and the Sub still does its bit to add scale and depth to recordings. Busy orchestral pieces grow considerably in stature, and even lighter acoustic works seem to benefit from the more solid underpinning emanating from the Sonos’s novel twin driver array.
If there’s a sole sticking point for the Sonos, though, it’s the price. If absolute sound quality is the goal, then it’s possible to buy much larger and more capable subwoofers for less than the Sonos Sub. Opt for Sonos’ Connect:AMP, for example, and the unit’s built-in digital amplifiers make it possible to pair passive hi-fi speakers with any subwoofer capable of handling speaker-level inputs.
The allure of the whole Sonos system, however, is simplicity, and it’s here that the Sonos Sub retains its appeal. If you can’t be bothered with the faff of setting up a discrete subwoofer, and need a compact, décor-friendly, plug-and-play alternative, the Sonos Sub will prove the perfect choice.