Sonos launched its wireless subwoofer - the Sonos Sub - way back in 2012. It was originally designed to fit into any room, promising to instantly boost the performance of the company's range of multi-room speakers, which back then consisted of only the Sonos Play:3 and Play:5.
Since 2012, plenty has changed in the Sonos portfolio though, not least the addition of the Playbar and Playbase to the company's home theatre line-up, which is where the Sub really comes into its own.
Arriving in a box that is big enough and heavy enough to crush a small child, setup of the Sonos Sub is frighteningly easy and it makes an excellent addition to the Sonos system despite it’s high price tag. Here's why.
Sonos Sub review: Design
- Measures 389 x 402 x 158mm, weighs 16kg
- White gloss or black gloss colour options
- Stand up or lie down
The Sonos Sub is no small bit of kit, nor is it light but it is very well-designed. Available in a black gloss finish with a white Sonos logo or a white gloss finish with a black Sonos logo, the Sonos Sub shimmers and shine as light hits it.
As with all Sonos devices, the Sub takes a minimalist approach when it comes to design. It's square box shape features a small single pairing button on the side, a rectangular hole with a trim and rounded corners in the centre and the Sonos logo on the front.
On the underside of the Sub, you'll find a hidden power port and an Ethernet cable, both of which are out of sight. There are no other imperfections disturbing the casing and its powerful sound inside.
The Sub's two speakers point inwards and are revealed only by that hole we mentioned in the centre. This means you can't block the sound, no matter how hard you try, though we aren’t sure why you would try.
It also means you can hide the Sub in the corner of the room or under your sofa, if there's enough space, or you can have the Sub standing loud and proud next to your furniture at the forefront of your living room.
Sonos Sub review: How easy is setup?
- Wi-Fi connection required
- Power socket required
- Trueplay compatible
In the past, sub-woofer setup involved having to dismantle your current speaker system, inserting the sub into the loop and then turning a couple of dials to get the right settings and the right levels to maximise your bass.
This being Sonos, the experience is vastly different and much simpler. We placed the Sub in various positions, both standing and lying flat, to see if it made a difference to the sound. It doesn't, and that's great news if you've got a funny shaped space or are keen to hide the Sub out of the way.
One element that will hinder your placement, is that the Sub needs access to power but aside from that, it's your choice where it goes. Plug it in to a power socket, open the Sonos app, head to the "More" tab in the bottom corner of the app, tap "Settings" and then "Add a Player or a SUB" and follow the simple instructions.
You'll need a Wi-Fi connection, as you do with all Sonos speakers, and you might need to use the Ethernet cable to connect the Sub to your router briefly before you move it to its final position, but the app will let you know if you need to do this.
Ultimately, setup is only a couple of minutes and very little hassle for the end result. The Sub is also compatible with Sonos Trueplay software, which allows users to tune the device in accordance with their surroundings using an iOS device. This is of course another step to the initial setup but it only takes about 30 seconds and it is well worth it.
Bear in mind that if you're setting up a Sub with a Playbar or Playbase, as well as a pair of the same Sonos speakers for a stereo pair (i.e. two Sonos One), you'll need to Trueplay the entire home cinema setup once you have set up all the devices to get the best sound.
Sonos Sub review: Performance and sound
- Two Class-D digital amplifiers
- Two force-cancelling speaker drivers (face-to-face)
- Dual acoustic ports
- Frequency response down to 25Hz
The Sonos Sub works with any Sonos speaker or amplified component, so while it is an excellent addition to the home cinema devices, making the already great Playbar and Playbase even better, it also adds deeper bass to any of the Sonos speakers on their own too.
The Sub works to increase the volume accordingly in harmony and - using the Sonos controller app - you can manage EQ levels at the press of a button as well as loudness. It's very easy to use, as Sonos fans would expect.
It's also possible to disable the Sub through "Room Settings" within the Sonos app. You'll need to head into "Advanced Audio" and "Sub Settings" once you've selected the room your Sub is in, after which you can toggle the Sub on or off and change the levels.
This will no doubt be invaluable for demoing the Sub and proving to Mrs Pocket-lint that the investment has been worthwhile. "Look you really can hear the difference," you'll be heard saying, and you genuinely can.
The Sub adds plenty of depth to your music regardless of the speakers you are using it with and it doesn't rattle or vibrate either unlike some sub-woofers. This is said to be down to the face-to-face positioning of the speaker drivers.
Our first test system consisted of two Play:3 units connected in stereo with the Sonos Sub sitting in the middle of the room. We've also used the Sub with a Sonos Connect:Amp and two small compact speakers in a large living room and we've paired the Sub up with the Playbar and Playbase on separate occasions, both times with and without two Play:1 units as a stereo pair. In all instances the Sub impressed.
It's been tested with several music tracks over the years we've had it too, including Invaders Must Die by The Prodigy and Dummy by Portishead, both of which have heavy bass elements alongside high treble or female vocals, but we've also listened to Spotify’s latest hot hits and your average TV shows.
The Sub adds the extra dimension but what's most noticeable is that the other speakers combined with the Sub are able to concentrate on the mid and high range frequencies while the Sub concentrates on the lowest frequencies, and do a better job of it as a result. It's a clever move, and one that results in some fantastic quality sound across the board.
The Sonos Sub sounds great, offering plenty of bass, and if you are happy to turn the levels up, tooth-rattling amounts of noise.
The big concern will be that your neighbours aren't going to enjoy your newfound love for sound, and it's something we would definitely suggest you should consider if you're not in a detached house in the middle of nowhere.
The Sonos Sub isn't for everyone, nor will it be necessary for everyone, but it is a device that is all about sound and it's an excellent addition to the Sonos system if you can afford it. For those intrigued enough to pay double what you would a regular sub-woofer, you won't be disappointed.
This review was originally published on 19 June 2012.