Home Theater

Sonos Playbase Could Change Everything. Or Not.

The long-suffering category of “sound bases” might get a boost from Sonos Playbase, inspiring new paradigms in loudspeakers, TV mounting, and accessories like Sanus’s Swiveling TV Base.

Sonos Playbase Could Change Everything. Or Not.
While Sonos didn't invent the long-suffering "sound base" category, the company's new Playbase could ignite the category and inspire new innovations like Sanus's Swiveling TV Base.

Julie Jacobson · March 8, 2017

Sanus, a huge manufacturer of TV mounts, is the first to come out with an accessory made specifically for the new Sonos Playbase, a squat speaker that looks more like an oversized Roku box than a loudspeaker.

Playbase is meant to sit flat on a cabinet, below the TV, where a cable box might reside.

Since the Playbase sits on a cabinet, we might assume that the TV also would sit on the cabinet, rather than being mounted on a wall above the cabinet.

For such scenarios, Sanus’s new $150 Swiveling TV Base (co-developed with Sonos) is just the ticket.

“Really Sonos? This is a product that absolutely no one asked for.” 
— Reader comment on CEPro.com

I spied the unit more than three years ago at the Sanus offices in Minneapolis. It was a sleek, unassuming thing that was being built specifically for the Playbase … although Sanus didn’t exactly say so at the time.

It’s kind of a big deal to create a height-adjustable TV mount that sits on a cabinet, swivels, and has room beneath for something like a Playbase … and doesn’t topple over when you have a 60-inch display attached to it.

Sanus’s product is a marvel of engineering -- super-strong and perfectly balanced … and counterbalanced. Plus, the mount provides cable-management accommodations for a clean installation.

At the end of the day, says Sanus marketing VP Greg Andrews, the installation makes “the TV look like it’s hovering above the Playbase.”

A New Category is Born?

In our article introducing the new Playbase, someone commented, “Really Sonos? This is a product that absolutely no one asked for.” 

But, hey, no one was asking for soundbars before that category emerged. Now soundbars are kind of a colossal thing.

“Sound bases” aren’t entirely new. They can be traced to at least 2009 when start-up Zvox launched a flat speaker with built-in amplification and on-board subwoofers.

Two years later, the company filed a Trademark for Soundbase, which was granted in 2012.

While several companies followed Zvox’s lead, the category has remained flat, so to speak.

Can Sonos succeed where others have failed? If so, the company could inspire a rash of new products to support (and compete with) the Playbase.

Surely, manufacturers would crank out TV mounts like Sanus’s. Furniture makers might built in spaces for a flat speaker, much as they have done for soundbars. New sound bases from Sonos competitors would certainly follow, and interior designers might eventually capitulate to the new design element.

Of course, the Playbase could very well fail in a product category that “absolutely no one asked for,” in which case none of these new phenomena would occur.

After all, no one has followed Sonos’s lead on Trueplay, an audio EQ platform for do-it-yourselfers. 

One the other hand, as another reader posted on our Playbase story, “Sonos is doing pretty well, seems like they’re making what people want.”

Sanus Swivel TV Base, built for Sonos Playbase


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  About the Author

Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at julie.jacobson@emeraldexpo.com

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  Article Topics


Home Theater · Mounts & Lifts · Speakers · Loudspeakers · News · Products · Sanus · Sonos · Soundbar · ZVOX · All Topics
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Comments

Posted by Rudyvalle on March 10, 2017

The idea that Sonos is going to change the market is silly. I’m an installer for over 7 Years there are only 3 real options. A true 5.1 surround system, Second a Basic 2.1 BOSE system and Third a mid level Soundbar system with wireless Sub. I have a lot of clients that love their Bose systems any type 2.1 or 5.1 and they don’t come cheap either. Sonos makes a great interface and cool streaming system but that’s all.

Posted by jhamill1 on March 9, 2017

Is anyone in the custom channel still selling Sonos? That’s so 2011. Thought most, if not all, of us had moved on to Heos and Play-Fi.

Posted by Raleigh G on March 9, 2017

No Thank You Sonos, soundbox style soundbars have not performed yet, and I don’t suspect this will either, Though the $150 price point might give it a fighting chance.

Posted by lbaltz on March 8, 2017

80% or more of the TVs we sell or install are hung on the wall. 
I don’t think Sonos believes this will be a product for the CI channel. 
Unless I missed it, the only notification of this new product came to me because I am registered as a retail user, with an offer to preorder the Playbase.  I have no notifications from Sonos or the rep as a dealer for over 10 years…

Posted by JohnConklin on March 8, 2017

Would be surprised if this is anything close to a remarkably profitable product for Sonos. Hope it sounds super awesome because aesthetically it’s surprisingly boring and just not an attractive component to have in the open. To me this doesn’t come close to truly disappearing into the environment as quoted by Sonos CEO (?) In any event this is just a soundbar; but it can’t be mounted on a wall. I read the data “70 percent of TVs are placed on furniture” but what about forward looking, needle moving products? Sonos used to be that type of company. Not to mention what are trends in wall mounting TVs? Where is that pointing? I bet the trend is upward. Slight digression but I think # of wall mounted TVs will increase as we move forward in time. Drivers for that opinion are smaller homes/rooms work better w/less furniture (eg. no space for a floor standing TV stand/shelving unit) and decreasing pricing for TVs means more TVs per person/family which is already true. Current hurdle for increasing # of wall mounted TVs is existing wall mount marketplace itself - just plain to expensive for what you get and most consumers need real value in their purchases. At some point we’ll see lower priced, easier-to-install/less invasive perhaps wall mounts with attractive solutions for cable routing (think apartments/rental units and DIYs with no/little mechanical abilities).

Posted by John Nemesh on March 8, 2017

These types of sound systems were supposed to be REALLY big a couple years ago.  They didn’t sell nearly as well as someone thought they would.  I think they will do well in RETAIL, but not in our segment of the market.  Also, the continued omission of HDMI/ARC is a head scratcher.  Many won’t buy this simply because it lacks that feature.  As for “changing everything”?  Forget it, ain’t happening.

Posted by John Nemesh on March 8, 2017

These types of sound systems were supposed to be REALLY big a couple years ago.  They didn’t sell nearly as well as someone thought they would.  I think they will do well in RETAIL, but not in our segment of the market.  Also, the continued omission of HDMI/ARC is a head scratcher.  Many won’t buy this simply because it lacks that feature.  As for “changing everything”?  Forget it, ain’t happening.

Posted by JohnConklin on March 8, 2017

Would be surprised if this is anything close to a remarkably profitable product for Sonos. Hope it sounds super awesome because aesthetically it’s surprisingly boring and just not an attractive component to have in the open. To me this doesn’t come close to truly disappearing into the environment as quoted by Sonos CEO (?) In any event this is just a soundbar; but it can’t be mounted on a wall. I read the data “70 percent of TVs are placed on furniture” but what about forward looking, needle moving products? Sonos used to be that type of company. Not to mention what are trends in wall mounting TVs? Where is that pointing? I bet the trend is upward. Slight digression but I think # of wall mounted TVs will increase as we move forward in time. Drivers for that opinion are smaller homes/rooms work better w/less furniture (eg. no space for a floor standing TV stand/shelving unit) and decreasing pricing for TVs means more TVs per person/family which is already true. Current hurdle for increasing # of wall mounted TVs is existing wall mount marketplace itself - just plain to expensive for what you get and most consumers need real value in their purchases. At some point we’ll see lower priced, easier-to-install/less invasive perhaps wall mounts with attractive solutions for cable routing (think apartments/rental units and DIYs with no/little mechanical abilities).

Posted by lbaltz on March 8, 2017

80% or more of the TVs we sell or install are hung on the wall. 
I don’t think Sonos believes this will be a product for the CI channel. 
Unless I missed it, the only notification of this new product came to me because I am registered as a retail user, with an offer to preorder the Playbase.  I have no notifications from Sonos or the rep as a dealer for over 10 years…

Posted by Raleigh G on March 9, 2017

No Thank You Sonos, soundbox style soundbars have not performed yet, and I don’t suspect this will either, Though the $150 price point might give it a fighting chance.

Posted by jhamill1 on March 9, 2017

Is anyone in the custom channel still selling Sonos? That’s so 2011. Thought most, if not all, of us had moved on to Heos and Play-Fi.

Posted by Rudyvalle on March 10, 2017

The idea that Sonos is going to change the market is silly. I’m an installer for over 7 Years there are only 3 real options. A true 5.1 surround system, Second a Basic 2.1 BOSE system and Third a mid level Soundbar system with wireless Sub. I have a lot of clients that love their Bose systems any type 2.1 or 5.1 and they don’t come cheap either. Sonos makes a great interface and cool streaming system but that’s all.