May 22, 2012
| by Grant Clauser
Sonos, arguably the world’s favorite wireless music distribution company, has added to its family of wireless speakers with the new Sonos SUB. You guessed it, it’s a subwoofer, and it works with the Sonos Wi-fi based network system to allow easy multiroom audio without pulling wires or drilling holes.
Our cohort magazine CE Pro sniffed out some underground buzz about a new Sonos product, so I hopped on a train to New York and bullied my way into a private demo to find out what it was all about. I’m glad I did, because while it’s not a paradigm-shifting product, it’s still pretty cool.
The Sonos SUB is a little unconventional-looking. It’s shaped like a big “O” with a hole in the middle. In that hole are two drivers that face each other, and says Sonos, cancel out each others’ vibrations—so the sub doesn’t rattle as it’s cranking bass. The speaker’s ports also aim inside the “O.” The drivers have an excursion of about 1.5 inches and a cover a total area of about 10-inches, making it equivalent to a larger sub, but at a pretty compact size (15.8 x 6.2 x 15 inches). It’s designed to be oriented either standing up or laying down, so a user can even slide it under a sofa or end table to keep it out of sight.
The Sub is powered by two built-in class D digital amplifiers, though Sonos wouldn’t reveal the amp’s power rating. One interesting feature of the sub is that when used with Sonos PLAY:3 speakers, the SUB actually allows the stereo pair to play louder because it filters off the low frequency signals, allowing the main speakers more power for higher frequencies.
The Sonos setup software has been updated to allow integration of the sub. Once the system knows there’s a SUB in the room, it automatically sends the low frequencies to that unit rather than the main speakers. An series of setup screens walks the user though adjustments like level and phase. All controls for the system can be made through Android or iOS apps for smartphones and tablets. The SUB can also be adjusted or switched off on the fly from the app.
So how does it sound? I listened to a variety of rock and classical, and the SUB indeed put out a lot of bass. It was especially powerful at the jackhammer bass of some of the rock and rap selections. On a Yo Yo Ma selection the SUB was more subtle, but allowed the music to open up quite a bit, contributing to a fuller and more satisfying soundstage.
The SUB, in glossy black, will be available initially to specialty AV stores (including Best Buy’s Magnolia) on June 19 for $699, but not in Target, which sells the PLAY:3. In October a matte black finish will be available for $100 less.
Electronic House is going to have a review of the Sonos SUB soon, so look out for that here.
Check out this review of the Sonos PLAY:3 system.
Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had audio training from Home Acoustics Alliance and Sencore. He's also the author of the book The Trouble with Rivers
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.