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Sonos SUB review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £599
inc VAT

Gorgeous looks and stunning sound quality from the only subwoofer we've ever wanted to put on display


Subwoofers are traditionally difficult to configure, with the proper balance of crossover (the point at which the sub reproduces bass, taking over from thespeakers’ lower-limits) and volume fairly tricky to adjust properly. Fortunately, Sonos has continued its reputation for providing easy setup with the SUB, making this the simplest subwoofer we’ve ever configured.

All you have to do is select Add a Sonos component from a controller, then hit the button on the front of the SUB to add it to your network. You’re then walked through a short configuration wizard, where you tell the system which room (zone player) you want to use the SUB with. Configuration is largely automatic, as Sonos knows the limitations of its players, so it can automatically configure the crossover point of the SUB to match. In fact, the system is actually a bit smarter than this, completely adjusting the equalizer settings of your paired system, so the SUB blends in. For example, the Play:3 has bass pretty much entirely disabled, which has the advantage that it can then go louder.

Sonos SUB setup wizard
The quick setup wizard soon has the SUB configured for use with your system.

This simple setup means that there are just a few quick steps of a setup wizard to go through. For Connect:Amp owners, the system doesn’t know the type of speakers you’re using, so you have to pick from Compact, Bookshelf or Floor; the system then picks an appropriate crossover point.

You then listen to a test tone and choose which version you prefer (A or B) to set the phase, followed by another tone and a volume control to set the bass level. At that point you’re done, although there are advanced setup options that let you set the SUB’s volume or more finally configure the size of your speakers if you’re using a Connect:Amp. Once done, the SUB becomes a seamless part of the room you’ve paired it to: as you lower or increase the volume of the room, the SUB adjusts its volume accordingly.

Sonos SUB adjustment
You can fine-tune the subwoofer’s audio settings once it’s been connected to your Sonos network.

How it sounds is really the most important factor and you won’t be disappointed. What Sonos has managed to do really well is neatly balance the system so that the SUB blends in, without overwhelming everything else. Sonos’ wireless synchronisation technology shows its full power, as the SUB fits in perfectly without the tell-tale signs of delay we’ve heard on other wireless products.

What the SUB really does, though, is add that extra warmth and depth to tracks, making a more refined listening experience. Not that it can’t deliver that rich thumping bass that some tracks require: listening to Rage Against the Machine’s Bomb Track, we had the room trembling with the heavy bass track. The SUB adds more to every track from acoustic guitars and classic music to the latest dance tracks.

Sonos SUB
Great looks and great sound – what more could you want from a subwoofer?

Where it’s really useful depends on the system that you’re using. It works really well with the Play:3 (or a stereo pair of Play:3s), as there’s not much bass on these systems. With the Play:5 it’s more subtle, as this player already has a dedicated subwoofer driver built in; by adding the SUB, you disable this, taking away what you’ve already got. For the Connect:Amp, there’s already a traditional subwoofer phono output, so the SUB is just a more convenient and easier way of adding bass to that system.

There’s no getting away from the fact that the SUB is expensive, though. There’s a lot of clever technology inside and it’s incredibly simple to configure, but £599 for a subwoofer is a lot of money. This is particularly the case, when a matt-black edition will be released for £100 less later this year – that’s a big difference for a shinier case now. Still, if you want a rounder, warmer and more balanced performance from your Sonos system, there’s no doubting the quality of the SUB.

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