If you’re in the market for a soundbar for your new 4K TV or as part of your home audio system, the Sonos Playbar and the Bose SoundTouch 300 are two soundbars you should definitely consider. Both cost $699, both are expandable, and both offer many enticing features.
Sonos Playbar vs Bose SoundTouch 300
|Sonos||Sonos Playbar Wireless Soundbar||699|
|Bose||Bose SoundTouch 300 Wireless Soundbar||699|
The major benefit of a soundbar over a traditional home theater sound system is its compact size. Soundbars can also be connected to the Internet for easy music streaming and remote control. Companies like Sonos and Bose make it possible to effortlessly add a dedicated subwoofer or a pair of rear speakers for even better sound quality.
The Sonos Playbar measures 5.51 x 35.43 x 3.33 inches. It has a durable cloth cover over the front drivers and a perforated metal grille over the drivers on the sides. An elegant metal strip decorates the bottom of the speaker and also runs along the back. On the right side are two buttons: one button is for volume control and the other allows you to play or pause the music playback. The same buttons are used to establish a wireless connection with your smartphone or tablet.
On the back are two Ethernet ports, an optical port, and a connection for the included power adapter. The Playbar also has an integrated infrared repeater, which captures the signal from your TV remote with a sensor on the front and transmits the signal with an infrared transmitter on the back. Thanks to the infrared repeater, even if your Playbar obstructs the infrared sensor on your TV, your TV remote will work just fine.
The Bose SoundTouch 300 measures 4.2 x 38.5 x 2.2 inches. The top of the speaker is covered with a single piece of glass, and both the front and the sides are wrapped in a single piece of extruded aluminum. Toward the top-left corner of the speaker are useful LED indicator lights. These include a Wi-Fi indicator, a TV indicator, a Bluetooth indicator, and others.
On the back of the speaker are an HDMI input and output connectors, an optical input, a power input, an Ethernet port, a microUSB port for service, and several proprietary expansion connectors.
Both Bose and Sonos have created polished smartphone apps for their soundbars. The Bose SoundTouch app lets you take total control of your listening experience, allowing you to browse popular music services, Internet radio stations, and instantly stream music to the playbar. The Sonos does mostly the same, but it also comes with an alarm feature, which the Bose app lacks. With it, you can set up music to greet you in the morning and lull you to sleep each night.
The Bose SoundTouch 300 and the Sonos Playbar rely on manual calibration for sound optimization, but each soundbar uses a completely different calibration process. Bose’s ADAPTiQ audio calibration uses your room’s acoustics to customize the sound, and the calibration itself is done in several steps using a pair of headphones. The Sonos Playbar can be calibrated only with an iOS device. The company’s Trueplay technology uses the microphone in an iPhone or iPad to measure how sound reflects off walls, furnishings, and other surfaces in a room. It then automatically calibrates the soundbar, with the entire process taking approximately 3 minutes from start to finish. But even without calibration, both soundbars are designed to sound great right out of the box.
Regardless of whether you purchase the Bose SoundTouch 300 or the Sonos Playbar, you can purchase additional speakers to kick the performance up a notch. Again, the two companies offer very similar products at similar prices. The Bose Acoustimass 300 wireless subwoofer costs $699, and that’s also the price of the wireless subwoofer from Sonos, the Sonos SUB. A pair of wireless rear speakers from Bose costs $299, and a pair of wireless rear speakers from Sonos costs $398. All in all, expect to pay up to $2,000 for a complete home theater setup with a dedicated subwoofer and two rear speakers.
Both soundbars hide an array of fine-tuned midrange speakers and tweeters. All soundbars must be placed in front of an obstacle, typically a wall, against which they can bounce the soundwaves coming from them and create the sensation of side surround speakers without requiring additional speakers.
In this regard, the Bose SoundTouch 300 fares better than the Sono Playbar. The difference isn’t dramatic, but it’s the surround sound sensation is noticeably more believable. Of course, this advantage of the SoundTouch 300 fades away when you purchase dedicated rear speakers for the Playbar.
Apart from this, the two soundbars sound very similar. Their bass isn’t overpowering—you need to purchase a dedicated subwoofer for that. However, they can accurately represent mids and highs and faithfully position all instruments and sounds around you on a virtual sound stage. Regardless of whether you’re listening to music or watching movies, the resulting effect is truly captivating.
Regardless of how great your TV sounds like, both soundbars are guaranteed to take your listening experience to the next level, and you don’t even need to ruin the look of your living room by running speaker wires everywhere. A single elegant soundbar under your TV is enough.
Sonos may have pioneered soundbars, but Bose had taken the lead with the SoundTouch 300. It’s hard to pick a clear winner because the differences between the two soundbars are so small, especially in terms of their features. When it comes to sound quality, however, the SoundTouch 300 does a much better job creating a believable surround sound sensation than the Playbar. This advantage disappears with additional speakers, but it’s enough to make the Bose SoundTouch 300 the winner of this comparison.