Sonos SUB Lightning Review: Lots of Bang, Lots of BucksS

Sonos is badass: Brainless setup, a seamless backend that affords easy access to all of your music, be it streaming or locally-stored, and good sound from its standalone networked jukeboxey Zone Players. Notice the term "good sound." Not great sound. While the self-contained S3 and S5 sound very nice, they're simply too compact to deliver rump-shaking beats.

It's physics: You need to move air to make bass. To solve this issue, Sonos created the SUB.

What Is It

A subwoofer that works only with Sonos systems—specifically, Sonos' amplified components.

Who's It For

People who have Sonos systems but crave more bass; people who haven't bought Sonos systems because they wanted more bass. Rich people who just buy every new thing.

Design

The Sub is a gorgeous monolith of bass: lacquered in thick piano-black with aluminum-y accents, it looks like a shiny, giant, square licorice donut with two opposing woofers hidden in its hole. It's almost a shame to put this thing under the couch or in a corner. You just want to put it on the coffee table and lick it.

Using It

Like all Sonos products, you'd have to try really hard at being dumb to screw up the setup: plug it in, select "Add Sonos Component" from the "Manage" menu, click "SUB," follow some easy calibration prompts ("does this sound louder than that?") to help the built-in DSP achieve your desired level of bass. You can go all the way from full and clear to blood-vessel-rattling low-end thump.

The Best Part

This is no gimmick: The sound improvement is real, and easily tuned to your level of liking.

Tragic Flaw

You can only use it with Sonos, which is sort of a waste; it would be a nice addition to any home theater.

Test Notes

  • You have to assign the Sub to one specific zone—kind of a bummer for people with open-plan homes and multiple zones (ie, me).
  • The Sub will work with Sonos' amplifier-cum-receivers (Connect:Amp, Zoneplayer 100, and Zoneplayer 120), but you should really just attach those to a good pair of speakers—they can drive 'em no problem.
  • Tested with 320kbps tracks ranging from Gillian Welch to Prince to Rush to Beach House to Biggie.
  • Tested with Sonos Play 3 and Play 5 networked players.
  • Motherfucker is heavy, so set it up and don't try to move it again.
  • Though the machined-on feet suggest a vertical orientation, you can lay it flat and slide it under a sofa if you like—fuzzy feeties are included to keep you from marring the finish.
  • Sonos still needs to let you use your computer as a zone. Just sayin'.
  • Matte black version coming soon for less $$

Should You Buy It?

If you can afford it and you're already invested in Sonos, then yes: It's a definite improvement. If you're not rich, buy the Connect:Amp and hook it up to a good set of speakers. But you should probably buy Sonos, because it makes you listen to more music—which is the highest compliment you can pay a piece of music gear.

Sonos SUB

• Price: $700
• Dimensions: 15.8 x 6.2 x 15in.
• Weight: 36.3 lbs
• Frequency Response: Down to 25hz
• Connectivity: Ethernet, peer-to-peer wireless mesh networking
Giz Rank: 4.0 stars