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Sonos Playbase: Behind the scenes

We visit Sonos in Boston to see what makes the company's first pedestal sound bar tick.

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Ty Pendlebury
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Black or white

The Sonos Playbase can hold TVs up to 75 pounds in weight. If you have a TV with legs at the ends, Sonos says the base's 2.28-inch (58mm) height means it will probably fit underneath instead.

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Sonos has unveiled its latest Wi-Fi speaker, the Playbase, which is designed to act as a pedestal for your TV. It is the result of three and a half years of work by the Sonos team in Boston, Santa Barbara and China.

In a recent event for the launch of the Playbase the company took journalists behind the red velour curtain and showed them the design process behind the product. The office in Boston is a replica of the original headquarters in Santa Barbara, company representatives told the press, which helped speed the design process.

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Connections

In addition to Wi-Fi the Playbase also features Ethernet connectivity and a digital optical input. The Playbase will decode Dolby Digital 5.1 feeds in addition to streaming from dozens of services including Spotify, Amazon Music, Pandora and Tidal.

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The grill

"The grill has 43,000 individually drilled holes in five different sizes that gradually get bigger as they turn the corners toward the subwoofer and the vent, to move as much air as possible," Sonos says.

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The interior

The internals of the Playbase. At the left is the company's "S-Port" which helps boost bass response, At the right is the bass woofer, and passive airflow between the two components helps to cool the circuitry on the way.

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Six midwoofers and three tweeters

The Sonos features nine drivers across the front (three tweeters and six mids) with two drivers at each corner in order to achieve room-widening bounce effects from interior walls.

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On test

Giles Martin (left, son of Beatles producer George Martin) looks on during a demonstration of the Sonos Playbase.

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Early prototype

Sonos laid out plenty of early versions at the Boston office of what was to become the Playbase including this bizarre model. It featured a bent-back section at the rear, which exposed the ports and presumably increased bass response.

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Playbase casing signed by the Sonos team

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The internals of the Playbase

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Room effects

Like the Yamaha YSP digital projectors, the Playbase bounces sound off the walls of your room to achieve a wider than normal soundstage.

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All of the different designs piled together

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Electromagnetic interference testing chamber

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Electromagnetic interference testing chamber part 2

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Anechoic chamber

Sonos claims this anechoic chamber in the Boston office is the largest in the world dedicated to speaker testing.

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Living wall with Playbase in the foreground

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Out soon

The Sonos Playbase will be available for $699, £699, and AU$999 from April 4. Read our thoughts on the Playbase here.

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