sonos beam vs playbar

Sonos Beam vs. Playbar: First Impressions & Sound Comparison

I had Sonos Playbar in my living room for four years. It was a staple in my house, and that’s saying a lot considering how often tech products get filtered out of my house.

My friends and I love to load the queue with music and yell at each other when someone puts a bad song on.

Playbar hasn’t been updated since 2013.

Sonos released a new soundbar: Sonos Beam. In theory, it’s a substantial downgrade based on price and size, but it’s got an important feature that Playbar doesn’t: AirPlay 2 with HomeKit support.

While Sonos Beam has Alexa, I prefer to disabled Alexa on my devices and use Siri with iPhone and HomePod for music with a “Hey Siri, play Linkin Park in the Living Room” command.

So, I bought Sonos Beam to test.

Here are five sound quality observations:

  1. Playbar is substantially louder. Beam’s max volume is about the equivalent of Beam at 70% volume.
  2. Playbar is crisper and the midrange is much clearer, while the midrange can disappear on Beam.
  3. Playbar has more bass than Beam.
  4. In a blind test, there’s no question which you’d pick for music listening.
  5. You won’t notice a difference between Beam and Playbar during movies, especially if you have Sonos Sub and the surrounds (Play:1 or One) paired for 5.1 system.

I kept Sonos Beam because I can’t tell the difference while watching movies, and it sounds great for music because of the sub and surrounds. AirPlay is important to me because I own three HomePods and like to use it to stream music in multiple rooms at once. If I need more music power in the living room, I can always bring my Sonos Play:5 in.

If you’re planning on listening to mostly music and don’t care about AirPlay, Playbar is still the way to go, but I love Beam’s price point.

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