Sonos released the Playbar way back in 2013 and has since dominated the soundbar market; it is, in fact, one of the most reviewed products in the market today. The Bose Soundbar has been a tough competitor to Sonos by providing ample reasons for its customers to become the new favorite. To understand the two better, it is best to compare the many attributes that set them apart.

When you compare the Bose Soundbar to the Sonos Playbar, the Bose Soundbar comes across as a better option due to its accurate stereo frequency response. It also does not compress as much as the Sonos at maximum volume. Also, it has more inputs than the Sonos Playbar.

Throughout this article, you will also learn the following information:

  • The design function of the Bose Soundbar and the Sonos Playbar
  • Details on the sound quality and features
  • The pros and cons of both the Bose Soundbar as well as the Sonos Playbar

Comparison Chart: Bose Soundbar vs. Sonos Playbar

To get a quick understanding of the two models, it is better to have a look at the features that the two products – Bose Soundbar and Sonos Playbar have on offer. In this table, you will notice that while their make is more or less similar, the differences come in when you look at the features and technology that these two products have inbuilt into them.

While the Bose Soundbar has a 7.1 audio output technology, Sonos Playbar has a 3.0. Bose Soundbar also comes with an audio return channel, remote control, Apple Airplay, and Bluetooth feature, which is not found in the Sonos Playbar.

SpecificationsBoseSonos
ModelBose SoundbarSonos Playbar
Width978 mm (38.50 in)900 mm (35.43 in)
Height57 mm (2.24 in)85 mm (3.35 in)
Depth108 mm (4.25 in)140 mm (5.51 in)
Weight4.8 kg (10.5 lb)5 kg (11 lb)
EnclosureBass reflexAcoustic Suspension
Wall MountableNoYes
Tweeter13
Audio Output7.13.0
Audio Return ChannelYesNo
Remote ControlYesNo
Apple AirplayYesNo
BluetoothYesNo

Design

Design-wise, both products are sleek and beautiful to look at. They are aesthetically pleasing to the eyes and are shaped by top-notch materials. The Soundbar looks more modern and has a more contemporary design than the Sonos Playbar. Here are the key differences in the design features of the two products:

  • The Bose Soundbar's elegant design is achieved with the help of an aluminum grille that is placed over the drivers, and then the whole thing is topped by tempered glass. The Sonos Playbar has a soft fabric covering its speakers. The rest of the Playbar has an aluminum finish.
  • The Bose Soundbar is intended to be placed immediately below the television set. The Soundbar design makes it quite long and may tend to look a tad oversized in case you have a television that is less than 50 in (1270 mm). The Sonos Playbar is slightly wider and taller than the Soundbar, and so it is often used to be placed in front of the television.
  • The Soundbar is equipped with two touch-sensitive buttons at the top. One of them is for play, and the other is the mute button. The Playbar has more physical buttons and control features than the Soundbar. The side panel includes the buttons to play, pause, and control the volume on the Playbar.
  • In the Bose Soundbar, all the input options are nicely tucked away at the panel's back. There are fewer input sockets on the Sonos Playbar when compared to the Bose Soundbar. These few sockets are placed at the back of the Playbar.
  • For someone who likes contemporary design, the Bose Soundbar will blend right in with their taste. When you use the remote control or talk to Alexa, a white strip of light comes on. There is not much to indicate the source or the volume on the Soundbar. The Sonos Playbar also has a similarly sleek design and can easily fade into the television set up; it still does manage to stand out when it is wall mounted.

Set-Up and Control

The Bose Soundbar is easier to set up compared to the Sonos Playbar. Equipped with remote control, the Soundbar is ready to work seamlessly with other devices. Place the soundbar either above or below the TV, but not behind the TV unless you want inferior sound.

  • You will take just a quarter of an hour to set up a Soundbar from start to finish. You can start by connecting the bar to your television. Once you do that, you will be asked to download the Bose Music app. This app is very useful as it will walk you through the entire setup process. It will also help you connect to the television and other devices that you might use the Soundbar with.
  • There is a step called the ADAPTiQ, which is a crucial step in configuring the device and helps you choose the best sound settings for your home. Connecting the Bose Soundbar to Wi-Fi is also simple and easy. To connect to Alexa, all you will need to do first is log into your Amazon account and then use the universal remote control to control all your home entertainment devices through this.
  • The Sonos Playbar set up, on the other hand, requires you first to plug the Playbar to your router to use a Sonos Bridge to connect it to the Wi-Fi. Now you will have to download the Sonos app and work through the app to communicate the signals to your television. The ARC-HDMI port in the Soundbar makes this step simpler with Bose, but the Playbar lacks this feature.
  • After you are completed with the set-up wizard, use the Sonos app to control the soundbar. A lack of remote control is compensated with this app's feature that lets you control the device from your mobile phone, thus becoming the remote. The Sonos Playbar will be able to integrate other audio platforms into its interface. You will be able to listen to music, books, and podcasts from here apart from traditional television.

Features

There are certain key features that set the Bose Soundbar above the Sonos Player. Here is a quick look at some of these attributes:

  • The Bose Soundbar has more input jacks than the Sonos Playbar.
  • It also comes equipped with a universal remote control; for instance, the Bose Solo 5 TV Soundbar, making it easier to manage the Soundbar.
  • Bose Soundbar has Alexa, and Google Assistant built into it, making it truly aligned to today’s modern, smart homes.
  • It has an 8-mic array across the Bose Soundbar length and can pick up your voice from anywhere in the room.
  • The Soundbar also has Apple Airplay, which helps you stream Apple music. But, should you choose to stream music from other sources, then it is possible by using the Bluetooth feature. It also has a USB port so that you can plug in external storage devices and play music from there as well.
  • A programmable universal remote in the Soundbar makes it incredibly convenient to operate and toggle between options not just in the Soundbar but also on your television. Due to its high-end design, only those buttons light up that indicates what you are currently using. All other light modes for the remaining controls remain hidden.
  • The Sonos Playbar may seem to be a bit outdated in comparison. It does not have a remote control or Bluetooth, a USB port, or built-in voice control.
  • The back of the panel in the Sonos Playbar has only two ports for ethernet, a power socket, and an audio input jack.
  • The Sonos Playbar does not come with in-built Alexa, and Google Assistant voice features like the Bose Soundbar does. But you can enable Alexa in the device after purchasing and setting up an Echo device separately. This additional cost is not there with the Bose Soundbar.

Sound Quality

Both Bose Soundbar and Sonos Playbar are the market leaders due to their impeccable audio quality. They both produce excellent sounds making your movie and gaming experience more immersive. However, as with their design features, even the sound quality varies slightly in the two bars:

  • The Bose Soundbar has a very clear and rich sound. The vocals come across clean, even without adding any subwoofer units. It delivers a rich bass sound that is great for watching movies.
  • The audio separation is not muddy and very easily distinguishable. The Soundbar may not support the Dolby ATMOS, but this has already been compensated with the Soundbar’s rich sound system that promises a punchy delivery.
  • Moreover, Bose Soundbar’s adaptive tuning system feature gives it an unparalleled sound reproduction quality. The sound may feel like it is ricocheting and bouncing off the walls in a given closed room.
  • The Sonos Playbar uses a lot of drivers and tweeters compared to the Bose Soundbar. Six drivers and three tweeters, to be precise. Of the three tweeters, two are positioned at 45-degree angles at the two ends of the Playbar. This ensures that the audio permeates the room's entire width and helps produce a detailed sound that is clear and crisp.
  • While the bass is quite good because of the fabric covering on top of the speakers and the acoustic suspension enclosure, the Sonos Playbar’s bass somehow is unable to reach the lower bass levels. Thus, ground-thumping movie explosions may not be entirely achieved with this Playbar. Apart from this one drawback, the sound quality of the Sonos Playbar is quite full-bodied.

The Good and Not-So-Good List: Bose Soundbar

The Bose Soundbar does not come cheap and is a massive investment. But, when you compare the pros of its many attributes to the cons, the list of good things far outweighs its not so good things by quite a margin. Due to this, the soundbar’s high cost may be offset to an extent.

The Good

  • Bose Soundbar is built to last. It has been designed to be wall-mounted as well in a bass-reflex enclosure.
  • It has newer technologies integrated into it with voice assistant services such as Google Assistant and Alexa, giving you more control over the bar and provides you access to the whole plethora of services through this.
  • Additionally, it also has the Bose Music app, which gives the users complete control of the bar.
  • The soundbar has Wi-Fi connectivity.
  • It also can be connected to other devices apart from the television with the help of Bluetooth.
  • Distortion is further reduced with the help of the in-built QuietPort and PhaseGuide technologies.

Area for Improvement

  • The Bose Soundbar is wall mountable, but the wall mount needs to be separately bought, which adds to the soundbar's cost.
  • The Soundbar does not come with HDMI input ports on it.
  • It does not have a subwoofer.
  • Bose Soundbar also does not have sub-bass built within.
  • In some situations where there is a large soundstage, it may diffuse the sound to an extent.

The Good and Not-So-Good List: Sonos Playbar

The Sonos Playbar is also quite expensive as the Bose Soundbar; however, this Playbar has retained its position as the leader in the industry when we talk of soundbar technology. This list provided here of the things that work in favor of the Sonos Playbar and the areas for improvement will help shed some light as to why this is the case.

The Good

  • It is well designed just like the Bose Soundbar, with a fabric covering on top of the speakers and an aluminum casing.
  • The sound profile of the Playbar is considered to be well-balanced with clarity in the output of vocal sound due to the center speaker, which gives an exceptional performance all the time.
  • Even though the Sonos Playbar does not come with remote control, its app equips the Playbar user with a lot of control.
  • The Playbar also has an automatic tuning technology along with speech enhancement technology that helps ensure that the sound remains crisp and clear at all times, no matter how small the room is or any number of distractions going on in the room.

Area for Improvement

  • The Sonos Playbar does not have Bluetooth capabilities.
  • The Playbar does not include a subwoofer.
  • It also does not have an in-built sub-bass.
  • HDMI input ports are also not included along with the playbar.
  • The Playbar is wall mountable, but the wall mount must be bought separately, adding to the soundbar's cost. You can purchase the Wall Mount for Sonos Playbar Mounting Bracket to wall mount your Sonos Playbar.
  • Compared to a Bose Soundbar, the Sonos Playbar’s technology is quite outdated as it has very few input ports and output ports.

Phase Guide Technology in Bose Soundbar vs. Speech Enhancement Feature in Sonos Playbar

The two technologies equip the two bars separately in terms of sound output quality. They both run on different patents and technologies that the brands have adopted for their soundbars.

Here is a quick review of the technologies and how it sets each of them apart:

  • PhaseGuide Technology is a patent of Bose and has been included in the Soundbar. When combined with Bose’s QuietPort design, any sound distortion is minimized to a large extent, and the technology further helps in widening the sound field, making the dialogues crystal clear. To listen to the audio samples of Bose Soundbar, you can check out this video (shown below this list).
  • Technically, the Bose Soundbar is not a surround sound soundbar, but it does produce immersive cinematic sounds due to these other technologies incorporated in it. Nevertheless, if you want, you can always add surround sound speakers along with a subwoofer to the Soundbar and transform it into a 5.1 surround system.
  • The Sonos Playbar has a speech enhancement technology that helps deliver high-quality sound and does not distract its listener. Distortion is largely reduced, so the other actual sounds come out crystal clear. The vocals can be distinctly heard without the interference of any distortions that may be occurring in the room.
  • Like the Bose Soundbar, you can introduce a wireless subwoofer and surround-sound speakers to this Playbar to convert it into an upgraded 5.1 surround-sound system.

Which Is Better – Bose Soundbar or Sonos Playbar?

It seems that the Bose Soundbar is more modern, equipped with the latest technologies and latest connectivity features, which makes it a better choice over the Sonos Playbar. Bose Soundbar also has relative ease of use in addition to the universal remote and built-in voice assistant features.

But all this is not to say that the Playbar is in any way inferior. It continues to remain one of the best soundbars available in the market today, but it does need newer software updates and a few more hardware features like HDMI ports and wireless options like Bluetooth.

Conclusion

When it comes to choosing which of the two is a better option for you, understanding the products' specs will help guide you to make an informed decision. It is important to note that both the products are good, with Bose having an edge because it integrates many new features and technologies.

Hopefully, this article gave you helpful ideas on which of the two products is the best for you and your comfort.

Update 2020: Sonos has discontinued the Playbar. Consider looking into the Sonos Beam or the Sonos Arc as a strong contender to the Bose lineup. In fact, my soundbar purchase will be the Sonos Arc with the subwoofer!

Sonos Arc and Sonos Beam