When the Sonos Playbar first launched, it was the company’s first foray into the popular category of soundbar speakers. The Playbar combined the typical soundbar form factor with Sonos’ renowned wireless audio technology, giving the speaker an advantage over its non-connected competitors; the wireless functionality meant the Playbar worked marvelously as a stand-alone speaker, great for streaming your music library and not just accompanying your movies or TV shows. Earlier this year, we saw the release of the Sonos Beam, the company’s newest soundbar model. The Sonos Beam was smaller, which meant it could fit fewer speakers inside and might not produce sound as full, but it included smart features—Amazon Alexa integration and AirPlay2 compatibility—that gave it a technological advantage over its older sibling. Both the Beam and the Playbar will stay active in the Sonos product lineup, so if you’re buying a soundbar, you may find yourself trying to figure out the major differences between the two. But we’re here to help. Here are all of the important differences between the Beam and the Playbar.
|Amazon Alexa Built In||✓||No|
|Dimensions (H x W x D)||2.7 x 25.6 x 3.9 in.||5.5 x 35.4 x 3.4 in.|
|Audio Specifications||4 full-range woofers, 1 tweeter, 3 passive radiators, 5 Class D amps||6 mid-range woofers, 3 tweeters, 9 Class D amps|
|Can be used in Sonos 5.1 Surround System||Yes||Yes|
|Suggested Room Size||Small to Medium||Small to Large|
While both the Beam and the Playbar include Sonos’ renowned audio technology and app, as you can see, there are a few notable differences.
First is the the size of the soundbars. Many soundbar users choose the devices because of their compact form factor. If you’re extremely pressed for space, the Beam will be the better choice—it’s a full ten inches narrower than the Playbar, and in a small room you won’t notice a difference in sound.
The second major difference is that the Sonos Beam has Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant support baked in, giving you access to either digital assistant without needing auxiliary equipment (like the Echo or Google Home). So you can control not just the soundbar volume, but any devices connected to your network—adjust your Nest thermostat or dim your smart lights from the comfort of your couch.
The Sonos Beam has the benefits of the newest technology, but its smaller size—and fewer speakers under the hood—means it won’t be able to fill a large room as well as its older sibling. So if ultimate sound quality is your highest priority and you can live without the smart integration, then you’d probably want to choose the Sonos Playbar.