Samsung's latest soundbar proved to me how badly Sonos needs a Sub Mini

Sonos Arc with Samsung S900B subwoofer in living room
(Image credit: Future)

It seems likely that a smaller Sonos subwoofer is on the way at some point – perhaps called the Sub Mini. It's been rumored for a while, and recently some extra details leaked about the Sub Mini, including its possible design. For its part, Sonos only told TechRadar "there's a lot of products we consider" when asked directly about the existence of a smaller Sonos Sub.

The reason people (me) are desperate for a smaller Sonos Sub is as much to do with price as size… although let's be clear that Sonos' current subwoofer is quite a beast, and won't suit a lot of homes for that reason. But still at a price of $749 / £749 / AU$1,099, it is very much about cost too.

Now bear in mind that the Sonos Arc soundbar costs $899 / £899 / AU$1,499 officially. In total with the Sub, that is a lot of money. There are entries in our list of the best soundbars that come with both soundbar and sub starting from about $400 / £350.

I had this seriously driven home for me today, when I received Samsung's latest and, in some ways, most interesting soundbar: the Samsung HW-S800B, which costs $899 £749 / AU$999 for both bar and sub.

This soundbar itself is just as wide as the Sonos Arc (so is best for TVs of 55 inches and up), but is overall about a quarter of the volume of the Arc, while still packing in eight speaker drivers, including upfiring Dolby Atmos drivers.

Sonos Arc with Samsung S900B soundbar

Here's the Samsung S900B soundbar sitting on top of the Sonos Arc. The difference is hard to believe in person. (Image credit: Future)

The subwoofer is a compact and handsome cube with rounded corners, measuring just 238 x 240.8 x 238 mm / 9.4 x 9.5 x 9.4 inches, packing in two bass drivers. It just tucked nicely in space I happened to have on either side of my TV unit, even though it's tucked in a corner pretty neatly – I didn't have to rearrange a thing.

This Samsung subwoofer is exactly what I want from a smaller Sonos Sub, and hearing it in action just drives home that Sonos' current 'go big or go home' approach just doesn't work for real life. The image at the top of this article is of the Sonos Arc with the S900B's subwoofer – they go so well together! If only they actually connected in any way…

And here's the thing: the small Samsung soundbar sounds incredible. In standard viewing, arguably better than the Sonos Arc, and a huge part of that is down to the inclusion of the subwoofer. It handles the bassy meat of a soundtrack with control and grit, leaving the super-small soundbar to work on positional audio, speech and other higher-end sounds, and the whole thing sounds detailed, cinematic and airy.

Compared to my Sonos Arc without the Sonos Sub, the Samsung adds more impact to soundtracks, and sound feels a little free-er from the soundbar, providing even more convincing overhead Dolby Atmos than the Arc, for example.

A major part of this is because the Arc is trying to do everything. It has 11 speakers, but it's using those to cover the whole dynamic range from a single box. There's no sub to take the pressure off at the low-end.

Sub-$400, please

I love my Sonos Arc and Sonos One surround system setup – it's always been great for the space I have. The Sonos Sub is just too big, and I don't need that much power – most smaller houses or apartments don't – so I go without it.

If I were choosing today, though, I don't know if I'd go Sonos; the Samsung S800B proves that you can get ideal sound for my kind of living space in an even more lifestyle friendly package. And you can add wireless rear speakers for an extra $299 / £250.

So could Sonos use a cheaper, smaller sub to compete with products like this? If the Sub Mini cost around $350 / £300, I think that could work – especially if Sonos brought the price of the Arc down too. If you could get the Arc with Sub Mini for around $1100 / £1000, that would probably keep it competitive.

The Sonos Arc and current Sonos Sub provide even more volume and power than the likes of the Samsung S800B, but few people actually need the additional grunt. What we want is the best balance of sound for a normal room where you might have to worry about the neighbors.

A Sonos Sub Mini is exactly what Sonos needs for that – I just hope that whenever it launches, it and the two-year-old Arc are still able to compete with how quickly cheaper models are matching them.

Matt Bolton
Managing Editor, Entertainment

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Entertainment, meaning he's in charge of persuading our team of writers and reviewers to watch the latest TV shows and movies on gorgeous TVs and listen to fantastic speakers and headphones. It's a tough task, as you can imagine. Matt has over a decade of experience in tech publishing, and previously ran the TV & audio coverage for our colleagues at, and before that he edited T3 magazine. During his career, he's also contributed to places as varied as Creative Bloq, PC Gamer, PetsRadar, MacLife, and Edge. TV and movie nerdism is his speciality, and he goes to the cinema three times a week. He's always happy to explain the virtues of Dolby Vision over a drink, but he might need to use props, like he's explaining the offside rule.