Sennheiser might have just ruined my Sonos home theater system for me. Naughty Sennheiser. We recently went hands on with the Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus, and it’s an impressive piece of kit. Even more impressively, it can be paired with multiple subwoofers; a feature that puts even the best Sonos surround setups in the shade.
I feel sorry for my Sonos home theater system at this point. Oh sure, it’s an impressive ensemble of wallet-ruining tech – I have a Sonos Arc paired with a Sonos Sub (Gen 2) and two Sonos One smart speakers – but I keep thirsting for alternative audio solutions.
One minute I’m pining for the brilliantly punchy new Sonos Era 300 smart speaker. The next, I’m desperate to experience the multiple subwoofer setup the Atmos-enabled Sennheiser Ambeo can provide when wirelessly paired with up to four Ambeo Subs.
On the subs front, it feels like Sonos has missed a trick with the Sub Mini, which is directly comparable to the Ambeo sub but unable to play nice with other Sub Minis in a system.
With the arrival of the Sonos Era 100 and Sonos Era 300 speakers, there are suddenly all kinds of new Sonos home theater systems you can assemble. Yet even the highest-end arrangement you can put together – a setup consisting of a Sonos Arc, a pair of Sonos Era 300 speakers and two Sonos Sub (Gen 3)s – won’t let you add multiple Sub Minis to the mix.
During our hands-on with the Sonos Era 300, we found these Dolby Atmos beasts offered game-changing results when placed into a Sonos home theater setup. Unlike the Sonos One and Sonos Era 100, the Era 300 operates in stereo mode (not mono) when paired with a Sonos soundbar, adding greater directionality to the soundscape of a surround system.
Sadly, a lack of directionality is an issue with the current limitations of Sonos subwoofer setups. With even the best Sonos surround systems limited to either two Sonos Subs (or one Sonos Sub Mini), the bass from these setups is going to be… a little more limited.
During our time with the Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus and three Ambeo Subs, we found the addition of multiple subwoofers created truly three-dimensional reverberations that could fill an entire room. This effect was particularly thrilling during a viewing of the recent Oscar-winning war epic, All Quiet On The Western Front.
And there’s my sub envy triggered again. While I’m reasonably happy with my Sonos Sub, I have to sit in a specific sweet spot if I want to enjoy the full effect of its floor-shaking bass. If I sit a few feet in the wrong direction, those low bass bursts quickly dissipate – in part because low frequency sounds taper off more quickly over distance than higher frequencies.
One and done
Still, even if I could place multiple Sonos Subs into my home theater system, I wouldn’t. The beefy standard model takes up a fair amount of floorspace, and my lounge would have to treble in size if I was going to throw three of them (which you can't do) into a surround sound setup.
The cheaper and considerably smaller Sonos Sub Mini is an entirely different prospect. The Sonos Sub can have two units connected. The missed opportunity is the Sub Mini, which can’t have more than one attached.
Yet, this baby has the ideal form factor for a multi-sub setup, and I would happily place three or four of them around my front room… as soon as I’d sold a kidney to raise the near $1,300 (or £1,300 / AU$2,000) such an extravagant setup would cost.
While I still think the Sonos Arc is one of the best soundbars on the market, I’d dearly love to be able to pair it with a trio of Sonos Sub Minis. As a movie fan who enjoys having his spine tingled by deep bass – my neighbors are definitely gonna call the cops on me the next time I crank up Jurassic Park’s glass-shaking T.rex attack – I can only hope Sonos will support multi-sub setups in the near future.
For now, I’m going to have to keep sitting in that very particular spot on my sofa to get the most of my Sonos Sub. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to daydream about that trio of Ambeo Subs again. Apologies for the drool.