- Delivers fat but tight bass with music and low-frequency effects in movies
- An ideal companion to smaller Sonos soundbars and speakers or the Sonos Amp
- First-class design and build quality
- Supremely easy to set up and tune
- Adequate only for smaller listening spaces
- Sonos Trueplay still only available for iOS devices
If you have a smaller listening space or home theater outfitted with Sonos speakers or a soundbar (or both, in a surround configuration), the Sub Mini will finally deliver the low-end sonic depth you’ve been craving. If you have a bigger space and bigger speakers, keep saving your cash to buy the bigger, more expensive Sonos Sub.
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Best Prices Today: Sonos Sub Mini
The new Sonos Sub Mini is everything we love about the Sonos Sub, scaled down into a package that’s perfectly suited to smaller home theaters and listening rooms. As such, the Mini makes a great companion to a pair of Sonos’ smaller speakers—the Sonos One or One SL, for instance—or one of the company’s smaller soundbars, the Sonos Beam or Sonos Ray. Add a pair of those Ones or One SLs as satellites to one of those soundbars and you have a terrific 5.1-channel surround-sound system.
It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since Sonos introduced its first wireless subwoofer, the vaunted Sonos Sub. Now in its third generation, the Sub is an awesome companion to any Sonos speaker or soundbar. That said, it can be too much of a good thing in smaller listening spaces, overwhelming you with its thundering bass response. Priced at $749, it’s also prohibitively expensive for many. The $429 Sub Mini is by no means inexpensive, but quality costs.
I bought a Sonos Sub (2n/a generation) when I lived in a large house out in the country, so I of course brought it with me when I traded that home for the tiny 1890 urban bungalow I live in now. Unfortunately, the Sub would literally rattle the windows in my 170-square-foot living room. I tested the Sub Mini in that room paired first with the Sonos Ray and then the Sonos Beam and had a significantly better and more balanced experience. More on that later.
How is the Sonos Sub Mini designed?
The Sub Mini’s design is very similar to that of its much bigger cousin, but in a scaled-down cylindrical enclosure measuring 12 inches high, 9.1 inches in diameter, and weighing a hefty 14 pounds. Thick rubber feet isolate the speaker from the floor. My review unit was matte black, but the Sub Mini is also available with a matte white finish.
Dual Class D amplifiers drive a pair of 6-inch woofers (polypropylene dust caps over paper cone substrates) facing each other and firing into an open slot in the center of the cabinet, producing frequency response of 25Hz. The cabinet is sealed to reduce distortion and enhance the subwoofer’s bass response, and the twin drivers’ force-cancelling effect helps eliminate undesirable cabinet resonance.
The Sub Mini operates either on your Wi-Fi network or hardwired to your router via its 10/100 ethernet port; either way, the sub will establish a 5GHz connection to a Sonos soundbar (if you have one) to enhance audio transmission speed and to sync with your connected TV. The speaker’s internal power supply is a superior alternative to an unsightly in-line power brick or—worse—a wall wart. The power and optional ethernet cables connect to a cavity at the bottom of the speaker.
How do you set up the Sonos Sub Mini?
Like its predecessor, the Sub Mini only works as a companion to other Sonos components, including Ikea’s line of Symfonisk speakers that Sonos collaborated on. That said, it is not compatible with portable Sonos speakers—the Move and the Roam—and it can’t be paired with a Sonos Connect or Sonos Port. If you want to combine it with passive bookshelf speakers outside the Sonos ecosystem, you can drive those speakers with a Sonos Amp. I haven’t tested that configuration with the Sub Mini, but it worked perfectly with the original Sub and a pair of Bowsers & Wilkins M-1 bookshelf speakers at my old place.
In any event, adding the Sub Mini to your Sonos system is as simple as plugging it into power and opening the Sonos app on your mobile device. Low frequencies are non-directional, so you should be able to place the Sub Mini pretty much anywhere in your room. The app will automatically detect the sub’s presence and add it to your system. If it doesn’t, and your phone supports NFC, you can tap your phone on top of the sub to join it to your Wi-Fi network.
The next step is to pair it with the other Sonos speakers, and as I mentioned earlier, you can create a surround sound system by connecting a Sonos soundbar and two other Sonos speakers. Sonos sent a pair of One SLs with the Sub Mini, so I set them up in the back of my room and added them to my living-room setup.
Can you adjust EQ and volume levels with the Sub Mini?
If you have an iOS device, I heartily recommend taking advantage of Sonos Trueplay to tune the system to your room. The software will compute the distance between your Sonos speakers and their surroundings and will do its best to automatically compensate for any anomalies. Trueplay is highly effective, so it’s unfortunate that it’s still not available for Android. Sonos says that platform’s fragmented ecosystem is the reason why: It can’t predict the performance of the microphones on the myriad Android smartphones and mobile devices, whereas the mics on Apple’s products are something of a known element.
Whether you use Trueplay or not, you can tweak the Sub Mini’s volume level as well as the EQ settings of all the rest of the speakers in your configuration, boosting or cutting bass and treble response and enabling or disabling a “loudness” setting that boosts low and high frequencies when you’re listening at lower levels. You can also fine-tune the levels (boost or cut the volume) of surround sound for TV watching discretely from music listening, and you can switch between Ambient and Full settings for music listening. Here’s the difference: Ambient is a subtle effect that you might prefer when listening to stereo mixes, while Full delivers louder, full-range sound from the surrounds. Note that the Ambient/Full toggle doesn’t apply when listening to music encoded with Dolby Atmos.
How does the Sonos Sub Mini perform with movies and TV shows?
I watched many movies and TV shows during my weeks with the Sub Mini and it added just the right level of sonic immersion. Where the second-gen Sub overwhelmed my small listening space, even after Trueplay correction, the Sub Mini delivered just the right amount of oomph. And the addition of the One SL speakers as surrounds made me realize how much I missed the home theater in my previous home. What I whose miss about my previous setup is the complexity of an A/V receiver and six discrete speakers. Even though I had all the wiring put inside the walls when the house was built, making any changes was a real pain. Given the lath-and-plaster in this house, putting speaker wires in the walls isn’t going to happen any time soon.
I most recently watched The Greatest Beer Run Ever on Apple TV+. In the scene where Zack Ephron’s character is hunkered down in a fox hole with his buddy while mortars explode around them, the Sub Mini delivered the soundtrack with a visceral thump. The Mini also filled out higher-frequency sounds, like the chuff-chuff-chuff of Huey helicopters, to make me feel like I was part of the action.
What does the Sonos Sub Mini add to music listening?
I streamed dozens of tracks on Qobuz to evaluate the Sub Mini’s contributions to music listening, starting with Peter Gabriel’s “Don’t Give Up.” Tony Levin’s fretless bass sounded lusciously fat and not the least bit flabby. The Sub Mini’s rich, resonant slow bass has a solid foundation to tracks like Sarah Jarosz’s “House of Mercy” and “Take Me Back” as well.
With music, as with soundtracks, a good subwoofer will enhance expand the range of tones you hear in all aspects of a song, not just the bass and kickdrum. Listening to the Murder by Death track “Comin’ Home,” lead singer Adam Turla’s baritone sounded even more taught and urgent with the Sub Mini’s beefy contribution. The Sub Mini doesn’t overwhelm you, but it adds elements you’ll never experience with just a soundbar or bookshelf speakers by themselves.
Should you buy a Sonos Sub Mini?
If you have a smaller listening space anchored by a Sonos Ray or Beam soundbar, one or a pair of Sonos One or One SL speakers, or third-party bookshelf speakers driven by a Sonos Amp, you can’t go wrong by supplementing your audio system with a Sonos Sub Mini. Those with bigger spaces and bigger speakers—the Sonos Arc or Sonos Five speakers—will likely find this sub inadequate. If you’re in that camp, the original Sonos Sub is the low-end solution you’re looking for. And that is one of the few downsides of a Sonos audio system in general—your options for supplementing it outside of that ecosystem are limited. Fortunately, Sonos doesn’t leave you with much need to, even if it can be frustratingly slow to fill the gaps in its product line.
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