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Sound and Vision: Sonos’ pricing for its subwoofers make them a tough sell

OPINION: Sonos’ latest product has emerged – though it’s not as if it were a surprise. There have been whisperings about a smaller sub since later last year, the only surprise is how long it’s taken.

And the launch of the Sub Mini hit a familiar note as Sonos’ previous subwoofers – it’s quite expensive.

It’s not as if there aren’t expensive subwoofers on the market. KEF has a subwoofer that costs £1300, Bose’s Soundbar Bass Module is £800, while Sony’s current line-up of bass enhancers features one that costs £649. If you’re a home cinema enthusiast after the best performance, you’ll pay whatever you deem suitable.

But it feels as if Sonos keeps repeating the same mistake with its subwoofers, in that each one of them is as expensive if not more so than their partnering speaker. The Sonos Sub Gen 3 has an RRP of $749 / £749, not far off the Arc’s RRP of £899. The Sonos Sub Mini costs $429 / £429, which is only a smidge less than the Sonos Beam Gen 2’s $449 / £449. If you wanted to partner the Sub Mini with the Ray, it’s far more expensive than its $279 / £279 asking price.

There’s a hole – perhaps the same one in the Sub Mini – that Sonos has never quite threaded the needle through with its subwoofers. The Sony HT-A7000 (£1299) can be partnered with the £699 SWA-S5 – expensive for sure – but at nearly half the price, if you’re willing to pay that much for the soundbar itself, the sub doesn’t seem as exorbitant. Compared to the speakers they’re meant to partner, Sonos’ subs are very expensive, limiting its appeal only to those who feel compelled to add a sub to their system. This isn’t a sub for more casual users and it could have been.

Sonos Sub Mini press shot

If it were me, I’d have to think long and hard about making that decision. It should be a relatively straightforward decision to make.

The price for the subwoofers makes it less of an impulse buy and more of a decision that you’d make further down the road. I’d say that having bass is an integral part of the cinema experience – some may disagree but it’s a matter of taste – and the pricing sends the wrong message, putting it at a premium.

Or it says the right thing: that bass is a key component of the experience and that you should pay the requisite value. But to me, the direction the soundbar/home cinema sound market has been heading in with single bar systems often not including a subwoofer, and the sub is thought of as an accessory and not the main meal.

And so, I wonder how many people will take Sonos up on the opportunity to purchase the Sub Mini. It’s a good idea for those with smaller rooms, but I imagine the market for that type of person leans to a more of a casual one, and Sonos’ pricing for its subwoofers makes it a tougher sell.

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