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I tested the Sonos Sub Mini with all 3 Sonos soundbars, and here's what I thought

TechRadar logo TechRadar 10/1/2022 Matt Bolton
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Sonos unveiled the new Sub Mini in August 2022, promising to add deeper bass to its soundbars without the size and expense of the full-size Sonos Sub. And I was able to test the $429 / £429 / AU$699 subwoofer upgrade ahead of its October 6 2022 launch date – and more importantly, I got to test it with all three Sonos soundbars in my home, in a real-world environment.

I tried it with the Sonos Arc in a full wireless surround configuration including two Sonos One rear speakers, then with the Sonos Beam 2nd Gen and Sonos Ray without the rear speakers, just in a classic bar-and-sub combo.

The short version of what I found is that it's a notable upgrade to all three soundbars in terms of adding deeper, richer bass to make you feel more from the most impactful moments happening on-screen. 

In particular, what you get is more resonance from the bass – it isn't that the bass is punchier (all of Sonos' soundbars are geared for good range out of the box), but it reaches deeper and, crucially, it doesn't fall away as quickly. It means that it feels more expansive when it does happen, rather then seeming like it's rushing from just the soundbar.

But it's a little 'polite' out of the box, adding that extra depth, but without any real aggression. Now, I don't want a sub that shakes the room (and if you do, this isn't it), but I do want to feel a hint of something in diaphragm in the most impactful moments. With all three soundbars I found that using the Sonos app to crank the Sub level up to +5 gave it the extra kick I wanted for it to feel meaty – you can dial it much higher than that if you're so inclined, though.

However, one thing to note in all cases is that the integration with each soundbar out of the box was perfect – in all cases, there was no awkward crossover point that I discerned. Sound moves totally smoothly between the two as needed, despite each soundbar having a different sound profile.

1. Sonos Ray and Sonos Sub Mini

Sonos says that the Sub Mini is the ideal partner for the Sonos Ray and the Sonos Beam, so I'm gonna start with the smallest and cheapest of the soundbars, but let's be realistic here: how many people are really buying a $279 / £279 / AU$399 soundbar and then a $429 / £429 / AU$699 subwoofer to crank up the bass?

In any case, the Sub Mini has a very helpful effect overall here, as you might expect. The Sonos Ray is reliant on a couple of bass ports for its low-end power, and it's always left it feeling like it's trying a little too hard on the bass. It was never overwhelming, and was gratifying fulsome for the money, but it also never felt totally natural. Sonos even tweaked the sound a little after launch to make sure that the bass was a bit more controlled.

Adding the Sonos Sub Mini lets the Ray breathe a sigh of relief. No longer having to attempt impactful bass while also hitting clear mid-range from its two mid-woofers drivers, you can immediately hear the audio from the soundbar relax a little more, feeling less compressed and a bit more natural.

And you get the advantages from the Sub Mini mentioned above – when bass happens, it doesn't feel like it's bursting from the soundbar, but feels like it's emanating across the room, and it sustains better at the same time.

2. Sonos Beam 2 and Sonos Sub Mini

Now, the $449 / £449 / AU$599 Sonos Beam is getting closer to the kind of investment where you might want to spend further on a subwoofer to expand the sound, especially since the Beam Gen 2 is capable of big and expansive sound, especially when fed with Dolby Atmos content.

Its built-in bass power is impressive for its size, but it just doesn't have the downward reach to give you a true low-end experience. It can give you a good deep 'whack', but not a bassy 'thump'.

Adding the Sub Mini introduces that – as mentioned above, it's a bit on the subtle side out of the box, but dialling it up just a bit brings a clear, undeniable bass upgrade that doesn't shake the room.

It doesn't affect the overall sound balance of the Beam Gen 2 as dramatically as the Ray. I felt like the core sound quality was pretty much in line with not using the Sub Mini – it's just that adding it gave me extra bass range that really increased the cinematic feel.

3. Sonos Arc with Sonos Sub Mini

Sonos says you should get the full-size Sonos Sub to use with the Arc – it says that you can certainly use the Sub Mini, but you won't get as impactful an effect, because of the woofers already built-into the Arc.

But that's not true – if you have (or want) a Sonos Arc in a medium-size room, the Sub Mini could be exactly the add-on you're looking for. Yes, its effect it's not massive – and here, its gentle-ness out of the box is most evident, because the Sonos Arc is the soundbar here most capable of getting close a low and expansive bass sound – but it can still deliver the clear improvement and extra rumble to the gut that you want in a home theater setup.

With the Arc, I definitely recommend cranking up the Sub level in the Sonos app to +4 to start with, see how you feel, then maybe even a notch or two more, or you can drop it down if it feels too much.

This will make the difference from having the Sonos Arc alone immediately and abundantly clear if you put on anything with a deep soundtrack or booming explosion.

The Sonos Arc sounds like it's delivering a full soundstage on its own – put on something with lots of rumble and you will hear it. But it's floaty, and lacks the foundations that you get with a subwoofer. The Sonos Sub Mini adds that – bass becomes grounded, mixing the impact that the Arc delivers with gripping sustained vibration. 

Again, this isn't about shaking the room – this is about feeling the depth that movie soundtracks are supposed to deliver, bringing as much of the theater experience home as possible. The Arc has a notable floor to its frequency range, and the Sub Mini is capable of extending that in a satisfying way, and can do it in a way that doesn't have to annoy the neighbors for those living in close quarters.

If you already have an Arc, it's a great add-on. However, if you're buying fresh today, take a hard look at the price – for the same price as the Sonos Arc alone, you could get the Samsung HW-Q930B which delivers a complete soundbar, sub and rear speaker experience. Or the Samsung HW-Q990B delivers a currently unbeaten Dolby Atmos experience for around the same price as a Sonos Arc, Sub Mini and Sonos One surround setup.

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