Sonos is one of the most respected names in both home and portable audio markets, renowned for its range of Wi-Fi-connected speakers, soundbars, amplifiers, and — the focus of today’s extrapolation — subwoofers.
In 2012, Sonos released its very first subwoofer, billed simply as the Sonos Sub. With a design unlike any thump-inducer that came before it, the company has since released two additional generations of the Sub, with the latest Gen 3 iteration changing from a matte finish to a glossy finish. But while the traditional Sonos Sub is fantastic, the $799 price tag and 35-plus-pound form factor doesn’t fit the bill for some folks, especially those looking for that extra low-end oomph without the hefty cost.
That’s where Sonos’ latest subwoofer design comes into play. Known as the Sonos Sub Mini, the all-new sub sports a cylindrical design and is far more lightweight than its older brother and quite a bit cheaper, too, at $429. But does it match the Sub when it comes to sound quality? Do I need the big guy, or will the Sub Mini do the trick for my needs?
Let’s compare both the Sonos Sub Mini and the Sonos Sub (3rd Gen), weighing in on key criteria like design, performance, and price, to help you decide which Sonos subwoofer is the one for your home.
Sonos has always been cutting-edge when it comes to speaker design, and the Sonos Sub was an eye-popping addition when it was introduced to the company’s lineup over a decade ago, with Sonos maintaining the same core aesthetic ever since.
The third-generation version of the Sonos Sub is 15.3 inches wide, 15.8 inches wide, 6.2 inches deep, and weighs 36.3 pounds, and it’s available in glossy white and black finishes, which some owners and reviewers have complained attracts attention to things like greasy fingerprints. That said, there’s really no reason to touch the thing once it’s placed, so this is kind of a non-issue.
Iconic since the Sub’s inception, the Gen 3 model also features a rectangular cutout in the middle of the woofer, which is where the Sub’s inward-facing drivers are located. More than an eye-catching stylistic choice, the cutout is also used to cut down on unwanted cabinet vibrations.
That said, there’s still no getting around the fact that the original Sub model is much bulkier and heavier than the Sub Mini.
Measuring 9.1 inches deep, 12 inches tall, and weighing 14 pounds, the cylindrical Sub Mini is more lightweight, compact, and far easier to relocate than the Sub. We also love the circular perch at the top of the Mini, which can be used to seat lamps and other home necessities that can help the Mini blend with your decor. And for distortion reduction and force cancellation, the Sub Mini also uses the same centralized cutout as the larger model, with the shape of the void replicating the spherical style of the Sub Mini’s outer shell.
The Sub Mini is available in matte white and black finishes, which, unlike the glossy Sub, matches the matte finish of other Sonos speakers that you’d pair it with, like the Ray, Beam, and Arc soundbars. And while you won’t be able to tuck the Mini under a couch, it’ll definitely be a lot easier to relocate if you want to move it into a different room or just shove it out of the way when you’re vacuuming.
Both Sonos Subs also feature an Ethernet port, an AC power input (with included cord), and an NFC pairing button for quick Wi-Fi connectivity.
As mentioned, Sonos often comes out on top when it comes to design, and the Sub Mini honors many of the original Sub’s geographic fundamentals while also reducing the bulk. That being said, we’ll award a point to the Sub Mini for its fresh, modern design.
Winner: Sonos Sub Mini
Setup and networking
Remember the days of having to install a Sonos system with software on your home computer? Well, back in 2012, that was a requirement for adding any and all Sonos hardware to a Sonos ecosystem. Thankfully, those years are behind us, and adding both the Sonos Sub and the Sub Mini to your Wi-Fi through the Sonos app is as easy as can be.
And thanks to the inclusion of an NFC pairing button on both the third-generation Sub and Sub Mini, connecting to Wi-Fi is simply a matter of launching the Sonos app, pressing that NFC button, and confirming the link-up in the Sonos app.
Both the third-gen Sub and Sub Mini are also equipped with wired Ethernet ports, which allow you to plug both Subs into your router for a wired network connection or to use either Sub as an Ethernet bridge for other components if you choose to connect them to Wi-Fi.
Once either Sub is added to your network, you’ll want to take advantage of Sonos’ Trueplay feature, which automatically calibrates the Sonos sub to deliver just the right amount of output based on the listening environment you’ve placed it in. And while Trueplay is still only available for iOS devices (sorry Android friends), you can always use a buddy’s iPhone to activate a Trueplay calibration (the finished calibration will be saved to your Sonos equipment) for your gear or manually adjust your sub’s sound settings through the Sonos apps’ built-in EQ.
These days, most homes are equipped with dual-band routers that deliver both 2.4GHz and 5GHz networking options, and you’ll be able to use either set of Wi-Fi frequencies for both the traditional third-gen Sub and the Sub Mini. This is especially convenient for earlier Sonos Sub (Gen 1 and Gen 2) owners who are used to having to connect to a 5GHz band, as the older hardware couldn’t run off a 2.4GHz connection.
Perhaps the only advantage the Sonos Sub has over the Mini, in terms of setup, is that you can add multiple Subs to a single-room setup for even more immersive, balanced low-end sound. The Sub Mni is limited to one. However, as far as overall setup and networking, they’re both a cinch, so we’re going to call this category a tie.
Rating the overall sound quality of both Sonos subs was maybe the toughest side-by-side of this woofer war, considering both peripherals use the same core Sonos tech to deliver pulse-pounding low-end. But as they say, the devil is in the details, and we’ve got plenty to offer, considering we’ve taken both the Sub products for a spin.
Right out of the gate, we’ll go on record saying that most folks will adore the type of rumble created by the Sub Mini. With the power of Class-D amplification and two 6-inch woofers that fire against each other, the audible result isn’t going to take the roof off your house, but it will certainly add nuance and presence where it may have been lacking. That’s whether your Sub Mini is linked up for a Sonos surround configuration (i.e., a Sub Mini plus Beam soundbar plus two One SLs, or one of the latest Era 100 or Era 300 speakers), Sonos stereo (such as two One, Five or Era speakers linked together), or just one Sonos speaker.
We also love that Sonos carried over the regular Subs’ iconic force-canceling feature, which fires the drivers against each other to reduce unwanted distortion and vibrations. Everything from rock and hip-hop tracks to movies and TV shows will benefit from the extra blast that the Sub Mini delivers, and thanks to the smaller cylindrical design, it’s also easier to fit the Mini into space-starved locations.
But when it’s both precision and power you’re looking for, especially if your home theater is rocking hardware like the Sonos Arc, the larger Sonos Sub may be the better way to go. And while the Gen 3 Sub utilizes the same Class-D power and inward-firing drivers as the Mini, there’s slightly better frequency response overall, more volume, and a squared-off design that makes it easy to tuck underneath furniture like couches and end tables.
While the Sub Mini certainly gets the job done when it comes to bringing the bass, there’s no beating the unbridled boom of the Sono Sub, and that’s disregarding the price factor (we’ll get into that in a minute).
Winner: Sonos Sub
Sonos recommends the larger Sub be used in a medium- or large-sized room, with ideal pairing to the Sonos Arc, Beam, Playbase, or Playbar soundbars, the Sonos Amp, and the Five, Play: Five (Gen 2), or Play:3 speakers. In terms of the Sub Mini, the company recommends the smaller woofer for small to medium-sized rooms, ideally paired up with the Beam, Ray, One, One SL, and Play:1 speakers or the Sonos Amp.
When you consider all the specs, these suggested configurations make a ton of sense. And while most homeowners and apartment dwellers will be more than satisfied with the ample output of a Sonos soundbar/Sub Mini combo, those that prefer the bigger drive of the larger Sub will likely be linking the heavier woofer up to Sonos hardware like the flagship Arc, especially for immersive surround experiences like Dolby Atmos.
Yes, you can use the Sub Mini for a simulated Dolby Atmos configuration, too, but if you’re thinking about scoring Atmos sound on a small scale, you’ll need at least the Sonos Beam (2nd Gen) to even take advantage of the codec, and you should be prepared for a weaker Atmos simulation overall. And let’s be frank: If you’re thinking of buying a big Sonos soundbar, you should spend the extra $320 to pair it with the bigger Sonos woofer.
And here’s something else to chew on: As mentioned above, you can only use one Sub Mini at a time. Sure, for most Sonos owners, one Sub is plenty, but the Sonos Sub allows you to run up to three woofers in the same zone. For the real surround sound devotees out there, there’s no beating a 5.1.2 or 7.1.2 Atmos setup, a feat one can actually achieve with a Sonos Sub, but not the Sub Mini (at least not right now). Additionally, if you combine a Sonos Arc or Beam (2nd-gen) with a Sub and the new Dolby Atmos-capable Sonos Era 300 speakers, you can great up to a 7.1.4-channel surround sound system.
To that end, we’re awarding a point to the Sonos Sub.
Winner: Sonos Sub
Price and warranty
The Sonos Sub Mini and third-gen Sonos Sub can be purchased through Sonos directly, online retailers such as Amazon, and brick-and-mortar/online outlets like Walmart and Best Buy.
The Sonos Sub Mini sells for $430 and comes with a full one-year warranty. The third-gen Sonos Sub sells for $749 and includes the same one-year warranty.
You can also find both Sonos Subs bundled with other Sonos hardware, like this Sonos Sub Mini Home Theater Completion Kit and this Sonos Sub Premium Immersive Set with ARC.
If we’re speaking purely in terms of affordability, though (and we are), the Sonos Sub Mini wins this one.
Winner: Sonos Sub Mini
The bottom line
While we always try to avoid a draw (because there’s always something that leads us to favor one product over another), this is one of those situations where we have to grant this as a stalemate between the Sonos Sub Mini and third-gen Sonos Sub.
The Sub Mini is perfect for smaller homes, delivers excellent low-end punch, can be used with a number of Sonos peripherals, and is much more affordable than the third-gen Sub while still packing a punch, which is the big bonus here. But for those looking for as much power as possible without sacrificing sound quality, the Sonos Sub delivers the bigger thump for bigger surround sound items (such as the Dolby Atmos-equipped Sonos Arc), along with a range of EQ options and other features, for a few hundred dollars more than the competition. It really comes down to your room and needs in this case, so the best Sub is based on that — they’re both great.
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