Few TV shows have captivated me lately as the Netflix series DAHMER Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. The content truly sent chills down my spine and made me (sometimes I wish it hadn’t) feel like I was in the very room before me on the screen. While a lot of that is due to Netflix and the incredible acting of Evan Peters, it was also thanks to the Sonos Beam soundbar and the company’s new Sub Mini. Not to be dramatic or anything.
One sound forever imprinted in my brain (at least until I binge-watch the next thing), is the crunching of bones from this mini-series. I’m not sure Sonos would appreciate me adding so much gruesome detail into a review of its new Sub Mini, but I had to set the scene. The Sonos Sub Mini, especially when paired with such a kickass soundbar, is as good as you’d expect, plus more.
Sonos Sub Mini
Announced earlier this month, the Sonos Sub Mini is, as you’d assume, a mini subwoofer. The Sonos Sub Mini is touted by the company as being “the wireless subwoofer for bold bass”. It’s also meant to be its more budget-friendly sub, sitting alongside the Sonos Sub Gen 3 as a cheaper alternative, one for those with smaller spaces.
Sub Mini specs
This thing packs some pretty decent specs, but a few important/headlining features in dot point form are:
- Dual inwards-facing 6-inch woofers
- Class-D digital amplifiers
- Distortion-neutralising casing
- Wi-Fi connectivity
- Simple set up
- Light enough (6.35 kg)
- 230 mm x 305 mm x 305 mm
- Available in black or white
Setup both easy and a punish, somehow
The first thing you need is a Sonos soundbar or speaker set. Without this, your Sonos Sub Mini is all but a small side table or ottoman. To set up your Sonos speaker or soundbar, you need the Sonos app. I set the Beam 2 up in my loungeroom, which was simple and not even worth talking about. Then, I hit ‘Connect Sub’ and moved through the setup wizard. Well, attempted to at least. With no luck multiple times over multiple days, I finally decided to reset the Sub Mini and then it worked perfectly. Yes, resetting something should have been higher up on my priority list, but my mum and dad wouldn’t know to do this, I can’t assume all of you would, either.
That’s it for setup, really, it’s all done via wireless connectivity, the only cable is the one you plug into power.
Once it’s connected to your speaker/soundbar, controlling the Sub Mini is super simple. You can use the Sonos app to adjust bass, treble and loudness of your Sub Mini, or allow the speaker/soundbar to do the heavy lifting.
Pairing with the Beam 2
As I noted above, I connected the Sonos Sub Mini to the Beam 2 soundbar. This soundbar takes over the sound on your TV, and, as we wrote in our review back in 2021 when this thing dropped, the Beam 2 is for people who care about good sound but don’t feel like doing a ton of research to get it. It’s for people who don’t mind if this isn’t the pinnacle of aural bliss because it’s easy as hell to set up and use.
This is truly (despite my setup issues) the biggest selling point for the Sonos soundbar/Sub Mini combo. Also, the Beam 2 isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel. Instead, it’s updating what was already an excellent soundbar for the Dolby Atmos era. You get good enough sound and by good enough I mean it well-exceeds the sound coming out of your TV. This thing is also $650-$699. For comparison, Samsung is flogging a great soundbar for around $1,500. You don’t just get what you pay for, this thing is fine.
But (there’s always a but) adding a subwoofer has previously been a costly exercise. Prior to the Sub Mini, the only subwoofer Sonos sold was the $1,099 Sonos Sub Gen 3. So, $699 for the Beam 2 and $1,099 for the Sub Gen 3. That’s $1,798. The Sub Mini is $699. Quick maths tells us $1,398 – a cool $400 difference.
This was actually my first time using the Beam 2, I usually use the Sonos Ray soundbar (more on that in a sec), so my issues with the Beam 2 weren’t as extensive as my colleagues’ were. Despite this, I still noticed their grievances. After adding the Sub Mini, however, a lot of these ironed out. If we go back to DAHMER for a second, it turned out to be the perfect show to test it on as there was a lot of subtle sounds, bass-heavy moments, loud chatter and complete silence. There were a few moments where silence would dramatically change to a loud scene and the bass was quite aggressive out of the sub. Turning the soundbar down fixed this, but the volume before that moment was at a level I was comfortable with.
I’d probably describe the addition of the Sub Mini as making the overall listening experience bass-heavy, rich and audible.
While the bass isn’t as monolithic as its liquorice allsorts friend (the Sub Gen 3), it was at times too much. The best way I can describe this is imagine you tip a bag of pasta on the bench. How it lands, all spread out, is how the bass in the Gen 3 sounds. Scrape all of the pasta shells to one neat pile and that’s how the Sub Mini sounds. Still good, just not distributed as evenly as the Gen 3. This is where having it on while watching, say, Superstore or another light, comedy-type of show isn’t necessary and adds too much to the overall experience. Flipping through my TV audio settings did a lot to change the sound, too. Movie mode, for example, made The Crow feel like it never has before. I think everything I watch (read: psychological thrillers, and a lot of shit filmed in the dark) is boosted by the addition of the Sub Mini, if for no other reason than the sound clarity heightens certain senses and I notice movement or action I otherwise wouldn’t. When music is on, you can hear the nuance in every beat.
TruePlay is also definitely something you should set up (providing you have access to an iOS device). The TL;DR is TruePlay adapts the bass for the unique acoustics of the room. It sends out waves to map the space so it isn’t overpowering for the size of the room, which is great in a Sydney apartment.
If we come back to price for a second, though. That Samsung soundbar I linked to above – that’s $1,500, the same price as the Beam 2 and the Sub Mini combined. That Samsung soundbar comes with a sub, too. ‘Budget’ just got a hell of a lot less ‘budget’, didn’t it?
In the bedroom with Ray
What a segue into talking about Sonos’ ‘budget’ soundbar.
Sonos in May unveiled a new (welcome) addition to its family, the Ray, a cheap soundbar that doesn’t compromise all that much on sound quality. At the time, we wrote that it was inevitable that Sonos would follow through with a budget offering. When reviewing Ray, we made it pretty clear this wasn’t the soundbar of your dreams, rather the one that would allow you to still pay rent. I quite like the Ray, even after using the Beam 2. Sound is clear, a definite boost from the TV’s speakers and it fills the loungeroom of a Sydney apartment more than sufficiently.
With the Beam 2, the Sonos Ray has been booted to the bedroom, which has a fantastic* Soniq TV bought from Kogan many a year ago. It is not a smart TV. In fact, it is quite a brick. Shifting the Sonos Sub Mini into the bedroom was ridiculously easy – the app allowed this seamlessly. Another 10 points to the app.
Unfortunately, my testing in this room wasn’t as expansive as it was with the Beam 2 in the loungeroom. Mostly because the lack of smart TV and relying solely on watching something via a USB means the quality is very, VERY bad. It was absolutely an improvement over the TV speakers and the addition of the sub made the eerie Yellowjackets come to life a lot more than it did before the addition of the Sub Mini. I’m not sure if it’s the fact it was on carpet that caused this, but it sounded more muffled, kind of like if something was blocking some bass.
Sonos bills the Sub Mini as easy to set up and use. It’s both of those things. It says it will give you bold bass, and it does. It promises to immerse you in what you’re watching and I’d agree. It also considers the design of the Sub Mini to look at home. When you have a matching soundbar, it certainly does. Lastly, it’s $400 cheaper than the other Sonos subwoofer. It doesn’t replace the Gen 3 sub, but it’s a great alternative for those with a smaller space.
I know there are going to be sound pros out there that will have an opinion on the Sub Mini that isn’t as kind as mine is. But I can’t sit here and tell you a more budget-friendly sub won’t do the trick. I don’t know how this thing would sound in a house vs my apartment, but I do feel I’m the target market for this sub – someone who likes stuff to sound great but not require a massive investment. Sonos make great kit, this is more than sufficient to round out your setup. But you should definitely see what else is out there for the price. It doesn’t work without a Sonos soundbar/speaker, so if you don’t already have one, it becomes an expensive endeavour.
Where to buy the Sonos Sub Mini?
Preorders are open now and the Sonos Sub Mini will be available from October 7, 2022.
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