Sonos Beam (Gen 2) review: more immersive sound into the same great design


Sonos kicked off the yr with its most reasonably priced product but — the transportable $159 Roam — and now we’ve got the subsequent era of it’s entry-level soundbar. Era two of the Beam doesn’t change a lot, however it nonetheless cements itself as a robust choice for booming wealthy sound throughout music, radio, TV exhibits and films.

And like different Sonos merchandise, it retains a easy setup and intuitive controls. It’s additionally getting a $50 value improve together with a minor redesign, extra processing chops, a greater HDMI port and Dolby Atmos assist. We’ve spent over per week with one and have been tirelessly taking in content material — a lot to our neighbors disappointment — to see how a lot better the brand new Beam is.

To cite President Skroob from Spaceballs, let’s determine this beaming stuff.

Extra immersive sound in a well-known construct

When you’re on the lookout for a linked soundbar that does not bore you with wires, demanding setups or painful interactions to get it working, the Beam is a terrific choice. For $449, it’s going to sound a hell of loads higher than your TV, act as a linked speaker and ship a wealthy, highly effective punch of sound.

Who that is for: The Sonos Beam is a superb alternative for individuals who need daring, wealthy sound with loads of smarts in a comparatively small construct for $449.

What you could know: The brand new Beam is sort of equivalent to the unique Beam with the identical speaker {hardware} inside and a really related design. That being stated, when you have the primary Beam there isn’t actually a necessity to instantly improve. Beam era two focuses on extra immersive sound and options Dolby Atmos. It’s clearer and extra wealthy audio is positioned extra appropriately round you for 3D sound.

How this compares: The Sonos Beam is probably going greater than sufficient for individuals who need an enchancment over the sound your TV can produce with a boatload of additional smarts. For $449 it casts a large soundstage that provides depth to virtually any combine. Compared to our overall pick — the $179 Roku Streambar Pro — the sound is healthier with extra readability round dialogue and doesn’t mix a packed audio monitor collectively. Roku’s choice doesn’t characteristic Dolby Atmos, however it does double as a 4K streaming participant.

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In contrast to the flagship Arc, the Sonos Beam is down-right pintsized at simply 25.6 inches lengthy and just below 4 inches in depth. And if these dimensions sound acquainted, it’s as a result of the construct is equivalent to the unique Beam. It’s nonetheless an extended oval-like design with rounded edges on the left and proper sides. You’ll discover quantity up, quantity down, play or pause, a microphone mute, and an LED indicator centered on the highest.

It’s a reasonably sturdy construct throughout that’s derived from polycarbonate supplies. And that’s the design change — it trades mesh sides for plastic ones. It makes the Beam really feel a bit extra rugged and fashionable. Sound continues to be pushed out and generated by means of the edges and there are a plethora of drilled holes and circles which let that sound by means of. It’s now in-line with the construct high quality of the bigger and longer Arc soundbar.

Like each different Sonos product, you may get Beam in white or black. We’ve been testing the latter and it’s a beautiful shade that blends simply into any area. The Sonos emblem is constructed into the entrance grille and fades shortly into the black background. The highest of Beam continues to be barely dipped in, which provides a bit of flare and makes it straightforward to make use of the capacitive contact buttons. The Roam nonetheless stands as the one Sonos product with bodily and tactile controls.

The rear of Sonos Beam Gen 2 is the place all of the ports and a pairing button dwell. You’ll plug it in on the again for energy, join it to a TV by way of the HDMI eARC port and an Ethernet port for a hardwired connection. The HDMI eARC port is the opposite bodily change between era one and two. It’s a more moderen port which can give this soundbar an extended shelf life.

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So how does this look underneath a TV? Properly, it’s fairly tiny and dwarfed by 65-inch and bigger TVs — particularly with a Sony A90J that sits flat on a floor. The Beam is true at residence with 55-inch fashions and smaller.

It’s additionally a bit taller than another competing soundbars on this measurement vary at 2.72 inches. This is a crucial issue if you find yourself resting it immediately in entrance of a TV with minimal peak off the house leisure cupboard, dresser, or desk it lives on. The Beam may simply be wall mounted with a variety of third-party choices.

Equally, the interior {hardware} powering the sound is equivalent. Sonos Beam leads with a middle tweeter, 4 woofers, three radiators and 5 class-d amplifiers. The change with sound, although, is from a brand new processor and software program tips. Basically the Beam now has 5 speaker arrays towards the three discovered within the authentic. And every of those is processing for audio and the way the Beam can current it — the 2 new arrays concentrate on sound placement, particularly at larger heights and encompass sound. That is the software program magic that brings Dolby Atmos — a proprietary combine for extra immersive audio — to the Beam.

Take into account, although, there aren’t bodily audio system that time upwards on this soundbar, which is often a significant a part of a setup for Dolby. Although after per week, we’re feeling extra immersed and it’s because of the Sonos software program — an enormous a part of this product and the broader ecosystem.

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Right here’s simply how shortly you possibly can arrange the Sonos Beam — it’s a lot quicker than calling tech assist and we’d hedge faster than making a sandwich.

  • You’ll have to obtain the Sonos S2 app and create or log in to your account.
  • Discover a spot for the Beam, give it energy, join the included HDMI cable to your TV
  • Open the app and convey your telephone near the Beam when prompted. It’s going to use NFC (close to subject communications) for a fast pairing, that is new in era two.
  • Observe the on-screen prompts and also you’ll be shortly underway.

Our solely qualm is that it gained’t mechanically full audio tuning for the room. Sonos calls this TruePlay and whereas the $899 Arc will do it by itself, you’ll want to tug out your iOS machine to finish TruePlay on Beam. And sure, it’s nonetheless iOS solely (iPhone or iPad), so Android customers are out of luck and might want to use the equalizer within the utility to customise the expertise. For $449, it might have been a pleasant contact to have this carried out mechanically. The tuning course of consists of strolling round your area together with your iPhone the other way up in order that microphones can hear the pings from the Beam. It’s basically mapping the audio to your area and takes a couple of minutes.

After that, you’re formally good to go and the Beam is part of your broader Sonos ecosystem when you have different merchandise. It is also your first Sonos product and the beginning of a system. Both approach, all these parts will dwell within the app and Sonos makes it straightforward to corral your streaming companies collectively.

Whereas the Beam is linked to your TV by way of HDMI, it’s additionally a linked sensible soundbar. Because of built-in microphones, it might probably additionally act as an Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant sensible speaker — you’ll resolve throughout the Sonos app. And the Beam is sort of responsive and simply as quick as every other linked sensible speaker.

And as we’ve stated earlier than, Sonos is basically the final word for multi-room audio. Since all of the audio system are linked, you possibly can simply create teams from throughout the apps and ship tracks or playback to particular rooms. Even completely different songs from the identical supply throughout these areas. It’s nifty.

When you don’t need to management it with the Sonos app, the Beam helps Apple’s AirPlay 2 commonplace for straightforward casting from an iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac or Apple Watch. It’s additionally a good way to broadcast sound to a HomePod, HomePod Mini and Sonos audio system on the identical time. In our testing, it’s straightforward to group and play audio on this style with playback beginning in a few second or two. Simply watch out with quantity, since Sonos at 50% is probably going completely different from one other speaker at 50%.

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As we anticipated, the Sonos Beam sounds actually good and it’s roughly on par with the unique Beam. Audio tracks together with TV exhibits or motion pictures sound richer, clearer and a bit extra in focus. All of it provides as much as a balanced combine that’s actually gratifying to take heed to. It’s traditional Sonos with extra accuracy.

The most important change is a wider soundstage which provides off the impact that you may hear extra inside a given monitor. A bigger orchestral monitor has extra of the weather — aka devices — entrance and heart, but in addition unfold out all through the room. A denser monitor like “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen permits you to hear the various devices: guitar, bass, saxophone, piano, drums and vocals all have a highlight. With “Hesitate” by the Jonas Brothers, you possibly can hear the transition between mid to excessive vocals together with a deep bass line within the again with numerous devices on prime.

The Beam may simply fill a room to the purpose that we’re fairly positive it pissed off our neighbors a number of instances throughout our testing. It doesn’t go as far or get as loud because the Arc, which was room shaking, however at full blast Beam can increase the hairs in your arms.

The opposite large addition is extra processing energy for Dolby Atmos mixing, when the content material is made for it. Large movement blockbusters like Star Wars and Avengers get this particular combine and the entire level is to place you in the course of the motion. With a typical 5.1 system, you will have rear audio system, entrance and a bodily bass unit. The Sonos Beam makes use of software program and actually thoughts tips you (not not like the Jedi thoughts tips in Star Wars) to put sound round you. There are not any up-firing audio system, which makes the duty a bit tougher.

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Sonos has managed to no less than take us a step within the route of audio immersion and truthfully for most individuals, it will get the job carried out. The result’s extra immersion when watching content material. In — an episode of The Mandalorian on Disney+, you’ll hear and see the Razorcrest zoom previous you. With WandaVision, the positional sound matches the visuals of a world increasing to create a way of immersion. Equally in Avengers: Endgame the climatic ending is felt in full pressure to a level that goes previous a daily previous soundbar or TV audio system.

It’s significantly spectacular, however not fairly pretty much as good as a conventional system from the likes of Sony or pairing the Beam with two Sonos One SL speakers ($199 every) and a Sub ($749). That will provide you with a system that has the bodily {hardware}, however most is not going to want that. When the time comes although, it’s an enormous good thing about Sonos in that you may be happy to develop the system when the time is best for you.

So with all that beaming carried out, it’s honest to say that Sonos Beam does punch above its weight. It’s not a whole redesign or perhaps a radical change; Sonos continues to be delivering fairly outstanding sound from a pint-sized soundbar that may now place that audio in several methods round you.

When you have an authentic Beam, there’s not a right away cause to improve. And we’d advocate not getting it solely for the Dolby Atmos characteristic — you may get extra mileage from the likes of a less expensive soundbar plus two rears and sub setup.

However when you’re on the lookout for a linked soundbar that doesn’t bore you with wires, demanding setups or painful interactions to get it working, the Beam is a terrific choice. For $449, it’ll sound a hell of loads higher than your TV, act as a linked speaker and ship a wealthy, highly effective punch of sound. It’s a delight and, for a lot of, will ship a next-level expertise. It’s not outpacing the Sonos Arc, although.

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